Judicial Settlement of Space-Related Disputes: Sovereignty’s Final Fetters
State practice provides evidence that each international situation is capable of being determined as a matter of law. Currently, sovereign independence of States is curtailed by the international rule of law. Most, if not all, judgements rendered by the World Court contribute influentially to the legal process and the pacification of international society. The Court enjoys a potentially unlimited scope of jurisdiction ratione materiae. The idea of settling judicially a space dispute was not treated as a panacea that will secure international peace and solve international conflicts. State sovereignty, as far as space disputes are concerned, remained relatively free of any relevant conventional impingement. The Court enjoys the authority and jurisdiction to hear and try a space law dispute. Out of 72 ‘optional clause declarations’, no State has included a ratione materiae reservation, therewith excluding disputes originating from a conventional space law instrument or even customary international space law. The Court remains at the service of international community in its entirety and has been radiating through the entire global community a consciousness of the international rule of law. Access to the Court has become ‘universal in nature’. Space law is a new field indeed; settlement of disputes is most certainly not. Although there is no concrete and hard evidence to support the view that a multiplicity of international tribunals has impaired the unity of jurisprudence, what the legal audience focuses on is the influence of the Court on the system of substantive law. Future cases dealing with issues of space law should be referred to the World Court as a full Court, for a wide and comprehensive experience will be needed.