The concept of State responsibility runs throughout public international law. Space law makes the State responsible for compliance with the provisions of the OST. Breach of this obligation as any other in public international law invokes State responsibility for which the State must make reparation for prejudicial consequences caused to others.
An important feature of responsibility for activities in outer space not normally present in public international law is the assimilation of actions by private persons to the State. The extent and cope of responsibility under the OST need careful analysis of the wording and context. These include the meaning of national activities and international responsibility and the nature and level of supervision required.
State parties to the Outer Space Treaty 1967 (“OST”) have international responsibility for national activities in outer space. This invokes three separate obligations to:
1. Ensure that national activities conform to the requirements of the OST;
2. Authorise and continually supervise non-governmental activities; and
3. Bear international responsibility for activities in outer space.
For the State to bear responsibility it follows that national activities must be those conducted by State agencies or persons subject to the State’s jurisdiction. Although national laws differ and may create varying obligations, the State has international responsibility, confining the obligation to compliance with international law, breach of which would incur State responsibility. Acts of non-governmental entities are attributed to the State.