An International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion for the Protection of Dark and Quiet Skies
Light and spectrum pollution from orbital infrastructure is becoming worse, altering the sky for everyone. Currently, this pollution is being driven by a few companies within a few states, but much more is planned.
Without meaningful steps to limit this pollution, the exploration of space through astronomical observation could be seriously harmed.
In 2022, a proposal submitted to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), a consensus-based organization, pushed for the creation of an expert group which would have monitored orbital light and spectrum interference from satellites and made recommendations for mitigations. The proposal was championed by several states and astronomical organizations and debated at COPUOS in June 2023, before being rejected due to a lack of consensus.
A new approach is needed – one that cannot be blocked by one or a small number of states.
Astro-ICJ aims to encourage the member states of the UN General Assembly to request an ‘advisory opinion’ from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the responsibilities of states regarding orbital light and spectrum pollution.
The Astro-ICJ initiative is just beginning. To follow our progress, and learn about opportunities to be involved, please join the Astro-ICJ mailing list now: Astro-ICJ Updates.
By Michael Byers & Aaron Boley for IAU Symposium #385, 2-6 October 2023.
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