International Institute of Air and Space Law
The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group
The development of space resource activities is happening now. In the absence of a clear framework to govern these activities, there is a need to examine the concepts that are being discussed in order to ensure that they meet existing treaty obligations regarding on-orbit operations and space resource rights. These concepts need to enable, support and co-ordinate the use of space resources and be acceptable for space-faring nations and other interested States.
Building Blocks and Commentary
On 12 November 2019, the Working Group adopted the Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities. The text of the Building Blocks can be found here.
Press release: Adoption of the Building Blocks
To promote the international outreach of the Building Blocks, their text have been translated to the following languages:
- Building Blocks in French
- Building Blocks in Spanish
- Building Blocks in Chinese
- Building Blocks in Portuguese
- Building Blocks in Italian
A Commentary on the Building Blocks was published in April 2020 by Eleven International Publishers. The Commentary offers background information on the developments of the Working Group and the formulation of the Building Blocks. It can be ordered here and is available as Open Access resource through the publisher's website.
Developments of the Working Group
The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group was established in 2016 with the purpose to assess the need for a governance framework on space resources and to lay the groundwork for such framework. Toward this end, it has worked on a set of Building Blocks that include various provisions related to space resource activities, that could potentially form part of a future governance framework and be considered by States and international organisations in this regard.
On 13 September 2017, the Working Group agreed to circulate the Draft Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities as the preliminary result of its work, in order to invite comments from its participants, as well as any other interested party, and inform its further consideration of the Draft Building Blocks. The Draft Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities can be found here. Please note that this is the draft version and not the final one, which can be found in the section above.
The first phase of the Working Group was concluded on 31 December 2017 and the final report of this phase can be found below on the webpage. A Call for Membership for the second phase of activities in 2018-2019 was issued in January 2018. The list of members can also be found below. The second phase of the Working Group will be concluded on 31 December 2019.
The fourth face-to-face meeting took place in Luxembourg from 11 to 12 November 2019 and was the last meeting of the Working Group. It was attended by the majority of members and several observers that worked on finalising the Building Blocks, which were adopted on 12 November 2019.
The third face-to-face meeting of the second phase of the Working Group took place from 15 to 16 April 2019 in Leiden. It was attended by the majority of members and a large number or observers and focused on the text of the Draft Building Blocks. The comments received from the Working Group participants following the meeting of November 2018 were examined along with the input provided by the participants of the meeting. The Socio-Economic Panel reported to the Working Group regarding its work on the socio-economic aspects of space resource utilisation. Among others the issues of social licenses to operate, responsible investment, cooperation models and capacity building were addressed by the Panel.
The second face-to-face meeting of the second phase took place in Luxembourg from 29 to 30 November 2018 and was attending by a majority of members and observers. During the meeting the comments on the Draft Building Blocks received during the public consultation period were discussed. Furthermore, the Technical Panel presented its report to the Working Group, consisting of input regarding issues of frequency allocation for deep space missions, case studies on the designation of safety zones, as well as general technical remarks on the provisions of the Building Blocks. The Socio-Economic Panel presented its work plan for the second phase and elaborated on the topics of societal and ethical aspects of space resource utilisation, protection of the outer space environment, and financial prospects for the use of space resources.
The Working Group held the fourth face-to-face meeting from 11 to 13 September in Leiden. The meeting concluded the first phase of the Working Group and resulted in the “Draft Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities”.
The third face-to-face meeting was held from 10 to 12 April 2017 in Gravensteen of Leiden University. It enjoyed attendance from the great majority of Members and Observers. The participants discussed further on the content of the formulated Building Blocks and addressed extensively the issues related to the governance of space resources.
The second face-to-face meeting was held from 7 to 8 November 2016 at the Academy Building of Leiden University, the Netherlands. The discussions were based on the previously formulated Building Blocks. The participants elaborated further on the content of the Building Blocks and focused on the main elements that are required for establishing an international regulatory framework for the governance of space resources.
The first face-to-face meeting of the Working Group was held from 18-19 April 2016, at the Observatory of Leiden University, in the Netherlands. It was attended by a majority of members and a large number of observers. The meeting facilitated an extensive discussion on the proposed Building Blocks of the project, which form the basis for a future governance framework agreement.
The Building Blocks defined after the Meeting in April 2016 and currently under discussion are the following:
- Definition of key terms
- International responsibility for space resource activities and jurisdiction over space products
- Access to space resources
- Utilization of space resources
- Due regard for interest of all countries and humankind
- Avoidance of harmful impacts resulting from space resource activities
- Tehcnical standards for, prior review of, and safety zones around space resource activities
- Monitoring and redressing harmful impacts resulting from space resource activities
- Sharing of benifits arising out of the utilization of space resources
- Registration and sharing of information
- Provision of assistance in case of distress
- Liability in case of damage resulting from space resource activities
- Visits relating to space resource activities
- Institutional arrangements
- Settlement of disputes
- Monitoring and review
The Working Group has launched a quarterly newsletter. The first edition can be found here, the second edition here and the third edition here.
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What will the Working Group work on?
- Identification and formulation of building blocks for the governance of space resource activities as a basis for negotiations on an international agreement or non-legally binding instrument
- Recommendations on the implementation strategy and forum for negotiations on an international agreement or non-legally binding instrument
During the course of the project, the Working Group will come together for a number of face-to-face meetings.
Who is the Working Group made up of?
The Working Group consists of members as well as observers and is hosted by a Consortium of organisations from each continent.
The principal Consortium partner is the Institute of Air and Space Law of Leiden University, The Netherlands (www.iiasl.aero). The other Consortium partners are: the Catholic University of Santos, Brazil (www.unisantos.br), the Indonesian Centre for Air and Space Law of Padjajaran University, Indonesia (www.casl.nalsar.ac.in/casl), the Secure World Foundation, USA (www.swfound.org), the University of Cape Town, South Africa (www.uct.ac.za), the University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg (https://wwwen.uni.lu/), the Nishimura Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Japan (https://www.jurists.co.jp/en/common/nials) and the Ten to the Ninth Plus Foundation, USA.
Members and Observers
The Working Group members are stakeholders of space resource activities and represent consortium partners, industry, States, international organisations, academia and NGOs. The number of members in the Working Group is limited to thirty-five but there is no limit on the number of observers.
Members are major stakeholders from government, industry, universities, civil society and research centres. Members form the operative body of the Working Group. They are responsible for making the decisions and they are the only participants from whom responses are expected. Members are invited to attend all teleconferences and meetings of the Working Group. The number of members to the Working Group is limited to thirty-five.
The observers are professionals directly involved in space resources issues. Observers are invited to attend face-to-face meetings, but not teleconferences. They may speak at face-to-face meetings upon invitation by the chair. The number of observers able to attend meetings may be restricted depending on the capacity of the venue. They have the option of providing input, which is taken into account at the discretion of the members. Observers receive all final documentation distributed within the Working Group. There is no restriction on the overall number of observers to the Working Group, however the number of observers per organisation is limited to one. A formal application via email to the Secretariat is required in order to become an observer.
3) External persons who are only informed of the progress of the Working Group
Persons who are not involved in the Working Group and who are not directly involved in space resources issues, but whose work is closely linked to the subject matter of the project, may be included in the correspondence of the Working Group in order to keep them informed. These persons may provide input to the Working Group on an informal basis, however there is no obligation for the Working Group to take it into account. Persons in this category are not allowed to attend meetings, either face-to-face or otherwise. Inclusion on this list is upon request via email to the Secretariat.
Technical and Socio-Economic Panels
The Working Group, to become a complete platform among stakeholders on the progress of and issues related to the use of space resources, needs to discuss current and future technical issues, besides the legal and policy considerations. Therefore, a technical panel and a socio-economic panel are created composed of universities, space agencies and industrial stakeholders. These panels will provide input to the Working Group allowing it to verify the validity of the building blocks under discussion. The Chairs of the panels will be invited to attend the meetings and the preparation of the Working Group.
The objectives of the panels are to:
- foster dialogue and cooperation between governments, industry, international organizations, academia and civil society on the technical and socio-economic aspects of space resources activities;
- identify technical and socio-economic challenges related to the use of space resources;
- advise the WG about the current status of developments and feasibility on the implementation of the proposed building blocks and propose new, if required;
- act as the technical and socio-economic arm, respectively, of the WG in international fora.
Where can I find more information?
For further information, please contact us at email@example.com.
Please find the Final Report of the first phase of the Working Group in 2016-2017 here and the Final Report of the second phase in 2018-2019 here.
Please find more information about the Symposium, which openend The Working Group and introduced its activities, held on 17 April 2016 on legal-aspects-of-space-resource-utilisation here.