Annual Strategic Space Law Course


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Next Strategic Space Law Course:
23-26 November 2020


The (draft) program of the Strategic Space Law Course 2020 is now available.


Since 2015, the McGill University Centre for Research in Air and Space Law has put together the Strategic Space Law course, the world's first course focusing on various legal and policy considerations surrounding the strategic uses of outer space. Armed forces have not had to comprehensively consider the application of law to the use of force and rules of engagement in outer space. Conflict in the space domain is now a possibility that cannot be dismissed and this course provides a unique opportunity for lawyers and other professionals in the defense services, international relations, government, international organisations, law firms, consulting firms and industry around the world to study space law in a strategic context.

The Strategic Space Law Course is a 4-day intensive, interdisciplinary, international and interactive workshop held annually in Montreal, Canada thus greatly facilitating the participating and training of people from all over the world who are interested in the course. Jointly organised with Mr. Gilles Doucet of Spectrum Space Security Inc, the course will feature lectures delivered by world-class academics, legal and policy advisors and subject-matter experts drawn from government, civil society and the commercial sector.

The 2020 edition program of the course has been slightly modified for delivery through a remote learning platform. As a result, participants will receive a more concise virtual version of the Strategic Space Law Course. In 2021, we hope to revert back to the extended in-person program that will cover more topics, practical team-building exercises and networking events.

Course highlights

  • core lectures from experts on the concepts, principles and rules involved in the various disciplines that touch on Strategic Space Law.
  • hands-on practical exercises linked to lectures, on topics such as diplomatic negotiations, aerospace traffic management, military use of spectrum, space debris and simulated legal, policy and commercial problem-solving and debate.
  • Social and other networking activities
  • Eligible for inclusion as Continuing Legal Education hours as reported by practicing attorneys
  • A packed program spanning over four days

Why study Strategic Space Law?

Today, there are over 2,000 active satellites in orbit and the number of States directly involved in launching or operating satellites has grown substantially since the dawn of the space age. Even States that have no direct involvement in launching or operating satellites rely heavily on space infrastructure: for television, radio, banking, communications, transport, agriculture, mining, and especially for modern military services.

Yet, those satellites are under increasing threat from hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris and increasing harmful radio interference. Furthermore, some States already possess counter-space weapons and other means capable of destroying or disrupting satellites, and other States have plans to develop those capabilities. There is also greater competition for use of the limited radio frequency spectrum and prime orbital slots that are indispensable for the operation of all satellites.

Outer space is becoming more contested, congested and competitive. Concurrently, the global security situation generally is less certain. Financial and other constraints have made global powers more inward-looking and less likely to deploy forces globally – except through the sort of ‘remote reach’ capabilities that rely on space infrastructure (such as uninhabited aerial vehicles and cyber warfare). Ballistic missiles, as the means of delivery of nuclear weapons, involve space flight and ballistic missile defense also relies on space-based infrastructure. Thus, space is a key element in global security, yet it is also increasingly vulnerable to the threats described above.

There is a real danger that outer space will become a wild and lawless frontier. There is evidence of that view already. A conflict in space could have devastating implications for the space systems of all nations and for modern society on Earth. Therefore, in order to avoid potentially devastating conflicts, there is a dire need for understanding, particularly by those that are directly involved in the use of space, of the applicable rules of international law, particularly rules governing the prohibition on the use of force and applicable rules of international humanitarian law that serve to minimise the detrimental effects of any future conflict. The challenges confronting space-based infrastructure have implications for all States, not just the superpower, space-faring States and implications for all sectors, not just the military or government.

Who is the Strategic Space Law Course for?

  • Lawyers from other government departments and international organizations
  • Military lawyers
  • Public policy practitioners/scholars
  • Commercial lawyers
  • Aspiring law students (aspiring to study law or law students aspiring to employment in this field)
  • Non-lawyers in space-related private or public sector roles

*  Participants will be given a Certificate of Completion at the end of the course.
*  The 2020 event will be eligible for inclusion as 16 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) as reported by members of the Barreau du Quebec.

Programme, fee and registration

Dates: 23-26 November 2020
Location: online, and coure registrants will have access to recordings of the course for two weeks following the end of the course.
Costs: US$ 200

For more information about the course and to register, please visit the Eventbrite page for registration

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