Since the launch of the MILAMOS Project in May 2016, tremendous progress has been made by the dozens of experts and contributors involved in the Project. Below is an overview of the major milestones in this multi-year manual-drafting process.
- Conflicts in Space and MILAMOS Roundtable in the UAE
- MILAMOS Project presented at the International Conference on Cyberlaw, Cybercrime & Cybersecurity
- MILAMOS presented at the UN High-Level Forum in Bonn, Germany
- MILAMOS Workshop V successfully held at Beijing, the People’s Republic of China
- MILAMOS Project Director Ram Jakhu present before delegates of the UN Sixth Committee
- MILAMOS Workshop IV held in Montreal, Canada
- MILAMOS Project presented at UNISPACE+50
- Meeting of MILAMOS Group of Experts in Montreal
- MILAMOS Project presented at ASTRO18
- Beijing Institute of Technology joins the MILAMOS Project
- MILAMOS Presentation at ICRC Event in Moscow
- The University of Cologne joins the MILAMOS Project
- Details of Phase II of the MILAMOS Project unveiled
- MILAMOS Project enters Phase II and embraces more global partners
- MILAMOS Workshop III held in Colorado Springs, United States of America
- MILAMOS Workshop I held in Adelaide, Australia
- Inaugural Plenary of the MILAMOS Project held in Montreal
- MILAMOS Project presented at the UN
- MILAMOS Project a focus at the 4th Manfred Lachs Conference
- MILAMOS Project officially launched by McGill University
- Expert Roundtable on Conflicts in Space and Military Activities in Outer Space
The McGill University Center for Research in Air and Space Law recently collaborated with the College of Law, United Arab Emirates University in organising a conference entitled “Legal Aspects of the Usages of Outer Space: Opportunities & Challenges” on 20-21 November 2018 in Al Ain, the United Arab Emirates.
The conference attracted participation of over 100 delegates and invited keynote speakers from across the globe with diverse backgrounds from academia, space agencies and the space industry. The conference was thematically designed to deliberate on issues such as the definition and delimitation of outer space, legal aspects relating to peaceful and military uses of outer space, regulation of commercial exploitation of outer space and the international responsibility and dispute settlements concerning space activities.
A dedicated roundtable session was held on the topic of “Conflicts in Space and MILAMOS” where MILAMOS experts introduced and discussed at length the vision, mission and scope of the project. Members of the Editorial Committee of the MILAMOS Project, Dr. Steven Freeland (Western Sydney University), Mr. Peter Hulsroj (CTBT Organization) and Dr. Philip de Man (University of Sharjah) joined by our recent IASL graduate Mr. Humaid Alshamsi contributed to this extremely enriching session. Central to the roundtable was the overarching theme and opinions of experts in maintaining outer space as a peaceful frontier as against the notion of outer space becoming a war-fighting domain. On similar lines, the Research Coordinator of the MILAMOS Project, Mr. Bayar Goswami (McGill University) also made a presentation entitled “Outer Space Beyond the Theatrics of Space War”, recalling and emphasising the circumstances leading to the formulation of Outer Space Treaty, while arguing a case against the hyped narrative of outer space being a new frontier for war.
The conference was a tremendous success and concluded with draft recommendations, which may serve as a significant trigger to push relevant ideas and issues surrounding the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.
The MILAMOS Project was a highlight of the 2018 International Conference on Cyberlaw, Cybercrime & Cybersecurity (ICCC), held on 14-16 November 2018 in New Delhi, India. MILAMOS Associate Editor and Core Expert, Ms. Elina Morozova, was invited to attend this year’s event and speak about the intersection of challenges and threats in both cyberspace and outer space.
A high-level event that attracts the participation of governmental officials and industry representatives to discuss evolving challenges and issues pertaining to cyberspace, the ICCC has been held annually since 2014. Organised by Cyberlaws.Net and Pavan Duggal Associates, this year’s conferenced focused on the theme “Working towards a Cyber Secure, Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem”. With 54 different sessions over three days, the Conference covered many cutting-edge issues facing States, corporations, individuals and other stakeholders in the domain, including cyber attacks, developments in blockchain, the Internet of Things, and evolving norms of behavior in cyberspace. Ms. Morozova joined over 150 other speakers, who included government ministers and representatives, industry experts, academics and professionals in the industry, to address the variety of challenges, issues and problems in the cyber domain.
In her presentation on Cyber Security and Outer Space, Ms. Morozova used the unique opportunity to highlight growing vulnerabilities of space assets and the interrelated susceptibility of space operations to cyber attacks. The range of threats include the jamming, spoofing or hijacking of signals that may disrupt ground and space infrastructure, and inhibit the ability of the end-users to make use space assets and applications. Indeed, in its April 2018 report, the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space highlighted “the issue of cybersecurity and constant scientific and technological advances were creating conditions that had not been foreseen when the space treaties were negotiated”. Spotlighting the work and progress of the MILAMOS Project, Ms. Morozova underlined the importance of clarifying the rules of international law applicable to military uses of outer space, including space-related military cyber activities, to ensure the sustainable use of outer space for the benefit of present and future generations. Additionally, Ms. Morozova also took part in a panel entitled “Safeguarding Critical Information Infrastructure from Cyber Attacks”, in which she underlined the vulnerability of space-related infrastructure, such as spaceports, launch pads and ground stations, to cyber incursions. From her extensive professional experiences, MILAMOS Expert Ms. Morozova was well-suited to address the various questions from the audience and share valuable insights from the perspective of a space operator.
The novelty of the MILAMOS Project and particularly discussions surrounding military space activities triggered great interest at the International Conference on Cyberlaw, Cybercrime & Cybersecurity in New Delhi. Invitation to share the progress and preliminary findings of the Project shows the attention and importance this global initiative has attracted at various multilateral forums. Earlier, MILAMOS Project Director Professor Ram Jakhu was invited to share information about the Project with delegates of Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. At UNISPACE+50, held in June 2018, the MILAMOS Project was promoted as a successful initiative to bring together various stakeholders in the space domain with the objective of fostering dialogue and consensus on matters relating to the sustainability, safety and security of outer space.
With the scheduled completion of the MILAMOS Project in 2019, such outreach events and public engagement initiatives are vital to promote and attract the wide-spread recognition of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space. With a wide spectrum of partner institutions and contributions from across the globe, the MILAMOS Project and the resultant manual continues to seek input and consultation from stakeholders worldwide to capture the wide range of interests and concerns relating to the military uses of outer space, including space-related cyber activities.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in collaboration with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the European Space Agency (ESA) organised the third High-Level Forum: The Way Forward after UNISPACE+50 and on Space2030 (HLF 2018) in Bonn, Germany, on 13-16 November 2018. The forum was focussed on pushing forward the outcomes and recommendations of the previous two High-Level Forum and UNISPACE+50. This High Level Forum developed new recommendations touching the four pillars of space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy to develop the Space 2030 Agenda.
The HLF 2018 proved to be an important platform for setting the future Space2030 Agenda and witnessed the participation of over 300 delegates from across disciplines of academia, space industry, governmental and intergovernmental agencies.
Mr. Bayar Goswami, Research Coordinator of the MILAMOS Project and a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Air and Space Law was invited as a panellist for a session focussed on Legal Regime of Outer Space and Global Space Governance. Mr. Goswami made a presentation entitled “Unearthing Outer Space Through Anthropo-legal Perspectives”, which challenged the current global narratives relating to the race to space resources, the hyped inevitability of a space war, unilateral State actions and the anthropocentric value paradigm through which humanity is now looking at outer space. He also introduced the vision and mission of the MILAMOS Project at the Forum, which was well received and sparked interesting discussions, and generated great interest in the work of the MILAMOS Project.
The fifth rule-drafting and consensus-forming workshop of the MILAMOS (Manual on the International Law Applicable to the Military Operations in Space) Project was held in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China, on 30 October-4 November 2018. The highly successful meeting of the MILAMOS Group of Experts, the first of its kind in Asia and in China, was organised at the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT), which is a Partner Institution of the Project.
Over the course of five days, MILAMOS experts and contributors attended intense plenary sessions to discuss dozens of rules that have been drafted since the previous workshop held at Montreal, Canada, in July 2018. Fundamental rules which define the scope and approach of the resultant Manual clarifying the legality of military activities and uses in outer space, were tabled and fiercely debated with a view to capturing the consensus of the Group of Experts who represent a wide spectrum of perspectives and legal approaches on issues that have long been the source of debate and contention. Key definitional rules on, inter alia, what constitutes Military Space Activity, Damage, Harmful Interference, the meaning of Peaceful Purposes, and the scope of the Application of International Law to Outer Space, were discussed. Dozens of other rules were conceptualised and assigned to MILAMOS Core Experts with a view to drafting them following the Beijing Workshop and prior to the next consensus-forming workshop in four months’ time. No doubt, MILAMOS Workshop V marked yet another major milestone in the three-year Project, and consolidated much of the progress that has been made since the Project launched in May 2016.
Secretary General of BIT Law School, Mr. Yu Zhang, and Vice President of BIT, Mr. Zhihong Yang were presented with a special commemorative plaque celebrating the cooperation and collaboration between the BIT Institute of Space Law and McGill Institute of Air and Space Law in the research and dissemination of knowledge in this cutting-edge field of law. The Secretary General of BIT Law School, Mr. Yu Zhang, and Vice President of BIT, Mr. Zhihong Yang, opened the Workshop by welcoming the Experts and participants to the foremost research and educational institution in China in the domain of space law. Adhering to the objective of integrating science and technology in the study of and research in law, an objective shared in the vision of the MILAMOS Project, BIT has dedicated research centres focusing on air and space law, the interaction between military and civilian law, and legal aspects of artificial intelligence, making it a natural choice as the MILAMOS Partner Institution in China, and the host of MILAMOS Workshop V. BIT, which joined the MILAMOS Project as a Partner Institution in March 2018, is also the official Space Law Centre of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), China’s space agency. At the Opening Ceremony of the Workshop, BIT officials were presented with a special commemorative plaque celebrating the cooperation and collaboration between the BIT Institute of Space Law and McGill Institute of Air and Space Law in the research and dissemination of knowledge in this cutting-edge field of law.
MILAMOS Project Director and Co-Editor of the McGill Manual, Professor Ram Jakhu, welcomed the participants to the Workshop by expressing his gratitude to the experts and technical advisors for their tireless support and contributions that continue to make the MILAMOS Project a truly international, interdisciplinary and collaborative project. During his welcome address, Professor Jakhu used the opportunity to highlight some recent outreach activities of the MILAMOS Project, including a briefing before delegates of the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and a seminar at Columbia University. Further, the MILAMOS Project will be the subject of discussions at the Workshop on Indo-Pacific: Security Governance for Peace, held at York University in Toronto, Canada (14-15 November 2018); at the International Conference on Cyberlaw, Cybercrime & Cybersecurity, to be held in New Delhi, India (14-16 November 2018); and also at a dedicated Roundtable on “Conflicts in Outer Space and MILAMOS” held on the sidelines of the Conference on Legal Aspects of the Use of Outer Space: Challenges and Opportunities, which is being organised by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) University, in Al-Ein, the UAE (20-21 November 2018). Coupled with previous presentations and publicity events on the MILAMOS Project before the UN and various other fora, it is manifest that the innovative and important work undertaken by the MILAMOS Group of Experts is attracting the interest and attention of governments and stakeholders across the globe.
Professor Brian F. Havel, Chair of the MILAMOS Board of Advisors, addressed the participants at MILAMOS Workshop V in absentia. In his rousing speech, the Director of the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law highlighted the ability of this worthwhile endeavour to bring together experts, practitioners and academics from civilian, commercial, governmental and intergovernmental institutions across the globe who share concerns for the safety, security and sustainable use of the fragile space environment. The willingness and ability to work in harmonious collaboration, and the visible efforts of the participants to seek consensus on matters that at times may seem controversial, remain highly valuable and much needed in a world divided by geopolitical interests and Realpolitik. Indeed, in recognition of the value of the McGill Manual, Professor Havel disclosed that Cambridge University Press, one of the world’s most prestigious imprints, has approached MILAMOS Project Director Professor Ram Jakhu to discuss the opportunity of publishing the Manual upon its completion in 2019.
MILAMOS Workshop V was attended by 21 contributors and participants from 12 States, including representatives from the three major spacefaring States of China, the Russian Federation, and the United States. In addition, underlying the great interest in and importance of the issues being debated in the MILAMOS Project, there were six observers hailing from the Embassy of Canada to the People’s Republic of China, China, Japan, and the United States. Besides the intense agenda featuring 12 plenary sessions and 6 Editorial Committee meetings, the MILAMOS Group of Experts and participants at the Workshop also took the opportunity to tour iconic sights of Beijing and to sample a variety of delicious local cuisines, all provided courtesy of BIT as the host of Workshop V.
The next rule-drafting and consensus-forming workshop will be held in February 2019, most probably in Germany, hosted by our Partner Institution, the Institute of Air and Space Law of the University of Cologne.
On 18 October 2018, MILAMOS Projector Director Professor Ram Jakhu enjoyed the honour of addressing delegates of the Sixth Committee of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Speaking on the side-lines of the 73rd Session of the Sixth Committee at the UN Headquarters in New York, Professor Jakhu was invited by the Permanent Observer of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) to join a distinguished panel of experts and legal practitioners at a roundtable under the theme Does International Law Matter?
Professor Jakhu’s presentation at the United Nations attracted keen attention from delegates of the Sixth Committee and other interested parties. The Sixth Committee is one of the main working committees of the General Assembly, and is the primary forum for the consideration of legal issues before the General Assembly. Among other issues discussed at the event in New York were matters relating to the prevention of military diversion from peaceful uses of nuclear materials, the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and the criminalisation of crimes of aggression under national law. In his presentation titled “Threats to Peaceful Uses of Outer Space”, Professor Jakhu used the unique opportunity to highlight the promising contributions of space applications and technology to social, economic and human development, as well as remind the audience of the devastation and threats to the survival of humanity if the behaviour of States break from legal prescriptions on and commitments to the peaceful uses of outer space. Prof. Jakhu highlighted how and why the objective of peaceful uses of outer space secured under multilateral treaties is regrettably being threatened by recent geopolitics and national military interests.
Like other domains of international and interactional relations, a peaceful and sustainable space environment governed by an international rules-based regime is in the interests of all States. Before respected ambassadors, seasoned diplomats and legal professionals, Professor Jakhu underlined there are real and tangible threats to the peaceful uses of outer space. Unilateralism and the trend toward the increased militarisation and even weaponisation of outer space is heightening as terrestrial tensions extend to the final frontier. Such threats to the space domain ought to be resolved through global dialogue and tempered through rule-based mechanisms. Concerted efforts by all States and peoples of the world are needed for the true spirit and meaning of peaceful purposes enshrined in the governance of space to prevail. Professor Jakhu concluded by highlighting the MILAMOS Project and the McGill Manual being drafted that is intended for use by a wide spectrum of operators, stakeholders, experts, and interest groups with a shared concern and interest in the sustainability and security of outer space.
Professor Jakhu’s presence at the roundtable discussion is part of the continuing effort to raise awareness about increasing threats to the delicate environment and peace of outer space, and publicise the work and progress of the MILAMOS Project at the multilateral level. Earlier this year, the MILAMOS Project was highlighted at UNISPACE+50 as a prime example of a successful civil society initiative to bring together various stakeholders in the space domain with the objective of fostering dialogue and consensus on matters relating to the sustainability, safety and security of outer space. Besides the intensive rule-drafting and consensus-forming process of the Project, members of the MILAMOS Group of Experts frequently attend international and conferences outreach events to spread the mission of the MILAMOS Project and engage with a variety of stakeholders worldwide. One such recent event was a roundtable held on the sidelines of the conference on Legal Aspects of the Usages of Outer Space: Opportunities & Challenges in Al Ain, the United Arab Emirates.
Since the launch of Phase II of the MILAMOS Project, there has been active engagement with global collaborators and State engagement initiatives 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. The recent presentation of the outreach event at the United Nations Headquarters is testament to the wide interest and acceptance of the mission and vision of the MILAMOS Project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.
18 July 2018
The fourth rule-drafting and consensus-forming workshop of the project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS) was held in Montreal, Canada, on 10-14 July 2018.
Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law, and Chair of the MILAMOS Board of Advisors, Professor Brian Havel, opened the Workshop with a rousing speech about the importance and timeliness of the MILAMOS Project. At the recent UNISPACE+50 events, several States underlined the necessity that space must be used for peaceful purposes and that space activities must be conducted in accordance with the rule of international law. Further, the announced intention of the United States to secure “space dominance” through the establishment of a “Space Force” has created much international alarm, highlighting the importance of articulating and clarifying the legality of various military activities in the space context.
In his opening remarks, Professor Ram Jakhu, the Project Director of the MILAMOS Project and Co-Editor of the McGill Manual, expressed his appreciation for the dedication and commitment of the MILAMOS Group of Experts gathered in Montreal. The active participation of known academics and professionals in the space domain is crucial for the success and international acceptance of the Project, which at this crucial phase enjoys the input of recognised world experts, more balanced geographical representation, and the involvement of collaborating institutions around the globe. Professor Steven Freeland, the Dean of the School of Law of Western Sydney University and Co-Editor of the McGill Manual, reminded the MILAMOS Group of Experts of the noble objective of drafting a manual that objectively articulates and clarifies international law applicable to military space activities, with a particular focus on activities in times of peace. The Manual is intended to reflect the consensus of legal viewpoints from across the globe, and to attract a broad audience in academia, the legal profession, and policy circles. As many space objects may be used simultaneously for military and non-military purposes, and that many space activities may entail a military use of outer space despite not being performed or owned by military establishments or personnel, the McGill Manual will be a valuable and practical guide for space operators, stakeholders, experts, and interest groups with an interest in the security and sustainability of space activities
For four days, the MILAMOS Group of Experts worked tirelessly to discuss and adopt, through consensus, two dozen rules that were drafted in the preceding months. Fundamental rules on the meaning of “peaceful purposes”, the scope of the application of international law to space activities, to the concept of the launching State, and issues of property rights that may arise in relation to military space activities, were among the draft rules prepared in advance of the meeting in Montreal. Through a meticulous process involving various stages of peer review and revision, the draft rules tabled before the plenary sessions of the workshop contain the essence of the collective input of the entire Group of Experts. Long and engaging discussions took place before sufficient consensus can be reached for the adoption of the rule. Commentary accompanying the rule reflect the varying perspectives and, if applicable, majority /minority viewpoints that arose through the discussions. This process, and the involvement of a representative group of space law experts and professionals from major space-faring and emerging space-faring States, will ensure that the McGill Manual captures the perspectives of a wide-range of space stakeholders from around the world.
Over 20 Experts hailing from 13 different States, including Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (US), attended the MILAMOS Workshop IV in Montreal. In addition, two State Observers, one from the US Department of State and another from the Canadian Department of National Defence, attended the four-day event, signifying the importance of the endeavours by the Group of Experts and the great international interest the MILAMOS Project has attracted since its launch in May 2016.
The next rule-drafting and consensus-forming workshop will take place in October 2018, and will be hosted by Partner Institution the Beijing Institute of Technology.
18 June 2018
The project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS) was the subject matter of great interest at UNISPACE+50, which took place on 18-21 June 2018 on the premises of the United Nations in Austria, Vienna. The long-anticipated, high-level meeting was organised to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE), an event that highlighted the importance of harnessing the peaceful use of outer space and space applications for the benefit of humanity.
UNISPACE+50 was convened to look back at the progress made in the last fifty years of space activities, and discuss how space can remain a domain reserved for peaceful uses and unite humanity. The fiftieth anniversary of UNISPACE was as an opportunity for the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to bring together various stakeholders in the space domain to discuss the future of space in light of rapidly developing space ventures, a proliferation in the number of space actors, and growing concerns about the sustainability, safety and security of space.
The MILAMOS Project was presented at the United Nations forum by Mr. Kuan-Wei Chen, Executive Director of the McGill Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, and Managing Editor of the McGill Manual, on the “Space and Civil Society” panel of the Symposium. In his presentation, titled “Strengthening Space Law and Governance: Lessons from the Lecture Halls and Beyond”, Mr. Chen highlighted the MILAMOS Project as a prime example of the instrumental role civil society institutions are playing to bring together and foster dialogue and agreement among actors and stakeholders in the space domain.
Together with partner institutions from across the globe, the MILAMOS Project is an innovative and much-needed undertaking for experts to discuss and reach consensus on matters relating to the sustainability, safety and security of the space domain. These matters, particularly touching upon the role of military activities and applications, are otherwise too controversial and contentious to discuss, let alone reach agreement on, at the diplomatic level. With the active participation and input of renowned practitioners and academics, governmental and intergovernmental experts, military officers, and commercial and non-governmental stakeholder institutions from across the globe, the McGill Manual will be an authoritative document identifying and clarifying international law as it applies to military activities in the space domain. Unique in its conception and approach, the MILAMOS Project will encapsulate the legality of various military uses of space, ranging from activities undertaken in peacetime, in times of rising tension, and potentially to covering activities in times of armed conflict. Slated for completion in 2019, the McGill Manual will be a product of global participation and consensus, and will be a practical guide for civilian and military operators, governmental and commercial entities, and all those with an interest in the safety and security of space operations.
Several members of the audience, which included delegates and representatives of States, professionals and academics with an interest in space, and members of the international press, asked questions during the Q&A period and in private, and it was evident that the Project generated great interest and debate. This interest can also be partly attributed to the fact that, a day earlier, United States President Trump announced the intention to establish a “space force” to ensure American dominance and superiority in outer space.
Discussions on the increasing trend and developments in the potential weaponization of outer space ensued at the High Level Forum that followed the Symposium, where dozens of States and stakeholder institutions made use of the opportunity to make statements before the special UNISPACE+50 session of the United Nations Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). All States and stakeholders underlined the necessity of maintaining space for peaceful uses and of ensuring that space activities be conducted in accordance within the framework of the established legal regime. The concept of global space governance was repeatedly echoed in the official remarks of many States and stakeholders, and it was there was general agreement on the need to strengthen the rules of the road governing space activities through concerted diplomatic and consensus-making efforts. Of particular note is that several States, Switzerland being the more unequivocal in its statement, expressly highlighted that armed conflict in outer space would be detrimental to all in the space domain, and therefore must be prevented. The Russian Federation also released a working paper urging continued diplomatic efforts to address matters of space security, and underlining the position that conflict in space is undesirable and must be prevented at all costs.
The statements by the various State delegations and stakeholders highlight the pressing need for an authoritative and widely accepted instrument, such as the McGill Manual, which will go a long way to identifying and clarifying the legality of a wide spectrum of military space activities and applications in a domain where the common interests and concerns of all States invariably intersect.
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 third rule-drafting and consensus-forming workshop of the Project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS) was held on 9-13 October 2017 at Colorado Springs in the United States of America.
Attended by over 40 experts and researchers involved in the Project, MILAMOS Workshop III was held at the United States Air Force (USAF) Academy. The plenary deliberations and closed research group meetings took place in the impressive Polaris Hall, a modern tower pointing directly towards Polaris, the North Star, symbolising the unwavering commitment of the USAF to good leadership and integrity. Polaris Hall was the result of public-private partnership and support coming from all sectors of society, and built to function as a forum bringing together instructors, cadets, military leaders, and public and private officials. The symbolic overtures of the impressive setting of Workshop III echoes the vision and values of MILAMOS—which are to bring together and promote interaction and dialogue between legal and technical experts, academics, military officers, government officials, and other stakeholders in the private and public sector who commonly believe in the importance of a manual that clarfies the law applicable to the whole spectrum of military activities in outer space.
Among the rules and issues discussed at MILAMOS Workshop III was what constitutes “military space activity”. The precise definition is crucial in delimiting the scope of the McGill Manual, and will no doubt form the foundation of many rules in a manual that covers the full spectrum of permissible military activities and operations in peacetime, in times of rising tension, and during armed conflict. Other rules presented at plenary for discussion and adoption by the International Group of Experts include rules and associated commentary on:
- the application of international law to outer space,
- the meaning and scope of “national space activities” under Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty,
- the principle of non-intervention, and
- what constitutes an international armed conflict in the context of outer space.
While the USAF Academy hosted Workshop III, in the interest of maintaining the integrity and neutrality of the manual-drafting process the USAF and US Government neither provided input on the contents of the rules nor influenced the discussions that took place. The Academy’s decision to host was based only on its recognition, in common with many stakeholders and institutions around the world, of the great importance and value of the work undertaken by the MILAMOS Group of Experts.
Observers from the USAF Academy and officers from the USAF were present at some plenary sessions to gain insight into the manual-drafting and consensus-forming process. Several Academy cadets were also present as Rapporteurs, which gave them a first-hand opportunity to watch experts and practitioners discussing and forming a consensus on pertinent and cross-connected issues of international space law, the law governing the use of force, and international humanitarian law.
Ms. Cynda Arsenault, the President of the Secure World Foundation, a Supporting Institution of the MILAMOS Project, attended the Workshop as an Observer. A substantial proportion of the seed money to launch the Project (in the order of $300,000) originated from the Erin JC Arsenault Fund at McGill University. The Fund was established to promote research in strengthening the rule of law and global space governance and space security. In addition, a high-level Observer from the People’s Republic of China attended some of the proceedings, and was present to meet members of the Project Management Board and to discuss opportunities for greater involvement of Chinese participants and institutions. Since the launch of MILAMOS in 2016, the engagement of States and stakeholders from leading spacefaring nations and emerging space powers has always been a primary objective of the Project leadership.
Welcoming participants to the USAF Academy, Colonel Linell Ami Lentendre, Head of the Department of Law, and Vice Superintendent Col. David A. Harris Jr., each underlined the Academy’s pleasure and honour in hosting a gathering of experts who represent not only several legal disciplines but are also representative of diverse perspectives across the globe. Keynote speaker General John W. “Jay” Raymond delivered an inspiring address to the MILAMOS Group of Experts. The four-star general is the Commander of the US Air Force Space Command, located at nearby Peterson Air Force Base, and graciously broke from his busy schedule to commend the MILAMOS Group of Experts for their collective efforts. Describing the Group most positively as “enlightened space professionals”, General Raymond noted that preserving the space domain for the common good requires States and people around the world to partner together. It is not in the interest of any State to use military force in space, but space has the potential to become a domain for warfare, just like any terrestrial domain. In the General’s view, a manual like MILAMOS is essential to preserving peace and security in a domain vulnerable to a whole variety of challenges. Earlier this year, General Raymond was present at a space conference in Israel and his talk on emerging threats for space assets immediately preceded a presentation on the MILAMOS Project.
In sum, MILAMOS Workshop III benchmarks the tremendous progress that has been made to date. While challenges in drafting a manual that is relevant for practitioners in the field and that is also accessible for a broader audience were identified, the MILAMOS Group of Experts is hopeful that the McGill Manual is on a solid track to completion. The next workshop will be held in Montreal, Canada, and will again be hosted by McGill University, one of the Founding Institutions of the MILAMOS Project.
More than 50 legal experts, technical experts, researchers and others came together in Adelaide over the period 20 – 22 February 2017 for the first MILAMOS Workshop. Following the preliminary coordination Workshop in October 2016 in Montreal, this was the first of a set of nine Workshops to reach consensus on draft Rules and Commentaries for the prospective Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space.
The MILAMOS members who were gathered together in Adelaide tackled several of the most foundational Rules (and their associated Commentary), as well as complex issues at the intersection of International Space Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Law on the Use of Force. In particular, the participants considered Rules on the following topics:
· Application of international law to outer space, especially in the context of military uses of outer space
· The prohibition on the threat or use of force in International Law on the Use of Force as it applies to outer space
· The principle of non-intervention in International Law on the Use of Force as it applies to outer space
· Application of International Humanitarian Law to outer space
· The principle of distinction in International Humanitarian Law, as it applies to outer space
· Delimitation of outer space and airspace
· The meaning of ‘International Armed Conflict’ as it applies to outer space and how, as a matter of law, an armed conflict may be regarded as internationalised in the context of outer space
· Legal rules about perfidy and ruses in the context of armed conflict in outer space
· The principle of non-appropriation in International Space law, especially in the context of military uses of outer space
· A definition of ‘Military Space Activities’ to explain the scope of military uses of outer space that will be encompassed by the manual
While individual legal experts created each draft Rule and its associated Commentary, the discussion, in plenary sessions, of the draft Rules and Commentaries was on the basis of non-attribution. Furthermore, the Rules and Commentaries (expected to number between 150 and 250 on completion) will not be finalised until all Rules and Commentaries have been drafted and considered in plenary sessions and not until the process of State engagement has been completed. Nevertheless, the Management Board plans to publish, on this website and within a month, some limited further detail on the complex issues considered under each of the topics above.
The Management Board and editorial staff also considered, in detail, the most appropriate process for State engagement, with the intent of giving States a formal opportunity to contribute to the MILAMOS Project, even before a final draft of all Rules and Commentaries is collated. The Management Board intends to work with States to conduct events for the purpose of State engagement once there is a final draft (expected to occur in late 2019). It is important to note that the prospective Manual is not intended to be progressive in its articulation of Rules, but rather it is intended that it will be an authoritative statement of the application of existing law to military uses of outer space. To that end, participants in the MILAMOS Project contribute in a personal capacity, independent of any official positions or preferences of States or other organisations on what the law is or should be. Nevertheless, the Management Board believes there is significant value in engaging with States throughout the Project and welcomes initiatives by States to host and contribute to Workshops and engagement events, including financial contributions and sending representatives to engagement events.
The MILAMOS Project remains on track to publish the Manual in 2020. This Workshop was very successful and set a solid foundation for the following Workshops. The next MILAMOS Workshop is expected to be 20 – 23 June 2017 in India.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 sustainability, peace and security 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.