18 May 2018
The first meeting of the Editorial Committee of the MILAMOS Project took place in Montreal, Canada, on 18 May 2018. This first major meeting of the Project since the launch of Phase II of the Project in February 2018 was attended by close to a dozen Experts and Contributors involved in the MILAMOS Project hailing from Belgium, Canada, China, the Russian Federation, and the United States.
The Editorial Committee of the Project makes major editorial decisions on the black-letter rules and associated commentary of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space, and it has the responsibility for putting together the final text of the Manual. Among the many issues discussed were how to fine-tune the rule-drafting process, as well as concrete plans to hold rule-drafting and consensus-forming workshops in Beijing, China, and Moscow, Russia.
With the involvement of Experts from and institutional support of key institutions around the world, the members of the MILAMOS Editorial Committee are assured about the steady progress being made in the drafting of rules applicable to military activities in times of peace. Since the beginning of Phase II, the Beijing Institute of Technology, the Cologne Institute of Air and Space Law, and St. Petersburg State University have joined the MILAMOS Project, thereby adding much valued global perspectives, weight and credibility to the overall manual-drafting process and resultant manual.
This first meeting of the Editorial Committee was organised on the sidelines of the annual Space Security Index Working Group meeting. Many MILAMOS Experts and Contributors are active participants in the drafting of the Space Security Index, the widely recognised and circulated annual report on the state of security in the outer space domain.
The next major milestone in the MILAMOS Project will be Workshop IV, which will be held in Montreal on 10-14 July 2018. It is expected that 30 MILAMOS Experts and Contributors will attend this rule-drafting and consensus-forming workshop. Between now and Workshop IV, a total of 18 draft rules will be vigorously worked on and discussed by the MILAMOS Group of Experts in preparation for finalisation and adoption in Montreal.
16 May 2018
MILAMOS Lead Technical Expert, Mr. Gilles Doucet, presented on the MILAMOS Project at the 18th Astronautics Conference (ASTRO18) in Quebec City, Canada.
The annual conference organised by the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) is the major platform to facilitate exchange and dialogue between a wide array of international technical experts, industry specialists, academics, and government officials and policymakers in Canada. The three day event saw over 100 technical sessions and panel discussions cover a wide array of topics ranging from the technical aspects of space resource extraction to legal and policy considerations in strengthening the sustainability and security of outer space.
Mr. Doucet’s well-received presentation, titled “Are there rules for Conflict in Outer Space?”, informed participants at ASTRO18 about the structure, process, participants and expected outcomes of the MILAMOS Project. Underlining the growing reliance of modern societies, economies, and militaries, on space assets and applications, Mr. Doucet argued that such reliance has incentivised the development of anti-satellite capabilities and may heighten the prospect of the outbreak of armed conflict in space. This prospect is undesirable, and will have severe consequences for all space actors and stakeholders. There is thus great urgency in identifying and clarifying rules applicable to military space activities conducted in peacetime, in times of rising tensions, and in outright conflict. The McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space, initiated by McGill University, draws its strength from the input of experts and institutions around the world, including the Institute of Air and Space Law of the University of Cologne, the Institute of Space Law at the Beijing Institute of Technology, and St. Petersburg State University. This international and independent research Project is also supported by major stakeholders like the Government of Canada, , the French Joint Space Command, the Federal Ministry of Defense of Germany, the US Air Force , the Eric J C Arsenault Foundation, and the Secure World Foundation.
As a former scientist with the Canadian Department of National Defence and Defence Research and Development Canada, Mr. Doucet has extensive knowledge and understanding of space capabilities relevant to military applications and operations. He is currently an independent space security consultant. As the Lead Technical Expert in the MILAMOS Project, Mr. Doucet leads a select team of seasoned scientists and technical experts who provide valuable technical data and background information to ensure that the legal deliberations and rule-drafting process among Core Experts are properly contextualised (“spacified”) in the space environment.
27 March 2018
The Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) is very proud to be joining other key stakeholders in the project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS). BIT is highly prestigious academic institution in the People’s Republic of China, and its Institute of Space Law is recognised as a centre of excellence in the field within academic and government circles. BIT is also the host institution for the Space Law Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the official resource centre providing legal advice to the Chinese space agency. BIT will be joining Founding Institution McGill University, Partner Organisation the University of Cologne, and a host of global collaborators and stakeholders in Phase II of the three-year project to clarify rules governing the scope of military uses of outer space.
As a Partner, BIT will add great value to the MILAMOS Project by providing Chinese and non-Western perspectives on matters of global interest. The partnership with BIT will provide the Project with valuable institutional support, allow the Project to directly draw from the intellectual expertise in China, as well as provide the Project with a direct conduit to interact and engage with relevant stakeholders and government officials in China.
The BIT Institute of Space Law has a worldwide reputation for cultivating research and expertise on legal and policy issues surrounding military and civilian activities in outer space. The Beijing-based Institute played a central role in drafting the regulation and policy report for the Small Multi-Mission Satellite (SMMS) programme of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), and is the lead institution behind the translation of the first volume (on the Outer Space Treaty) of the highly influential Cologne Commentary on Space Law into Chinese. The Cologne Commentary is the unrivalled commentary on the key instruments of international space law, and was spearheaded by the University of Cologne, which as noted above is a partner institution in the MILAMOS Project.
BIT’s involvement in the MILAMOS Project will strengthen dialogue and exchanges between scholars and institutions based in Asia, Europe and North America. Inclusion of BIT in the MILAMOS Project will reinforce strong existing institutional and interpersonal ties between BIT and McGill’s Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL). There have already been extensive academic and personal exchanges between Professor Shouping Li and IASL Professor Ram Jakhu, the Director of the MILAMOS Project. Professor Li is the Dean of the BIT School of Law, the Director of CNSA Space Law Center and Director the BIT Institute of Space Law. Together with his colleagues at BIT, Professor Li will be providing valuable intellectual input to the manual-drafting process of the MILAMOS Project.
The addition of Beijing-based BIT is the result of continuous efforts to involve global partners in a crucial phase of the MILAMOS Project. The active involvement and input of Chinese experts and institutions will ensure that the McGill Manual will adequately capture the wide spectrum of interests and concerns relating to the legality of military uses of outer space.
16 March 2018
On 16 March 2018, the Project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS) became a focus of discussions at the “Roundtable on Application of Humanitarian Law to Outer Space: Existing Approaches and Challenges”. The Roundtable was organised by the Moscow Humanitarium, the regional centre of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) established as a forum for discussions and research on humanitarian law issues.
Ms. Elina Morozova, Head of International Legal Service at the International Organization of Space Communications INTERSPUTNIK, and Mr. Laurent Gisel, Legal Adviser at the ICRC Headquarters in Geneva, were both invited speakers at the Roundtable chaired by Professor Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, the Vice-President of the Russian Association of International Law. All three experts are actively involved in the MILAMOS Project in various capacities.
The Roundtable addressed several crucial issues that are at the heart of the MILAMOS Project, including the interrelation between international space law and international humanitarian law (IHL), and the regulation of the placement of convention weapons and weapons of mass destruction in outer space. In attendance were representatives from the diplomatic community, the ICRC, research institutes and non-governmental organisations, the media, and government officials, particularly from the Russian Federation and other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States. The event was also broadcast live online.
Ms. Morozova’s presentation on the MILAMOS Project attracted great interest among participants, and discussions on the applicability of IHL in outer space generated much debate and divided opinions. On the one hand, some maintain that as outer space is to be used for peaceful purposes, and therefore should not become a domain of conflict, the applicability of IHL in outer space is a moot issue. Others were in favour of initiatives that lay down the rules governing military activities so as to ensure more clarity and constraint in the event of a conflict in space—even though such a scenario is highly undesirable, but far from impossible.
The deliberations and great interest in the questions discussed at the ICRC-sponsored Roundtable in Moscow again underlinethe importance of continuing international exchange on issues relating to military activities in outer space. Evidence of varied perspectives among military and non-military circles demonstrates that issues affecting the security and sustainability of outer space require further articulation and clarification. With the clear objective of bringing together academics, government officials, members of the armed forces, and other stakeholders in the space domain to clarify the lex lata on the legality of military uses of outer space, the MILAMOS Project will go a long way to foster interest, exchange and consensus on matters that will have major implications on international peace and security, and on the future of humankind. The involvement and support of experts, contributors and institutions across the world, including Russia, will ensure that the resultant McGill Manual will truly reflect the opinions and consensus of stakeholders and States in the space domain.
11 March 2018
The Institute of Air and Space Law of the University of Cologne is proud to join the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS) Project. The Cologne Institute is cooperating with Founding Institution McGill University and a host of global collaborators and stakeholders in Phase II of the three-year project to clarify rules governing the scope of military uses of outer space.
The Cologne Institute has a worldwide reputation as a centre of research and excellence in the domain space law. The Cologne Institute recently celebrated its 90th anniversary, a testament to the long history and strong tradition dedicated to the study of legal issues surrounding activities in outer space. In bringing together practitioners, academics and officials to develop an international manual applicable to military uses of outer space, the MILAMOS Project aligns with Cologne’s research focus on various aspects of military and civilian space activities, which first started with Project 2001 and Project 2001 Plus.
Director of the Cologne Institute, Professor Dr. Stephan Hobe, will personally be involved in and contribute to the manual-drafting process of the MILAMOS Project. In light of the long-standing history of cooperation between the Cologne Institute and McGill’s own Institute of Air and Space Law, and the various collaborative efforts between Professor Hobe and Professor Jakhu, the Project Director of the MILAMOS Project, Cologne feels this is an opportune moment to be part of a Project that will achieve outcomes of great immediate and long-term value. Both Cologne and McGill are committed to research and scholarship in the field of international space law, and have over the past decades fostered mutually reinforcing links in this endeavour. They have conducted jointly organised conferences and outreach events, and Professor Hobe has worked on several research and publication ventures with Professor Jakhu, including the production of the seminal and highly influential three-volume Cologne Commentary on Space Law.
The Cologne’s involvement in the MILAMOS Project will bring in German and other European perspectives to the Project, and will certainly help realising the desired goal of a truly transnational research project. Cologne’s role in the MILAMOS will make significant intellectual contributions to the Project and facilitate interactions with key stakeholders in Germany and at the European Union.
At the beginning of Phase II of the MILAMOS Project, which will see intensified engagement with new global collaborators, the inclusion of the University of Cologne echoes continuous efforts to ensure the resultant manual is truly the result of input from global participants and stakeholders, and is reflective of the wide spectrum of interests and concerns relating to the military uses of outer space.
22 February 2018
With the scheduled completion of the MILAMOS Project in 2019 on the horizon, McGill University and cooperating institutions are pleased to publicise detailed plans for the remaining period of the three-year long endeavour.
As previously announced, Phase II of the project to draft McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space will see a consolidation of the intense rule-drafting efforts undertaken by the MILAMOS Group of Experts since the launch of the Project in May 2016. In line with the overall objective to ensure the Project is representative and reflective of various interests and perspectives from around the world, concerted efforts are being made to actively seek the contribution and input of new global collaborators, participants and stakeholders. The Cologne Institute of Air and Space Law is the first of a host of institutions that will be joining the MILAMOS Project in the coming period.
Drafting a manual that will be of practical use to governments and non-state actors operating in or with an interest in activities in outer space is a vigorous process. Efforts are well under way to engage other institutions and stakeholders from particularly China, Russia, and other non-Western States. There are ongoing discussions with potential collaborators on how best to integrate the intellectual capacities and valuable contributions these international stakeholders bring to the Project which already enjoys the support of various governments and stakeholder institutions, such as the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Secure World Foundation.
Building on the tremendous progress made in drafting rules, and success in capturing international attention and support since 2016, we are proud to detail the following concrete guide and plan of action of the MILAMOS Project:
- The Project will maintain its aim to develop a widely-accepted manual that clarifies the fundamental rules applicable to military uses of outer space by both States and non-State actors in times of peace, in periods of rising tensions, and in times of armed conflict. From the outset, the Manual was never intended to be drafted solely for the benefit of military operators “in the field”. The McGill Manual was conceived as a comprehensive expression of the lex lata (the law as it is) for use by a wide spectrum of space operators and stakeholders with an interest in the security and sustainability of space activities, rather than solely as a field manual for military operations.
- The McGill Manual will be relevant to States, militaries, private space actors, civil society, academics and other relevant stakeholders with an interest in the orderly conduct of space activities, and this original conception will be sustained in Phase II of the MILAMOS Project.
- Phase II of the MILAMOS Project will see a streamlining of the work process, and intensified engagement with new global partners succeeding the University of Adelaide and the University of Exeter, which have recently elected to conclude their participation in the Project. These new McGill-led efforts, buoyed with the support of a representative array of global partners, will ensure the Project steadily progresses toward completion and maintains the original objectives and scope of the Project. We will be operating on the basis of strict budgetary control, particularly by reducing the sizes of working groups and by stepping up our use of electronic communications.
- A truly global partnership of stakeholders and representation of perspectives will be crucial to the ultimate success and acceptance of such an ambitious international endeavour. New partners, including institutions and expertise from Russia, China and other non-Western States, are actively being engaged to ensure that the McGill Manual accurately captures the nuances and perspectives of different States and stakeholders, and is reflective of the wide spectrum of interests and concerns relating to the military uses of outer space. Only by embracing partners around the globe will the manual-drafting and consensus-forming process and the resultant Manual achieve the intended objective of being an accepted, authoritative and instrumental document in shaping the security and sustainability of activities in outer space. Upon the departure of Adelaide and Exeter, one university has already joined as our partner while the application of the other is being processed by SSHRC. Several other institutions have shown strong interest in collaborating with McGill in the drafting of the Manual.
- McGill remains fully committed to and supportive of the Project. The MILAMOS Project possesses good financial resources and has received some commitments of support from various individuals and institutions for the Project to consolidate and make further progress under Phase II. Further, the Secretariat of the MILAMOS Project is housed at McGill, and throughout the first phase of the Project it has been instrumental and effective in providing the necessary administrative and logistical support to the overall management of the Project and the Group of Experts.
- The scheduled completion date of 2019 for the Project will be met through close cooperation between our current and new sponsors, partners, collaborators, Experts and participants.
With our shared concerns and visions for the security and sustainability of outer space, McGill and collaborating institutions, individuals and stakeholders involved in the MILAMOS Project will realise the original vision of the MILAMOS Project to provide an independent, neutral, inclusive, interdisciplinary, and representative clarification of fundamental rules applicable to military uses of outer space.
We are pleased to announce that the project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS) has matured and is entering a new phase of expansion. After over 18 months of intense drafting and four consensus-forming and government engagement workshops in various parts of the world, Phase II of the MILAMOS Project will see a streamlining of the work process, and intensified engagement with new global partners succeeding the University of Adelaide and the University of Exeter, which have recently elected to conclude their participation in the Project. These new McGill-led efforts will ensure the Project steadily progresses toward maintaining the original objectives and scope of the Project as well as its the scheduled completion date of 2019.
With support from several international partners and stakeholders, the MILMAOS Project was originally conceived and publicly inaugurated at McGill University in May 2016. The Project aims to develop a widely-accepted manual that clarifies the fundamental rules applicable to military uses of outer space by both States and non-State actors in times of peace, in periods of rising tensions, and in times of armed conflict. From the outset, the Manual was never intended to be drafted solely for the benefit of military operators “in the field”. The McGill Manual was conceived as a comprehensive expression of the lex lata (the law as it is) for use by a wide spectrum of space operators and stakeholders with an interest in the security and sustainability of space activities, rather than solely as a field manual for military operations. The value of the Manual will be its relevance and salience to States, militaries, private space actors, civil society, academics and other relevant stakeholders with an interest in the orderly conduct of space activities, and that original conception will be sustained in Phase II of the MILAMOS Project.
The Project has already gathered the support and endorsement of various stakeholders and governments around the world, and has gained widespread attention in the international media. To date, McGill University has played a leading role in garnering the necessary financial and human resources to initiate and sustain the MILAMOS Project. An International Group of Experts, comprised of individuals with recognised expertise who are representative of the international community at large, is already actively involved in the drafting of the McGill Manual, and rule-drafting workshops and State engagement events have been held in Canada, Australia, India, and the United States of America. Having provided funding of over $400,000 in the MILAMOS Project to date, McGill remains fully committed to the original vision and mission of the McGill Manual to be a neutral, inclusive, innovative, interdisciplinary, and representative clarification of the applicable law that enjoys the endorsement of States from around the world. The Government of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), ROOM, The Space Journal, and the Erin JC Arsenault Fund at McGill University have been instrumental in providing most of the resources for the MILAMOS Project.
A truly global partnership of stakeholders and representation of perspective will be crucial to the ultimate success and acceptance of such an ambitious international endeavour. New partners, including institutions and expertise from Russia, China and other non-Western States, are actively being engaged to ensure the McGill Manual accurately captures the nuances and perspectives of different States and stakeholders, and is reflective of the wide spectrum of interests and concerns relating to the military uses of outer space. Only by embracing partners around the globe will the manual-drafting and consensus-forming process and the resultant Manual achieve the intended objective of being an accepted, authoritative and instrumental document in shaping the security and sustainability of activities in outer space.
More information on the progress and developments surrounding Phase II of the MILAMOS Project will follow shortly.
The Union of Concerned Scientists endorses the MILAMOS Project
6 November 2016
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is pleased to support the project to draft the Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS). Spearheaded by McGill University and The University of Adelaide, the MILAMOS Project’s vision of ensuring, for the sake of sustainability and benefit of humanity, that space activities be conducted in accordance with the rule of law is firmly in line with UCS’ mission of fostering innovative solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future. UCS sees a vital interest in ensuring the sustainability of the space environment, keeping satellites safe and secure, and enhancing stability not only in space but also on the ground.
Space has become an essential part of the modern world, with satellite services playing increasingly central roles in civil, scientific, commercial, and military affairs. Recent trends and events indicate that, due to the strategic value of outer space, space activities may be a source of mistrust and tension, potentially sparking or exacerbating a crisis. However, efforts over many years to engage in international negotiations on formal agreements to stem the weaponisation of outer space or to agree to voluntary “rules of the road” to safeguard space sustainability and security have stalled. For these reasons, an authoritative statement and clarification of the limitations that existing international law places on the military and hostile use of outer space is an innovative and welcome initiative.
The MILAMOS Project and resultant McGill Manual, scheduled to be completed in three years, will provide much-needed clarity about the binding rules governing the use of force and scope of permissible military activity in space. Importantly, UCS notes the MILAMOS Project does not condone warfare in outer space. Instead, the MILAMOS Project serves to prevent armed conflict and minimise the devastating impact that armed conflict in space could have on space and on earth. UCS has worked on space security issues for decades, combining rigorous technical analysis with effective advocacy. Most recently, UCS developed specific measures to improve security and sustainability in outer space.
We are honoured that UCS’ own Dr. Laura Grego, Senior Scientist in the Global Security Program, will be assuming a key role in the MILAMOS Project as the Coordinator of the Group of Technical Experts. In this capacity, Dr. Grego, along with other seasoned and recognised technical experts and scientists, will ensure the McGill Manual and identified rules of international law are properly contextualised. This is particularly important in the domain of outer space, which is governed by physical laws and technical facts not widely understood or appreciated outside of specialist circles, and is currently the locus of rapid technological innovation. Dr. Grego has previously testified before the US Congress and addressed the United Nations Conference on Disarmament on matters of space security.
The UCS is proud to endorse the MILAMOS Project as a Collaborating Institution and will continue to support the Project in various ways to ensure its timely completion and success.
About the Union of Concerned Scientists
For nearly half a century, the Union of Concerned Scientists has combined the knowledge and influence of the scientific community with the passion of concerned citizens to build a healthy planet and a safer world.
The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.
Inaugural Plenary of the MILAMOS Project held in Montreal
5 October 2016
The historic Inaugural Plenary of the MILAMOS Project was held on 2-5 October 2016 in Montreal, Canada. The event marked the first meeting between the 40+ Experts and various Observers participating in the Project, and paved the way for the drafting of the proposed Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Activities in Outer Space.
Since the beginning of the year, the Management Board has worked tirelessly to recruit experts in the domains of general international law, international space law, international humanitarian law, the law on the use of force, as well as experts specialising in technical aspects of space operations and applications. Emphasis has always been on finding experts with recognised experience and credentials who are representative of the international community as well as on achieving an optimal gender balance. Indeed, an impressive total of 45 participants hailing from 17 countries are involved in the Project, of whom close to 30% are female. This broad representation of nationalities, diversity and genders is something that has never before been seen in a manual-drafting process, and a testament to the MILAMOS Project’s vision to be inclusionary and truly international.
The Inaugural Plenary was convened with the aim of allowing the group of Experts to familiarise themselves with one another as well as with the processes and procedures of the MILAMOS Project. The Welcome Dinner on 2 October featured Dr. David Kendall, the current Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS), as the special Guest Speaker. Dr. Kendall underlined the MILAMOS Project’s work will be important to complement the UN’s work in cementing the sustainable and peaceful uses of outer space.
Dean Robert Leckey of McGill’s Faculty of Law and (incoming) University of Adelaide Law School Dean Melissa de Zwart welcomed the participants in the MILAMOS Project with some inspiring remarks on the first day of the Plenary. The unique partnership between the two institutions was instrumental in bringing together a balanced and international group composed of acclaimed academics, seasoned military officers and technical experts. This delicate balance, together with the intuitional recognition and support of a growing number of influential stakeholders, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, will carry the Project forward in the coming three years.
The remaining days were filled with presentations by members of the Management Board to elaborate on the issues pertaining to, e.g., the collaborative drafting process and challenges of determining customary law in respect of space activities. Several members of the Group of Technical Experts gave MILAMOS participants crash-courses on the nature of the space domain and the methods and means of interference with space operations. Such informational sessions were much appreciated and will prove instrumental in informing discussions and the drafting of rules in the coming years to ensure that the resultant manual is properly contextualised in the space domain. Various opportunities were provided for the three Research Groups to meet and begin scoping issues and rules to be drafted in the coming years. The Plenary concluded with a visit to the Canadian Space Agency, which was an apt way to wrap up the first meeting of experts and let them return home even more inspired by live images of a sunrise streaming directly from the International Space Station.
In addition to the Experts who are involved in the MILAMOS Project, several State Observers were also present to observe the process and gain first-hand insight into discussions and deliberations at the Plenary. The presence of such Observers was welcomed as a means to facilitate the State engagement process later on, particularly as the Manual aims gain international recognition and acceptance.
As the MILAMOS Project progresses, the next three years will no doubt encounter challenges and disagreements that need to be resolved. The group of Experts, under the direction of the Management Board and Group Editors, will have the tremendous task of identifying and clarifying rules that will apply to military activities in space, a domain that hitherto has not seen outright conflict but may inevitable become a theatre of warfare. The progress and results of the MILAMOS Project, with its group of Experts who are reflective of a variety of perspectives and gender balance, will be a great endeavour to be followed closely in the three years to come.
The Conversation publicises the MILAMOS Project
20 September 2016
The Conversation published an opinion piece about the MILAMOS Project. Titled "We need clear rules to avoid a real Star Wars in outer space", the article is penned by Professors Steven Freeland, Dale Stephens and Ram Jakhu, who are member of the Management Board of the MILAMOS Project.
The article underlines the message that the MILAMOS Project is not an effort to condone warfare in outer space. Instead, the collective effort of an impressive gathering of lawyers, scientists, technicians and officials, all working in their personal capacity, seeks to formulate rules that will ensure outer space activities are conducted in accordance with the rule of law. While the law of armed conflict provides a framework of restraining military operations in the terrestrial context, there is hardly any reference to the conduct of military operations in outer space. With geopolitical tensions that may very well be played out in the space domain, a neutral statement and clarification of the limitations international law places on the military use of outer space is, now more than ever, an urgent priority.
The Conversation is an independent news media which publishes quality current affairs articles written by academics and experts. Without any editorial bias or political affiliations, the vision of The Conversation is to publicise important developments in the world and present the general public with trending ideas and insight into issues and challenges facing humanity.
The publication of the article about the MILAMOS Project and the upcoming Plenary is a clear demonstration that the Project, and the efforts of the Experts and Contributors involved, is of global importance and gaining greater international recognition and publicity.
MILAMOS Project presented at the UN
5 September 2016
At the 10th United Nations Workshop on Space Law, held by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in Vienna, the MILAMOS Project was presented as an essential step in acknowledging and clarifying the application of law to military use of outer space. Before dozens of subject-matter experts, policy-makers at the international and national level, as well as representatives from diplomatic missions of various States, the MILAMOS Project was presented on a panel discussing the progressive development of international law to secure global space governance and enhance space security. This marks the first time that the details of MILAMOS Project was presented at such an international level and received so much international attention.
The Workshop, titled “Contribution of Space Law and Policy to Space Governance and Space Security in the 21st Century”, examined a number of cross-cutting and topical issues that will form the focus of the UNISPACE+50 Conference in 2018. With the proliferation of space actors, and certain developments that undermine the peaceful uses of outer space, UNOOSA and the upcoming UNISPACE+50 are geared to ensuring space activities take place governed by international space law as well as by a commitment to safeguarding space security and sustainability.
As the first of only a handful of “legal and institutional initiatives” to be presented at the Workshop, presentation of MILAMOS Project underlined how subject-matter experts (“most highly qualified publicists”) have historically played an instrumental role in identifying and clarifying sources of State obligations and rights. The manual-drafting process, the success of which rests on the involvement of an interdisciplinary, international and independent group of experts, builds on the premise that through consensus, experts are able to agree on the existing rules that are applicable to military use of outer space, in circumstances where States are unable or unlikely to agree on the application of existing law or on new international instruments. The unsuccessful attempts at various multilateral fora to reach a binding agreement on contentious issues of space security and strategic uses of outer space, all point to the necessity of finding an alternative pathway to break the geopolitical deadlock. The MILAMOS Project, and the resultant McGill Manual, was presented as an innovative way forward in the recognition of the need to strengthen the rule of law in the outer space context as well as the overall governance of space activities.
The presentation also recognised the leading roles the Founding Institutions, McGill University’s Centre for Research in Air and Space Law and the University of Adelaide’s Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics, play in initiating and spearheading the Project. The successful recruitment of renowned Experts and Observers who have committed themselves to the Project over the past few months is complemented by the gathering of support from various institutions, stakeholders and supporters from around the world. With this presentation at such a high-level forum, it may be expected that the Project will continue to gather additional institutional support and funding to realise its objectives within the timeframe.
The presentation is available on the website of the UN Space Law Workshop.
MILAMOS Project a focus at the 4th Manfred Lachs Conference
28 May 2016
The Project to produce the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space was the focus of one of the panels at the 4th Manfred Lachs Conference on Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law. The Conference addressed a varierty of issues related to rapidly developing military technologies and activities and the present challenges present to the security and sustainability of outer space.
Several experts who will be involved in the MILAMOS Project were part of Panel 8, titled "The Need for and Scope of a Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space". In particular, Professor Dale Stephens (University of Adelaide) spoke about the rise of international manuals and their role in shaping the development of international law. Peter Hulroj (ESPI) and Anja Pecujlic (ESPI) jointly presented a paper titled "Space through the Lens of Neutrality", and highlighted how international humanitarian norms are applicable to the space domain. Dr. Cassandra Steer (McGill University) posed the question whether the development of a MILAMOS would amount to legitimizing warfare, and concluded that having clarity on the questions of law that the Manual will deal with could provide greater transparency and reduce escalation during tensions, minimizing the risk and impact of a potential conflict in space.
From the many discussions and questions from the audience, it was clear there is great interest in the Manual and support for such a groundbreaking initiative.
MILAMOS Project officially launched by McGill University
27 May 2016
Coinciding with the 4th Manfred Lachs Conference on Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law, the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space was officially announced by McGill University. In attendance to welcome and celebrate this momentous occasion were various representatives from McGill University and the partner institute, the University of Adelaide. The speakers included:
- Prof. Ram Jakhu: Associate Professor, Institute of Air and Space Law, McGill University
- Dr. Dale Stephens: Director, Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics, University of Adelaide
- Prof. Paul Dempsey: Director, Institute of Air and Space Law, McGill University
- Prof. Daniel Jutras: Dean of Faculty of Law, McGill University
- Dr. Rosie Goldstein: Vice-Principal (Research and Innovations), McGill University
The launch event of the MILAMOS Project was followed by keynote speeches by Mr. Niklas Hedman, Chief of the Committee of the Policy and Legal Affairs Section of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and Dr. David Kendall, Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (2016-2017), who both underlined the importance of ensuring sutainability, peace and security in outer space.
Expert Roundtable on Conflicts in Space and Military Activities in Outer Space
Montreal, Canada, 10-12 September 2015
Given the increase in the number of nations and non-State actors becoming active in space, and the increased reliance militaries have on space technologies, concerns have grown in recent years that there may be a risk of conflict taking place in space.
There is an urgent need to clarify the rules of international law applicable, especially the prohibition on the use of force and international humanitarian law. Given that no specific international legal instrument exists that effectively deals with this, McGill gathered scholars, government and space operations experts from seven different countries, including Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region, and members of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
There was a clear consensus on the urgent need to clarify the rules of international law applicable outer space activities — particularly the prohibition on the use of force. Such an international manual might be developed, under the leadership of the CRASL, by scholars and international experts in their individual capacity, free from official State positions, in order to ensure international participation, neutrality and legal objectivity. State engagement would be a part of the process at a later stage; however, clarification on international law cannot be dependent upon the politics of any given moment.
Hosting this Expert Roundtable, and working towards an international manual on international law applicable to security activities in outer space, are in line with the McGill Centre's mandate to promote and cement security and sustainability in outer space, and ensure that activities all outer space activities occur in accordance with international law (including the UN Charter), in the interests of international peace and security and for the benefit of all countries.
We look forward to the unfolding of this important project which will have global impact – and beyond.