Law, Air, Outerspace, International Law, Legal, Pakistan
Need I apologize for my choice of subject? Some may ask: Why deal with issues so remote when there are so many much closer to us still awaiting solution?Malanczuk

International law identifies several methods of acquisition of a territory i.e. occupation, cession, prescription, accretion, adjudication, conquest, acquiescence, recognition, and estoppel. Malcolm Shaw recognizes air space and outer space as another mode. According to Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation 1944 ‘air space’ connotes to the area above a state’s territory including land areas and territorial waters under the sovereignty, suzerainty, protection or mandate of that state. Pakistan holds absolute sovereignty over its air space in terms of environmental protection, military use, economic development, freedom of navigation, regulation of air routes, and safety and security standards, without any exception of right of innocent passage.

Air and outer space law is governed by sources of International law established under the Statute of International Court of Justice. However, progressive development within domestic legislation and policies has contributed immensely. In the early 19th century, France and Germany had an agreement over use of air balloons during war in air space. The evolving air and outer space scenario necessitated the codification process which dates back to the ramifications of First World War, when states realized the security implications of use of air space above their territories. Whereas, the concept of outer space was not accredited until the launching of the first artificial satellite Sputnik of USSR in 1957.

The Outer Space Treaty asserts that the exploration and use of outer space shall be the province of all mankind, to be used freely by all states and not subject to national appropriation or the sovereignty of any state. Although the delimitation of air space and outer space is still subject to prolonged legal controversies Space technology is used universally, for military and civil purposes alike, including satellites for communications, meteorology, television, and radio broadcasting, agriculture and resource management, environmental security and climate change.

Aerial terrorism, hijacking, sabotage, and forced seizure of aircraft are prohibited, in addition to that, . Despite these protective limitations, civil aviation in the 21st century is confronted with environmental, safety, security, and financial challenges (Dempsey 2015).

The International Civil Aviation Organization as a specialized agency of the United Nations was founded to regulate international civil aviation standards set by the Chicago Convention 1944, fundamental for its subsidiaries. Making an effort towards sustainable economic development, Pakistan updated its National Aviation Policy in 2015 and adopted best practices by drawing of a road map for implementation of safety, security and quality standards.

Pakistan set up the Aviation Division of Government of Pakistan. Independent regulatory authorities such as Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority, Airports Security Force, Pakistan Meteorological Department and Pakistan International Airlines have also been established. In doing so, Pakistan Air Force began to count as an absolute aerial defense military division.

Development of space law hugely relies upon the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space whereas the administrative functionary is the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Pakistan’s space program is run by the Pakistan Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Committee (SUPARCO) established in 1961, upgraded to Commission in 1981 and declared the national space agency, responsible for implementation and execution of space programs. From the carriage of goods through air routes to prohibition of misappropriation of outer space, the aviation and outer space regime of Pakistan is exhaustive in consonance with the international air and outer space regime.

Pakistan has ratified the Convention on International Civil Aviation (1944) Chicago Convention, Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air (1929) Warsaw Convention, Protocol to Amend the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air (1955) The Hague Protocol, Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (1963) Tokyo Convention.

The Association of South East Asian Nations is increasing its investments in space technologies expeditiously and has instituted national space agencies to supplement security and development as security implications of use of air and outer space demand modernized weaponry, and trained force. However, sovereign entities must take into account that advanced military technologies in outer space can prove counter-productive and dangerous, may comprise regional and international security. Weaponization of outer space is not science fiction anymore, Tehmina Janjua, Pakistan’s Representative to the UN, spoke at UN General Assembly’s Disarmament and International Security Committee in 2016.

Pakistan was the co-sponsor of two draft resolutions on the prevention of an arms race in outer space and on no-first-placement of arms in outer space (General Assembly 69 Session 2014) and adopted several treaties governing activities of states in exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies (1967) Outer Space Treaty, Agreement on Rescue of Astronauts, Return of Astronauts and Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (1968) Rescue Agreement, Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (1972) Liability Convention, Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (1974) Registration Convention, Agreement Governing Activities of States on Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1979) Moon Treaty, Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in Atmosphere, in Outer Space and under Water (1963).

Pakistan is remodeling its air policies in South Asia to tackle contemporary challenges confronted by civil aviation and making progress in space activities ranging from meteorology to disaster management and mitigation, telecommunication to economy, indeed a plausible account of organizational management.

Nevertheless, concerned stakeholders need to sponsor more cost-effective institutions specialized in air and outer space security to protect security interests of Pakistan. Setting up space agencies to advance space application and technologies, research and studies, is inevitable. Furthermore, constructive awareness campaigns and activities on behalf of the government are imperative to engage wider communities and relevant domestic groups for realizing sustainable development goals. Perhaps getting into the shoes of a proud prospering country would do no harm to our abstract complexities.

Tuba Azeem

Tuba Azeem

has done LLM in International Law from the International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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