The first panel after lunch was on “International Relations and Foreign Affairs” and was moderated by Dr. Marietta Benkö, Executive Editor, German Journal of Air and Space Law, University of Cologne/Institute of Air and Space Law, Germany. Panelists were Dr. Bin Li, Associate Professor, Asst. Dean, Director, Institute of
Space Law and Assoc. Director, Institute of Aviation Law, Beihang University School of Law; Theresa Hitchens, Director, UN Institute for Disarmament Research, Geneva, Switzerland; Prof. Sergio Marchisio, University Sapienza of Rome, Director Institute for International Legal Studies (National Research Council, Italy); and Michael Mineiro, McGill University, Canada. Unfortunately, Hitchens’ flight was delayed so her presentation was given by P.J. Blount, Research Counsel and Instructor, National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law.
Li’s presentation was titled “China’s Current Legislative Efforts to Control and Manage Space Debris” and focused on Chinese attempts to use regulations to mitigate space debris. After giving a short overview of the hierarchy in China’s legal system, Li turned to specific regulatory mechanisms in China that address space debris. He first turned to Chinese regulations on the licensing the launch space craft and on the registration of spacecraft. He stated that these were important steps towards mitigation efforts since they helped to give the relevant authorities information that could be used in debris mitigation. He then moved to a discussion of the Interim Instrument of Space Debris Mitigation and Management, which has been promulgated by State Bureau of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SBOSTIND). This measure deals with debris mitigation from civil launch activities. He stated that it was a major step for China in mitigating its space debris production for the benefit of all space users.
Hitchens’ presentation, “Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty, Data Sharing, and Space
Situational Awareness,” focused on Space Situational Awareness (SSA) in light of Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty. It pointed out that Article IX creates standards of care for space users, and creates affirmative duties to engage in consultations if one State’s activities might cause harmful interference to another State. However, the presentation pointed out that Article IX was vague in relation to the rights and obligations that it actually created. The presentation highlighted that in order to properly accomplish much of what Article IX endorsed, a State would need SSA capability or access to data from a State with SSA capability, thus the question arises as to whether that capability is required by the treaty. The presentation noted, however, that there are numerous complications to such a requirement such as technical factors, the vague language of the treaty, and possible antithetical state practice.
Marchisio presented “The Principle of No Harmful Interference and the Draft Code of Conduct on Space Activities.” He first briefly discussed the origins ot the principle of no harmful interference as found in Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty as well as in the ITUs Radio Regulations. Then he noted that it had been adopted in the draft European Code of Conduct on Space Activities. He stated that this code was meant to be a Transparency and Confidence Building Measure, and that these sorts of instruments were specifically called for in numerous United Nations General Assembly Resolutions. He stated that the code was a self sustained initiative that the EU intended to be a diplomatic initiative that should lead to an ad hoc diplomatic conference, and that it was not intended to be presented to the Conference on Disarmament or UNCOPUOS. He noted that the code was a voluntary nonbinding instrument that intends to adopt a systematic approach to address all dimensions of space operations by adopting core principles that could increase space security. He concluded by noting that the article did not intend to compete with Article IX, but was intended to comply with Article IX.
Miniero’s presentation was “Principles of Peaceful Purposes and the Obligation to Undertake Appropriate International Consultations Under Art. 9 of the Outer Space Treaty,” and it attempted to address the idea of due regard found in Article IX. he first noted that there were three types of harmful interference in space: radio interference, observational interference, and physical interference. He stated that in order to understand the concept the concept of due regard in Article IX it must be read in context of the practical context of Article IX. He stated that the article has three guiding principles: cooperation, mutual assistance, and due regard. He said that due regard as found in the Outer Space Treaty should be read as “an obligation to take into account, both prior to (planned) and during (ongoing) space activities and experiments the legal rights of other States Party in the peaceful use and exploration of outer space, the moon and other celestial bodies.” He concluded by analyzing how the principle of due regard interacts with the consultation clause of Article IX.