The progressive development and codification of international law constitutes one of the principal responsibilities of the United Nations in the legal field. An important area for the exercise of such responsibilities is the new environment of outer space and, through the efforts of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Legal Subcommittee, a number of significant contributions to the law of outer space have been made. The United Nations has, indeed, become a focal point for international cooperation in outer space and for the formulation of necessary international rules.
Outer space, extraordinary in many respects, is, in addition, unique from the legal point of view. It is only recently that human activities and international interaction in outer space have become realities and that beginnings have been made in the formulation of international rules to facilitate international relations in outer space.
As is appropriate to an environment whose nature is so extraordinary, the extension of international law to outer space has been gradual and evolutionary—commencing with the study of questions relating to legal aspects, proceeding to the formulation of principles of a legal nature and, then, incorporating such principles in general multilateral treaties.