Common Heritage, not Common Law: The Legal Regulation of Natural Resource Exploitation in Outer Space


Common Heritage, not Common Law: The Legal Regulation of Natural Resource Exploitation in Outer Space


Steven Freeland

About the Speaker

Steven Freeland is Professor of International Law at Western Sydney University, Australia, where he teaches both postgraduate and undergraduate students, and supervises PhD students, in the fields of International Criminal Law, Commercial Aspects of Space Law, Public International Law and Human Rights Law.

He is also Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna; Permanent Visiting Professor of the iCourts Centre of Excellence for International Courts, Denmark; Member of Faculty of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law; Visiting Professor at University Toulouse1-Capitole; Adjunct Professor at University of Adelaide; and a former Marie Curie Fellow (2013-2014). He has been an Expert Assessor of Research Proposals to the Australian Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the National Research Foundation of South Africa, and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, and has taught at Universities in over 20 countries.

He has also been a Visiting Professional within the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC), and a Special Advisor to the Danish Foreign Ministry in matters related to the ICC. He has represented the Australian Government at United Nations Conferences and Committee Meetings, and has been appointed to advise the Australian Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and the New Zealand Government, on issues related to the regulation of space activities. Among other appointments, he is a Director of the Paris-based International Institute of Space Law, a foundational member of that Institute’s Directorate of Studies, and a member of the Space Law Committee of the London-based International Law Association.

He sits on the Editorial Board of a number of international journals, including the Australian International Law Journal, the Canada-based Annals of Air and Space Law, the German-based German Journal of Air and Space Law, the China-based Space Law Review, the London-based ROOM Space Journal, as well as the Oxford Research Encyclopaedia, Planetary Science, and on the Advisory Board of the India-based Asian Journal of Air and Space Law, the Belarusian Yearbook of International Law and the UK-based Journal of Philosophy of International Law, as well as a series of books entitled Studies in Space Law. He is also Co-Editor of Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals, a long-established series of casebooks annotating the jurisprudence of the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor.

He has authored approximately 300 publications on various aspects of International Law and has been invited to present over 800 expert commentaries by national and international media outlets worldwide on a wide range of legal and geopolitical issues. He is also a frequent speaker at national/international conferences, having been invited to present conference papers and keynote speeches in Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.



This presentation will be a brief run-down of historical developments in international space law, the reasons why international law-making is now difficult and the challenges this poses in the face of rapidly expanding technology, an analysis of how the existing framework anticipates the management of natural resource exploitation in outer space, a reconciliation of (seemingly inconsistent) relevant principles regarding celestial body exploitation, the implications of recent national law developments, and a suggestion for the most appropriate path forward.


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Publication Date



Grand Forks, ND

Common Heritage, not Common Law: The Legal Regulation of Natural Resource Exploitation in Outer Space