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In the year 414 before Christ a play was produced in Athens in which Aristophanes described how the birds who wished to build a free city in the air beat off the legislators who came to offer their services. Commenting on this event in an article published 17 years ago, I suggested that, if Aristophanes could look at the situation in the air at that momentand see in what way the legislators had prevented the birds of that dayfrom unfolding their wings, he would have prided himself on his foresight.
On the 5th December 1979, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a Resolution commending an “Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the moon and other celestial bodies”, the Draft of which was agreed to by the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) on 3 July 1979.
When on 3 October 1957 the Russian astronaut Gagarin was launched into outer space and when twelve years later on 20 July 1969 the American astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon, the enthusiasm of the world population for these two events was enormous.
In an article published in this Journal in 1969, entitled “An Evaluation of the Leading Principles of the Treaty on Outer Space of 27th January 1967”, the present writer gave some consideration to the nature and content of the fundamental principles laid down in this Treaty viz. the principle of freedom of outer space for exploration and use and the principle of outer space including the Moon and other celestial bodies being not subject to national appropriation. Attention was drawn to certain ambiguities and inconsistencies in the text and to the difficulties in ascertaining the common intention of the authors of the Treaty.
Only three years after the first milestone on the road towards the establishment of a legal regime of outer space was reached through the unanimous adoption by the XVIII General Assembly of the United Nations of a “Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space” (13th December 1963, no. 1962), a second landmark was passed.
In an article published in this Journal in 1962, entitled “Some Trends in the Political and Legal Thinking on the Conquest of Space”, the present writer endeavoured to examine whether in the statements and attitudes of statesmen and in the ideas and suggestions of international lawyers, the emergence of certain trends towards the ends and purposes of space exploration and the creation of some order in this new field of human activity, could be detected.
On 4th October, 1957, a man-made machine forche first time overrode the age old law proclaiming that everything that goes up must come down. Fifteen months later a means was developed of circumventing the earth's attraction. In September, 1959, the moon was reached and on 12th April, 1961, Major Gagarin orbited the Earth in a space capsule. In the short period of four years man's advance in space has been more rapid than the most sanguine forecaster has dared to predict, and it is now realized that a new phase in the history of mankind of exploration and development has begun in some ways comparable to, but vastly exceeding these in scope, the conquest of the sea and the air. Nobody can visualize the impact the conquest of space is going to have on life on this planet, but it becomes clearer every day that a process of change has started more profound and more sweeping than any which has overtaken the world since the foundation of the modern world.
Het probleem van de natuur en de inhoud van de souvereiniteit over het luchtruim is een probleem, dat voor de internationale luchtvaart in het algemeen en voor de Nederlandse luchtvaart in het bijzonder van essentieel belang is.
Voor de internationale luchtvaart in het algemeen, omdat door de luchtvaart voor het eerst in de historie elke Staat met iedere andere Staat direct contact kan onderhouden. Voor Nederland in het bijzonder, omdat de politieke macht van ons land onevenredig is aan de krachten, die het in de internationale luchtvaart ontwikkelt. In de lijst van Staten, die internationaal luchtverkeer bedrijven, neemt Nederland de 4de plaats in na de Verenigde Staten, Engeland en Frankrijk.
The way the peace negotiators shape the new order in the air may well have a decisive influence on the fate of mankind for generations to come. When the peace negotiators come to consider the status of the airspace and the problems of air communications, there will be not only specific questions of commercial interest and the potential military value of these communications requiring their attention, but they will have to realize that, as the energies of more and more men seek scope in the air, resulting in a general outward impulse of the nations, issues of vital moment affecting the welfare of mankind are at stake. It is clear that the solution of this problem will be determined, to a great extent, by the solution of the problem as to the form or constitution of the new international political order, which is closely bound up with the future of the group-unit of power.
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