The domain of outer space has become increasingly congested, contested and competitive, and hostilities there are becoming more likely. Efforts have been undertaken to restrict the increasing militarization of space, but they have met with varying success. The simple fact is that we heavily rely upon satellite means for communication, GPS, weather forecasting, remote sensing and a myriad of other uses. Our way of interconnected modern life is based significantly on strategic space assets. The development of any hostilities in Outer Space has the potential to severely impact the manner in which contemporary life is conducted.
Given these developments, The Institute of Air and Space Law located in McGill University in Montreal hosted a three-day workshop in mid September, to discuss the development of an International Manual on the Regulation of Military Activities in Outer Space. Representatives from the Governments of Canada, Germany, France, India, US and Australia (all acting in their personal capacity) as well as representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (again acting in their personal capacity) participated in the planning event.
Associate Professor Dale Stephens attended the workshop on behalf of the Law School/RUMLAE. The three-day event was partially funded by the Canadian Government and saw very broad discussion on the scope of the Manual and a focus on the legal issues that would be highlighted in such a publication. These included International Humanitarian Law, Use of Force, Space Treaty Law, the Law relating to State Responsibility and International Environmental Law. Subject to receiving further funding, it was agreed that the drafting phase of this project would commence over the next year with a number of experts in these legal fields contributing towards the development of rules and commentary as applicable to this topic. It is very likely that at least one drafting session would occur in Adelaide at some point in the near future. This would give those who have an interest in this field the opportunity to observe the articulation of rules and commentary that would be included in the Manual.
Adelaide Law School has a very successful partnership with McGill University teaching a postgraduate course on ‘Strategic Space Law’ (taking place in alternate years between Canada and Australia) which Professor Melissa de Zwart and Associate Professor Dale Stephens coordinate. The functional partnership that the Law School has with McGill is a strong and mutually beneficial one that allows academics and students of Adelaide Law School the capacity for meaningful international scholarly engagement in activities such as this.