News and Activities in 2016

Below are the events and news from 2016:


The IASL class of 2016 visits Air Canada and ICAO

On 28 November 2016, a group of 22 students enjoyed the unique opportunity to visit the headquarters of Air Canada. Under the hospitality of employees at Air Canada, they were given a special tour of the crew training facilities and enjoyed lectures by seasoned professionals at the legal and regulatory affairs department and the network planning department of Canada's flag carrier. The visit was a special occasion to learn about the fascinating issues and challenges of operating in the competitive airline industry. There, students  gained first-hand understanding on how, through a variety of innovative business practices and careful management and planning, Air Canada is recognised as one of the top air carriers in North America. The visit was made possible with the kind assistance of IASL alumna and Adjunct Professor Martine de Serre, who teaches Government Regulation of Air Transport, and Ms. Kerianne Wilson, who during her studies at the Institute began working in legal and regulatory affairs at Air Canada.

The visit to Air Canada, as well as a recent visit to and guided tour of the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization, is one of many class trips to renowned aviation and space industries and forms an integral part of the educational programme at the IASL. Great emphasis is placed on practical experiences and allowing students to network with professionals in the field. The group of students is made up of students from the regular LLM programme in Air and Space Law, exchange students and final year undergraduate students at the McGill Faculty of Law who are taking the Airline Business and Law course on offer at the Institute. As in previous years, the students hail from 14 countries and are representative of the international and intercultural learning environment that the Institute is proud of.

Institute of Air and Space Law 65th Anniversary Gala

On 7 October 2016, the Institute of Air and Space Law celebrated its 65th anniversary at a gala event held in Montreal. The festive event was attended by over 120 participants. Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and Mr. John Augustin, Director of the ICAO Legal Bureau, were among the VIPs present and added to the celebratory mood with their presence.

An inspiring keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Yves Desjardins-Siciliano (President and CEO of VIA Rail, a graduate of the IASL). Prof. Armand de Mestral (former Director of the IASL) presented thoughts on the important role that IASL plays in the air and space law education in the world, while Dr. Michael Milde (former Director of the IASL) traced the historical origin of the Institute. Current IASL Director Ram Jakhu provided the guests at the gala with a "State of the IASL" address to highlight the proud achievements of the Institute in the past six and a half decades as well as the role its various directors, staffs, and students have played, and continue to play, in the extensive academic, research, and outreach activities of the Institute. In recognition of her commitment to the Institute and her passion for her work in the past thirty-eight years, Ms. Maria D'Amico was presented with the Lifelong Dedicated Service Award amid a standing ovation.

After 65 years, the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law remains the world’s premier educational and research institution in the field of air law and space law. With the largest number of fellowships and prizes on offer to encourage students and professionals to engage in the study of air and space law at the masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral levels, to date over a thousand proud graduates of the Institute occupy recognised and senior positions in many government ministries, international organisations, airlines, the judiciary, and academia. In 1996, the Institute was decorated with the prestigious Edward Warner Award for its ground-breaking achievements and "unparalleled contributions to the development of international air law and to the examination of contemporary aviation issues”.

Current IASL Director Professor Ram Jakhu and former Directors Professor Michael Milde and Professor Armand de Mestral.
The education programme and research agenda of the Institute and its research arm, the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, have evolved over the years to keep in touch - often with creative foresight - with the new issues and challenges. The Centre has been prolific in publishing and disseminating peer-reviewed publications related to this rapidly developing field of law, including the renowned Annals of Air and Space Law. Further, the Institute and Centre have organised countless events and conferences around the world and been at the forefront of spearheading innovative projects, such as the Global Space Governance Study and most recent project to draft the Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Activities in Outer Space.

All these achievements could not have been possible without the hard work and determination of the Institute’s dedicated staffs and students, the great generosity of the Institute’s donors and supporters, as well as the continual support of the Institute’s extensive network of alumni around the world. At 65, the Institute is entering a new future and will continue to fulfil its mission and vision of being the world’s foremost centre for research and education in the fields of air and space law.

Professor Ram Jakhu honoured with IAASS 2016 Leonardo da Vinci Award

Professor Ram Jakhu, the new Director of the Institute, received the Leonardo da Vinci Life-Long Achievement Award from the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS).

The Leonardo da Vinci Award honours distinguished individuals who advance space safety and the mission goals and core values of the IAASS. The award itself is a bronze plaque with the "Vitruvian Man", which is symbolism for recognising those space safety professionals who dedicate themselves to the truth and innovative discovery.

Professor Jakhu has been the Chairman of the IAASS Space Safety Legal and Regulatory Committee for nine years running, and he is the second person ever to receive this prestigeous award. He was recognised for his "lifelong passion for promoting knowledge centred on the value of care for the wellbeing of space explorers and travelers, and for the protection of the orbital environment". Further, the IAASS recognised Professor Jakhu's contributions in championing space safety and sustainability through space law and took note of his "oustanding research on regulatory aspects of space regulations".

In a letter congratulating Professor Jakhu, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) Rosie Goldstein underlined the Leonardo Da Vinci Life-long Achievement Award is "a testimony to [his] accomplishments in the development and advancement of space law", and praised his work for reinforcing McGill University's position at the forefront of research and training.

Congratulations, Professor Jakhu

McGill University Officially Launches the MILAMOS Project

May 2016

Professor Ram Jakhu, Director of the IASL, launches the MILAMOS Project at McGill University
At the opening of the 4th Manfred Lachs Conference on Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law, representatives from McGill University and partner institution the University of Adelaide officially launched the interdisciplinary and international project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS).

This unique project, which to date enjoys the support of the Government of Canada, the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as support from a growing number of international experts, aims to draft a widely-accepted manual clarifying the rules applicable to the military use of outer space. These rules would clarify and regulate the range of activities that can be conducted in times of peace, as well as in periods of tension and armed conflict. The Project is  made possible with financial contributions from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Erin JC Arsenault Trust Fund at McGill University,  established to support initiatives and research into the peaceful uses of outer space and space governance.
Dean Daniel Jutras speaking at the launch of the MILAMOS Project

The launch event was attended by over 80 people from all over the world. Underlining the importance and necessity of the MILAMOS Project were Professor Ram Jakhu, Chair of the MILAMOS Project Management Board, Dr Dale Stephens, Editor-in-Chief of the Project and Director of the University of Adelaide's Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics (RUMLAE), Professor Paul Dempsey, Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law and the Centre for the Research in Air and Space Law, the Dean of McGill Faculty of Law, Professor Daniel Jutras, and McGill University's Vice Principal (Research and Innovations), Dr. Rosie Goldstein.

The Institute and Centre have long been a recognised hub for teaching, critical thinking and research in the field of air and space law, and the MILAMOS Project demonstrates the innovation and strength of these institutions. The project aims to ensure, for the sake of the long-term sustainability and peaceful uses of outer space, that all activities are governed by the rule of law.

Dean Jutras expressed his support for the Institute and the Centre in spearheading the Project that will no doubt have great international influence on public policy-making and the legal regulation of affairs in outer space in years to come.  Dr. Goldstein made welcoming remarks, partly in French, and noted McGill University's pride in leading such a project.

McGill University's Vice Principal (Research and Innovations), Dr. Rosie Goldstein, at the launch of the MILAMOS Project
Additionally, Dr David Kendall, the incoming Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, gave the Conference's Keynote Address and praised McGill and the University of Adelaide for their foresight in conceptualising and conceiving this groundbreaking and innovative project, particularly in the current geopolitical climate of "considerable distrust". Mr. Niklas Hedman, of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, spoke about how the Project will address security and sustainability issues that will be a focus of the upcoming UNISPACE+50 event in 2018.

Much of the discussions at the Conference related to issues that will form the challenging concepts and developments that the MILAMOS Project aims to grapple with. The discussions, contacts and fruitful exchanges facilitated at the Conference provided the international community with ideas and means to recognise the legal restraints on conflicts in outer space, to promote a stable, rules-based global order in outer space and to reduce the impetus towards an arms race and conflict in outer space.

The official press statement regarding the MILAMOS Project is available in both English and French, and more information about the MILAMOS Project can be accessed at the dedicated MILAMOS website.


Professor Paul Dempsey retires

30 May 2016

Professor Paul Dempsey with IASL colleagues, Professor Ludwig Weber, Ms. Maria D'Amico, and Professor Ram Jakhu

Professor Dempsey celebrates his retirement with colleagues, Professor Ludwig Weber, Ms. Maria D'Amico and Professor Ram Jakhu, who is the incoming Director.

After 14 years as the Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law and the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, Professor Paul Dempsey took his retirement from McGill University. Close colleagues celebrated his retirement and expressed gratitude for the noticeably professional, collegial and fun spirit that was the hallmark of the directorship of Professor Dempsey. Over the past fourteen years, the Institute firmly cemented its place as the foremost place of learning and education in the field of air and space law, and the Centre has seen its publications, research and outreach activities proliferate and be highly recognised and sought after around the world. 

In recognition of his achievements and contributions to the field of air and space law and continuig success of the Institute, Volume XL of the Annals of Air and Space Law is specially dedicated to Professor Dempsey. At the dinner, he was presented with a booklet containing many wellwishes and messages from alumni, students and colleagues around the world and photographs that capture the many memories and adventures from Professor Dempsey's time at the Institute. Though he is retiring, there does not seem to be any sign that Professor Dempsey is slowing down. He is and will always remain closely affiliated with the Institute

We wish Professor Dempsey every bit of success in his future endeavours and a happy retirement!


Obituary: Dr. Nicolas Mateesco Matte

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing away of Dr. Nicolas Mateesco Matte at the venerable age of 102 on 13 April 2016. Dr. Matte joins his dear wife Monica, deceased in 2008, and leaves behind his daughter Anne-Karyne (Jacques Latreille) and his son Daniel, as well as his grandsons Jordan-Nicolas and Mikaël-Darcy.

At McGill, Dr. Matte was one of the great experts in air and space law, a prolific scholar, and a formidable figure – leading the Institute of Air and Space Law for fifteen years, between 1976 and 1991. A member of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Matte was also chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, a Commander of the National Order of Romania, and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Focus online (Jan. 2014): Happy 100th birthday, Professor Matte!

Globe and Mail (24 May 2016): Nicolas Mateesco Matte: Romanian émigré became eminent legal expert

Good news from the April 2016 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition

McGill’s Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) Team won the North American Round of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition, where it competed against 11 other schools, mainly from the US. The competition took place 1-2 April 2016 in Washington, DC.

The McGill Team successfully mooted over two days and won each and every match it participated in. The final round was judged by Senior Counsels of NASA and Lockheed Martin. In addition, team member Aram Daniel Kerkonian won the best oralist award and our memorials were graded to have the overall highest score amongst all competing teams.

The Team is composed of Aram Daniel Kerkonian, Ted Adam Newsome, and Julius Dunton. Maria Manoli, research assistant at the IASL, coached the team and Professor Ram Jakhu acted as the Faculty Advisor. The McGill Team will now compete in the International Finals, representing North America, against the winners of the European, Asia-Pacific and African rounds, in Guadalajara, Mexico, in September 2016. The Final competition will be judged by three sitting judges of the International Court of Justice.

Institute of Air and Space Law Association Annual Dinner 2016

18 April 2016

The Annual Dinner of the Institute of Air and Space Law Association was held at the McGill Faculty Club on Monday April 18, 2016. The event was well attended by over sixty IASL alumni and this year's graduating class (2015-2016).  This year’s event held special significance for two reasons. Our Institute is celebrating the 65th Anniversary of its founding in 1951. Moreover, Professor Dr. Paul Dempsey, will be retiring this year after over a decade as our Institute’s Director. To mark the this special occassion, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and a proud graduate of our Institute, was the honoured guest speaker.

It was a festive event to induct students of the class of 2015-2016 into the Association and mark the achievements of outgoing Director Professor Paul Dempsey. The IASL alumni and people in attendance also took a moment to remember the contributions of Dr Nicolas Mateesco Matte, who passed away earlier in the week.

Professor Paul Dempsey, the outgoing Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law, and future Director Professor Ram Jakhu exchange hand shakes and smiles at this festive occasion.

Professor Ram Jakhu, the future Director of the Institute, toasting Professor Paul Dempsey, who will be leaving the Institute in May after 12 years as its Director. Professor Jakhu reminded the people in attendance of the great achievements and accomplishments under Professor Dempsey's tenure.


Professor Dempsey and the IASL's Edward Warner Award, which was symbolically passed to Professor Jakhu at the event.


Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and a graduate of our Institute (class of 2008-2009) was the Guest Speaker. He noted the IASL's importance and special ties with ICAO. The Institute's "highly significant contributions to the development of international air law" was recognised by ICAO with the presentation of the Edward Warner Award to the IASL in 1996, making the Institute the first institute to ever receive such a decorated award.


Despite the festive spirit, Professor Ludwig Weber took some time to remind us of the contributions of Dr. Nicolas Mateesco Matte, who passed away earlier in the week. Dr. Matte founded the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law and the Annals of Air and Space Law , which this year are both celebrating their fortieth anniversary.


Students, like Ermanno Napolitano from Italy, were keen to receive Professor Dempsey's autograph.


From left to right: Professor Ludwig Weber, Professor Paul Dempsey, Ms. Martine DeSerres, Ms. Iryna Volodymyrova (Ukraine), Mr. Eng Teong See (Malaysia), Mr. Eytan Tepper (Israel), Ms. Ritzkia Amelia Putri (Indonesia), Mr. Ted Newsome (US), Ms. Fanny Magalhaes Gonçalves (France), Mr. Ermanno Napolitano (Italy), Mr. Iseoluwa Christopher Akintunde (Nigeria), Ms. Maria Iannini (Colombia), Mr. Julius Dunton (Canada), Mr. Aram Daniel Kerkonian (Canada), Ms. Maria D'Amico, Mr. Bayar Goswami (India), Professor Ram Jakhu and Mr. Kuan-Wei Chen


...elsewhere in the world, in Brussels, Belgium, former IASL graduates Gerrit de Boer (class of 1968-1969), Adjunct-Professor Peter van Fenema and Mr. Kees Veenstra toasted to Professor Dempsey and wished him all the best in his future endeavours.


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