The Securitization of Outer Space: Challenges for Arms Control

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The concepts of militarization and weaponization dominate debates on space security, and radically different implications for arms control follow depending on which of these two characterizations is adopted. Yet the militarization-weaponization debate in many ways fails to capture the vagaries of contemporary space policy. An increasing number of international actors now argue that the infrastructure of modern society - including communications, media, and environmental monitoring - is crucially reliant upon satellite technologies. As a result it is now more accurate to say that outer space is becoming ever more securitized: that is, access to space is now commonly framed as essential to the military, economic, and environmental security of leading states and international organizations. The article illustrates the contribution of a securitization approach in this regard via an analysis of United States and European Union space policy. In the process it argues that attempts at securitization in these space policy discourses maintain an inherent tension between global and national security concerns, and thus provide a weak basis for space arms control. However, in closing the article the author makes the argument that securitization of outer space, if configured around an alternate vision of space security that moves beyond the statist foundations of traditional arms control, can potentially mobilize the political will required for controlling the means of violence in and from outer space.
Translated title of the contributionThe Securitization of Outer Space: Challenges for Arms Control
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76 - 98
Number of pages22
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group


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