Military Space Activities and the Law

Artist rendering of LEO satellite constellations. Credit: SpaceQ.

Space sustainability is not only a buzz phrase, it is a critical issue as space become increasingly congested, competitive and contested.

The African Space Leadership Institute is hosting a webinar on Space Sustainability: Military Space Activities on March 1 that will moderated by Prof. Ram Jakhu, the Project Director of the MILAMOS Project.

The webinar will focus on the legal aspects of military space activities. And it’s important to note that last summer the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law at McGill University published what they describe as the “world’s first” manual on the International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space.

Webinar Series on Space Sustainability: Military Space Activities. Credit: McGill University/African Space Leadership Institute.
Webinar Series on Space Sustainability: Military Space Activities. Credit: McGill University/African Space Leadership Institute.

The organizers describe the webinar as follows:

With heightened geopolitical tensions on Earth, and stalled multilateral efforts at stemming the weaponisation of outer space, the potential extension of an armed conflict to outer space can no longer be dismissed. As modern societies, economies and militaries depend heavily on space applications and technologies for numerous socio-economic, scientific, and strategic needs, it is imperative that this global commons remains free from conflict. Indeed, the ongoing work of the United Nations Working Group on the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities, and the Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats, highlight the common recognition that outer space must be explored and used in a safe, secure and sustainable manner in accordance with the international rules-based order.

The McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (McGill Manual) aims to clarify international law as it applies to outer space and military uses of outer space. Now published Volume-I of the McGill Manual contains 52 Rules focussed on issues of critical importance to space activities conducted during peacetime and in times of rising tension that pose challenges to peace. The Rules reflect the lex lata (law as it is) applicable to different aspects of military space activities, which have been formulated and drafted through an elaborate and well-defined process of consensus-building and consultation with governments and space stakeholders across the globe. These Rules are the product of the shared vision of an international consortium of renowned practitioners and academics that a restatement of existing international law will serve to restrain actions and behaviours that might otherwise lead to the commencement of an armed conflict that would have devastating consequences across the globe. The McGill Manual: Volume II – Rules with Commentaries is aimed to be published in 2023.

Through this webinar, the African Space Leadership Institute (ASLI) as well as Editors of the McGill Manual aim to raise awareness on the McGill Manual’s drafting process, its outcomes, and potential contributions towards the enhancement of the rule of law and space governance.

It is the third in the series of webinars organised by ASLI. These webinars are primarily directed at ensuring the conduct of space activities, including military space activities by African States, are in line with regional and multilateral efforts at enhancing space sustainability.

The panelists include:

  • Prof. Ram Jakhu – Full Professor at the Institute of Air and Space Law, Faculty of Law, McGill University, Canada. Project Director, MILAMOS Project and Co-Editor, McGill Manual, Vol. I and II.
  • Prof. Steven Freeland – Emeritus Professor of International Law at Western Sydney University and Professorial Fellow at Bond University. Core Legal Expert and Co-Editor, Vol. I (Rules).
  • Prof. Setsuko Aoki – Professor of Law at Keio University Law School, Japan. Core Legal Expert and Co-Editor, Vol. II.
  • Bayar Goswami – Arsenault Doctoral Fellow at the Institute of Air and Space Law, McGill University. Research Coordinator and Co-Editor, Vol. II.
  • Mr. Kuan-Wei (David) Chen – Doctoral Candidate, Bond University. Managing Editor, McGill Manual, Vol. I and II.

Registration for the webinar is available through Eventbrite.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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