Space Bandits: The Need for Interstellar Criminal Law

Dr. Carrie Leonetti
Associate Professor
School of Law – University of Auckland – New Zealand


This Article examines the relationship between space exploration and international criminal law, particularly principles of international criminal jurisdiction.
It sketches the existing, rather skeletal international-law framework governing outer space exploration and explores the way that general principles of international criminal jurisdiction might apply to crimes committed in outer space, including principles of territoriality, nationality, passive personality, and universal jurisdiction.
It argues that the existing international framework governing space exploration is insufficient to prevent and prosecute crimes that occur in outer space. It proposes several specific reforms, including the ratification of multilateral agreements establishing jurisdictional mechanisms for the third-party prosecution of crimes committed in outer space.

Keywords: outer space exploration, international criminal jurisdiction, Crimes Committed in outer space, territoriality, nationality.

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