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