Cooperation in Outer Space Activities: South Africa’s Role as a Member State of the African Union and BRICS

Authors Anél Ferreira-Snyman

ISSN: 2522-3062
Affiliations: Professor, School of Law, University of South Africa
Source: Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, The, Volume 51 Issue 2, p. 141 – 170


The complex nature of outer space activities and the high cost involved in the development of space technologies have increasingly necessitated inter-state cooperation and partnerships. Global issues such as environmental protection, natural disaster management and climate change have again highlighted the need for cooperation between states, also in the realm of outer space. Pressure on national budgets as a result of various global economic crises experienced over the last few years, has further incentivised cooperation in the structuring of space programmes. Moreover, as a result of the significant increase in space actors, outer space has become a congested and competitive environment. Greater international cooperation is, therefore, imperative in order to ensure that outer space activities are carried out peacefully, for the benefit and in the interest of all nations and that outer space is preserved for future generations. The socio-economic benefits have made the development of space programmes attractive to a number of developing states, including states in Africa. Africa is becoming one of the most important markets for telecommunication development. Sustained development in this area will, however, be dependent on the safety and integrity of space assets. In this regard, outer space cooperation to develop instruments and norms regulating the space domain is imperative. Effective cooperation between developed and developing countries is, however, dependent on the negotiation of a number of contentious issues, including the use of the Geostationary Orbit, the mitigation of space debris and the militarisation of outer space. The formulation and successful application of measures addressing these issues are reliant on cooperation between space-faring and non-space-faring states. It is submitted that South Africa, as a member of both the African Union and BRICS, has an important role to play in this regard.