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

Published: 2 December 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] (subject: McGill%20Manual) (McGill Manual Managing Editor Kuan-Wei Chen) or visit

Back to top