The Institute of Air & Space Law and the Centre for Research in Air & Space Law

McGill University's Institute of Air & Space Law and its research arm, the Centre for Reserach in Air & Space Law, have a rich history of education, public service and scholarship.

Since 1951, the Institute has trained 1,000 specialists in air and space law from all over the world. Today, the IASL is undoubtedly the most prominent and decorated educational and research institution in the world in the domain. Its loyal graduates today serve in some of the highest legal positions in the bar, the industry, and governmental institutions in some 120 nations around the world. Read more...

Latest news and developments

Take a look at our the Events page for upcoming events, and the Press Room for past activities and news.


MILAMOS Workshop III held in Colorado Springs, United States of America


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.General John Raymond, Commander of the US Air Force Space Command, addressed the MILAMOS participants in an inspiring speech.

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.

IASL Alumna wins prestigeous Young Space Leaders Award

The IASL is proud to announce that our recent DCL graduate, Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty (2017), is a recipient of the Young Space Leaders 2017 Award from the International Astronautic Federation (IAF). The award was presented at the 68th International Astronautical Congress, held in Adelaide, Australia on 25-29 September 2017. The Young Space Leaders Award is awarded annually to recognise exceptional students and young professionals who demonstrate leadership in their early academic and professional careers. In particular, award recipients are recognised for, among other achievements, their contributions to astronautics through their academic and/or professional activities and their efforts in sharing their knowledge and experience with other young people.

Throughout Timi’s time at McGill University, she was deeply involved in community outreach events and initiatives, dedicating many of her efforts to raising awareness of the benefits of space applications and technology to development in her native Nigeria. Timi was previously the Executive Director of the World Space Week Association, coordinating the global response to the UN-declared World Space Week. Further, Timi was a member of the Nigerian delegation to the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 2011, and was nominated by the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs to represent Africa in its 50th year celebration of women in space, based in part on initiatives she supported in Africa, including the establishment of the African Regional Rounds of the IISL Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Competition and the NASA Space Apps challenge in Nigeria. She has previously also worked at the Nigerian Space Agency in Legal Affairs and International Cooperation and was a space industry consultant for Montreal-based Euroconsult. In addition to these accomplishments, Timi has lectured at the Faculty of Law, University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada and the United Nations African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education.

“It is a testament to the 10 years of hard work I have put into the space sector”, Timi said. “The past 2 years has been amazing as I have won 4 awards including the George Robinson Space Law Prize from McGill University for my PhD thesis, the Airbus Leadership award from the Women in Aviation International organization and an award for International Women’s Day for a significant contribution to Quebec society”.

Timi is Associate Chair, Space Policy, Economics and Law at the International Space University Space Studies Program, and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) based in Waterloo, Canada.

“My McGill experience really set me up for success, ” she observes.? During her time at the IASL, she represented Nigeria at the UN international Civil Aviation Organization model council, and participated in the North American regional rounds of the Manfred Lachs space law moot competition. As the recipient of the Erin JC Arsenault Fellowship, Timi also received financial support from the Institute, and was able to organise a space law capacity-building workshop for lawyers in Nigeria.

Timiebi holds a D.CL. and an LL.M. in Air and Space Law from McGill University, and her doctoral research focused on the concept of “common benefit”, and received the George S. and Ann K. Robinson Space Law Prize for exhibiting advanced research capabilities and an original contribution to space jurisprudence. For rising academics and young professionals, Timi had these words of advice to share: “I am encouraged to keep working hard because even if it sometimes looks like others are flying past you, with determination and persistence, hard work does pay off and is rewarded”.



McGill Co-Hosts Major ABA Conference in Montreal

On 14 and 15 September 15 2017, the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) co-hosted the Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association (ABA) Forum on Air and Space Law in the Institute’s home city of Montreal. The McGill/ABA collaboration is a triennial event and is one of the most significant events in the Institute’s calendar. The collaboration was initiated by former IASL Director Professor Dr. Paul S. Dempsey, who continues to represent the Institute in working with our ABA colleagues to organise the Montreal meeting.

Nearly 200 delegates gathered for two days of intensive discussion of aviation and space issues ranging from the Trump Administration’s likely approach to aviation infrastructure to a robust discussion of labor/management relations in the global air transport industry. ICAO Secretary-General Dr. Fang Liu spoke in her keynote address about the Organization’s work on establishing international principles for the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (so-called “drones”) and sub-orbital aircraft, and also announced a new initiative to gather young aviation professionals at a summit in ICAO’s headquarters later this year. The Institute also played its part in the proceedings. IASL Professor and former Director Ram Jakhu joined in a lively expert panel on the challenges of developing new legal regimes for space law. Professor Dr. Paul Dempsey chaired an international panel on air traffic rights and had some provocative questions on the current policy debate on airline subsidies.? IASL master’s, doctoral, certificate, and exchange students also attended many of the panel sessions and posed a variety of questions from the floor.?

Newly-installed Institute Director Professor Brian F. Havel delivered the first luncheon keynote address of the event, focusing on the aviation issues presented by the impending departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (“Brexit”). Professor Havel noted the UK Government’s own uncertainty about what Brexit will entail, and forecast several dramatic consequences for UK airlines if a “hard” Brexit were to occur. But he predicted that aviation negotiators, accustomed to pragmatism, will eventually work out ways for UK and EU airlines to continue to offer cross-channel air services after the official Brexit date in March 2019. “As some have said, it’s not like the telephones will go dead or the Channel Tunnel will be bricked up on Brexit Day, we’ll still have air service,” he remarked. Professor Havel used the EU’s own published documentation to chart a path to a soft Brexit for aviation, but he also argued that Brexit presents an opportunity for the UK to transform global air transport by unilaterally abolishing the rule that virtually all States enforce against foreign ownership and control of their domestic airlines (the so-called “nationality rule”) and challenging other aviation powers to do likewise.

As noted above, the McGill/ABA collaboration in Montreal takes place every three years and will return in 2020. We hope that the beautiful weather that the delegates enjoyed this September will reappear on that occasion.

Brian F. Havel takes the helm

We are pleased to announce that Professor Brian?F.?Havel has joined the Faculty and officially taken over as the 13th Director of the IASL as of August 1st.

Professor Havel takes the helm at the Institute after it recently celebrated 65 years in existence. “The IASL is remarkably enduring for an academic institute, a testament to the outstanding teaching and scholarship for which it is recognized worldwide,” said Professor Havel. “The next five years will be key years of shaping the Institute for its 70th anniversary, coinciding with the bicentennial of McGill University itself.?We hope to make our 70th birthday year the Institute’s most successful ever,” he added.

Key priorities include strengthening relationships with the many aviation and space institutions that make their home in Montreal, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, as well as creating new opportunities to support teaching and research through partnerships in Canada and throughout the world. Keep reading...

Publications of the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law available through WS Hein

?The Centre for Research in Air and Space Law is proud to announce our new partnership with WS Hein to streamline the publication, marketing and distribution of the Centre’s publications.

In the coming period, all of the Centre’s past, present and future publications, including the Centre’s flagship publication, The Annals of Air and Space Law, will be available for purchase or for reading at the click of a button on HeinOnline’s website.

Keep reading...


IASL student part of the Canadian Space Agency's delegation at the 68th International Astronautical Congress

The Institute of Air and Space Law is proud to announce that Ermanno Napolitano, an LLM candidate at the Institute, will be taking part at the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) as part of a select group of students chosen and sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) under its Student Participation Initiative.

As part of its commitment to helping train the next generation of space professionals, the CSA has selected 10 outstanding Canadian students to participate in the IAC and additional activities organised by the International Space Education Board (ISEB) and the Space Generation Congress (SGC) in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications. Ermanno is the only McGill student and the only law student to be selected by the CSA for the grant. Within the programme, he received two separate bursaries to take part in activities at the SGC and IAC, which this year will be held respectively between 21-23 September and 25-29 September 2017.

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC), organised by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), is an annual event where various space stakeholders – scientists, researchers, engineers, space agencies, policy-makers, astronauts, and private industry – meet to share their latest research, information and developments. This important congress, the world’s largest space-related conference, will be hosted this year by the Space Industry Association of Australia and will this year take place in Adelaide, Australia. Under the theme of “Unlocking Imagination, Fostering Innovation, and Strengthening Security” in space, the 68th IAC will cover themes such as upcoming manned missions to Mars, asteroids mining, suborbital flights, cube sats, space debris, private space stations, human settlement on the moon, telecommunications challenges, etc. At this groundbreaking event, among the presenters will be Elon Musk, an inspiring model for many young professionals, who will be disclosing updates on Space X’s mission to Mars.

Every year, the CSA organises the Student Participation Programme, together with Japanese space agency JAXA, the French agency CNES, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the American agency NASA, with the aim of supporting the attendance of the next generation of students and young professionals to attend IAC sessions and activities. This is a key opportunity for students to exchange information, ideas and for networking with future professional peers. Many activities of the Programme will be held at the International Student Zone (ISZ), the exhibition area set up for the students to meet, interact with each other and present their work. During these activities, the students selected by the CSA will have the opportunity to meet with and direct questions to the chiefs of seven space agencies, including NASA and the North Korean Space Agency.

While being part of the Canadian-sponsored student delegation and representing McGill and its Institute of Air and Space Law, Ermanno will also present a study on selected legal issues that the Government of Australia may wish to address in the drafting of the new Australian Space Activities Act. This comprehensive national space legislation was first adopted in 1998, and efforts are under way to review and update the Act. ?Ermanno’s presentation and paper will focus in part on issues to consider in promoting the development of commercial suborbital human flights and, more broadly, on some key legal steps Australia could take towards commercial space entities to play a leading role in space within the Asia-Pacific region.IASL graduate student Ermanno Napolitano with other student delegates at the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC). Ermanno was the only McGill students chosen and sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to take part at the world's largest gathering of space stakeholders.

In addition, Ermanno will also present a study he has co-authored with Tomasso Sgobba and Isabelle Rongier from the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS). The study focuses on the key role safety plays in the space industry and on how a third-party safety certification of space systems could facilitate the development of the industry.

Ermanno has a strong passion for aerospace law. He is particularly interested governmental regulation of space activities. His master’s thesis, supervised by Professor Dr. Ram Jakhu, focuses on the legal challenges of the future of suborbital human space travel and deals with the application of the two distinct regimes of air and space law to suborbital vehicles including legal issues that need to be addressed to facilitate the emergence and safe operation of the aerospace industry. ?Ermanno seeks through his work to provide arguments and foundations for the development of appropriate national space laws and policies to foster the growth of a robust private space sector and strengthen the role of the federal space agency in Canada.

Annual ABA Forum on Air & Space Law Meeting and Conference -? September 2017

For an overview of the event, please see above.

On September 14-15, 2017, the American Bar Association’s Forum on Air and Space Law held its 2017 Annual Meeting and Conference at the elegant Omni Mont Royal in Montreal. This Annual Conference was once again co-hosted by McGill University’s Institute of Air and Space Law.

We had an exciting agenda. Peter Greenberg, author of the "Travel Detective" and CBS News Travel Editor; Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary General of the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization; Angela Gittens, Director General, Airports Council International World; and Brian F. Havel, incoming Director of the IASL were our keynote speakers.

This year’s Conference featured panels on hot issues concerning matters of critical importance to the aviation and aerospace industries. Panel topics included consumer rights, labour law issues, international aviation traffic and ownership and control rights, space law developments, liability matters, and global competition law issues. Each panel featured leading authorities and industry experts, including preeminent aviation and aerospace lawyers, senior airline executives, and key government decision makers.

See the full programme brochure. For an overview of the event, please see above. This seminar was accredited by a recognized provider for 14 hours of continuing legal education.

The IASL co-sponsors the APSCO Space Law & Policy Forum - July 2017

The McGill Institute of Air and Space Law is proud to co-sponsor the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) Space Law & Policy Forum 2017, which was held on 10-12 July 2017 in Harbin, China. This is the fourth biannual event of its kind, and serves as a high-level platform for discussions and exchange with the aim of promoting space law and policy among APSCO Member States.

The theme of this year’s Forum centred on “Satellite Usages and the Developments in Space Law & Policy”, and the event was jointly organised by the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT). Among other internationally recognised space law experts and academics, Dr. Tanveer Ahmad (Executive Director, Centre for Research in Air and Space Law (CRASL)) and Mr. Kuan-Wei Chen (Director of Publications, CRASL) were invited to speak at the Forum. Dr. Ahmad delivered welcoming remarks on behalf of the Institute and Centre, and had the honour of chairing the Opening Session of the Forum, which involved, among others, Mr. Niklas Hedman (UN Office for Outer Space Affairs) and IASL alumna Professor Setsuko Aoki (Keio University). Mr. Chen presented on the Centre’s seminal Global Space Governance Study and provided participants with findings and insight on developments and challenges in the use of satellite applications.

Prior to the Forum, on 4-8 July, APSCO also organised the Training Course on Space Law & Policy. The Training Course was organised with the aim to promote space law education and outreach, and 40 participants and students from various APSCO Member States took part in the course. Among other topics and issues, Dr. Ahmad and Mr. Chen also lectured to the participants on, among other subject matters, the need for national space legislation, on the regulation of remote sensing, and the legal and policy considerations of global navigation satellite service (GNSS).

APSCO is an intergovernmental space organisation established with the aim of promoting and strengthening regional and international cooperation and exchange in the peaceful use of space applications and technology in the Asia-Pacific region. The IASL is honoured to be the co-sponsor of this year’s Forum, and this event has sown the seeds for future cooperation and exchange between APSCO and the Institute.

IASL alumni were well represented at the APSCO Space Law & Policy Forum. From left to right, Mr. Kuan-Wei Chen (LLM, 2008); Professor Setsuko Aoki (DCL, 1986); Dr. Aliakbar Golroo, Director of the Iranian Space Agency (LLM, 1987); and Dr. Tanveer Ahmad (LLM, 2008; DCL 2012).

IASL Alumni at MILAMOS Workshop II in New Delhi, India - June 2017

On the sidelines of the second rule-drafting workshop of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS) Project, several IASL alumni took an opportunity to reconnect and take a group picture at the Gymkhana Club in central New Delhi.IASL graduates can be found all over the world. With the unique skillset and knowledge they gain during their time at the Institute, many alumni move on to occupy notable positions in law firms, international organisations, research and academic institutions, and the defences forces.

From left to right: Dr. Sanat Kaul (former Indian Representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization), Lt. Col. Sarah Mountin (Chief, Administrative Law, US Air Force Global Strike Command); Col. Rob Holman (Deputy Judge Advocate General, Military Justice, Canada); Dr. Ranjana Kaul (Partner at Dua Associates, Advocates and Solicitors); Professor Ram Jakhu (Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law); Mr. Duncan Blake (University of Adelaide, Australia); Mr. Gilles Doucet (space security consultant, Canada); Mr. Kuan-Wei Chen (Deputy Project Manager, MILAMOS Project); and Dr. Tanveer Ahmad (Executive Director, Centre for Research in Air and Space Law).

Executive Summary of the Global Space Governance Study now available

The Executive Summary of the two-year Global Space Governance Study is now available. As one of flagship projects of the the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, the Study is the most comprehensive examination of developments in the domain of outer space activities and the regulations and standards that govern these activities. Led by edtiors Professor Ram Jakhu and Dr. Joseph Pelton, the Study is an international, interdisciplinary and geographically- and politically-neutral study on global space activities and global space governance. It drew on the expertise and input of over one hundred legal, technical, governmental, and commercial space professionals from around the world.

In recognition of the Study's impact and influence on the future of space activities and outer space in general, the findings of the Global Space Governance Study is highly anticipated to lay down much of the groundwork and impetus for the UNISPACE+50 conference in 2018. The findings of the Study, particularly due to the input of highly-recognised experts, professionals and stakeholders in the space domain, will provide effective guidance and contribute meaningfully to the objective of "Space as a driver for socio-economic sustainable development".

The book, titled The International Study on Global Space Governance, will be published and made available in the course of 2017 by Springer Press. The introductory remarks of the pending publication are penned by Mr. David Kendall (Chair of UNCOPUOS 2016-2017) and Dr. Simonetta di Pippo (Director of UNOOSA).

The Executive Summary contains key findings and proposals from the Study that will prove valuable to academics, law and policy-makers, practitioners and stakeholders in the space domain. It includes various tables that summarise and list problems and issues considered by the Group of Experts followed by recommendations for possible reforms and innovations in Global Space Governance.

Download the Executive Summary.

Professor Ram Jakhu explores questions of the peaceful governance of space, and of the growing problems associated with space debris.

Shedding light on the rules for the final frontier

By Brenda Branswell, McGill News, April 2017

For many of us, outer space is the stuff of sci-fi movies or star-gazing.

For Ram Jakhu, LLM’78, DCL’83, it’s the focus of his research in an area he acknowledges is largely unknown to those outside the academic community — space law. Jakhu, the director of McGill’s Institute of Air and Space Law, is spearheading two international projects that tackle weighty topics, such as the rules that apply to the military use of outer space and the growing problem of space debris. Keep reading...

Purchase the IASL's books online

We are pleased to announce that publications of the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, including the latest volumes of the Annals of Air and Space Law, are now available for purchase online. In cooperation with the McGill Bookstore, these publications can be purchased and delivered to you promptly all with a few clicks of the button.?

Older volumes of the Annals will gradually also be made available for purchase online. Over the coming period, the website will also feature a searchable index for users to find and access individual articles based on the topic and/or name of the author. These developments will prove to be of great convenience to readers and researchers, so we hope you will make the most use of these new features.

To purchase our publications, visit our McGill Bookstore page.

Celebrating 60 years at the IASL

The Institute of Air and Space Law looks back on a rich history of over 60 years of education, public service and scholarship. Over 900 of its loyal graduates today serve in some of the highest legal positions; at the bar, in the industry; and for governmental and international agencies in some 120 nations around the world. Come and join us at the IASL!

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