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‘Space Court’ United Arab Emirates: ambitious, but not new

The United Arab Emirates has announced that it is to open a so-called ‘Space Court’ which will operate as an arbitral tribunal for space-related disputes.

Tanja Masson-Zwaan

The establishment of a Space Court appeals of course to the imagination, but it is not entirely new: there is already an international court where parties can go in case of space-related disputes, located in The Hague.

'It is part of the intergovernmental Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) and in 2011 it had already drawn up rules specifically designed to govern arbitrations relating to outer space activities', says Tanja Masson-Zwaan of the International Institute of Air and Space Law on the popular scientific news site Scientas.nl. Masson-Zwaan is one of the arbitrators at the PCA.

Masson-Zwaan is surprised by the plans of the United Arab Emirates to establish its own court, since the country is one of more than a hundred member states that can go to the PCA in the event of a dispute. But if you look at the actions and ambitions of the United Arab Emirates, their motives become clearer, says Masson-Zwaan. 'The United Arab Emirates are very ambitious. For example, they want to go to Mars to mine raw materials.’ Having its own court that outlines what the United Arab Emirates considers permissible could create an interesting business climate for companies. 'It could be an attempt to attract new companies.'

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