Frans von der Dunk

Professor Frans von der Dunk

Frans von der Dunk Harvey & Susan Perlman Alumni and Othmer Professor of Space Law

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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 180 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. Finally, he recently (in 2015) published the first comprehensive Handbook of Space Law with Edward Elgar Publishing.

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.


International Satellite Communications Law Law 784 (1 cr hr)
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 (2 cr hr)
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.

Space Law Law 748/G (2 cr hr)
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.

Aviation Law Law 661 (1 cr hr)
This course focuses on public international air law, with emphasis on the Chicago Convention of 1944 and the International Civil Aviation Organization, the exchange of air traffic rights by way of bilateral air service agreements. This course will also cover the most important criminal air law treaties. This course will furthermore cover selected areas of private international air law including air carrier liability under the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions, respectively the Rome Convention alternatively tort law. It will finally also include the role of the GATS and the EU in aviation law. Grade will be based on a final exam. This course is available to online LLM students.


Liability for Damage Caused by Small Satellites - a non-issue?,  Small Satellites - Regulatory Challenges and Changes (2016)

Legal Aspects of Satellite Communications - A Mini Handbook,  4 Journal of Telecommunication and Broadcasting Law (2015)

The US Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015,  JURIST, 30 November 2015

Legal aspects of navigation - The cases for privacy and liability: An introduction for non-lawyers,  11-5 Coordinates (May 2015)

The 'Space Side' to 'Harmful Interference' - Evaluating Regulatory Instruments in Addressing Interference Issues in the Context of Satellite Communications,  Harmful Interference in Regulatory Perspective (2015)

About the New PCA Rules and their Application to Satellite Communication Disputes,  Dispute Settlement in the Area of Space Communication (2015)

International space law  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

European space law  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

International organizations in space law  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

Legal aspects of satellite communications  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

Legal aspects of private manned spaceflight  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

International trade aspects of space services  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

About the New PCA Rules and their Application to Satellite Communications Disputes  Dispute Settlement in the Area of Space Communication, (2015)

Law in Space  Elgar Publishing (2015)

Federal versus State: Private Commercial Spaceflight Operator Immunity Regulation in the United States  Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2013 (2014)

Legal aspects of using space-derived geospatial information for emergency response, with particular reference to the Charter on Space and Major Disasters.  Geoinformation. Law and Practice (2014)

Cutting the bread,  29 Space Policy (2013)

Trying to Fit a Square Peg into a Round Hole? Applying Air Law to Manned Commercial Spaceflight – the Case Study of Curaçao,  12-3 The Aviation & Space Journal (2013)

Space Tourism, Private Spaceflight and the Law: Key Aspects,  16-6 The Nebraska Lawyer (2013)

Mixing US and Dutch Approaches; Towards Curaçao’s Legislation on Private Commercial Spaceflight,  62 Zeitschrift für Luft- und Weltraumrecht (2013)

Towards ‘Flags of Convenience’ in Space?,  Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2012 (2013)

Another addition to National Space Legislation: The Austrian Outer Space Act, Adopted 6 December 2011,  Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2012 (2013)

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,  Evidence from Earth Observation Satellites (2012), 243-58

The EU Space Competence as per the Treaty of Lisbon: Sea Change or Empty Shell?,  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,  5 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,  Soft Law in Outer Space – The Function of Non-binding Norms in International Space Law (2012), 31-56


Handbook of Space LawEdward Elgar Publishing (2015)

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)


Why Space Law is Important PINC.Sarasota, (2015)

A Tale of Two Oceans - Governance of Terrestrial and Outer Space Commons University of Rome Doctorate Program, May 2015

The Sky is the Limit - Commercial Spaceflight and the Law International Client Consultation Competition Master Class, April 2015

Space Law and Commercial Space Law - Also for Government Needs US STRATCOM Space & Cyber Law Workshop, April 2015

Legal Aspects of Navigation - The cases for privacy and liability International Navigation Conference, February 2015

From the space treaties to national space law University of Houston Law Center, November 2014

The Three Witches of US Private Commercial Spaceflight FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference, February 2014

Transmissions to Extraterrestrials and the Law: Where Do We Stand, Where Should We Stand? Active Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Workshop, February 2015


The Race to Space  VPRO Backlight (2015)

Is Space Mining Legal?  Popular Science (2015)

Black Holes BV  Professor von der Dunk's website

When Gravity is No Obstacle  Financial Times (2013)

Will Space Rules Take Off?  Global Arbitration Review (2013)

UNL Hosting Annual Space Law Conference  AIAA Daily Newsletter (2013)

Space law is taking off  American Bar Association Journal (2013)

Give Peace a Chance—in Space  The Atlantic (2013)

Space: The Mining Frontier  Mother Jones (2012)

Hangout with NASA and SpaceX on Google+  The Preternatural Post (2012)


Ph.D., Modern History, 1986, University of Leiden, The Netherlands
Ph.D., International Space Laws, 1998, University of Leiden, The Netherlands

Areas of Expertise


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