It has was a busy week in Naples Italy at the IISL Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space. Res Communis, could barely find time to post amidst all the fantastic papers and events. Here are some of the highlights:
Nandisiri Jasentuliyana Keynote Lecture and 4th Young Scholars Session
The Nandasirir Jesentuliyana Keynote Lecture was delivered by Sergio Marchisio of the Italian National Research Council. The fascinating lecture was on the European Draft Code of Conduct. Marchisio’s talk considered the draft code in context of efforts for “safe, secure, and sustainable” uses of outer space. He stated that the concept of sustainability must be considered in light of Article 3 of the Outer Space Treaty, which requires investigation into general international law. As a result he defined sustainability as use in such a way that allows for both present and future needs. He then went on to explain that there had been several efforts to secure sustainability and that the EU Draft Code of Conduct was one of these efforts.
Marchisio went on to discuss that the code was currently a draft for nonbinding principles, but that the hope was that it would lead to “normative conduct” by states. It is a “self sustained initiative” that is not meant for negotiation at the international forums (UNCOPUOS and the Conference on Disarmament), but that other states have been and will be consulted with. He also noted that the EU doesn’t note see the draft as an alternative to the PPWT which was introduced by China and Russia to the CD. Instead the draft is being viewed as a stepping stone to a future treaty.
Marchisio finished with a discussion of the soft law nature of the draft code. He said that the voluntary nature of the code represented a “joint political commitment” by states that may adopt it in the future. He stated though that his opinion was that once it was adopted it would form something more that a “voluntary” code and achieve what he described as “heightened legality.” He also stated that the code could represent moments of “effective legality.” According to Marchisio, while the draft code cannot derogate legal obligations found elsewhere in international law, an action consistent with the draft code could be presumed to be legal. An action inconsistent with the code, however, would shift the burden of proof of legality to the state committing that action.
Marchisio’ keynote was followed by a variety of papers presented by young scholars as well as a poster paper section for young scholars.
The technical sessions this year covered a wide range of material. There were sessions on the intersections of space law with both private international law and public international law. While the public international law session had a wide variety of topics, the session on private international law had a strong focus on the Cape Town Convention’s Space Asset Protocol. There was also a session on Legal evidence from outer space which surveyed a great deal of law involved with this practical topic. The final session was Recent Developments in Space Law, which had a number of presentations investigating the development of national space laws around the globe.
IISL/IAA Scientific-Legal Round Table
This year’s round table was on the topic of Optical Communications. These presentations focused in on the science and technology behind optical communications and how that technology would affect the legal regime. The various speakers disagreed on the amount of law that applies to this emerging technology, which made for a very lively discussion.
Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition World Finals
This year the Moot Court Competition saw, for the first time, four regions compete with the addition of the African Region. The final round was between the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece representing the European Region and the National Law School of India University, Bangalore India representing the Asia-Pacific Region. The world finals were presided over by H.E. Judge Leonid Skotonikov, H.E. Judge Xue Hanqin, and H.E. Judge Joan Donoghue all of the International Court of Justice. The National Law School of India University prevailed in the final round to take home the championship. The team also won the awards for best brief and best oralist. Team members include Vinodini Srinivasan, Viraj Parikh, and Prem Ayyathurai. The team was coached by Dr. Sarasu E. Thomas.
IISl Awards Dinner
The dinner this year was held seaside at the restaurant Zi Teresa. Two awards were given out. The Diederiks-Verschoor award for the best paper by a young scholar was awarded to Olavo de Oliveira Bittencourt Neto for his paper “The Elusive Frontier: Revisiting the Delimitation of Outer Space.”
The Distinguished Service award was given to one of the hardest working women in space law: Corinne Jorgenson. Corinne is the Executive Secretary of the IISL and has been editing the proceedings of the IISL for the past ten years. She works very hard to ensure that the IISL runs smoothly and can complete its mission. She was very deserving of this recognition.