United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Ratification of Outer Space Treaty

Action type
Government of the United States of America
10 October 1967

The instrument of ratification of the Treaty by the United Kingdom states that the Treaty is ratified “in respect of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Associated States (Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla and St. Lucia) and Territories under the territorial sovereignty of the United Kingdom, as well as the State of Brunei, the Kingdom of Swaziland, the Kingdom of Tonga and the British Solomon Islands Protectorate . . .”

The British Ambassador made the following declaration in a note to the Secretary of State, dated October 10, 1967:  “In depositing with the Government of the United States the instrument of ratification by the United Kingdom of the Treaty . . ., I have the honour to declare on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom that this Treaty will not be applicable in regard to Southern Rhodesia unless and until the Government of the United Kingdom informs the other depositary Governments that it is in a position to ensure that the obligations imposed by the Treaty in respect of that territory can be fully implemented.”

The British Ambassador to Washington addressed a note, dated June 11, 1997, to the Secretary of State which reads as follows:

“Secretary of State

“I am instructed by Her Britannic Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to refer to the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies done at London/Moscow/Washington on 27 January 1967 (hereinafter referred to as the “Treaty”) which applies to Hong Kong at present.

“I am also instructed to state that, in accordance with the Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong signed on 19 December 1984, the Government of the United Kingdom will restore Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China with effect from 1 July 1997.  The Government of the United Kingdom will continue to have international responsibility for Hong Kong until that date.  Therefore, from that date the Government of the United Kingdom will cease to be responsible for the international rights and obligations arising from the application of the Treaty to Hong Kong.

“I should be grateful if the contents of this Note could be placed formally on record and brought to the attention of the other Parties to the Treaty.

“I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to Your Excellency the assurances of my highest consideration.”

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