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A message from the Director of the IASL

Dear Friends of the Institute of Air and Space Law,

These are challenging times for everyone, and for the aerospace industry as a whole, across the globe. How dramatically and unexpectedly the world has been turned upside down in a matter of weeks, with lasting consequences for our interconnected lives, our health, our communities, and our economies. The way we interact, work, and learn has had to adapt to life in the time of the coronavirus. We remain hopeful that after the current pandemic subsides, the world will emerge stronger and more genuinely unified than ever before.

Following guidelines from governments doing their utmost to contain the virus, and paying attention to the advisories from McGill University, my colleagues and I at the Institute are working hard to maintain our educational curriculum and research activities in these uncertain times.

While it is imperative to practice social distancing and to work remotely, we are in constant (virtual) contact with the graduate students and professionals who are enrolled at the Institute. After a mandatory hiatus of two weeks, lectures have resumed through online platforms. Both the University and the Faculty are doing their utmost to support and accommodate students in the sudden transition to new modes of learning and studying. Assessment criteria are being adapted to reflect the difficulties that students and staff have had to overcome because of reduced contact hours. Our students have shown amazing resilience and understanding, and we are touched by the solidarity and support they extend to one another as they navigate the change of circumstances. We remain committed to the well-being of our students, most of whom are from beyond the borders of Canada and who naturally are concerned for the safety and security of their loved ones.

Research projects, such as the Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS), are pressing forward as planned. From the beginning, MILAMOS has been a collaborative effort facilitated largely through online processes in addition to in-person workshops, and we are hopeful that the final manuscript will be sent to the publisher in a few months. We are also proud to announce the upcoming launch of Volumes 44 and 45 of the Annals of Air and Space Law, which will include outstanding original research by IASL graduate students. These volumes will respectively be published in the Summer and Fall of 2020.

As the world slows, we will be using the opportunity to make preparations and improvements. In the coming period, we will be revamping the IASL website to make it more user-friendly and accessible. It will include enhancements to make the website a source of lively commentary on what is sure to be one of the most transformative periods in the evolution of air and space law and policy. A new information portal for alumni will also be featured. This process of revamping the website may take up to two months. We will make every attempt to keep the site up-to-date, but we ask for your understanding for any inconvenience this transition may cause.

It is unfortunate that a series of planned events needed to be postponed for the time being, including our annual International Aviation Liability, Insurance and Finance Conference (which was to be held in Paris in June) and the Qatar Airways/McGill Air Law Speed Moot Court Competition, which this year extended eligibility to students registered in law schools throughout Quebec and Ontario. Rest assured, we are working closely with our colleagues and partners around the world to plan new dates for these highly-anticipated activities.

We are also proud to announce that plans to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Institute in 2021 are well under way. A series of events, including a major international conference headlined by Canadian astronauts, will be part of the IASL’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations that will coincide with the bicentennial of McGill University. At the Institute of Air and Space Law, we continue to work toward and look forward to the moments of hope and joy that enable us somehow to transcend the hardship of times like those we are all now experiencing.

In a matter of weeks, the novel coronavirus has shown the world just how vulnerable we are as human beings. The Institute honours the front-line medical workers, including many McGill students and graduates, who are performing miracles every single day, and we commend the efforts of countless others who are keeping essential services running in dire times. This is a time for contemplation, for gratitude, and for unity. As the governance of both aviation and outer space has demonstrated, there are inflection moments in history when the world is able to put aside differences and come together to address urgent matters of global concern. This is surely one of those moments.

Do take good care of yourselves, and keep calm. We will get through this together.

Ensemble, nous surmonterons cette épreuve.

With very best wishes

Brian F. Havel,

Director, McGill Institute of Air and Space Law

Note: There will be no in-person classes and no in-person sit-down examinations for the Winter 2020 term. Students will not be required to be physically on campus for the rest of the term. Visit the Coronavirus update website for more information.

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

Since 1951, the Institute has trained 1,000 specialists in air and space law from all over the world. Today, the IASL is undoubtedly the most prominent and decorated educational and research institution in the world in the domain. Its loyal graduates today 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...

Graduates and current students and young professionals of the Institute of Air and Space Law at the 12th Annual McGill Conference on International Aviation Liability, Insurance & Finance, Montreal, Canada.

Photographs from the 12th Annual McGill Conference on International Aviation Liability, Insurance & Finance are available online.


Latest news and announcements

Take a look at our the Events page for past and upcoming events, and the Press Room for activities and news in past years.


IASL Graduate a Recipient of the 2020 IAWA Scholarship

We are pleased to announce that current IASL student Ms. Olaoluwa ‘Nifemi Awe is the recipient of the 2020 International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA) Scholarship for McGill University. The Scholarship, awarded annually to candidates majoring in law, management, business, or finance and who have a true passion for aviation, is presented to the most promising women professionals in the field on the basis of merit. She joins an impressive line of female IASL graduates who have received this prestigious scholarship.

Noting her impressive resume and transcript, the chair of the IAWA Scholarship Committee Chris Ison remarked that Olaoluwa inspired the Committee with her “early interest and enduring passion for aviation…[and] desire to inspire women in [her] home country, and around the world”. In addition to her stellar academic credentials and being decorated as a 2020 IAWA Scholarship recipient, she is also a 2020 International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Foundation Scholar. Outside of her studies, she contributes to the work of the Space Advisory Project of Arizona State University’s Interplanetary Initiative as Project Assistant: Legal Initiatives, and is the Secretary-General of the African Air and Space Law Association in Paris. In addition, she is the Vice President (Communications) of the Graduate Law Students Association of the Faculty of Law at McGill University.

“I am grateful to IAWA for the honor and lifetime opportunity to be awarded the 2020 IAWA Scholarship for McGill University”, Olaoluwa said. A passionate researcher with a keen interest in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for aviation and outer space disputes, aviation safety and safety in the use and exploration of the outer space, Olaoluwa joined this year’s LL.M. class as an Erin J.C. Arsenault Fellow in Space Governance.

As an aerospace enthusiast, Olaoluwa is passionate about the regulation of human behaviour and interactions (on Earth and in the skies) through the instrument of law and policy. Currently on study leave from her position as In-House Counsel at the Lagos Court of Arbitration, Olaoluwa obtained her LL.B. from Babcock University located in Ogun State of her native Nigeria. Demonstrating her enduring passion for aviation regulation and the role of human behaviour in aviation safety, she wrote her undergraduate thesis on “Pilot Errors: A Legal Analysis of the Mental and Physical Health of Pilots in Aviation Safety”, for which she was awarded a distinction.

“I look forward to giving back by empowering and inspiring other young women to explore opportunities in the field of aviation and space, and to increase the critical mass of young female aerospace practitioners in Nigeria and Africa”, Olaoluwa said. With various scholarship opportunities, like the IAWA Scholarship, on offer, the Institute is committed to help promising students and budding professionals from all over the world realise their ambitions and dreams.

Congratulations, Olaoluwa! We are extremely proud of your achievements.


Welcome to the New IASL Class of 2020-2021


At the start of another new semester, Professor Ram Jakhu, Acting Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law, met with students of the incoming class. Different from previous years, when the first day of the incoming class is normally celebrated in person at the splendid historic mansion at 3690 Peel that houses the Institute, today’s meeting with students was held online.

The ongoing pandemic did not dampen the energy and excitement the new batch of graduates and professionals, many of whom were already in Montreal despite the fact that instruction will be held online for the coming semester. Staying true to the diverse and cosmopolitan tradition of the Institute, this year there are 18 new students hailing from 10 countries, including Austria, Canada, China, the Dominican Republic, France, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Uganda, and the United States.

After first acknowledging that McGill University is situated on the traditional land that has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, Professor Jakhu welcomed the incoming students who are this year gathered to meet virtually, and are about to embark on exchange of ideas on matters related legal regimes governing the peaceful uses of air space and outer space.

As the incoming students begin their paths to a professional life in the fields of aviation and space, they are joining a network of over 1,200 individuals who have enjoyed the privilege of receiving the unique bi-jural world-class legal education that is offered at the Faculty of Law of McGill University. In the coming year, lectures will be taught by recognised professionals and academics in the field, and complemented with stimulating coursework. As Professor Jakhu underlined, learning and teaching is a two-way street. In addition to coming to grips with theoretical underpinning of legal principles and rules and how they apply in practice, students are encouraged to think about policy and regulation of emerging issues in air and space law.

To the extent possible, the Institute still plans to provide opportunities for our students to participate in stimulating colloquia, conferences and networking events to ensure that the time spent at McGill is memorable and fulfilling, both personally and professionally. The Institute will be coordinating with the Faculty and University, and paying close attention to government protocols, to minimise the impact on the learning and research experience of our current and incoming students . The physical and mental well-being, as well as safe social distancing, of all our graduates during this exceptional time take precedent.

The coming year, as the past few months have shown, will prove to be different in many respects. IASL Director Professor Brian Havel is unfortunately on medical leave, however he is in good spirits and making steady progress in his recovery, and is expected to return in the Winter semester. Professor Jakhu will be teaching core Space Law: General Principles, the regular air law courses will be taught by Adjunct Professors Paul Fitzgerald and Yaw Nyampong, both of whom have vast practical experience and knowledge in national and international regulation of air transport.

At this moment of transformational change and adaptation to new circumstances, Professor Jakhu reminded the new IASL class to remain optimistic and maintain hope. Though the aviation industry, and the global economy, have been devastated by the coronavirus and measures adopted to curb its spread, these times of uncertainty and anxiety provide also the opportunity for people to reflect on the challenges and issues facing humanity. Now, even more than ever before, is the time to learn about the importance of good global governance, the rule of law, and how to make the world a more just, equitable, sustainable and environmentally responsible place. The Institute of Air and Space Law, and McGill University, will provide solid foundations to shape the minds, and careers, of the next generation of professionals and academics.

Welcome, class of 2020-2021!

Forthcoming launch of the McGill Encyclopedia of International Space Law


The McGill Institute of Air and Space Law is delighted to announce plans for an objectively curated online resource on international space law. The forthcoming McGill Encyclopedia of International Space Law (MEISL), slated to be launched in early 2021, promises to be the go-to and publicly available compendium on key subject-matters of international space law.

With a proliferation of space activities and actors in recent years, today, the legal principles applicable to the exploration and use of outer space is undoubtedly subject to divergent interpretation and application of international space law by States, international organisations, industry stakeholders and academics. As such, it has become quite difficult to find neutral, objective and authoritative information, making it easy for policy-makers, academics, researchers and students in the space law community to fall prey to misinformation and inaccurate interpretation of international space law as it stands.

To mitigate this growing concern, the McGill Encyclopedia of International Space Law will carry carefully selected and peer-reviewed articles on subject-matters unique to the domain of international space law. The long-conceived brainchild of Professor Ram Jakhu and the first of its kind, the idea of such an encyclopedia garnered interest and generated ongoing discussions amongst his colleagues and students within and outside of McGill for close to a decade. The McGill Encyclopedia will enjoy endorsement of and contributions from highly publicised practitioners and experts in the international law community.

With the objective of facilitating public access to accurate, neutral and objective scholarship, this innovative project to produce the McGill Encyclopedia will be spearheaded by Prof. Ram S. Jakhu as the Editor, David Kuan-Wei Chen as Associate Editor and Bayar Goswami as Associate Editor and Principal Researcher.

The McGill Encyclopedia of International Space Law will be formally launched in early 2020 on a separate user-friendly website:

Stay tuned-in for more information!

First IASL webinar successfully held

On 10 July 2020, the Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) and International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) jointly organised the first in a three part series of webinars planned for the months of July and August 2020. This highly engaging and interactive virtual session, titled “Artemis Accords: Challenges and Opportunities” was attended by more than 280 experts and space law enthusiasts from across the globe.

Since the announcement of the Artemis Accords by NASA in May this year, there has been much discussion about what principles would guide the United States and partner nations in the return to the Moon. A series of bilateral Artemis Accords agreements, grounded in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, are being drawn up to ensure the creation and maintenance of a safe, transparent and peaceful environment for the future exploration of the Moon and utilisation of lunar resources. The well-attended webinar gathered experts, academics and policy-makers to discuss the legal, policy and technical challenges that a return to the Moon will present to States and private space sectors players.

Participating in the webinar was Mr. Mike Gold, Acting Associate Administrator of NASA’s Office of International and Interagency Relations, who outlined the vision of the Artemis programme and elaborated on the principles of the Artemis Accords that will guide international partners in supporting a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future for humanity in space. In providing anecdotes from the negotiations undertaken with partner nations, Mr. Gabriel Swiney, Attorney Adviser at the United States Department of State, discussed the origins of the Artemis Accords and how they relate to and will articulate the Outer Space Treaty.

In outlining various legal and policy issues, Acting IASL Director Professor Ram Jakhu reminded the audience that the Artemis Program is essentially an American project, subject to its domestic laws, policies and politics. In light of the adoption of a recent executive order in which the US underlined that it does not view outer space as a global commons, Professor Jakhu cautioned that potential partners ought to be mindful about the legal and policy implications of signing on to the Accords.

Former Head Programme Legal Services Division at the European Space Agency, Mr. André Farand, compared the Accords with the Intergovernmental Agreement of the International Space Station (IGA-ISS), which was painstakingly and carefully negotiated with IGA-ISS partners over a period of four years. In doing so, Mr. Farand deciphered the use of the term “accords” and highlighted the palpable sense of urgency in landing humans on the Moon by 2024 that must have prompted the US negotiators to take the bilateral rather than multilateral approach.

Lastly, Executive Director, International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, Mr. Tommaso Sgobba centred his talk on the technical and logistical concerns related to, among other issues, the interoperability of space systems, the practicality of rendering of emergency of assistance, and the matter of orbital debris and disposal of sapacecraft at the end of their missions—issues which are all of critical relevance to ensure safe and robust space exploration. Being the only non-lawyer on the panel, Mr. Sgobba highlighted the need for the standarisation of space safety and operational guidelines, which the IAASS has dedicated much effort in promoting.

Professor Steven Freeland of Western Sydney University, Australia, acted as the moderator in facilitating the presentations and lively exchanges between the panellists, which were followed by engaging questions from the audience.

The successful launch of the webinar series is part of the Institute’s commitment to inform and educate the public about the latest developments and trends in aerospace law. The event was well-received and attended by audience from across the globe, while the renown of the invited speakers and engaging discussions that ensued received positive media coverage. Partnering with and in furtherance of the long-standing collaboration with the IAASS, the leading industry association for space safety, in the coming period we will continue to offer the air and space law community and interested parties engaging seminars to foster interest in and understanding of topical issues in air and space law.

The second webinar in the series, titled “The Quest for a Legal Frontier between the Airspace and Outer Space”, will be held on 31 July 2020. For registration and details of the programme, please visit the dedicated webinar page

The webinar on “Artemis Accords: Challenges and Opportunities” can be viewed on the new YouTube channel of the IASL.

IASL Graduate and Arsenault Fellow Ermanno Napolitano is Recipient of the Prestigious Vanier Scholarship

The Institute of Air and Space Law is extremely proud to announce that IASL alumni and DCL candidate Mr. Ermanno Napolitano is the one of the recipients of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, Canada’s most prestigious doctoral scholarship.

The Vanier Scholarship is named after the first francophone Governor General of Canada, Major-General Georges P. Vanier, and selectively awarded to highly qualified doctoral students. With funding originating in part from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Vanier Scholarship is part of the Government of Canada’s ongoing initiative to identify and fund the research of the brightest doctoral students.

"Due to his kinetic nature, ambition to seek new opportunities and challenges, and ability to inspire other colleagues in his cohort, Mr. Napolitano is clearly an exceptional individual as well as a most promising young professional who manifestly deserves this prestigious recognition," IASL Director Professor Brian F. Havel said.

To be eligible, worthy candidates must first be nominated by a Canadian institution of higher education. Various indicators of excellence are factored into the evaluation process. As well as academic brilliance, the candidate’s research interests and originality, community involvement, and demonstration of leadership are also considered in awarding this extremely competitive scholarship. The scholarship is valued at $50,000 per year for three years.

Vanier Scholar Mr. Ermanno Napolitano (right) pictured here with his wife Lily-Cannelle Mathieu, and Mr. David Kuan-Wei Chen.

“I am very humbled to be a Vanier Scholarship recipient”, Mr. Napolitano said. “I found tremendous support at the Faculty of Law and I would especially like to thank Mr. David Kuan-wei Chen, whose kindness and hard work is inspirational, Professor Ram Jakhu, Professor Richard Janda, the McGill Graduate Office, particularly Ms. Bourgeois and Professor Bjorklund, the Graphos Fellowship Writing Support team and my colleague Catherine”.

 Mr. Napolitano is in his second year as a doctoral candidate and his thesis is tentatively entitled Geoengineering: Establishing the Legal Conditions for its Legitimate Deployment. The thesis is conducted under the supervision of Professor Richard Janda, and aims to deepen the legal understanding of geoengineering, the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the Earth’s atmosphere in order to reduce global warming, and of the potential consequences of its deployment.

For his doctoral studies, Mr. Napolitano has already been awarded the prestigious Erin J. C. Arsenault Fellowship and the Graduate Research Enhancement and Travel (GREAT) Award. Further demonstrating the unique talents and excellence of this promising scholar, he was also offered a doctoral scholarship from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC).

Originally from Sicily, Italy, Mr. Napolitano, who has been involved in volunteering activities since his teenage years, has a strong passion for social justice and environmental protection and in how law and policy can trigger social change and environmental awareness. He also has developed a particular interest for legal education as his recent article “Interdisciplinary Team Teaching in Space Legal Education” published in the Journal of Space Law testifies.

At our Institute, Mr. Napolitano wrote his master’s thesis under the supervision of Professor Dr. Ram Jakhu. The thesis focused on the legal challenges of the future of suborbital human space travel and the application of the two distinct regimes of air and space law to suborbital vehicles. The thesis considered legal issues that need to be addressed to facilitate the emergence and safe operation of the suborbital aerospace industry.

While a graduate student at the Institute of Air and Space Law, Mr. Napolitano was the only law student in Canada chosen and sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) under its Student Participation Initiative to attend the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia. Having participated as a subject-matter expert at various international high-level fora, including the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, in 2019 he was a member of the select panel of rising professionals who addressed the 12th Annual McGill Conference on International Aviation Liability, Insurance & Finance. The IASL has been proud to support Mr. Napolitano and our many outstanding students in their endeavours and to give them the opportunity to demonstrate their professional and academic potential as the future leaders of the air and space law community.

“As a Vanier Scholarship recipient,” Mr. Napolitano said, “I will do my best to use the immense opportunities that have been offered to me to learn and grow, and to give back to society”.

Well done, Ermanno! You make us all very proud of your achievements.

Mcgill IASL-IAASS Webinar Series: Artemis Accords: Challenges and Opportunities

The Institute of Air and Space Law of McGill University and the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS), in furtherance of their longstanding cooperation, have decided to jointly host three webinars on topics of mutual interest in the months of July and August 2020. The first of the IASL-IAASS Space Law Webinar Series will focus on the recently announced “Artemis Accords”, will take place from 1000 - 1230hrs (EST) / 1400 - 1630hrs (UTC) on 10 July 2020.

For more details about the programme, please visit the dedicated page of the IASL-IAASS Webinar Series.

To register for the event, please visit the registration page.

Program and Speakers:


Artemis Accords: Historical and Broader Context.

Ram S. Jakhu, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University


International Space Station Agreements to NASA Artemis Accords: A Quantum Leap

André Farand, Former Head Programme Legal Services Division, European Space Agency

Cooperation on International Standards for Emergency Assistance and Safety

Tommaso Sgobba, Executive Director, International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety

The Origins of the Artemis Accords

Mr. Gabriel Swiney, Attorney Adviser, United States Department of State


Mike Gold, NASA Acting Associate Administrator for the Office of International and Interagency Relations



Professor Steven Freeland, Professor, Western Sydney University

To register, please visit the dedicated website.

For more information, contact: kiran.vazhapully [at] (subject: Artemis%20Accords) (Kiran Vazhapully) or taro.kuusiholma [at] (subject: Artemis%20Accords) (Taro Kuusiholma).

IASL’s Air Line Emergency Restrictions Tracker (ALERT) Portal launched

After several weeks of preparations and work behind the scenes, the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law is proud to announce the launch of the Air Line Emergency Restrictions Tracker (ALERT) portal. This interactive website tracks air travel restrictions and quarantine measures in about 100 countries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will prove valuable to the traveling public and researchers in the future.

Since the beginning of the year, countries around the world have imposed a variety of unilateral travel bans or restrictions on air travel in attempts to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. These wide-ranging measures affecting international and domestic commercial air travel are hard to navigate, and it is becoming exceedingly difficult to know what measures are in effect and whether travel is permitted.

While some countries have banned all scheduled air passenger services, other countries have imposed a prohibition on individual travellers based on their nationality or travel origin. Some countries have outright restricted flights originating from certain countries, whereas yet other countries have denied symptomatic passengers from boarding. In addition, a variety of quarantine measures have also been imposed on inbound travellers, which differs from country to country.

By collecting and organising data from various sources, ALERT aims to provide accurate and timely information on measures across the globe affecting air travel. Among the several user-friendly features is an interactive map of the world, which allows users to click on a country to quickly access information on restrictions on air travel and quarantine measures in effect. A searchable table allows users to have a useful overview of air travel restrictions. Users are also able to compare laws and policies in place across the globe to gain an understanding of the rigidity of restrictions and regulations in place. Where possible, links to relevant official sources of regulations and measures are provided so portal users can quickly access the information to double check the validity of measures that are in place. The portal also ranks the tracked countries in order of leniency of restrictions.

At the launch of the ALERT portal, users will find relevant travel and quarantine information pertaining to all 36 Member States of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization as well as the 60 “rotation” group of countries affiliated with the Council membership. As the ALERT portal matures, information on more countries will be progressively added to the website.

ALERT is an IASL initiative developed as a public service to help inform and educate the public about the latest developments and trends in aerospace law. By marrying information on laws and regulations with big data, the IASL has undertaken to produce a valuable resource for the convenience of the global public as well as for research purposes.

The idea for ALERT was first publicly unveiled in early April during an online session IASL Director Professor Brian F. Havel held with all IASL students. Inspired by research into the effects of the pandemic on air travel, current IASL DCL candidate Ms. Upasana Dasgupta conceived the idea to create a go-to source containing information on air travel restrictions. Working under the supervision of Professor Havel, and with valuable assistance from several IASL students and alumni, Upasana worked tirelessly to develop ideas on how to collect data and conceptualise a website for the information to be displayed in an accessible and user-friendly manner.

The ALERT portal is a fine example of cross-disciplinary collaboration among students from different faculties at McGill University. Doctoral students Mr. Arna Ghosh (Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute and Computer Science Department, McGill University) and Mr. Koustuv Sinha (Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute and Reasoning and Learning Lab, McGill University, acting in the capacity of AI Consultant only) are providing valuable support to compute and collate information in a coherent and useful manner. Debanjan Sengupta, a software architect and web applications developer, provided great assistance in setting up the website, and is actively involved in keeping the ALERT portal up-to-date.

In the future, other tools and metrics to enhance the usability and value of the portal to the general public will be developed. We invite you to take a look at the ALERT portal, and welcome any suggestions for improvement and any additional information that you may be able to provide to enhance the content.

To access the Air Line Emergency Restrictions Tracker Portal, please visit:

Launch of the Sarin-McGill Annual Student Essay Contest on Aircraft Finance and Leasing

The McGill Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) is honoured to announce the “virtual” launch of the Sarin-McGill Annual Student Essay Contest on Aircraft Finance and Leasing.

This new global essay contest is being sponsored and administered by the Chandigarh-based Sarin & Co., India’s leading law firm specialising in aircraft financing and leasing.

Over 35 IASL students, faculty, and guests joined the IASL Director, Professor Brian F. Havel, to welcome key figures at Sarin & Co. who participated with Professor Havel in making the historic announcement.

Mr. Manmohan Lal Sarin (right), the Principal at Sarin & Co., and Mr. Nitin Sarin (left), Managing Partner at Sarin & Co., during the online launch of the Sarin-McGill Annual Student Essay Contest on Aircraft Finance and Leasing

Mr. Manmohan Lal Sarin, the Principal at Sarin & Co., expressed his excitement at the launch of this global competition, and highlighted the continuing socially-responsible and philanthropic mission of the firm to light the fires of passion for aviation law in the hearts of young people. Quoting Swami Vivekananda, who famously remarked that “The history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves”, he urged students to let passion reign to change the world.

Mr. Nitin Sarin, Managing Partner at Sarin & Co., recounted how the Essay Contest came into being during a casual brainstorming session with his colleagues back in February this year. Noting that education is the spice of life, he expressed hope that the contest will allow students to dig deeper into a fascinating issues of aviation finance and leasing, which needs professionals able to approach this ever-evolving field of law with creativity and innovative ideas.

Endorsing the great value of the Essay Contest, Adjunct Professor Dr. Donal Hanley noted that this is a great initiative for students to think outside the box about legal principles and strategies that may be employed to ensure the survival of the industry. Dr. Hanley, the first recipient of a doctorate in aviation acquisition financing law, teaches the module on Aircraft Finance Law at the Institute, and is continuing McGill’s long-standing academic strength in the field which began with the late Dr. Donald H. Bunker.

The Essay Contest is further testament to the commitment of the Sarin Family to social responsibility and advancing legal education and professional training. The Institute is extremely privileged to partner with industry leader Sarin & Co. in spearheading further opportunities for advancing research and interest in aviation across the globe. Through the charitable Sarin Memorial Legal Aid Foundation, the Sarin Family also co-founded the Leiden-Sarin International Air Law Moot Court Competition, which is organised annually by Leiden University’s International Institute of Air and Space Law in the Netherlands.

For full details of the Essay Contest, including procedures and timetables for submission and judging of entries, please visit the dedicated page.

To mark the occasion of the launch of the Contest, we provide here an extract from Professor Havel’s remarks introducing the Sarin family and firm to the IASL audience:

Good morning (and good evening):

Through the power of Zoom we welcome participants from Vancouver, Canada, all the way to Singapore, via Bologna, Italy, Vienna, Austria, and Chandigarh, India, and other places besides. We hope that everyone is keeping safe as we navigate this incredibly precarious and pernicious global health emergency. We are starting this morning with a most pleasant ceremony that will allow us a few moments of happy respite from the Covid-19 crisis. Of course, we would like to have had this ceremony in person, signing a memorandum of understanding and with champagne and cake, but it is still a great pleasure to welcome members of the Sarin family and their guests and colleagues from Chandigarh, India, to announce the newly-established Sarin-McGill Annual Student Essay Contest on Aircraft Finance and Leasing

Before I call upon Nitin Sarin to launch the Contest formally, a few words about the Sarin family, eponymous leaders of our official sponsor, the internationally-renowned, India-based, almost nonagenarian law firm, Sarin & Co. (a bit older than the IASL, which will be a septuagenarian in 2021).

I have been reading the story of the family and their law firm, and this is a rich tapestry from which I only have time to select a few central threads to honour them this morning.

Manmohan Sarin, the family patriarch, is with us this morning. He embodies the family’s longstanding belief in social responsibility and moral values such as honesty and integrity. He is, in fact, much more than a practising lawyer, although he has had a glittering legal career. He is, I would say, a public man, what the French properly call un homme engagé, an “engaged man,” and I need only cite a few examples from his life to illustrate.

Manmohan Sarin was trained in law on two continents (an achievement he and Nitin share). He is the only professional to have served as Advocate General for two Indian states. He is co-author and reviser of textbooks and treatises on rental law, company law, family law, oil and gas law, property law, and, remarkably, a legal handbook on blood bank law published in 2003 and distributed free by Sarin & Co. throughout India. Manmohan Sarin, in fact, is himself a star blood donor and has given blood 115 times at last count and he has been a crusader for the blood donation movement internationally. In the vernacular of our present times, he has been a front-line campaigner for blood donation.

As public men and women tend to be, Manmohan Sarin is a man of passion, and another of his passions has been his role as a global ambassador for Chandigarh, designed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier as India’s first planned city. Known as the “City Beautiful,” Chandigarh has a profound historical resonance connected with the separation of India and Pakistan. The city became the symbol of the new India and has been the home city of Sarin & Co. since 1955.

You will not be surprised to find, among many honours bestowed upon him, that an homme engagé should twice have received the title of Chevalier – Knight – from the Republic of France, most recently in 2016.

And all of this is on top of his work as head of his law firm, Sarin & Co., founded by his father Harbans Lal Sarin in 1932, a law firm that discharges Manmohan Sarin’s mission of social responsibility through the Sarin Memorial Legal Aid Foundation. Among the Foundation’s activities with which participants today will be familiar is the Leiden-Sarin International Air Law Moot Court Competition, in which McGill has been a frequent and successful participant.

Manmohan Sarin’s family is precious to him, and we also welcome his youngest of three children, Nitin, who I have known since I taught him in the Leiden LLM course more than decade ago.

This new contest is Nitin’s initiative. It arrives at a time when he has become established, as Dr. Donal Hanley [IASL adjunct professor and former aircraft finance global executive] will attest, as one of the most accomplished aviation finance lawyers not just in India but throughout the world. Nitin is the maestro in India of the Cape Town Convention [CTC], having set the benchmark for successful aircraft repossession under the CTC at 48 hours, and having in 2018 completed the first Indian deregistration and export under an IDERA (a feat that will truly be understood only by Dr. Hanley’s students).

Nitin Sarin has headed Sarin & Co.’s aviation department since 2008, doing multibillion dollar transactions and demonstrating (as I think he may have said somewhere) that the Indian legal system and the CTC do work if they are “in the right hands.”

Nitin has inherited his father’s commitment to social responsibility including a strong belief, shared with his father, that lawyers should be committed to the training of law students.

This new Essay Contest is a testament to that commitment and the McGill IASL is honoured to partner with Sarin & Co. in creating an innovative and imaginative initiative that will spread interest in and knowledge of aviation finance law to students in law schools around the world.

We are honoured, further, that Sarin & Co., one of the world’s finest law firms and an aviation law powerhouse, has chosen through this Essay Contest to recognise not only McGill’s dedication to international collaboration and transnational and trans-systemic legal education, but also the IASL’s longstanding academic strength in aviation finance law. We were the first academic institution to offer teaching in this subject through the long professorial reign of the late Donald H. Bunker, regarded as the father of aviation finance law and whose law firm in the United Arab Emirates and Canada is affiliated with Sarin & Co. The Bunker tradition is now carried on by his student, McGill Adjunct Professor Dr. Donal Hanley, who holds the world’s first doctorate in aviation finance law.

IASL Director holds second virtual meeting with students

On 1 May 2020, Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) Professor Brian F. Havel and several members of faculty held the second “virtual” meeting with all IASL students and several faculty members. The first meeting was held in early April, just after students returned after a mandatory two-week hiatus caused by the Covid-19 emergency and lectures transitioned online.

Students, faculty and special guest speakers joined in from various locales around the world, including Singapore, Bologna, Italy, Vienna, Austria, and Chandigarh, India.

Kicking off the meeting was the announcement of the global launch of the Sarin-McGill Annual Student Essay Contest on Aircraft Finance and Leasing. This annual competition is generously supported and administered by the Chandigarh-based law firm Sarin & Co.

The Institute is extremely honoured to partner with Sarin & Co. in this worthwhile initiative, which is open to students enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate or doctoral programme at any law school or legal professional training school worldwide. The Essay Contest will allow students and budding legal professionals the opportunity to delve into a complex and fascinating field of law which has emerged from its former niche status and is today at the heart of the global aviation industry.

Following the exciting contest announcement, IASL master’s and doctoral graduate and head of the World Bank's air transport division, Dr. Charles Schlumberger, shared with participants in the virtual meeting his update on the present impact of the coronavirus on the global airline sector. Making a grim but forceful analogy, Dr. Schlumberger noted that at this unprecedented moment in history, airlines and policy-makers are like passengers in the aftermath of a plane crash: feeling disoriented and unable to fully comprehend everything that is happening and changing so quickly. In the uncertainty and volatility of the market, traffic and tourism has been severely affected. Scheduled flights have declined 67% over the past two months, and 11 major airlines have become insolvent. Sharing various predictions made by analysts, Mr. Schlumberger noted that a quick recovery is not guaranteed. In recent weeks, Mr. Schlumberger has provided the Institute with regular updates from his World Bank bulletin on this subject, and he will continue to provide students and faculty at the Institute with more of his insights as the crisis persists.

Dr. Alexander Batalov, Alternate Representative for Russia on the ICAO Council and Professor of Law at Moscow State University, also joined the virtual meeting. Dr. Batalov gave an overview of how the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is handing the current coronavirus crisis. The latest step is the establishment of the COVID-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force, a multi-agency ICAO taskforce charged with identifying strategic priorities for coping with the ongoing challenges, and facilitating the restart of operations in a sustainable and orderly manner. As the only lawyer elected at the 40th ICAO Assembly to membership of the ICAO Air Navigation Commission, the Institute is privileged to announce that Dr. Batalov will be joining the IASL faculty to teach Government Regulation of Air Transport in the Winter Semester of 2021.

Lastly, IASL fourth-year doctoral candidate, Ms. Upasana Dasgupta, together with her husband, an IT expert and web applications developer Mr Debanjan Sengupta, updated the participants on a new IASL-led initiative to create a real-time portal on government-imposed restrictions on international air travel. The ALERT (Air Line Emergency Restrictions Tracker) portal will display relevant information in a clear and easy-to-navigate manner. Soon travellers, and researchers from across the globe, will be able to access first-hand information relating to travel restrictions across the globe as well as the health screening and quarantining of passengers. The dedicated website, expected to launch later this month, will display relevant regulations and measures in place, while country-specific travel advisories can be easily accessed through an interactive map of the world.

As the world enters another month of life under lockdown, the Institute and its faculty remain committed to ensuring that our students are fully supported throughout this difficult period. Though everyone is social distancing at home, these monthly sessions have allowed students and IASL faculty members to connect and keep informed about the latest developments. The sense of sharing and togetherness fostered through our virtual sessions will strengthen the lifelong bonds that have always united the members of the McGill Family worldwide.

IASL Co-Signs Open Letter on Space as a Global Commons


On 20 April 2020, Professor Ram Jakhu co-signed an Open Letter addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Mr. François-Philippe Champagne on the matter of the recent United States’ Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources. Among the other prominent people who co-signed the Open Letter are IASL alumna and Chair of the Space Advisory Board of Canada Dr. Lucy Stojak, former Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) Dr. David Kendall, and former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament Ambassador (retired) Paul Meyer.

The US Executive Order acknowledges the long-standing uncertainty regarding the right to recover and use space resources, including the extension of the right to commercial recovery and use of lunar resources. However, it goes on to further assert that the United States does not view the unique domain of outer space as a global commons. The Executive Order also mandates the US Department of State to seek international support for the US position.

The Open Letter, which is also addressed to Prime Minister of Canada Mr. Justin Trudeau, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ms. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Mr. Navdeep Bains, and Mr. Seamus O’Regan, the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, urges the Government of Canada to reiterate the enduring policy that outer space is a global commons. The letter further urged Canada to work through multilateral forums to seek a widely-supported international agreement on how space resources should be recovered and used.

“The words ‘The United States does not view [outer space] as a global commons’ may seem to be a simple, short and harmless statement in relation only to space resources,” Professor Jakhu said of the Executive Order. “But there's more to this than meets the eye”.

The Executive Order may have a weighty impact in the interpretation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Further, it would have implications on the permissibility of activities conducted by States and non-governmental entities in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Professor Jakhu expressed concern that due to severe economic and social fallout as a result of the pandemic, there will be little coverage in the media and discussion at the international governmental level on the profound implications of this foundational shift in the international legal status of outer space.

Due to the pandemic, meetings of the UNCOPUOS, the world’s leading international body with the mandate to address all aspects of exploration and use of outer space, have been postponed. The Legal Subcommittee of the UNCOPUOS, which is currently chaired by IASL alumna Professor Setsuko Aoki, was supposed to convene a meeting at the end of March to discuss, among other matters, the issues relating to the exploration, exploitation and utilisation of space resources.

The Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, the research arm of the Institute of Air and Space Law, has over the years conducted in-depth studies into the issue of space resources. The Outer Space Treaty provides that “outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means”. There is, however, little guidance on the legality of the recovery and use of space resources.

The Moon Agreement specifically underlines that the Moon, or any part or natural resources on the Moon, shall not be the property of any State, international organisation or person. The Moon Agreement, in the negotiations and adoption of which saw the United States played an active role, also envisions the establishment of a legal framework for States to administer the recovery and use of space resources. It should be recalled that it was the US that co-sponsored and promoted the adoption of an innovative and important provision in the Moon Agreement according to which the “Moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind,” while the Soviet Union was strongly opposed to this concept. To date only 18 States are party to the Moon Agreement, meaning that the provisions of the Moon Agreement have not achieved widespread ratification, although the Agreement was unanimously adopted in 1979 by the members of the United Nations, including the United States.

In March this year, Professor Jakhu participated in the drafting of the Vancouver Recommendations on Space Mining on behalf of the Institute. With input from other prominent experts and practitioners from across the globe, the Vancouver Recommendations call upon the international community to convene multilateral negotiations to establish an international regime for space mining. The negotiations should be open to all States and should seek input from science, industry, and other non-governmental stakeholders.

“The signing of this [Executive Order] is a culmination of the current US administration’s space policy on space resources”, Professor Jakhu said. “With the single stroke of a pen Donald Trump, the President of the United States, undermined the universally recognised concept that outer space is a global commons, and that too during the period when the whole world is nervously preoccupied in the fight against a devastating global pandemic, Covid-19”.

From the beginning of the Space Age, multilateralism has been the universally preferred approach that has produced five UN Treaties on outer space, including the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. It is important to note that irrespective of its nationalistic attitude, unilateral initiative and rhetorical tone, the Executive Order still shows the US commitment to the Outer Space Treaty and requires recovery and use of space resources to be consistent with applicable law. There is therefore hope that the international community and a different President in the White House may eventually prefer multilateral efforts in the governance of exploitation of space resources, which by any stretch of imagination will not become commercially feasible at least for the next 20 years.

“The central research point for the academic community is to determine whether or not a single State can change the international legal status of outer space,” Professor Jakhu said. “And the fundamental question for the international community is whether there should be a unilateral or multilateral approach to governance of outer space”.

International law should respond to realities and facts of international developments and relations. “However, where communal interests are at play,” Professor Jakhu wishes to underline, “it is imperative for States to come together and come to agreement on matters of global concern before unilateral de facto national interests become too hardened or entrenched for compromises to be reached and agreements to be concluded.” The Outer Space Treaty, for instance, was negotiated at the global level ahead of any meaningful space activities. This approach proved right as no serious dispute arose during the last 50 years of existence of this foundational space agreement. A similar approach should be taken with respect to space natural resources, the exploitation of which should only be undertaken pursuant to appropriate international agreement based on the balance of interests of all nations.


IASL Director and faculty conduct online session with students

Responding to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, IASL Director Professor Brian F. Havel, joined by Professor Ram Jakhu and several faculty members, held an interactive information session with all current students of the Institute. This follows a recent message from the Director asking for calm, unity, and hope in these uncertain times.

In this live virtual session with the IASL students, Professor Havel reassured students that the Institute is continuing its operations as usual, albeit in a transformed fashion. To allay concerns about the unexpected interruptions to routine and academic life, the Director underlined that he and his colleagues remain fully committed to support and assist students with their studies and research needs. Ongoing efforts are also being made to coordinate with internship partners to ensure that IASL students will continue to have access to opportunities for professional training and experience in the summer months.

As everyone emerged from a mandated two-week suspension of all activities at McGill University, Professor Havel expressed confidence in the transition to online learning. Courses specific to the Institute, including Professor Ludwig Weber’s Government Regulation of Air Transport and Professor Jakhu’s Law of Space Applications, have been taught online over the past week. While online instruction can be an effective substitute under present circumstances, Professor Havel underlined the value of in-person interactions and discussions, and noted that in-class instruction will continue to be the preferred approach to curriculum delivery at the Institute in the future.

Though several scheduled Institute events needed to be postponed due to present realities, every effort is being undertaken to resume the flurry of activities and events as soon as the pandemic is over. The annual Graduation Dinner, typically organised for the graduating class in April prior to the conclusion of the Winter Semester, is unfortunately no longer feasible but alternative ways to honour our Class of 2019-20 are currently being considered. Still on course is a series of celebratory activities for the Institute’s Platinum Jubilee beginning in January 2021, the year that marks the 70th anniversary of our beloved institution.

During this period of practising social distancing and working remotely, energy will be dedicated to revamping the IASL website to make it more user-friendly and accessible. Also, immediate efforts will be made to collate information on air travel restrictions and bans, as well as pertinent details relating to quarantine and screening of passengers. Living up to its continuing mission to inform and educate the public about the latest developments and trends in aerospace law, the collated information will be made available through an up-to-date open-source portal as a public service offered by the IASL to the world at large.

Airline Business and Law course lecturer and Adjunct Professor Dr. Paul Fitzgerald underlined the severe challenges that airlines around the world are facing. Highlighting innovative ways that airlines have used to adapt their business models in these uncertain economic times, such as implementing social distancing by leaving valuable inventories of seats unsold, Professor Fitzgerald reminded everyone that this is also a time when airlines are stepping up to fulfil common carrier obligations to ensure that communities remain connected. Echoing the profound impact that the current crisis is having on the aviation industry, Adjunct Professor Dr. Ludwig Weber noted the need for massive injections of financial support to ensure that the engine behind the world’s economy and the connectivity it provides can be sustained beyond the crisis.

Institute Director Professor Havel noted that the term “black swan” event, which is supposed to refer to a once-a-century systemic shock, is now being used inaptly to describe events that are hitting the airline industry virtually every decade. Nevertheless, he observed that while the industry has previously survived these recurring challenges, it needs now to have an injection not only of bailout funds but also of “smart” government for aviation. The entire industry is ripe for innovation in the fields of public health, public policy, and public security. He predicted that the aviation industry in the future will be seen also as a “system” as well as a commercial sector, and that private/public partnerships will increasingly form part of the governance of the industry. Mandatory health screenings and health monitoring equipment, for example, would be part of the everyday experience of flying. The new challenge, he concluded, would be to create a much more sustainable aviation industry in the future.

Adjunct Professor Dr. Donal Hanley, who taught the Aircraft Finance Law course this semester, drew comparisons between the current downturn in the aviation industry and the disruption that the aviation sector experienced after 9/11. Though it is clear that the scale and global repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic are unprecedented, Dr. Hanley encouraged students to transform these times of confinement into moments to think creatively about legal principles and strategies that may be employed to ensure the survival of the industry. Indeed, former IASL Director and Faculty of Law Professor Emeritus Armand de Mestral noted that the realities of home isolation and social distancing provide a unique moment in our lives for reflection on the problems that have beset society in recent decades.

Prof Ram Jakhu expressed appreciation to the IASL Director for convening a virtual gathering of all students and faculty of the Institute during a time of social isolation. The solidarity and reassurance provided by the meeting would be a welcome comfort to everyone who is seeking to adjust to the “new normal”. Underlining that challenging times can strengthen will and resolve, Professor Jakhu expressed optimism that the world will be able to get through this period and emerge stronger than ever before. Professor Jakhu also used the opportunity to inform everyone that the MILAMOS Project, the flagship research project of the Institute’s Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, is progressing toward its expected conclusion later this year. Despite having to postpone a scheduled rule-drafting and consensus-forming workshop in the US State of Mississippi at the end of April, the distinguished members of the MILAMOS Group of Experts have renewed their commitments to ensuring the completion of the McGill Manual in 2020.

Over 30 students and faculty connected online for the hour-long session. Besides raising essential housekeeping matters, several students also made encouraging remarks about how they are dealing with their current experience. Earlier, a virtual cocktail party was organised by the a student to ensure that everyone remains connected in the time of social distancing.

In closing the meeting, Professor Havel invited all IASL students and faculty to join him again for a second virtual meeting on May 1, when a special announcement is promised. Details of the announcement will, of course, appear here on the IASL website.

IASL Graduate Ms. Isabella Vilhena Declared Winner of IATA’s 2020 Constance O'Keefe Aviation Law Writing Award

Ms. Isabella Vilhena received the 2020 Constance O’Keefe Aviation Law Writing Award Legal Writing award from Mr. Marco Marchegiani, partner at Studio Pierallini (Rome, Italy) and Mr. Jeffrey Shane, IATA General Counsel and former Secretary of the US Department of Transportation.

We are proud to announce that IASL graduate Ms. Isabella Vilhena was declared the winner of the 2020 Constance O’Keefe Aviation Law Writing Award by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The Award, named in honour of IATA’s former General Counsel, is presented annually to young aviation professionals who write a paper addressing a particular legal problem or development of commercial relevance to the leading trade association for the world’s airlines and its members.

“Receiving this award”, Ms. Vilhena said, “was [a] priceless, memorable experience”. Presenting her with the prestigious commemorative plaque (see photo above) were (on left) Mr. Marco Marchegiani, partner at top Italian law firm and Award sponsor Studio Pierallini, and (on right) Mr. Jeffrey N. Shane, IATA General Counsel and former Under-Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Ms. Vilhena received the 2020 Award at the 2020 IATA Legal Symposium, IATA’s flagship conference on aviation law and the world's premier annual aviation law event, held on 19-21 February in New York City. Featuring lively panels that address the aviation industry’s most pressing legal and policy challenges, the Legal Symposium attracts renowned aviation law practitioners and an unmatched roster of global airline executives.

 “It is a great honour for me, as a Latin American woman and McGill alumna, to receive such a prize”, Ms. Vilhena said. Her paper, titled “Foreign ownership in Airlines: the Brazilian experience” was inspired by IASL Director Professor Brian F. Havel, who in 2016 presented a seminal report on foreign investment in airlines to the World Economic Forum. “I could barely believe that [IATA] chose my paper - that one I wrote and revised a thousand times on those snowy days at Nahum Gelber Library - as the winning entry”.

Ms. Vilhena (LL.M 2018) is currently a Senior Associate at Basch & Rameh, located in São Paulo, Brazil. In addition to winning this great honour, Ms. Vilhena is also the proud recipient of the 2018 International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA) Scholarship. In 2019, she was on secondment at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes), which acts as the external counsel to the Aviation Working Group (the entity that oversees the development of the Cape Town Convention on aircraft acquisition financing). Ms. Vilhena joined the Blakes Aviation & Aerospace team to work on the introduction of the Convention’s novel Compliance Index.

Several former IASL graduates, including Mr. Andrew Harrington (2013) and Mr. René David-Cooper (2017), have also been named winners of the Constance O’Keefe Aviation Law Writing Award. The IASL is extremely proud of the impressive accomplishments of all our graduates who, like Ms. Vilhena, are recognised around the world for their intellectual acumen and professionalism.

Well done, Isabella!

IASL Director Brian F. Havel Receives Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the National University of Ireland

Professor Dr. Brian F. Havel, the Director of the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law, received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) from his alma mater, the National University of Ireland, University College Dublin (UCD), at a conferring ceremony in Dublin, Ireland, on Monday 2 December 2019.

The Citation for the Degree, which describes the IASL as “the world’s most prestigious academic setting for the study of air and space law,” was read by the Dean of the UCD Faculty of Law, Professor Imelda Maher, and the Degree was conferred honoris causa by the President of the University, Dr. Andrew Deeks.

In his speech accompanying the Conferring, Dr. Havel conveyed McGill’s appreciation of this new connection between the two Universities, and in that context he emphasised the importance of maintaining connections in one’s life. He noted for example that as an aviation and space lawyer he is driven to see connections everywhere, especially in the aviation industry which in his view is the ultimate expression of peaceful global connectivity between nations and people as expressed in the preamble to the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation.

Annual Holiday Reception and Book Launches

Continuing a log-standing tradition, the alumni association of the IASL, the Institute of Air and Space Law Association, once again hosted its annual Holiday Reception on Thursday December 5, in the historic Billiard Room of the McGill Faculty Club. Among the guests was Her Excellency the Permanent Representative of Italy to the ICAO Council, Dr. Silvia Costantini. Here are some extracts from the welcome address of the IASL Director, Professor Brian F. Havel (most of the lighter moments in the speech have been removed):

As well as our alumni, we are joined by the members of the IASL LLM and Certificate class of 2018-2019 as well as by a number of exchange students from Brazil, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Poland, Sweden, and Russia, who have taken an interest in air and space law and no doubt will be part of our future graduate programmes in the Institute – a total group of 26 students representing 19 countries and five continents, a most impressive group of individuals

High points of 2019 - our new relationship with the Chinese University of Hong Kong began in January, including an Asian alumni reunion, and our thoughts are with our alumnus, Professor June Lee, who is on the CUHK faculty and who has been a loyal friend of the Institute; here in Montreal we had our first environmental law colloquium/conference, we kicked off a planned new lecture series on technology for air and space lawyers hosted by alumnus Ayman Idlbi, we had a wonderful colloquium with Captain Aysha Alhamili, the UAE supernova and IASL graduate who was a recent candidate for the ICAO Presidency, and we announced a series of new internships . . .

We held the second annual Air Law Speed Moot Court Competition and the first annual McGill Rising Scholars in Air and Space Law Conference, both events endowed by Qatar Airways

Moot court successes included winning the North American finals of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition and best brief in the world finals in Washington DC, as well as a best memorial Award in the Leiden/Sarin International Air Law Moot Court Competition in India

We had a beautiful graduation dinner speech from Dr. Lucy Stojak, Chair of the Space Advisory Board of Canada, who is an IASL graduate and who was here at the Institute today to join me and Professor Jakhu in examining the doctoral thesis of Dr. Eytan Tepper

We had outstanding placements of our graduates with ICAO, the European Commission, aviation manufacturers including Pratt & Whitney, airlines, law firms, and government agencies including the Canadian Space Agency and the Office of the Canadian Judge Advocate General, we had lecture and conference appearances all over the world including for Professor Jakhu’s flagship project, the multi-year Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS), for which we conducted expert workshops in Montreal, Berlin, and Tokyo, and we are speeding toward culminaton of this project and a public launch in summer 2020,

We had the admission of two new doctoral candidates, Artur Eberg and Mathieu Vaugeois, and as I mentioned the graduation today of Dr. Eytan Tepper for his excellent disquisition on polycentric approaches to the governance of space, we offer our congratulations to Eytan, for whom this is his second doctorate (the first earned at the Chinese University of Political Science and Law), and he will now begin a research fellowship at New York University.

We recall also our students’ involvement in the 40th ICAO Assembly in September and their role as Rapporeturs for the highly successful 12th Annual McGill Conference on International Aviation Liability, Insurance, and Finance held in Montreal in October, the largest conference we have ever staged and the first time our students assumed the role of rapporteurs

Our colloquia included sessions with John R. Byerly, former U.S. chief negotiator for the U.S./EU Air Transport Agreement, and Eamonn Brennan, the Director General of Europe’s largest aviation regulator, we had the fifth rendition of the Strategic Space Law course that attracted worldwide interest from governments, industry, and private practitioners, and we participated in the establishment of an ICAO-supported worldwide partnership of aviation educators called Alicanto.

We also enjoyed a giant international chocolate and vanilla flag cake bearing the national flags of all of our students to mark the end of classes last week, and last but not least in this brief recitation, our first ever IASL wedding, held at the Institute on a beautiful late October day, between doctoral candidate Maria Manoli and recently graduated DCL Lukas Vanhonnaeker, our FedEx Fellow in Air Law – as far as I know, the marriage has been a great success!

In February 2020 we will formally launch Volumes 43 and 44 of the Annals of Air and Space Law and we will have the editor, Bruno Savoie, here with us to celebrate his third and final volume and we will be getting ready for a series of very special volumes to mark the 70th anniversary of the Institute of Air and Space Law in academic year 2020-2021.

I am also delighted to announce the publication of the 2019 Space Security Index, 16th edition, a project which tracks worldwide developments and trends in the space domain and with which the Institute has been involved as a founding institution, and I also want to acknowledge the participation of our students Tobias Pang, Shaul Gordon, Polly Averns, and Boris Hall in assembling this year’s Index.

Finally, we welcome Dr. Shakeel Ahmad from Islamabad, Pakistan, who is our Erin J.C. Arsenault post-doctoral fellow working on MILAMOS as well as on his research project focused on negotiating customary international law in outer space.

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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