Remote Sensing: Capabilities and Legal Issues

Mohd Bahrin Othman


Principle l(a) of United Nation Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth From Space defined the term ‘Remote Sensing' as the sensing of the earth‘s surface from space by making use of the properties of electromagnetic waves emitted, reflected or diffracted by the sensed objects,for the purpose of improving natural resources management, land use and the protection of environment need.
Many areas of human activity have benefited from sensing activities: monitoring of the global environment, archeologists to address issues in human settlement, environmental interaction and climate change, the monitoring of agricultural growth paterns and diseases and not forgetting, the military activities.
Remote sensing activities have impact on the global space marker, which
includes satellite manufacturing, satellite data and data distribution, processing and interpretation services.
There are question to be answered. Can a country invoke Exclusive
State jurisdiction in order to prevent to limit remote sensing of its territory by a foreign satellite? Can the information be itself regarded as a natural resource over which it has sovereignty? Who shall have the control over the dissemination of information gathered by satellite? Whether prior permission of the sensed state would be required in cases of such remote sensing of another state? Does 'interference’ include to provision of information and ideas to or the desire to seek information about, any other state?
Arguably, the United Nations Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of
the Earth from Space are imperfect and do nor offer much solution to the legal issues.

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