22 April 2016. This Perspective looks at the most recent developments behind the two major initiatives to prevent conflict in Outer Space in order to answer the question whether the international community is going to adopt either of them in the near future.
In the early 21st century, several events raised concerns about the potential weaponisation of outer space. As the U.S. moved its rhetoric in this direction, both China and the U.S. conducted kinetic ASAT tests. Trying to de-escalate the increasingly tense situation, the EU as well as Russia and China proposed diplomatic initiatives in order to prevent conflict in outer space. Today, neither the “Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities” nor the “Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects” has been adopted. But will they ever be? This Perspective argues that, due to seemingly unresolvable disagreements between the major space powers, neither agreement is likely to be accepted. In line with this assumption, this Perspective offers some thoughts on alternative diplomatic efforts so as to ensure space safety, security and sustainability.