The Institute of Air & Space Law and the Centre for Research in Air & Space Law

McGill University's Institute of Air & Space Law (IASL) and its research arm, the Centre for Research in Air & Space Law, have a rich history of education, public service and scholarship.

The IASL is among the most prominent and decorated research institution in air and space law in the world. Since its creation in 1951, the Institute has trained over a thousand specialists in air and space law. Its loyal graduates serve in some of the highest legal positions in the bar, the industry, and governmental institutions in some 120 nations around the world. Read more...


 

IASL students with Acting IASL Director Professor Ram Jakhu at the Spring Convocation 2022.

Latest news and announcements

For news and activities of previous years, please visit the News Archive.

Dean Leckey addresses the 2022 American Bar Association Air and Space Law Forum

McGill Faculty of Law Dean Robert Leckey addressing the American Bar Association (ABA) Air and Space Law Forum at its 2022 Annual Conference

On 15 September 2022, McGill University Faculty of Law Dean Robert Leckey addressed the American Bar Association (ABA) Air and Space Law Forum at its 2022 Annual Conference. Attended by legal aerospace professionals, senior airline executives and high-level government representatives, the Conference took place at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

Dean Leckey pictured here with Forum Chair Marc Warren and Kuan-Wei Chen from the Institute of Air and Space Law.
Introduced by Forum Chair Marc Warren, Dean Leckey welcomed the participants to Montreal, a city that is a key node in the global regulation of air transport thanks to the presence of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Air Transport Association. As the fundamental principles of global governance face challenges, the necessity for sound legal knowledge of air law in academia and in practice has never been greater, Dean Leckey remarked.

The ABA’s Air and Space Law Forum is an essential opportunity for academics and practitioners to engage and cooperate with one another. The Forum provides a valuable platform to promote discussions and idea exchanges on matters of critical importance to the aviation and aerospace industries. Its programme features a series of keynote presentations by industry heavyweights, interactive panel discussions and fireside chats.

Featuring a series of keynote speakers by industry heavyweights, interactive panel discussions and fireside chats, the Air and Space Law Forum’s annual meeting is a valuable platform for exchanges on matters of critical importance to the aviation and aerospace industries.

Dean Leckey took the opportunity to socialise with participants, including University of Florida JD candidate Logan Edwards who is also the Law School Liaison for the ABA’s Forum on Air & Space Law.

Going back over two decades, the ABA’s Air and Space Law Forum has a longstanding tradition of collaborating with the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law in holding its Annual Conference in Montreal every three years.

The Institute is honoured to continue this collaboration, and looks forward to joining the Air and Space Law Forum in organising the next event in 2025.


IASL represented at Montreal International Aerospace Week 2022

The IASL was invited to take part in the panel discussion on "Perspectives and Solutions to the Risk of Space Belligerence"

As part of Montreal International Aerospace Week 2022’s Defense and Security / Space Day, former Executive Director of the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law Mr. Kuan-Wei Chen took part in a roundtable discussion titled “Perspectives and Solutions to the Risk of Space Belligerence”. The overarching theme of the panel, which took place on 8 September 2022, focused on how, in an increasingly tense geopolitical climate, operators can better secure space systems and protect space assets.

Through the interactive and lively discussion, panellists were in agreement that the major trend in space has been the increased reliance on commercial and private space operators. As such operators are much more entrepreneurial and cost-effective, governments as well as militaries around the world have been sourcing space data and hardware from the commercial space sector. However, as with all operators in the shared global commons of outer space, the actions of one operator may have consequences or impacts on the activities of all other operators. The recent testing of kinetic anti-satellite capabilities, the hijacking of a defunct Canadian satellite to broadcast movies, and close-proximity and grappling operations in the geostationary orbit all highlight the various ways that space objects can be destroyed or interfered with. Such irresponsible behaviour pose threats to all operators, regardless of whether they are commercial, government, or military in nature.

For close to five decades, the McGill Centre for Research in Air and Space Law has been at the forefront of cutting-edge and multidisciplinary research on, among other issues, military uses of outer space and how to enhance space security. Published in August 2022, the first volume of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space is the latest in the Centre’s long legacy of affirming the importance of the rule of law in outer space, as well as contributing to multilateral initiatives to enhance the governance, security and sustainability of outer space.

As was raised on the panel, it is not important to just clarify the applicability and continued relevance of space law at the international level; equally important, at the national level, States should adopt space legislation to ensure that national space activities and actors conform to the fundamental principles of using space for peaceful purposes and in accordance with international law.

On this note, Professor Ram Jakhu has twice been appointed by the Government of Canada to conduct independent reviews of Canada’s Remote Sensing Space Systems Act. From late 2019-2021, Mr. Chen co-chaired the Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee which brought together various departments of the Government of Canada, industry stakeholders, and foreign experts to critically review how Canada’s only space-specific legislation can better address and reflect the needs of Canada’s homegrown space businesses and industry.

Also taking part on the panel were representatives from Canadian space enterprises NorthStar, Telestar and MDA, a representative from Space Canada, the newly established interest group composed of Canada’s space innovators and allied industries, and a representative from the newly inaugurated 3 Canadian Space Division, a branch of the Royal Canadian Air Force dedicated to support the space operations of the Canadian Armed Forces.

participants at Montreal International Aerospace Week 2022’s Defense and Security / Space Day
The IASL is delighted to continually be engaged with government officials and industry representatives, and take part in discussions aimed at increasing transparency in space, avoiding conflict in space, and promoting cooperation and the peaceful use of outer space. Such important events as International Aerospace Week provide excellent opportunities to engage government officials, industry leaders, members of the public and students on the importance of cultivating understanding and research in space law and policy for the benefit of present and future generations.


Welcome to the IASL Class of 2022-2023

IASL class of 2022-2023

Interim Director of Institute of Air and Space Law Professor Donal Hanley welcomed the incoming class of 2022/2023 in the spectacular rooms of Old Chancellor Day Hall last Friday. After two years of virtual and hybrid learning, it was the first welcome held entirely in person again and it was a delight to see the incoming students meeting professors and Institute staff while enjoying free pizza and drinks. As always, the class is a diverse and cosmopolitan group of extremely talented and driven individuals hailing from Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, the United States, Qatar and Romania.

IASL Interim Director Donal Hanley presenting a new IASL student with a copy of Public International Air Law by Emeritus Professor Paul S. Dempsey.
Professor Hanley was joined by other members of the Institute, including, the newly appointed Executive Director of the Centre and Institute of Air and Space Law Stefan-Michael Wedenig, Editor of the Annals of Air & Space Law Jack Wright Nelson, Senior Administrative Coordinator Maria D'Amico and Research Associate Dr. Shakeel Ahmad as well as Adjunct Professor Martine de Serres, Adjunct Professor John Saba and Sessional Lecturers Dr. Yaw Nyampong, Dr. Joseph Wilson and George Petsikas.

As a welcome present, each member of the new class was presented with a copy of Public International Air Law by Paul Stephen Dempsey, Emeritus Director of the Institute.

We wish the class lots of success as they progress in their studies and discover what wonders McGill and Montreal have to offer


Stefan-Michael Wedenig named New Executive Director of the Centre and Institute of Air and Space Law

Stefan-Michael Wedenig is the new Executive Director of the Centre and Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University.

We are pleased to announce that doctoral student Stefan-Michael Wedenig (LL.M class of 2020/21) has been named the new Executive Director of the Centre and Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University. With effect from 1 September, Stefan-Michael will take over the role of the outgoing Executive Director, Kuan-Wei (David) Chen, who has served the Centre and the Institute admirably over the past ten years.

“As a recent graduate of the Institute and now a second-year DCL student, Stefan-Michael is intimately familiar with the Institute and I am particularly pleased with his appointment as successor to Kuan-Wei”, Interim Director Professor Donal Hanley said.

Kuan-Wei Chen will be leaving the Institute and Centre after over a decade of service.
Stefan-Michael was the Assistant Editor of Volumes 45 and 46 of the Annals of Air and Space Law, and serves as a Research Assistant for the project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space. His doctoral research focuses on Space Law and Artificial Intelligence under the supervision of Professor Ram Jakhu.

We would like to express our immense gratitude to Kuan-Wei for his long years of service to the Institute. ”Kuan-Wei’s work not only helped to shape the Institute as we know it today but also helped it to maintain its position as the world’s leading academic institution in air and space law. We hope to remain in close touch with him”, said Professor Hanley.

多謝 et un grand merci, Kuan-Wei!


Dr. Donal Hanley becomes IASL Interim Director

29 July 2022

We are delighted to announce that Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) Adjunct Professor Dr. Donal Hanley has been appointed Associate Professor by the McGill Faculty of Law and assume the position of Interim Director. Dr. Hanley is taking over the helm from Professor Ram Jakhu, who for over two years has directed and managed the Institute through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extended medical leave of the previous IASL Director Professor Brian Havel.

“It is with a sense of great gratitude to Professor Jakhu for his work as Acting Director before me that I look forward to taking the helm, however briefly, at the most pre-eminent institute of air and space law,” incoming IASL Interim Director Dr. Hanley said.

After a distinguished career in aircraft finance and leasing, Dr. Hanley joined the Institute as an Adjunct Professor in 2019. In spite of his busy professional life, Dr. Hanley has been a prolific academic and familiar face at conferences and events organised by the Institute over the years. Recently, Dr. Hanley was appointed by the European Commission to its panel of arbitrators for bilateral trade disputes. Together with Faculty of Law Professor Andrea Bjorklund, Dr. Hanley will be member of the inaugural advisory board of The Hague Court of Arbitration for Aviation.

“By appointing Dr. Donal Hanley as the Interim Director of our Institute, McGill University continues its traditional commitment to excellence in education and research in air and space law,” said outgoing Acting Director Professor Jakhu. “Having served the Institute for over four decades in various capacities, including as the Director/Acting Director, I could have not wished for a more qualified person to succeed me than Donal.”

The Institute will be in good hands under the stewardship of Dr. Hanley. At a time when the international air law system is under a strain greater than he can recall, Dr. Hanley said his first goal is to meet our new and existing students and to discuss with my colleagues plans to help to further the work of the institute in service of space law and air law.

We express our gratitude to Professor Jakhu for stepping up to the task as Acting Director during a period of uncertainty and adjustment to the unexpected challenges of online instruction and working remotely. Even with the burdensome responsibilities of managing the Institute, Professor Jakhu continued to spearhead the project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space, Volume I of which was just published. In addition, in 2021 Professor Jakhu secured a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant to fund the McGill Encyclopedia of International Space Law, the world’s first online compendium on specialised topics of space law.


Publication of the McGill Manual, the world’s first manual clarifying international law applicable to military uses of outer space

La version française suit.

Volume I of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space is now published.

Montreal, 28 July 2022

After over six years of intense collaboration with subject-matter experts and institutions from across the globe, McGill University is pleased to announce the publication of Volume I of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (McGill Manual: Volume I - Rules).

Space infrastructures have been bringing great socio-economic, technological and scientific benefits to humanity for over six decades. Unfortunately, our growing dependence on these space assets and applications has been accompanied by increasing threats to their infrastructures. States as well as public and private space operators are increasingly alarmed by the possibility of geopolitical tensions leading to rapid development and deployment of space weapons that would result in an extension of armed conflict in outer space. The human costs and devastating consequences of the disruption or destruction of satellites that facilitate, among other things, telecommunications, global navigation and positioning, and weather forecasting, cannot be imagined.

“By clarifying the law as it applies to outer space, this innovative and international collaborative research on a very complex subject is not only of practical value to States but will also be of value to space operators”, said McGill Manual Co-Editor Professor Ram S. Jakhu. “Moreover, it sets the agenda for further research on legal issues related to current and emerging challenges in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space”.

The McGill Manual is the product of the MILAMOS Project spearheaded by McGill Faculty of Law’s Centre for Research in Air and Space Law. Its rules result from the impartial and rigorous efforts of an independent group of more than 80 highly qualified legal and technical experts from various countries, with both civilian and military backgrounds. Co-edited by McGill Faculty of Law Professor Ram S. Jakhu and Emeritus Professor Steven Freeland of Western Sydney University, Australia, the McGill Manual is the world’s first manual clarifying international law applicable to military uses of outer space.

Inspired by the vision of contributing to a future where all space activities are conducted in accordance with the international rules-based order for the benefit of present and future generations, the fifty-two Rules of the McGill Manual adopted by consensus by the group of experts cover a variety of international law topics that are of critical importance to all space activities conducted during peacetime and in time of tension that pose challenges to peace. This globally-recognised initiative received funding from Government of Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Erin J. C. Arsenault Fund at McGill University, and other sources, as well as support from various stakeholders and academic institutions worldwide.

Over the past few years, dozens of in-person meetings were held in, among other locations, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, and the United States. These provided opportunities for the group of experts involved to exchange views and reach consensus on rules of international law as it stands in relation to the rapid proliferation of activities in outer space. Further, such meetings provided interested stakeholders and government representatives an avenue to observe and provide input to the rule-drafting and consensus-forming process.

In recognition of the McGill Manual’s timeliness and relevance, experts involved have been invited to present preliminary findings before such important fora as the United Nations. Most recently, the McGill Manual was highlighted at the Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats as part of multilateral discussions to remind the international community of the continued relevance of international law in safeguarding international peace and security in outer space, and on Earth.

The publication of the Rules of the McGill Manual today marks a major milestone in supporting ongoing international efforts to strengthen the international rule-based order for the safe, secure, peaceful, and sustainable use of outer space.

Through a dedicated website, we invite members of the public to share their relevant comments, perspectives and views, particularly on the practice of States, relating to the 52 Rules of the McGill Manual. These comments will be duly considered for inclusion in the Commentaries on the Rules that are being worked on. This process of public consultation will be of added value to the McGill Manual: Volume II - Rules with Commentaries, which is being published separately.

For more information, please contact the kuan-wei.chen [at] mcgill.ca (subject: McGill%20Manual) (McGill Manual Managing Editor Kuan-Wei Chen) or visit www.mcgill.ca/milamos


Parution du Manuel de McGill, le premier manuel au monde clarifiant le droit international applicable aux utilisations militaires de l’espace extra-atmosphérique

Montréal, 28 juillet 2022

Après plus de six années de collaboration intensive entre des experts et des institutions du monde entier, l’Université McGill est ravie d’annoncer la parution du volume I du McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (Manuel de McGill, volume I : Règles).

Depuis plus de six décennies, les infrastructures spatiales offrent à l’humanité de grands avantages socio-économiques, technologiques et scientifiques ; notre dépendance grandissante à ces applications et objets spatiaux s’accompagne malheureusement d’une menace croissante à leur endroit. Les États, de même que les opérateurs spatiaux publics et privés, s’inquiètent que des tensions géopolitiques mènent à la conception et au déploiement rapides d’armes spatiales qui pourraient entraîner l’extension dans l’espace de conflits armés. La perturbation ou la destruction de satellites — qui permettent notamment les télécommunications, la navigation et le positionnement global ainsi que les prévisions météorologiques — entraînerait des coûts humains et des conséquences d’une ampleur inimaginable.

« En clarifiant le droit applicable à l’espace extra-atmosphérique, cet ouvrage de recherche innovant, résultat d’une coopération internationale sur un sujet très complexe, a non seulement une valeur pratique pour les États, mais sera aussi utile pour les opérateurs spatiaux », a déclaré le professeur Ram S. Jakhu, co-directeur du Manuel de McGill. « De plus, il suggère des pistes de recherche ultérieure sur les enjeux juridiques découlant des défis actuels et émergents en lien avec l’exploration et l’exploitation pacifiques de l’espace ».

Le Manuel de McGill est le fruit du projet MILAMOS piloté par le Centre de recherche en droit aérien et spatial de la Faculté de droit de McGill. Ses règles ont été définies grâce aux efforts impartiaux et rigoureux d’un groupe indépendant de plus de 80 experts juridiques et techniques hautement qualifiés, civils et militaires. Co-dirigé par le professeur Ram S. Jakhu de la Faculté de droit de l’Université McGill et le professeur émérite Steven Freeland de l’Université Western Sydney en Australie, le Manuel de McGill est le premier manuel au monde clarifiant le droit international applicable aux utilisations militaires de l’espace extra-atmosphérique.

Inspirées par la vision de contribuer à un avenir où toutes les activités spatiales seraient menées conformément aux règles fondant l’ordre international et au bénéfice des générations actuelles et futures, les cinquante-deux règles du Manuel de McGill adoptées par consensus par le groupe d’experts couvrent une variété de sujets de droit international qui sont d’une importance critique pour toutes les activités spatiales menées en temps de paix et en période de tensions. Cette initiative, reconnue mondialement, a entre autres bénéficié du financement du Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Gouvernement du Canada et du Fonds Erin JC Arsenault de l’Université McGill, ainsi que du soutien de diverses parties prenantes et d’institutions universitaires du monde entier.

Au cours des dernières années, des dizaines de réunions en personne se sont tenues, entre autres, en Australie, au Canada, en Chine, en Allemagne, en Inde, au Japon et aux États-Unis. Ces rencontres ont permis au groupe d’experts impliqués d’échanger leurs points de vue et de parvenir à un consensus sur les règles du droit international applicables à la prolifération rapide des activités dans l’espace. De plus, ces réunions ont permis aux parties intéressées et aux représentants gouvernementaux d’observer et de commenter le processus de rédaction de règles et de recherche de consensus. Reconnaissant l’opportunité du Manuel de McGill, des forums de prestige tels que l’Organisation des Nations Unies ont invité certains de ses experts à présenter leurs conclusions préliminaires. Récemment, le Manuel de McGill a été présenté au Open-ended working group on reducing space threats dans le cadre de discussions multilatérales visant à rappeler à la communauté internationale la pertinence continue du droit international pour protéger la paix internationale et la sécurité, dans l’espace comme sur Terre.

La publication des règles du Manuel de McGill marque aujourd’hui un pas important vers la préservation de l’utilisation sûre, pacifique et durable de l’espace grâce au soutien qu’elle apporte aux efforts mondiaux pour renforcer les règles fondant l’ordre international. Un deuxième volume du Manuel de McGill contenant les règles commentées paraîtra à une date ultérieure cette année.

Par l’entremise d’un site web dédié, nous invitons les membres du public à partager leurs commentaires, leur point de vue et leurs opinions sur le manuel, en particulier sur les pratiques d’États relatives aux 52 règles du Manuel de McGill. Ces commentaires seront dûment pris en considération pour une éventuelle inclusion dans les règles commentées, qui sont en cours d’élaboration. Ce processus de consultation publique apportera une valeur ajoutée au McGill Manual: Volume II - Rules with Commentaries, qui sera publié séparément.

Pour obtenir plus de renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec directeur de la redaction Kuan-Wei Chen, ou consulter le site web www.mcgill.ca/milamos.


Future McGill Law student Oluwatobi Falana recipient of the Bala and Ram Jakhu Grant

Oluwatobi Falana, incoming 1L McGill law student and recipient of the 2022 Bala and Ram Jakhu Grant

We are pleased to announce that incoming 1L student at the McGill Faculty of Law Oluwatobi Falana is this year’s recipient of the Bala and Ram Jakhu Grant.

Ms. Falana just completed her degree in sociology at Queen’s University, and is excited to embark on her legal education journey this coming September. The grants committee unanimously nominated Ms. Falana to receive the full grant amount of $5000. Of all the applicants this year, her application captures the inspirational story of a remarkable young person who overcame great adversity and preserved against all odds. Growing up in a diverse community in Scarborough, Ontario, Ms. Falana experienced and witnessed traumatic events such as the 2012 Danzig Street Shooting, which propelled her desire to pursue a career in the justice system. Besides excelling academically, Ms. Falana has dedicated much of her time to volunteering at the YMCA of Greater Toronto Area, Toronto Police Services and Taibu Community Health Centre.

“I am extremely honoured to be admitted to McGill Law School and to be a recipient of the Bala and Ram Jakhu Grant”, Ms. Falana said. “Having access to this financial opportunity will reduce my stress level and allow me to focus on what is most important, my education”. True to her dedication to servicing others and helping those in need, even before beginning her studies at McGill, Ms. Falana expressed her hope to continue her volunteer work and to serve the McGill community and Montreal at large.

The Bala and Ram Jakhu Grant was set up to celebrate the life, work, and achievements of Mrs. Brij Bala Jakhu and Dr. Ram S. Jakhu, and aims to provide grants for post-secondary education and training to those who require finance assistance.

We congratulate Ms. Falana on receiving this year’s grant. As she begins her career in law, we wholehearted wish her success every step of the way.


Please click here for other news and updates in 2022.


McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations.

We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

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