The IISL General Assembly, for the second time after its inaugural online edition last year, took place in a virtual setting and completed its business in a smooth and successful way. Similarly to last year, it drew a larger participation than during prior on-site meetings held at IAC’s.

The IISL President Kai-Uwe Schrogl, summarised 2021 for IISL in the following way:

  • All statutory meetings were held virtually.
  • Uninterrupted information provision and communication was ensured via Website, Newsletter, and Social Media.
  • IISL Board Elections were held as always online with results officially announced and communicated to the IISL membership at the General Assembly. Fabio Tronchetti, Ranjana Kaul, Olavo de O. Bittencourt Neto, Masahiko Sato, Jenni Tapio and Guoyu Wang were elected as incoming Directors.
  • New members, both full and perspective, were admitted to the IISL. APSCO, the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization, was welcomed as a new institutional member to the Institute.
  • Annual IISL Awards were presented. This year, the Distinguished Service Award was received by Zhenjun Zhang, and the Certificate of Gratitude was awarded to Scarlet O’Donnell and Laetitia Zarkan.
  • The 2021 IISL Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space took place at the IAC 2021 in Dubai. It featured the following sessions:
    • IISL Young Scholars session
    • International cooperation on the way to the Moon and Mars
    • A new look at (how far are we with) Space Traffic Management
    • The relations between Trade Law, Finance and Space Law
    • National space law and security – an update
    • 35th IAA/IISL Scientific Legal Roundtable: Conversations about Commercialization
    • NewSpace and Space Law
    • Interactive Presentation
  • The Colloquium showed a good participation with presentations. Despite not all participants being able to travel and present in person, a considerable number of members was able to attend on site.
  • The IISL Proceedings 2020 were finalized and will be published soon. Preparation for the Proceedings 2021 already started. It was communicated that members that could not present their papers during the IAC 2021 in Dubai may nevertheless have their papers included in the Proceedings 2021.
  • The IISL publication ‘Six Decades of Space Law and its Development(s) – 1960-2020’, which was published in 2020 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Institute, was presented and distributed in print at the IAC in Dubai. The book was edited by the Chair of the IISL Directorate of Studies Stephan Hobe and can be downloaded from the IISL website (available here).
  • The finals of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition were held virtually on 26 October 2021 with the participation of three Judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ): Judge Peter Tomka (Slovakia), who also served as President of the panel, Vice-President Kirill Gevorgian (Russian Federation), and Judge Georg Nolte (Germany). The case Proclivia vs Asteria (available here) concerned mega-constellations, autonomous space operations, and freedom of scientific investigation. The winning team was The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple from the European region. The Best Memorials, Eilene Galloway Award went to the runner-up team of the National Law School of India University (India), as did the Best Oralist, Sterns and Tennen Award. The videoconferencing platform for this year’s finals was generously provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) in connection with the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL).
  • During the Legal Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) under the chairmanship of IISL Vice President Setsuko Aoki (Japan), the IISL delivered its statement on Agenda Item 4 – Information on the activities of international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations relating to space law. In the statement, the IISL highlighted the historical development of the Institute as well as its activities during the past year (UN Document A/AC.105/C.2/116, Information on the activities of international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations relating to space law, Note by the Secretariat of 22 March 2021, available here). The statement was carried out by IISL Executive Secretary PJ Blount.
  • The IISL and ECSL presented the annual IISL/ECSL Symposium at the UNCOPUOS Legal Subcommittee. The event was moderated by Kai-Uwe Schrogl and ECSL Chairman Sergio Marchisio. Olavo de O. Bittencourt Neto and Rosanna Hoffmann were in charge of the organization. This year’s topic was ‘Space Law for Global Space Economy’ and the following presentations were held:
    • Cooperation and competition in space – the economic landscape
      Tare Brisibe, SES
    • Space and international trade law
      Lesley Jane Smith, Leuphana University Lüneburg
    • Economic aspects of national space law
      Jairo Becerra, Universidad Catolica de Colombia
    • Economic aspects of longterm sustainability of outer space activities and space traffic management
      Olga Stelmakh-Drescher, EXOLAUNCH
    • Status of and way forward for the UNIDROIT Space Protocol
      Bernhard Schmidt-Tedd, DLR and Ignacio Tirado, UNIDROIT
  • In July 2021, the IISL Board of Directors issued a joint statement concerning the role that the interests of the public and other stakeholders play with regard to commercial space activities. The statement highlights that commercial space activities should be developed in accordance with the rule of law, for peaceful purposes, and in a manner that is sustainable for the present and future generations and can be downloaded here. The statement was also presented during the IISL Colloquium at the 2021 IAC in Dubai.

The President noted with appreciation that the IISL did not only continue with current activities, but managed to set up a number of new initiatives:

  • Vice President Setsuko Aoki created and hosts the IISL Happy Hour, a new communication format to interact and share good experiences among IISL members in the monthly 60-minutes program. In the first half of the Happy Hour, a presentation is given and discussed and in the second half, members are invited to chat and report, moderated by President Kai-Uwe Schrogl. From the first Happy Hour in February 2021 to this date, nine Happy Hours have been held.
    • For the first Happy Hour (13 February 2021), Setsuko Aoki invited Tejas Bharadwa, winner of the Diedericks-Verschoor Award 2020 to present his paper on “Protecting the Dark Skies of the Earth from Satellite Constellations under International Space Law”. Following this, reports and ideas from members were presented spanning North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
    • For the second Happy Hour (20 March 2021), Prof. Jairo Andres Vecerra, Director of CISJUC Research Center, Faculty of Law, Universidad Catolica de Colombia made a presentation on the coordination of the very first Latin American regional round of the IISL Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition.
    • For the third IISL Happy Hour (24 April 2021), Dr. Diane Howard, the IISL Vice-President made a presentation on the “Mapping the Legal Landscape for Space Traffic: the IISL STM Working Group’s Status of Work”.
    • For the fourth IISL Happy Hour (22 May 2021), Professor Zhenjun Zhang, Executive Director and Research Fellow of China Institute of Space Law (CISL), and a member of the Board of Directors of the IISL made a presentation, entitled “China’s Major Space Activities in the Next Five Years”.
    • For the fifth IISL Happy Hour (26 June 2021), Olga Stelmakh-Drescher, a member of the Board of Directors of the IISL, and her team members made a series of presentations to introduce the IISL project “IISL Space Law Knowledge Constellation” (IISL Knowledge Constellation), launched in 2020.
    • For the sixth IISL Happy Hour (10 July 2021), Aisha Jagirani, Director General, External Relations and Legal Affairs at Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) made a presentation titled “Initiatives and Future Plans of APSCO in Space Law and Policy”.
    • For the seventh IISL Happy Hour (21 August 2021), Peter Martinez, the Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation (SWF) made a presentation on the African space policy, “Space in Africa”.
    • For the eighth IISL Happy Hour (18 September 2021), the Speaker, Chuck Dickey, Principal at TCTB made a presentation entitled “TCTB: A Private-Public Path to Cooperative ADR”.
    • For the ninth Happy Hour (16 October 2021), IISL members were given a briefing on IISL activities at the IAC 2021 in Dubai.
  • A new IISL Working Group was created on Light Pollution of the Night Sky from a Law Perspective. The working Group investigates the role that international space law, for instance Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty, may play in fostering coordination and peaceful co-existence of different outer space activities, such as global internet coverage by large satellite constellations and ground-based astronomical observation of the sky. The Working Group is coordinated by IISL member Rafael Moro-Aguilar.
  • A new Membership Welcome package was introduced by IISL member Elena Morozova.

The IISL President Kai-Uwe Schrogl also communicated sad news about the passing of two important members – Ernst Fasan and Joann Clayton Townsend. Obituaries written by IISL members Les Tennen (for Ernst Fasan) and Marcia Smith (for Joann Clayton Townsend) are available on the IISL website.

To conclude, the President with full confidence acknowledged that 2021 was a successful year which continued the new initiatives from the previous year and showed a reinvigorated energy and vigorousness of the Institute, and moreover increased the activities of the Institute even further, bringing together the members of the Institute closer together.

The President wished all IISL Members and their families good health and all the best for the new year to come!