3rd UN Conference on Space Law and Policy: Emerging Issues in Space Law and Policy – Perspectives for African Nations 

Over the last three days, from 8 to 10 December 2020, many IISL members contributed to and participated in the 3rd United Nations Conference on Space Law in Policy. The event was organised by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and with the support of the African Union Commission (AUC).

Due to the current circumstances of the global pandemic, the conference was held virtually. It had a large number of participants representing space governance, industry and academia among which were many IISL members from all regions of the world.

The conference had an impressive list of speakers offering high quality presentations and active engagement from the audience. Many of the speakers currently hold or have held in the past a role at the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).

Among the IISL members presenting were, in chronological order:

  • Peter Martinez, IISL director and past Chair of the STSC WG on LTS, with a presentation on “Overview of the COPUOS Long-term Sustainability (LTS) Guidelines”;
  • Bernhard Schmidt-Tedd, IISL member and Chair of the LSC WG on status and application of the five UN treaties, with a presentation on “LTS and Regulatory Frameworks – the Role of the TP 2 Guidance Document for Emerging Space Nations”;
  • Yukiko Okumura, IISL member and officer at UNOOSA, with a presentation on “Orientation of TAM for Space Law for New Space Actors in the African Region”;
  • Tanja Masson-Zwaan, president emerita of IISL, with a presentation on “International Space Law and the Environment”;
  • Steven Freeland, IISL director and Co-moderator at LSC, with a presentation on “Recent developments in Exploration, Exploitation and Utilization of Space Resources”;
  • IISL president Kai-Uwe Schrogl, Chair of LSC 2014-2016 and Chair of the two LSC WGs on launching state and registration practice, with a presentation on “Perspectives of a Future Space Traffic Management Regime at the Global Level”;
  • Setsuko Aoki, IISL vice president and current Chair of LSC, with a presentation on “International Frameworks for Cooperation in Space Activities”.

The event was moderated by IISL members Niklas Hedman and Yukiko Okumura (both UNOOSA).

During the conference, the developments and potential of the African continent in the field of space activities was discussed from various angles and it was observed that Africa’s high potential for growth in the sector could also be considered from an investment perspective. Among the conclusions of the conference stood also the invitation to the African group of countries to more actively engage in the work of COPUOS and to the African Union (AU) to join the Committee as a permanent observer.

The IISL/ECSL Symposium which is held annually during the COPUOS LSC was mentioned by speakers at several instances and considered a valuable addition to the discussions on space law.

The final programme of the conference is available here. The homepage of the Conference with further information is available on UNOOSA’s website here. The event was recorded and both the recording as well as the presenters’ slides will be available on the Conference webpage.

IISL would like to express its thanks to the organisers for a successful and inspirational event, in particular to Mr Niklas Hedman as the head of the UNOOSA organising team and Mr Andre Nonguierma of ECA as head of the African organisation team.

Scarlet Wagner