Frans von der Dunk

Harvey & Susan Perlman Alumni and Othmer Professor of Space Law

214 LAW UNL 68583-0902
(402)472-1240 | Email  | Website

Areas of Expertise
  • Space Law
  • International Satellite Communications Law
  • Introduction to EU Law
  • European Regulation of Space and Telecommunications
  • National Space Legislation
  • University of Leiden, The Netherlands


  • Assistant Professor, Department of Public Law, University of Leiden, 1989
  • Co-Director, International Institute of Air and Space Law, University of Leiden, 1990
  • Academic Coordinator, LLM Programme in International Air and Space Law, Leiden University, 2000
  • Director, Space Law Research, International Institute of Air and Space Law, Leiden University, 2002
  • Associate Professor, Department of Public Law, University of Leiden, 2007
  • Director, Black Holes B.V., Consultancy in space law and policy, Leiden, 2007
  • Professor of Law, University of Nebraska, College of Law, 2008


Prof. Von der Dunk was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in Vancouver, in October 2004, and the Social Science Award of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) in Valencia, in October 2006. In the summer of 2008, he was nominated, as the first lawyer ever, Member of the European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC) of the European Space Foundation (ESF). Also, he was the sole lawyer on the Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation established by the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) in 2007.

He defended his dissertation on "Private Enterprise and Public Interest in the European 'Spacescape'" in 1998. He has written more than 130 articles and published papers, many of which can be accessed at, giving rise to hundreds of full-text downloads monthly. He has given more than 140 presentations at international meetings and was visiting professor at over 30 foreign universities and other academic institutions across the world on subjects of international and national space law and policy, international air law and public international law. He has (co-)organised some 20 international symposia, workshops and other events, and has been (co-)editor of a number of publications and proceedings. As of 2006, he is the Series Editor of 'Studies in Space Law', published by Brill. In addition, he has given a range of interviews to the international media on issues of space law and policy.

Prof. Von der Dunk has served as adviser to the Dutch Government, several foreign Governments, the European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA), the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Dutch National Aerospace Agency (NIVR), the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA), the German Space Agency (DLR), the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), as well as a number of companies, and was member of the Advisory Group to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the drafting of Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes relating to Outer Space. Such advisory work dealt with a broad area of issues related to space activities, such as space policy, international cooperation in space, national space law, privatisation of space activities, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) (in particular Galileo), satellite communications, radio astronomy, and earth observation. Also, he has acted as the Legal Task Manager in a number of studies undertaken in particular within the context of leading European Commission projects, such as on European space policy, Galileo and GNSS, satellite communications, the Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES) project and earth observation. Much of his recent work furthermore focused on such topical issues as space tourism, the legal status of the Moon and other celestial bodies and the 'sale-of- lunar-estate hoax', and planetary protection.

He is Director Public Relations of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), Member of the Board of the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL), and Member for the Netherlands in the International Law Association's (ILA) Committee on Space Law. He is also Member of the International Editorial Board of 'Space Policy'. Further memberships include: International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA), International Bar Association's (IBA) Section on Business Law (SBL), Committee Z on Outer Space Law, International Policy Advisory Committee (IPAC) of the International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA; Senior Member), and Centro de Investigacion y Difusion Aeronautico-Espacial (CIDA-E; Corresponding Member). He is also the owner of Black Holes B.V., a consultancy company for space law and policy.

Space Law

Law 748/G (3 cr) Lec 3. Space law and policy for intelligence gathering and weaponization, telecommunications, satellite launch, space tourism, and remote sensing. Application of five major international space treaties to regulation of modern space activities and arms control agreements. New and growing problems of orbital debris, protection of in-space assets and terrorism.

International Satellite Communications Law

(Law 784) (1 credit hour) The branch of space law which is focused most on practical and commercial applications without a doubt is the satellite communications sector. The present class will address the specific legal regimes dealing with satellite communications law in particular at the international level. Thus, it will address the role of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in allocating, allotting and assigning frequency spectrum and orbital slots/orbits, and the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in regulating the international trade in satellite communication services. Also, the unique roles of the international satellite organizations INTELSAT and INMARSAT, especially since their transition to privatized companies kicked off, will be addressed. Finally, other, more regional developments in the USA, Europe and elsewhere will be briefly touched upon.

National Space Legislation

Law 766/G (1 cr) Lec 1. Implementation of international space treaties and other international space law by means of the establishment of national space legislation. Licensing regimes dealing with liability issues or other control mechanisms. Ways in which countries across the world have chosen to implement relevant international requirements as well as to assert national space policies by means of national law. Discussion of national U.S. law regarding satellite communications, satellite remote sensing, and space tourism.

Introduction to EU Law

Law 785/G (1 cr) Lec 1. Overview of the development of establishment of the European Union and the current transition from the failed Constitutional Treaty to the new Reform Treaty. The unique character of the EC/EU as a half-way house between a classical intergovernmental organization and a federal state, respective roles of the Council the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Court of Justice in the process of law-making, regulations, directives, and decisions at the European level. Major substantive elements of EC law, such as the freedom of movement of goods, services, person, capital, and the competition regime.

European Regulation of Space and Telecommunications

Law 786/G (1 cr) Lec 1. Interaction between EC/EU and the European Space Agency in the development of European space activities and policies, in regard to EUTELSAT and EUMETSAT, and their institutional integration. The development of Galileo and the Global Monitoring for Environment Security project; general legislative and regulatory competencies of commercial space and satellite communications; gradual development of an internal market for SATCOM services.


Many of these articles are freely accessible and downloadable at the following website:

  • The integrated approach—Regulating private human spaceflight as space activity, aircraft operation, and high-risk adventure tourism," Acta Astronautica (2012)
  • “Regulating the Final Frontier – As commercial endeavors enter space, international law must expand as well,” The Futurist (September/October 2012), 20.
  • “A Tale of Two Oceans: Governance of Terrestrial and Outer Space ‘Global Commons’,” 2 Asian Journal of Air & Space Law (2012), 31-60.
  • “Outer Space Law Principles and Privacy,” in Evidence from Earth Observation Satellites (2012), 243-58.
  • “The EU Space Competence as per the Treaty of Lisbon: Sea Change or Empty Shell?,” in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2011 (2012), 382-92.
  • “Combing Space Law, Cyber Law and Telecoms Law in Education; A New Approach,” 35 Revista del Centro de Investigacion y Difusion Aeronautico-Espacial (2011-2012), 11-27.
  • “Contradictio in terminis or Realpolitik? A Qualified Plea for a Role of ‘Soft Law’ in the Context of Space Activities,” in Soft Law in Outer Space – The Function of Non-binding Norms in International Space Law (2012), 31-56.
  • “Space Law,” published in Oxford Bibliography Online: International Law (2011).
  • “Space tourism, private space?ight and the Law: Key aspects,” 27 Space Policy (2011), 146-52.
  • “Sun, Sea, Sand … and Space: Launching Tourists into Outer Space from the Dutch Caribbean,” in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2010 (2011), 349-59.
  • “The Legal Framework for Space Projects in Europe: Aspects of Applicable Law and Dispute Resolution," in Contracting for Space – Contract Practice in the European Space sector (2011), 357-66.
  • “The Origins of Authorisation: Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty and International Space Law,” in National Space Legislation in Europe – Issues of Authorisation of Private Space Activities in the Light of Developments in European Space Cooperation (2011), 3-28.
  • “Liability and Insurance in the Context of National Authorisation,” in National Space Legislation in Europe – Issues of Authorisation of Private Space Activities in the Light of Developments in European Space Cooperation (2011), 125-61 (Co-author with A. Kerrest de Rozavel).
  • “The Issue of National Security in the Context of National Space Legislation – Comparing European and Non-European States,” in National Space Legislation in Europe – Issues of Authorisation of Private Space Activities in the Light of Developments in European Space Cooperation (2011), 225-62.
  • “A New ‘Star’ in the Firmament – Teaching Space and Telecoms Law as a Post-Graduate LL.M. Programme,” The Korean Journal of Air and Space Law, Special Edition (2011), 407-26.
  • Participant to "Science & Diplomacy: International Space Law Panel," 11 The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations (2010), 7-26.
  • "A Response to Steven Freeland by Frans G von der Dunk," Melbourne Journal of International Law, Opinio Juris website,
  • "Regulation of Space Activities in The Netherlands – From Hugo Grotius to the High Ground of Outer Space," in National Regulation of Space Activities (2010), 225-45.
  • "The International Law of Outer Space and Consequences at the National Level for India: Towards an Indian National Space Law?," in Indian Yearbook of International Law and Policy (2009) (2010), 135-63.
  • "The European Convention on Human Rights and EU law – Two European legal approaches to privacy, as relevant to high-resolution imaging," in Current Legal Issues for Satellite Earth Observation (2010), ESPI Report 25, 55-60.
  • "Europe and Security Issues in Space: The Institutional Setting," 4 Space and Defense (2010), 71-99.
  • "Too-Close Encounters of the Third-Party Kind: Will the Liability Convention Stand the Test of the Cosmos 2251-Iridium 33 Collision?," in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2009 (2010), 199-209.
  • "Integrated applications: a new way forward for Europe – Some legal thoughts," in Yearbook on Space Policy 2008/2009: Setting New Trends (2010), 208-22.
  • "Article V," in Cologne Commentary on Space Law, Volume I, Outer Space Treaty (2009), 94-102. (Co-author: G.M. Goh)
  • "Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty 'in the European Context'," in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2008 (2009), 547-59.
  • "Treaty Law in Support of Climate Monitoring," in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2008 (2009), 510-8.
  • "Defining Subject Matter under Space Law: Near Earth Objects versus Space Objects," in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2008 (2009), 293-303.
  • "European Satellite Earth Observation: Law, Regulations, Policies, Projects and Programmes," 42 Creighton Law Review (2009), 397-445.
  • "A European "Equivalent" to United States Export Controls: European Law on the Control of International Trade in Dual-Use Space Technologies," 7 Astropolitics (2009), 101-34.
  • "Surveying the Scene: The Effects of Globalisation on Space Law - A Panelist's Remarks," in Globalisation - the State and International Law (2009), 127-38.
  • "Europe and the 'Resolution Revolution:' 'European' Legal Approaches to Privacy and their Relevance for Space Remote Sensing Activities," 34 Annals of Air and Space Law (2009), 809-44.
  • "Space law in the age of the International Space Station," in Humans in Outer Space - Interdisciplinary Odysseys (2009), 148-61.


  • The International Space Station - Commercial Utilisation From A European Legal Perspective (2006), Ed. with M.M.T.A. Brus.
  • Private Enterprise and Public Interest in the European 'Spacescape' - Towards Harmonized National Space Legislation for Private Space Activities in Europe (1998)