Imagery and Expectations for International Disaster Response

Nathan Clark is a PhD Fellow at the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law, Centre for International Law, Conflict and Crisis, and the Changing Disasters project at the Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research.  His Article examines the development and contributions of the Charter on Cooperation to Achieve the Coordinated Use of Space Facilities in the Event of Natural or Technological Disasters (Charter). As a voluntary mechanism among spacefaring nations and transnational entities, the Charter provides remote sensing data and information for international disaster response efforts. Over the past fifteen years, the Charter members have continued to contribute and cooperate in an effective manner, in spite of increasing legislative and economic controls over the access and distribution of data at the State level. This Article finds that the behaviors of Charter members largely fall outside of traditional, geopolitical rationales over security and commercial interests, and argues that the guiding dynamics of the Charter stem from a historical construct of actions and ideals from actors within scientific and technical communities. Drawing from normative concepts within international relations theory, the Article concludes that the Charter has become a progressive case for the potential influence of non-binding legal frameworks on interstate cooperation.