At the opening of the 4th Manfred Lachs Conference on Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law, representatives from McGill University and partner institution the University of Adelaide officially launched the interdisciplinary and international project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS).
This unique project, which to date enjoys the support of the Government of Canada, the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as support from a growing number of international experts, aims to draft a widely-accepted manual clarifying the rules applicable to the military use of outer space. These rules would clarify and regulate the range of activities that can be conducted in times of peace, as well as in periods of tension and armed conflict. The Project is made possible with financial contributions from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Erin JC Arsenault Trust Fund at McGill University established to support initiatives and research into the peaceful uses of outer space and space governance.
The launch event was attended by over 80 people from all over the world. Underlining the importance and necessity of the MILAMOS Project were Professor Ram Jakhu, Chair of the MILAMOS Project Management Board, Dr Dale Stephens, Editor-in-Chief of the Manual and Director of the University of Adelaide's Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics (RUMLAE), Professor Paul Dempsey, Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law and the Centre for the Research in Air and Space Law, the Dean of McGill Faculty of Law, Professor Daniel Jutras, and McGill University's Vice Principal (Research and Innovations), Dr. Rosie Goldstein.
The Institute and Centre have long been a recognised hub for teaching, critical thinking and research in the field of air and space law, and the MILAMOS Project demonstrates the innovation and strength of these institutions. The project aims to ensure, for the sake of the long-term sustainability and peaceful uses of outer space, that all activities are governed by the rule of law.
Dean Jutras expressed his support for the Institute and the Centre in spearheading the Project that will no doubt have great international influence on public policy-making and the legal regulation of affairs in outer space in years to come. Dr. Goldstein made welcoming remarks, partly in French, and noted McGill University's pride in leading such a project.
Additionally, Dr David Kendall, the incoming Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, gave the Conference's Keynote Address and praised McGill and the University of Adelaide for their foresight in conceptualising and conceiving this groundbreaking and innovative project, particularly in the current geopolitical climate of "considerable distrust". Mr. Niklas Hedman, of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, spoke about how the Project will address security and sustainability issues that will be a focus of the upcoming UNISPACE+50 event in 2018.
Much of the discussions at the Conference related to issues that will form the challenging concepts and developments that the MILAMOS Project aims to grapple with. The discussions, contacts and fruitful exchanges facilitated at the Conference provided the international community with ideas and means to recognise the legal restraints on conflicts in outer space, to promote a stable, rules-based global order in outer space and to reduce the impetus towards an arms race and conflict in outer space.
The official press statement regarding the MILAMOS Project is available in both English and French, and more information about the MILAMOS Project can be accessed at the dedicated MILAMOS website.