Nicolas Giacomin

The International Frequency Registration Board

Let us have a look for this new space law article at the International Frequency Registration Board. Before the Second World War, any country could use, within certain limits, any frequency it required for any particular service, and all that was necessary, with respect to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), was for the country concerned to notify its use of the frequency to the Bureau at Bern to be published in the Frequency List for the information of other countries. After the Second World War, the situation in regard to the use of the radio spectrum became more chaotic, due to the enormous increase in the use of the radio spectrum by the increased number of countries of the world as a consequence of the birth of many independent countries, as well as to technical progress during the war.

The situation was so confused that sometimes, for example, civil aircraft could not fly safely because the necessary ground-air communication could not be ensured, and broadcasting services became deteriorated by harmful interferences among them. To cope with this situation, the ITU Atlantic City Radio Conference held in 1947 created the International Frequency Registration Board (IFRB) and charged it: to maintain a register of all radio frequencies used for all purposes throughout the world and, to ensure that no new frequency is taken into use by any country if the use of this frequency causes interference to radio stations already in operation, in accordance with the provisions of the Radio Regulations.

The various activities and functions of the International Frequency Registration Board are listed in Article 13 of the International Telecommunication Convention and in Article 8 of the Radio Regulations. In accordance with the above mentioned texts, the essential duties of the International Frequency Registration Board are:

a) the processing of frequency assignment notices received from administrations for recording in the Master International Frequency Register;

b) the processing and coordination of seasonal schedules of high frequency broadcasting with a view to accommodating requirements of all administrations for that service;

c) the compilation, for publication in suitable form, of frequency lists reflecting the data recorded in the Master International Frequency Register, as well as other material relating to the assignment and use of frequencies;

d) the review of entries in the Master Frequency Register with a view to amending or eliminating, as appropriate, those which do not reflect actual frequency usage, in agreement with the administrations which notified the assignments concerned;

e) the study, on a long-term basis, of the usage of the radio spectrum, with a view to making recommendations for its more effective use;

f) the investigation, at the request of one or more of the interested administrations, of harmful interference and the formulation of recommendations with respect thereto;

g) the provision of assistance to administrations in the field of radio spectrum utilization;

h) the collection of such results of monitoring observations and their publication in suitable form;

i) the formulation and reference to the CCIR of all general technical questions arising from the Board’s examination of frequency assignments;

j) the technical planning for radio conferences;

k) the participation in an advisory capacity, upon invitation by the organizations or countries concerned, in conferences and meetings where questions relating to the assignment and utilization of frequencies are discussed;

l) to perform any additional duties, concerned with the assignment and utilization of frequencies.

Harmful interference is one of the major problems in radio communication. As more and more administrations attempt to introduce new communication services in an already congested radio spectrum, greater are the risks of harmful interference. This state of affairs is becoming more serious because, in addition to the rapid expansion of communications, countries which are becoming independent naturally wish to establish their own communication links with the outside world. New or developing countries find it increasingly important to have effective communication centers connected by direct circuits with the major world capitals.

The establishment of those direct communications requires, in many cases, frequencies suitable for high power wide-band transmissions, usually in the most congested part of the radio frequency spectrum. By virtue of its responsibilities, the International Frequency Registration Board spends a considerable amount of time not only in trying to find frequencies for these new circuits, but also in finding solutions to the problems of actual harmful interference between existing services. The International Frequency Registration Board also assists administrations in seeking coordination and organizes seminars and training courses. The International Telecommunication Union considers the problem of harmful interference from the legal, technical, operating and administrative angles.

Legally, the position in this respect is defined in Article 48 of the International Telecommunication Convention (Montreux, 1965). This article requires Members and Associate Members to ensure that “all stations, whatever their purpose, must be established and operated in such a manner as not to cause harmful interference to the radio services or communications of other Members and Associate Members or of recognized private operating agencies, or of other duly authorized operating agencies which carry on radio service, and which operate in accordance with the provisions of the Radio Regulations”. The same article also states that Members and Associate Members must recognise the desirability of taking all practicable steps to prevent the operation of electrical apparatus and installations of all kinds from causing harmful interference to the radio services or communications mentioned above.

In accordance with the Radio Regulations administrations can seek the assistance of the International Frequency Registration Board when the direct inter-administration approach does not result in a satisfactory solution of cases of harmful interference. In such cases, the International Frequency Registration Board conducts studies and makes recommendations, in accordance with Section VII of Article 9 of the Radio Regulations. In case of need, the International Frequency Registration Board asks administrations of countries in suitable geographical positions to carry out monitoring operations to identify the interfering stations. The Board’s task was facilitated by the prompt information and assistance given by individual administrations and international organizations. The role of the International Frequency Registration Board in resolving matters of harmful interference is outlined in No. 478 of the Radio Regulations, which stipulates that “the investigation, at the request of one or more of the interested administrations, of harmful interference, and the formulation of recommendations with respect thereto”.

The Administrative Radio Conference, Geneva, 1959, adopted a recommendation (Recommendation No. 35) inviting the International Frequency Registration Board to provide administrations of countries in need of special assistance with the necessary information and technical data, including the detailed explanations of the Radio Regulations, which will permit these countries to choose and obtain proper frequency assignments for their operations. The purpose of this recommendation is illustrated by a number of provisions introduced into the Radio Regulations. Under these provisions, the Board shall conduct a study of the following problems of frequency utilization if requested and the circumstances appear to warrant:

a) looking for alternative frequencies to avoid probable harmful interference;

b) searching additional frequencies within a specified portion of the radio spectrum;

c) cases where two or more frequencies in the same megacycle order are used due to harmful interference;

d) alleged contravention or non-observance of the Radio Regulations or harmful interference;

e) computation of the increases in noise temperature in space systems, preparation of diagrams showing coordination areas or any other assistance of a technical nature to complete the procedures of Article 9A.

The International Frequency Registration Board regularly receives requests for assistance from administrations attempting to find suitable frequencies for their radio services. Some administrations seek the advice of the International Frequency Registration Board on general questions of national and international frequency coordination and management in all parts of the radio frequency spectrum. Apart from individual administrations, some international organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), ICAO or the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) also ask the International Frequency Registration Board for advice on problems of radio spectrum utilization.

Apollo and religion

For this new space law article on Space Legal Issues, let us have a look at the Apollo missions and religion. Astronauts and cosmonauts, and spaceflight participants have observed their religions while in outer space; sometimes publicly, sometimes privately. Religious adherence in outer space poses unique challenges and opportunities for practitioners. Space travellers have reported profound changes in the way they view their faith related to the overview effect, while some secular groups have criticised the use of government spacecraft for religious activities by astronauts.

Apollo 8 and religion: Genesis reading

On December 24, 1968, in what was the most watched television broadcast at the time, the crew of Apollo 8, at the suggestion of Christine Laitin, read in turn from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the Moon. The Bible used was provided by Gideons International. Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman recited Genesis chapter 1, verses 1 through 10 verbatim, using the King James Version text. Anders read verses 1–4, Lovell read verses 5–8, and Borman read verses 9–10, concluding the transmission.

William Anders

We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you. In the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness”.

James Lovell

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day”.

Frank Borman

And God said, let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good. And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth”.

First Atheist Offensive

Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of American Atheists, responded by suing the United States government, alleging violations of the First Amendment. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. It was submitted to a three-judge panel, which concluded that the case was not a three-judge matter, and dismissed the case for failure to state a cause of action. The direct appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Another appeal was heard before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s dismissal per curiam. The Supreme Court declined to review the case.

Apollo 11 and religion

On Sunday July 20, 1969, moments before Neil Armstrong set foot on the surface of the Moon, his team-mate Buzz Aldrin took the initiative in a sober and rapid ceremony to combine reading of the Gospel and Presbyterian communion. Under pressure from atheist organizations, NASA did everything to conceal this act of faith.

8:17 p.m. (universal time). The Eagle lunar module has just landed on the Sea of Tranquility. On board, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin must not be overwhelmed by emotion. Their gestures are numbered and timed, while their comrade Michael Collins, aboard the command module, remained in orbit while waiting to recover them. However, despite the intensity of the moment, Buzz Aldrin suspended the proceedings for a few moments. The former U.S. Air Force ace, now an astronaut, grabs a plastic bag from which he extracts a container containing wine, a piece of bread and a small chalice supplied to him by the church. Presbyterian of Webster, located near Houston.

In the microphone that connects him to the NASA command post, he then says a few words: “I ask you for a few moments of silence and I would like to invite people who are listening, who and wherever they are, to stop instant to consider the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his own way”. Then he reads an excerpt from chapter 15 of the Gospel of St. John: “I am the vine, and you branch them…” which he had copied by hand on a piece of paper before embarking.

Once these words were spoken, under the gaze of Neil Armstrong, who remained silent, Buzz Aldrin administered himself Presbyterian Communion under a special authorisation issued to him by the Church of Webster. “I poured the wine into a chalice that our church gave me. With a gravity six times less than on Earth, the wine made curves gently and gracefully on the walls of the cup. It was striking to think that the first liquid poured on the Moon, and that the first food absorbed, were the substances of the communion” he will write later. It was, he will also say, his own way of giving thanks and expressing that by exploring space, he was acting in the name of Christ.

No doubt Buzz Aldrin would have liked to give much more impact to his approach, and to repeat on the Moon the gesture of Christopher Columbus, planting a Cross on the sand of the unexplored beaches he was tackling. But political correctness was already at work at the time and NASA had asked it to act discreetly for fear of attracting the wrath of atheist organizations. “Go for it. Communion. But be content with generalist comments” said Deke Slayton, head of the office of astronauts. This is how only the ground crews heard Aldrin’s religious words, and not the general public who was eager for the slightest actions of the three heroes of the lunar conquest.

Second Atheist Offensive

Concerning Apollo missions and religion, it must be said that NASA had been scalded by the actions brought by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, activist of the association American Atheists, who called herself “America’s most hated woman”. She had indeed brought a lawsuit against the state, in the name of the First Amendment, after the three astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission, on December 24, 1968, had read an extract from Genesis during the rotation around the Moon. Previously, this activist had made herself known for her challenge to the compulsory nature of prayers and religious readings in public establishments, and in schools in particular. Now, forbidding astronauts on duty from expressing their faith on Earth, in space and on the Moon was her new workhorse.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s offensive in no way reduces the symbolic significance of Buzz Aldrin’s gesture (unlike Catholics, Presbyterians do not believe in transubstantiation: communion is above all a rite which expresses the spiritual presence of God in an assembly, even a reduced one). So every year again in July, Webster’s Presbyterian Church commemorates Buzz Aldrin’s ceremony on “Lunar Communion Sunday”. By invoking Christ by his words and his gestures, the astronaut knew how to restore to the world event that was the first step of man on the Moon its real dimension: a feat without common measure, but which could not make man forget his rank as a creature. That is what can be said concerning Apollo and religion.

Understanding the Rogers Commission Report

For this new space law article on Space Legal Issues, let us have a look at the Rogers Commission Report. On January 28, 1986, seven astronauts were aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger and were preparing to leave for almost a week in space. Their mission was to spend a week in space and send a satellite to observe Halley’s Comet. The Space Shuttle was about to fly its tenth mission, however, seventy-three seconds after takeoff, it exploded. There were no survivors.

The Rogers Commission, from its official name Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident is a United States Presidential Commission appointed to investigate the accident. It was created by President Ronald Reagan. This commission was composed of thirteen members including Neil A. Armstrong and Sally K. Ride, and even the Nobel Prize in physics Richard P. Feynman and was chaired by William Rogers (hence his name) who was a former secretary of President Nixon.

The investigation quickly focused on boosters or SRB. These boosters positioned on each side of the main tank, each weigh nearly six hundred tons which, once ignited, cannot be stopped. They deliver phenomenal power to allow the Space Shuttle to tear itself away from Earth’s gravity before separating from it once empty, after about two minutes of flight. They are attached to the main tank by two attachment points. NASA provided the investigation with images of the takeoff and on the side of the right booster, black smoke escaped very clearly. It was therefore not solid fuel that was consumed but something else. This smoke faded during the shot and then after about sixty seconds, a flame came out from this booster, until the total disintegration of the Space Shuttle.

Very quickly, the investigation pointed to one element: the O-rings designed by Morton Thiokol (MT). The explanation then put forward was that these joints would have been consumed at the start of the Space Shuttle’s takeoff. Without this seal, the gases escaped from the hole thus created and this explains the flame which arose later during takeoff. A question then was asked: how was this joint consumed and what are the reasons for it? Richard P. Feynman found the answer.

Richard P. Feynman is a legend in physics. His career began during the Manhattan project (American development project of the atomic bomb). He hesitated for a while before joining this commission, but finally accepted. He had the advantage of being an independent investigator on this case and decided to fully invest it. Richard P. Feynman got to visit the various installations of NASA and the subcontractors involved in the construction of the Space Shuttle, did meticulous work and was quite detached from the rest of the commission. He learned in particular that NASA had a very heavy launch schedule for the shuttles because of the commercial and military contracts to launch satellites. Thus, NASA maintains a very high launch rate per year in order to honour the contracts. This rate is in the order of fifteen launches per year. In this regard, a source close to the Commission of Inquiry revealed that “the Commission is sensitive to the issue of pressure that may be real or perceived by NASA management and that could influence the way people make decisions”.

Assisted by astronaut Sally K. Ride and General Donald J. Kutyna, they will all be interested in the design of O-rings. The night before the flight, the temperature on the launch pad fell below zero which would have resulted in contracting the joints to the point of removing the seal. According to the manufacturer, they were designed to withstand low temperatures. But two testimonies from people working for MT shook everything. One year before the launch of Challenger, Discovery was launched in fairly similar weather conditions: the coldest recorded during a space shuttle launch. Everything went without a hitch but when the boosters were recovered, the seals were damaged. MT engineers therefore recommended to their hierarchy to request the postponement of the launch. MT alerted NASA the day before the launch but nothing was done. NASA officials reacted angrily to this request. The postponement did not take place.

During a public hearing, Richard P. Feynman gave a famous demonstration using a glass filled with ice and a piece of the O-rings. He said “I took this stuff that I got out of your seal, and I put it in ice water. And I discovered that if you put some pressure on it for a while and then undo it, it maintains, it doesn’t stretch back, it stays in the same dimensions. In other words, for a few seconds at least, and more seconds than that, there is no resistance in this particular material when it’s at the wrong temperature. I believe that have some significance for our problem”. Everyone was amazed by this demonstration. One question remained: if the joint had burned out, then why didn’t the Space Shuttle catch fire on the launch pad?

One hypothesis was raised by the experts: that of aluminium slag. Aluminium is added to the fuel of the boosters to increase the thrust during takeoff. This gives rise to ejection from the aluminium tiles in solid form. This aluminium would have filled the hole left by the destroyed seals. The hole would then have been sealed up to the Max Q area where the Space Shuttle is at maximum aerodynamic pressure. There, the Space Shuttle was strongly shaken by a very strong side wind. This hypothesis was supported by telemetric surveys which displayed a lateral force so violent that it was “out of bounds”. This had the consequence of dislodging the aluminium plug which had plugged the leak, releasing the gases from the booster and causing a large flame to appear. This flame consequently led to the disintegration of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

To conclude on the Rogers Commission Report, the final report of the Rogers Commission given to President Ronald Reagan in June 1986 overwhelmed the security policy of NASA, its management and Morton Thiokol. The role of Richard P. Feynman was clearly visible in Appendix F of the report, where he collected his observations and conclusions.

In the Rogers Commission Report, NASA is held for responsible.

The extraterritoriality of American law

The extraterritoriality of American law is the capacity that the United States of America gives itself to enact standards applicable to persons, natural or legal, not American. It is illustrated in several fields, in particular that of international corruption where American standards are imposed thanks to a recurrent application of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA), adopted in 1977.

Extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) is the legal ability of a government to exercise authority beyond its normal boundaries. Any authority can claim ETJ over any external territory they wish. However, for the claim to be effective in the external territory (except by the exercise of force), it must be agreed either with the legal authority in the external territory, or with a legal authority that covers both territories. When unqualified, ETJ usually refers to such an agreed jurisdiction, or it will be called something like “claimed ETJ”. The phrase may also refer to a country’s laws extending beyond its boundaries in the sense that they may authorise the courts of that country to enforce their jurisdiction against parties appearing before them in with respect to acts they allegedly engaged in outside that country. This does not depend on the co-operation of other countries, since the affected people are within the relevant country (or at least, in a case involving a person being tried in absentia, the case is being heard by a court of that country).

This allows, when talking about the extraterritoriality of American law, the American authorities, in particular the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to sanction companies having committed acts of international corruption which can be linked to the jurisdictional power of the United States. The link can be a listing of the company’s stock in the United States of America, or even a simple dollar payment. This text allowed the United States of America to sanction several European companies: Siemens in 2008, Technip in 2010, and Alstom in 2014… In 2018, Sanofi was forced to pay a fine of around twenty-five million American dollars, under the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA). Holder of shares listed in the United States of America, the French company has been accused of corruption in the context of several public tenders in the Middle East and Kazakhstan. Latest case to date, Airbus is said to be under prosecution for corruption in the United States of America, Le Monde revealed on December 20, 2018.

Applied to international economic sanctions, extraterritoriality is a legal tool but especially diplomatic and economic without common measure, of which only the Americans are holders. Such sanctions, comparable to measures of economic warfare, must in theory be taken within a multilateral organisation like the United Nations (UN). In particular, the U.N. Security Council can take economic sanctions against a country to maintain or restore international peace and security. When one of the States adopts economic sanctions more important than the organisation, these can then be qualified as individual retaliatory decisions, or even as countermeasures. This is precisely what the United States of America is doing by unilaterally deciding to prohibit other states from trading with a third state, as is the case with Iran today and as was the case for Cuba in 1996.

Under the guise of fighting, one can no longer legitimately, against corruption, money laundering or the financing of terrorism, the United States of America has gradually made its rules of law a weapon of destruction in economic warfare (that they) lead against the rest of the world, including their traditional allies in Europe, as deplored by the authors of a parliamentary report submitted to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe last June. We are thus witnessing, still according to this document, a proliferation of laws with extraterritorial scope allowing the authorities of the first world power to investigate, prosecute and condemn the commercial practices of businesses and individuals around the world. These procedures violate the sovereignty of the countries of which these actors are nationals, leading to “disproportionate” sanctions with the sole aim of weakening them in international competition.

In fact, on the extraterritoriality of American law, Uncle Sam’s hunting table is edifying and has enough to make you dizzy. Countless banks, like BNP Paribas, Commerzbank, HSBC, Crédit Agricole, ING, or Bank of Tokyo, but also major European industrial flagships, like Siemens, Alstom, Total, or Volkswagen, thus dealt with American justice. In twenty years, continue the authors of the aforementioned report, several tens of billions of dollars in fines have been claimed from foreign entities even though none of their incriminated practices had any direct link with the territory the United States of America. In 2018, Royal Bank of Scotland was fined almost five billion American dollars for its bad practices during the last financial crisis, a shame, the latter having mainly arisen due to the carelessness of American banks. Even the famous Swiss banking secrecy does not resist this widespread racketeering, Crédit Suisse having been fined, four years earlier, a fine of two and a half billion American dollars for having helped several thousand of its customers to defraud the American tax authorities.

To this end and in reaction to the imposition of the secondary sanctions of the United States of America on Iran, the European Union announced to envisage a mechanism of payment by compensation within a vehicle of financing known as SPV. This financial arrangement would isolate any link with the American monetary system, so as not to expose any transaction to American sanctions. If this funding channel is created, it could, in the long term, allow European companies to freely pursue trade with Iran. However, today it seems far-reaching: to preserve their role in international trade, European companies have so far preferred to comply with American sanctions. In addition, the European Union modified its blocking regulation launched in 1996. It therefore leaves European companies with the choice of complying with American law by placing themselves in violation of the regulation, or of being in violation of American law and to be protected by European Union law. But again, all European multinationals have chosen the first option. In addition to a potential fine by a repressive court or an administrative authority, they fear a lack of interest from American or foreign investors (who can constitute a part of their significant shareholding) and the isolation of the American economic and monetary system. That is what can be said concerning the extraterritoriality of American law.

Understanding the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is an American law passed in 1977 aimed at combating the bribery of foreign public officials. This law follows an investigation in the 1970s by the American regulator (Securities and Exchange Commission) in the context of the Watergate scandal, during which more than four hundred American companies admitted to having made illegal payments amounting to more than three hundred million American dollars for foreign government officials, politicians and political parties.

Since 1977, this law has been subject to amendments in 1988 and in 1998: the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 thus introduced the notion of knowledge to detect breaches of the law, as well as the notions of conscious contempt and willful blindness. This law also introduced the notion of donations in good faith, reasonable and lawful according to the legislation of the foreign countries concerned. The 1998 amendment had as its interest the ratification and incorporation into the American legal system of the OECD Anti-Corruption Convention. It thus made it possible to introduce the concept of extraterritoriality of the law, by extending its field of application beyond the borders of the United States of America.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) applies to two broad categories of persons: those with formal ties to the United States of America and those who take action in furtherance of a violation while in the United States of America. U.S. issuers and domestic concerns must obey the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), even when acting outside the country. An issuer is any company that has securities registered in the United States of America or is otherwise required to file periodic reports with the SEC. Domestic concerns is a broader category, encompassing any individual who is a citizen, national, or resident of the United States of America. The category of domestic concerns also includes any corporation, partnership, association, joint-stock company, business trust, unincorporated organisation, or sole proprietorship with its principal place of business in the United States of America or organised under the laws of a State of the United States of America or a territory, possession, or commonwealth of the United States of America. Accordingly, U.S. corporations and nationals can be held liable for bribes paid to foreign officials even if no actions or decisions take place within the United States of America. In the past several years, U.S. enforcement authorities have charged and prosecuted a number of foreign corporations for bribing non-U.S. officials. The DOJ interprets the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to confer jurisdiction whenever a foreign company or national causes an act to be done within the territory of the United States of America by any person acting as the agent of that company or national.

A violation the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) consists of five elements. That is, a person or organisation is guilty of violating the law if the government can prove the existence of: 1. A payment, offer, authorisation, or promise to pay money or anything of value; 2. To a foreign government official (including a party official or manager of a state-owned concern), or to any other person, knowing that the payment or promise will be passed on to a foreign official; 3. With a corrupt motive; 4. For the purpose of (a) influencing any act or decision of that person, (b) inducing such person to do or omit any action in violation of his lawful duty, (c) securing an improper advantage, or (d) inducing such person to use his influence to affect an official act or decision; 5. In order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing any business to, any person.

A covered individual or entity that violates the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) can be subject to criminal charges by the DOJ, which might lead to imprisonment or a fine, in addition to penalties by the SEC of up to five hundred thousand American dollars or the amount by which the entity profited from the offense. The definitions of payment and foreign official are sufficiently broad to cover virtually any benefit conferred on someone in a position to affect a person’s business dealings with a foreign government. Nonmonetary benefits, including travel and entertainment, fall within the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)’s definition. Likewise, the DOJ has taken the position that employees of state-owned business enterprises are foreign officials for purposes of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The statute contains no monetary threshold; even the smallest bribes are prohibited.

Under the terms of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a bribe need not actually be paid in order to violate the law. Rather, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prohibits the offer, authorisation, or promise to make a corrupt payment in addition to the actual payment. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prohibits payments made with a corrupt motive. The legislative history of the statute describes this as an “evil motive or purpose, an intent to wrongfully influence the recipient”. The Supreme Court recently reinforced the notion that a criminal prohibition against corrupt conduct requires a consciousness of wrongdoing, although the Court declined to provide an all-encompassing definition of the statutory term. Truly innocent mistakes are not illegal under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In order to constitute a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violation, a payment must be intended to cause an official to take an action or make a decision that would benefit the payer’s business interest. Note that the business to be “obtained or retained” by the corrupt payment need not be with the government or a government-owned entity. Rather, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is violated if a corrupt payment is made in order to facilitate improperly the obtaining or retaining of business with a third party.

Pursuant to its anti-bribery purpose, the FCPA amends the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require all companies with securities listed in the U.S. to meet certain accounting provisions, such as ensuring accurate and transparent financial records and maintaining internal accounting controls.

Understanding jus soli and jus sanguinis

For this new article, let us have a look at jus soli and jus sanguinis. The jus sanguinis makes descent the criterion of automatic acquisition of nationality, conceived as a heritage which is transmitted to the descendants. The jus soli is based on the place of birth of the individual. As early as February 23, 1515, the Parliament of Paris made reference to jus soli, which later became the method of determining nationality under the old French law. The French Code civil of 1804, on the other hand, established a jus sanguinis, against the advice of Napoleon. Soil law was not reintroduced into French law until 1889 and has been subject to some fluctuation.

The jus soli in Latin is the rule of law assigning a nationality to a natural person by reason of his birth in a given territory, with or without additional conditions. The “double law of the soil” consists in attributing the nationality of a country to the person born on its territory and of which a parent was also born there: it is therefore an example of law of the soil with additional conditions. In France, nationality law has been governed by the Code civil since 1804: nationality is transmitted by descent, or directly to a child born in France to stateless parents. In 1851, the “double law of the soil” was instituted: any person born in France to a foreign parent who was born there was born in France. The law, however, leaves beneficiaries of dual land rights free to repudiate French nationality by majority by declaration. This faculty will be removed by the law of June 26, 1889 which defines “The Republican use of the law of the soil”. It is article 19 of the French Code civil which enshrines this “double law of the soil” which allows the vast majority of “French people by blood” to easily prove their nationality which would be, without this means, a diabolical proof to establish because it would require to go back to infinity the chain of filiation. In addition, the child of a Frenchman is French, regardless of the child’s place of birth (blood law). However, a child born and having lived at least five years in France of parents both born abroad can become French when they reach the age of majority if they have their usual residence in France. This recognition of French nationality was subject from 1993 to 1998, date of application of the Pasqua-Debré laws to a prior request, it is now automatic (unless refused by the interested party), or from the age of thirteen years old if the parents request it and if the child has lived in France since the age of eight years old.

The “double law of the soil”, when talking about jus soli and jus sanguinis, applied until 1993 to the children of a person born in a former French colony. Since 1993, only the children of parents born in Algeria before 1962 (then French department and not a colony) are concerned. Law n° 2016-274 of March 7, 2016 relating to the right of foreigners in France passed after two years of legislative work, widens by its article 59 the access to French nationality by the law of the soil, by opening French nationality to their majority, to people living on French territory “since the age of six and having followed their compulsory education in France when they have a brother or sister having acquired French nationality”. This law introduces an innovation in French law. It creates a new form of acquisition of French nationality, a derivative, indirect land right, transmitted by the sibling bond, which does not require being born on French territory, but having a brother or sister which became French by the law of the soil.

Continuing on jus soli and jus sanguinis, the law of blood or in Latin, jus sanguinis, is the rule of law attributing to children the nationality of their parents, regardless of their place of birth. This is the dominant principle in most countries. In certain countries of immigration, such as the United States of America, Argentina, Canada, or formerly Australia, children have the nationality of the country by their only birth in the territory, what is called the law of soil (jus soli). These rights are not exclusive and legislation may provide for both. In France, nationality law is organised by the Code civil. Article 18 provides that “A child whose French parent at least is French is French”. The law of the soil was introduced in France in 1515 by a decree of the parliament of Paris (which related to the right of windfall). However, one cannot say that there existed at that time a concept comparable to that contemporary of French nationality which gathers several different rights: that to be régnicole (justiciable of the French royal courts), that of the naturalness (it that is, to be governed by local civil status, which was not a national law but regional customs), and that of citizenship (right to vote and be elected, which was not more uniform since France was a society of orders and communities).

The right of blood for children born to French parents abroad is recognized by the Mabile Judgement, judgement of the Parliament of Paris dated September 7, 1576. In the present case, the case concerned a girl, born in England from parents both French, who was recognized as French on her return to France despite her orphan status (her two parents died before her return to France). Citizenship was declined at different local scales: one could not be a French régnicole person but be able to vote in the municipal elections of the city where one was bourgeois, while a French régnicole who did not yet have his letters of bourgeoisie was considered like a stranger to the city and didn’t vote. In many cities, you had to be a native of the city to be able to claim public service. Under the Old Regime in France, any change in naturalness required royal letters of naturalisation.

It was not until the French Constitution of 1791 that a positive law mentioned the possibility of automatic acquisition of nationality by birth in France: “French sons of foreigners born in France and who live in the kingdom are French”. In 1804, the Code civil, against the wish of Napoléon Bonaparte (Bonaparte wanted any person of foreign origin with a French education to be French) established the primacy of paternal filiation (right of blood or jus sanguinis): “Nationality is now an attribute of the person, it is transmitted like the family name, by descent. It is allocated once and for all at birth, and no longer depends on residence on the territory of France” but nevertheless retains the right of soil (jus soli). Individuals born to foreigners must nevertheless claim French nationality within one year of reaching their majority. This break with tradition had no ethnic dimension but simply meant that the nation being like a big family, we would henceforth attribute nationality like other personal rights (names, property) by transmission by the pater familias.

In 1851, the “double law of the soil” is established. The law of 1889, “against a background of increasing immigration”, marks the return of the simple right of the soil and nationality to its majority for the child born in France who still resides there which combines with the right of blood because “France having become a country of immigration, it could not allow a population of foreigners to grow any longer within it”. It should be noted that proof of French nationality, when it results solely from parentage, is impossible to establish: it is diabolical proof because it would require to go back to infinity the chain of parentage. This is what can be said concerning jus soli and jus sanguinis.


UNIDROIT (formally, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) is an intergovernmental organisation situated in Rome and whose objective is to harmonise international private law across countries through uniform rules, international conventions, and the production of model laws, sets of principles, guides and guidelines. Established in 1926 as part of the League of Nations, it was reestablished in 1940 following the League’s dissolution through a multilateral agreement, the UNIDROIT Statute. As of 2020, UNIDROIT has sixty-three Member States.

UNIDROIT has prepared multiple conventions (treaties), but has also developed soft law instruments. An example are the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts. Distinctly different from the Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG) adopted by UNCITRAL, the UNIDROIT Principles do not apply as a matter of law, but only when chosen by the parties as their contractual regime.

UNIDROIT has a mainly tripartite structure composed of the Secretariat, the Board of Directors and the General Assembly. The Secretariat is the executive body of UNIDROIT which is responsible for the implementation of its Work Program. It is placed under the direction of the Secretary General who is appointed by the Management Board on the proposal of the President of the Institute. The Secretary General is assisted by a team of international civil servants and employees. The Governing Council determines the means of achieving the statutory objectives of the Institute and supervises the work of the Secretariat for the implementation of the Work Program which it establishes.

The Board of Directors is made up of an ex officio member, the President of the Institute, and twenty-five elected members, mainly eminent magistrates, lawyers and university professors as well as national officials. The Governing Council is chaired by the President of the Institute who is an ex officio member of the Council. The General Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of UNIDROIT; it votes the annual budget of the Institute, approves its Work Program every three years and appoints the members of the Board of Directors for a five-year term. It is composed of a representative of the Government of each member state. The Presidency of the General Assembly is held, in rotation and for one year, by the Ambassador of a Member State of the Organization.

Since its creation, UNIDROIT has developed nearly seventy studies and projects. Many of these works have resulted in international instruments, including international conventions, model laws, Principles and Contractual Guides. The conventions were adopted at diplomatic conferences convened by Member States of UNIDROIT. The work of UNIDROIT is also the source of a number of international instruments which have been adopted under the auspices of other organizations. Among these, several are already in force.

The object of UNIDROIT as defined in its Organic Statute is the development of modern uniform rules and, where appropriate, harmonised, of private law lato sensu. However, given the difficulty of drawing precise limits and given the overlapping of transactional and regulatory aspects, forays into public law are occasionally necessary. The rules drawn up by UNIDROIT also belong to substantive private law; they contain conflict of laws rules only incidentally. UNIDROIT’s independent status among intergovernmental organizations has enabled it to adopt an approach which has made it a forum particularly suited to dealing with the more technical than political aspects of legal harmonisation or unification.

Technological and commercial innovations which tend to be transnational by their very nature call for new solutions, which must be harmonised and widely acceptable. As a general rule, the choice of a subject with a view to harmonisation or unification depends to a large extent on the willingness of States to consider modifying their internal law by favouring, for a given subject, a new solution adopted internationally. This fact should therefore be taken into account, in addition to the legal and other arguments which militate in favour of the harmonisation of a specific subject. These considerations also come into play when defining the scope of the rules, depending on whether they are intended to govern only cross-border situations or operations or whether they must also extend to purely internal situations or operations. Although commercial law matters relate to most international harmonisation initiatives, UNIDROIT’s broad mandate allows it to also deal with non-commercial matters.

Due to the intergovernmental nature of the organisation, the rules drawn up by UNIDROIT traditionally take the form of international conventions, the application of which prevails over that of Internal Law as soon as their conditions of application are met under the law of the State concerned. However, there is an increasing use of other forms of unification in areas where a binding instrument is not considered essential. These include model laws that States can take into account when preparing national regulations in the subject matter, or general principles intended directly for judges, arbitrators and contracting parties, which remain in any event free to use. When the development of uniform rules seems premature, recourse may be had to the form of a legal guide, particularly with regard to new commercial techniques, or new contractual schemes or even for the organisation of markets, both at national and national level. As a general rule, “binding” solutions (namely the Conventions) are necessary when the regulations envisaged go beyond the bipartite relations at the source of ordinary contract law and when the rights of third parties or interest are at stake, as is the case with property law. The choice of subjects for the UNIDROIT Work Program, the degrees of priority and the working methods, as well as the broad lines of the activities follow the criteria and the strategic objectives of the Institute, in accordance with its Strategic Plan.

The official languages of UNIDROIT are English, French, German, Italian and Spanish; its working languages are English and French. UNIDROIT has been designated as the Depositary to its most recent instruments: the 2001 Cape Town Convention, the 2001 Aircraft Protocol, the 2007 Luxembourg Rail Protocol, the 2012 Space Protocol, as well as the 2009 UNIDROIT Convention on Substantive Rules for Intermediated Securities. UNIDROIT’s responsibilities as Depositary under those instruments are specified in each instrument, and include the operation of a system for the receipt and notification of all instruments of ratification, declarations and other documents lodged with the Depositary. UNIDROIT provides information for the assistance of States that are contemplating becoming Contracting States to them.

The female space quartet

For this new article on Space Legal Issues, let us have a look at the female space quartet, the first time four women were in outer space at the same time. The merging of two crews marked the first time four women were in outer space at the same time, the first female space quartet: Discovery’s three women astronauts, and Expedition 23 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) also marked the first time two of its astronauts were in outer space simultaneously, when Yamazaki met up with station Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi. Discovery (STS-131) delivered supplies and equipment to the International Space Station (ISS), more than seventeen thousand pounds of it stowed inside the Italian-built multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo. The payload included new crew sleeping quarters, an ammonia tank, gyroscope and experiments. The module’s next and final journey to the International Space Station (ISS) was on a one-way trip, when it attached and left on the station during the STS-133 mission.

STS-131 was a NASA American Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Space Shuttle Discovery launched on April 5, 2010 from Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A, and landed on April 20, 2010 on runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility. The mission marked the longest flight for Space Shuttle Discovery. The primary payload was a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module loaded with supplies and equipment for the International Space Station (ISS). The mission also removed and replaced an ammonia tank assembly outside the station on the S1 truss. STS-131 furthermore carried several on-board payloads; this mission had the most payloads since STS-107. It is also the last shuttle mission with a crew of seven astronauts.

The crew was made up of seven members including three women who are Dorothy M. Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, and Naoko Yamazaki (who was the last Japanese astronaut to fly on the Space Shuttle). This mission has been special in many ways: this was the final Space Shuttle mission with a seven person crew, it was the final Space Shuttle crew with any “rookie” astronauts; all of the remaining missions would have all-veteran crews. STS-131 was also the third and last mission in the Space Shuttle program with three female astronauts. STS-40 and STS-96 were the first two. STS-131 marked the first time two Japanese astronauts, Naoko Yamazaki from the shuttle crew and Soichi Noguchi on the International Space Station (ISS), were in outer space together. Expedition 23 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson was on the International Space Station (ISS) at the time. This made STS-131 the first time when four women have been in outer space at the same time. Four intrepid women with the “right stuff” have at that time sailed into the world record books as the most female astronauts ever to fly in outer space at the same time. The first woman in outer space was cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who launched in June 1963 on the former Soviet Union’s Vostok mission. The first American woman in outer space came two decades later, in June 1983, when astronaut Sally Ride rode the American Space Shuttle into orbit on the orbiter Challenger.

For this STS-131 mission, continuing on the female space quartet, Discovery embarked in its hold the MPLM Leonardo pressurised module (Multifunctional Pressurized Logistical Module), developed by Thales Alenia Space on behalf of the Italian Space Agency (ASI). This habitable module carried eight tones of equipment including scientific experiments and freight for the International Space Station (ISS) and its scientific laboratories. It was the last time that NASA would use it since it would be permanently attached to the International Space Station (ISS) during the last flight of the American Space Shuttle (STS-133).

Three extravehicular excursions took place: EVA 1, 2 and 3. EVA 1: April 9, the crew inside used the station’s robotic arm to remove a new ammonia tank from shuttle’s payload bay and temporarily stow it on the station. The spacewalkers then retrieved a seed experiment from outside the Japanese laboratory, installed a grapple bar to the new ammonia tank on the station’s truss and replaced a failed gyroscope that was part of the station’s navigation system, along with several get-ahead tasks. EVA 2: April 11, the crew members, using the station’s arm, removed an empty ammonia tank from the station’s truss and temporarily stowed it on an equipment cart. The new tank was then installed and electrical connections were made to it. The station’s arm then temporarily stowed the old tank on another part of the station’s structure until the mission’s third spacewalk. EVA 3: April 13, using the station’s arm, the crew moved the old tank into the shuttle’s payload bay for return to Earth. The spacewalkers also removed a grapple bar from the old ammonia tank and attached it to the new one. The pair then relocated a foot restraint and some tools and prepared some cables for the STS-132 mission.

The controllers had planned a fourth EVA which was finally cancelled. Nonetheless, all three spacewalks were made by Richard Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson. April 16, the Leonardo module was returned to Discovery’s hold. Before parting from the International Space Station (ISS), the astronauts re-inspected the Orbiter’s heat shield. Normally, this inspection is done after separation, but the breakdown of the Ku-Band antenna obliged managers to take advantage of the broadband antenna of the station to perform this inspection. April 17, Discovery separated from the International Space Station (ISS). April 18, the last day of flight, awaiting the return for the next day at the KSC in the early morning. April 19, the return was postponed due to bad weather conditions on the space center. Discovery reached the ground the next day after a mission of fifteen days, two hours, forty-seven minutes and ten seconds. Three more flights before the American Space Shuttle would retreat.

After stepping off the shuttle following landing, Anderson, who participated in the mission’s three spacewalks, may have summed up the mission best: “We had a lot of adversity, but we overcame it all with some great teamwork”. While perfect missions are preferable, those that involve a few changes in the game plan can sometimes yield valuable lessons about working in outer space. This is what can be said concerning the female space quartet.

Understanding the Asylum Case

Peru issued an arrest warrant against Victor Raul Haya de la Torre “In respect of the crime of military rebellion” which took place on October 3, 1949, in Peru. Three months after the rebellion, Torre fled to the Colombian Embassy in Lima, Peru. The Colombian Ambassador confirmed that Torre was granted diplomatic asylum in accordance with Article 2(2) of the Havana Convention on Asylum of 1928 and requested safe passage for Torre to leave Peru. Subsequently, the Ambassador also stated Colombia had qualified Torre as a political refugee in accordance with Article 2 of the Montevideo Convention on Political Asylum of 1933 (the term “refugee” is not the same as the Refugee Convention of 1951). Peru refused to accept the unilateral qualification and refused to grant safe passage. (1) Is Colombia competent, as the country that grants asylum, to unilaterally qualify the offence for the purpose of asylum under treaty law and international law? (2) In this specific case, was Peru, as the territorial State, bound to give a guarantee of safe passage? (3) Did Colombia violate Article 1 and 2 (2) of the Convention on Asylum of 1928 (hereinafter called the Havana Convention) when it granted asylum and is the continued maintenance of asylum a violation of the treaty?

(1) Is Colombia competent, as the country that grants asylum, to unilaterally qualify the offence for the purpose of asylum under treaty law and international law? The court stated that in the normal course of granting diplomatic asylum a diplomatic representative has the competence to make a provisional qualification of the offence (for example, as a political offence) and the territorial State has the right to give consent to this qualification. In the Torre’s case, Colombia has asserted, as the State granting asylum, that it is competent to qualify the nature of the offence in a unilateral and definitive manner that is binding on Peru. The court had to decide if such a decision was binding on Peru either because of treaty law (in particular the Havana Convention of 1928 and the Montevideo Convention of 1933), other principles of international law, or by way of regional or local custom. The court held that there was no expressed or implied right of unilateral and definitive qualification of the State that grants asylum under the Havana Convention or relevant principles of international law. The Montevideo Convention of 1933, which accepts the right of unilateral qualification, and on which Colombia relied to justify its unilateral qualification, was not ratified by Peru. The Convention, per say, was not binding on Peru and considering the low numbers of ratifications the provisions of the latter Convention cannot be said to reflect customary international law. Colombia also argued that regional or local customs support the qualification. The court held that the burden of proof on the existence of an alleged customary law rests with the party making the allegation: “The Party which relies on a custom of this kind must prove that this custom is established in such a manner that it has become binding on the other Party (that) it is in accordance with a (1) constant and uniform usage (2) practiced by the States in question, and that this usage is (3) the expression of a right appertaining to the State granting asylum (Colombia) and (4) a duty incumbent on the territorial State (in this case, Peru). This follows from Article 38 of the Statute of the Court, which refers to international custom as evidence of a general practice accepted as law”.

The court held that Colombia did not establish the existence of a regional custom because it failed to prove consistent and uniform usage of the alleged custom by relevant States. The fluctuations and contradictions in State practice did not allow for the uniform usage. The Court also reiterated that the fact that a particular State practice was followed because of political expediency and not because of a belief that the said practice is binding on the State by way of a legal obligation (opinio juris) is detrimental to the formation of a customary law: “The Colombian Government has referred to a large number of particular cases in which diplomatic asylum was in fact granted and respected. But it has not shown that the alleged rule of unilateral and definitive qualification was invoked or that it was, apart from conventional stipulations, exercised by the States granting asylum as a right appertaining to them and respected by the territorial States as a duty incumbent on them and not merely for reasons of political expediency. The facts brought to the knowledge of the Court disclose so much uncertainty and contradiction, so much fluctuation and discrepancy in the exercise of diplomatic asylum and in the official views expressed on various occasions, there has been so much inconsistency in the rapid succession of conventions on asylum, ratified by some States and rejected by others, and the practice has been so much influenced by considerations of political expediency in the various cases, that it is not possible to discern in all this any constant and uniform usage, mutually accepted as law, with regard to the alleged rule of unilateral and definitive qualification of the offence”.

The court held that even if Colombia could prove that such a regional custom existed, it would not be binding on Peru, because Peru “Far from having by its attitude adhered to it, has, on the contrary, repudiated it by refraining from ratifying the Montevideo Conventions of 1933 and 1939, which were the first to include a rule concerning the qualification of the offence [as “political” in nature] in matters of diplomatic asylum”. The court concluded that Colombia, as the State granting asylum, is not competent to qualify the offence by a unilateral and definitive decision, binding on Peru.

(2) In this specific case, was Peru, as the territorial State, bound to give a guarantee of safe passage? The court held that there was no legal obligation on Peru to grant safe passage either because of the Havana Convention or customary law. In the case of the Havana Convention, a plain reading of Article 2 results in an obligation on the territorial state (Peru) to grant safe passage only after it requests the asylum granting State (Colombia) to send the person granted asylum outside its national territory (Peru). In this case the Peruvian government had not asked that Torre leave Peru. On the contrary, it contested the legality of asylum granted to him and refused to grant safe conduct. The court looked at the possibility of a customary law emerging from State practice where diplomatic agents have requested and been granted safe passage for asylum seekers. Once more, the Court held that these practices were a result of a need for expediency and other practice considerations over an existence of a belief that the act amounts to a legal obligation. “There exists undoubtedly a practice whereby the diplomatic representative who grants asylum immediately requests a safe conduct without awaiting a request from the Territorial State for the departure of the refugee, but this practice does not and cannot mean that the State, to whom such a request for safe-conduct has been addressed, is legally bound to accede to it”.

(3) Did Colombia violate Article 1 and 2 (2) of the Havana Convention when it granted asylum and is the continued maintenance of asylum a violation of the Treaty? Article 1 of the Havana Convention states that “It is not permissible for States to grant asylum to persons accused or condemned for common crimes (such persons) shall be surrendered upon request of the local government”. In other words, the person-seeking asylum must not be accused of a common crime (for example, murder would constitute a common crime, while a political offence would not). The accusations that are relevant are those made before the granting of asylum. Torre’s accusation related to a military rebellion, which the court concluded was not a common crime and as such the granting of asylum complied with Article 1 of the Convention. Article 2 of the Havana Convention states that “Asylum granted to political offenders in legations, warships, military camps or military aircraft, shall be respected to the extent in which allowed, as a right or through humanitarian toleration, by the usages, the conventions or the laws of the country in which granted and in accordance with the following provisions: First: Asylum may not be granted except in urgent cases and for the period of time strictly indispensable for the person who has sought asylum to ensure in some other way his safety”. An essential pre-requisite for the granting of asylum is the urgency or, in other words, the presence of “An imminent or persistence of a danger for the person of the refugee”. The Court held that the facts of the case, including the three months that passed between the rebellion and the time when asylum was sought, did not establish the urgency criteria in this case. The Court held: “In principle, it is inconceivable that the Havana Convention could have intended the term “urgent cases” to include the danger of regular prosecution to which the citizens of any country lay themselves open by attacking the institutions of that country. In principle, asylum cannot be opposed to the operation of justice”.

In other words, Torre was accused of a crime but he could not be tried in a court because Colombia granted him asylum. The court held that “Protection from the operation of regular legal proceedings” was not justified under diplomatic asylum. The court held: “In the case of diplomatic asylum the refugee is within the territory of the State. A decision to grant diplomatic asylum involves a derogation from the sovereignty of that State. It withdraws the offender from the jurisdiction of the territorial State and constitutes an intervention in matters which are exclusively within the competence of that State. Such a derogation from territorial sovereignty cannot be recognized unless its legal basis is established in each particular case”. As a result, exceptions to this rule are strictly regulated under international law.

An exception to this rule (asylum should not be granted to those facing regular prosecutions) can occur only if, in the guise of justice, arbitrary action is substituted for the rule of law. Such would be the case if the administration of justice were corrupted by measures clearly prompted by political aims. Asylum protects the political offender against any measures of a manifestly extra-legal character which a government might take or attempt to take against its political opponents. On the other hand, the safety which arises out of asylum cannot be construed as a protection against the regular application of the laws and against the jurisdiction of legally constituted tribunals. Protection thus understood would authorize the diplomatic agent to obstruct the application of the laws of the country whereas it is his duty to respect them. Such a conception, moreover, would come into conflict with one of the most firmly established traditions of Latin-America, namely, non-intervention (for example, by Colombia into the internal affairs of another State like Peru).

Asylum may be granted on “humanitarian grounds to protect political prisoners against the violent and disorderly action of irresponsible sections of the population” (for example during a mob attack where the territorial State is unable to protect the offender). Torre was not in such a situation at the time when he sought refuge in the Colombian Embassy at Lima. The court concluded that the grant of asylum and reasons for its prolongation were not in conformity with Article 2 of the Havana Convention. “The grant of asylum is not an instantaneous act which terminates with the admission, at a given moment of a refugee to an embassy or a legation. Any grant of asylum results in, and in consequence, logically implies, a state of protection, the asylum is granted as long as the continued presence of the refugee in the embassy prolongs this protection”.

Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons

Let us look at the Public International Law case Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons. By a letter from December 19, 1994, filed in the Registry on January 6, 1995, the Secretary-General of the United Nations officially communicated to the Registry a decision taken by the General Assembly, by a resolution adopted on December 15, 1994, to submit to the Court, for advisory opinion, the following question: “Is the threat or use of nuclear weapons in any circumstance permitted under international law?” The resolution asked the Court to render its advisory opinion “urgently”. Written statements were filed by twenty-eight States, and subsequently written observations on those statements were presented by two States. In the course of the oral proceedings, which took place in October and November 1995, twenty-two States presented oral statements. On July 8, 1996, the Court rendered its Advisory Opinion. Having concluded that it had jurisdiction to render an opinion on the question put to it and that there was no compelling reason to exercise its discretion not to render an opinion, the Court found that the most directly relevant applicable law was that relating to the use of force, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and the law applicable in armed conflict, together with any specific treaties on nuclear weapons that the Court might find relevant.

The Court on the Public International Law case Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons discussed two procedural questions. (1) Did the Court have the competence to give an advisory opinion based on a request of the General Assembly? In other words, did the General Assembly have the competence to ask the Court for an advisory opinion on the above question? (2) If yes, were there any reasons that would compel the Court to decline to exercise its jurisdiction? The Court also discussed five substantive questions. (3) Did treaty or customary law authorise the use of nuclear weapons? (4) Did treaty or customary law contain a “comprehensive and universal” prohibition on the threat and use of nuclear weapons? (5) Should the threat or use of nuclear weapons be compatible with international humanitarian law and other undertakings of the law? (6) Will the threat or use of nuclear weapons be lawful in self-defense in situations where the very survival of the State is at stake? (7) Is there an obligation on States to work towards nuclear disarmament?

The Court concludes that neither customary law, nor treaty law, explicitly authorises the use of nuclear weapons (para. 52). Yet, it highlights that explicit authorisation is not required because the illegality on the threat or use of nuclear weapons does not stem from the lack of specific authorisation, but on a specifically formulated prohibition (the general principle is found in more details in “The Lotus case”). Next, it went on to examine if customary or treaty law prohibits the threat or use of nuclear weapons.

The Court concludes that there is no comprehensive and universal prohibition on the threat or use of nuclear weapons either in treat or customary law. In terms of treaty law, some States argued that the use of nuclear weapons would violate the right to life and other treaty-based human rights, prohibition on genocide, and rules relating to the protection of the environment. The Court says that none of these treaties provide a “universal and comprehensive” prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons. Then, the Court says that the “most directly relevant applicable law” is the U.N. Charter provisions relating to the use of force and those laws that govern armed conflict. However, it finds that both of these legal regimes also do not expressly prohibit, nor permit, the use of nuclear weapons. In terms of customary law, the Court finds that the opinio juris on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons differs amongst States, as reflected in the content and voting patterns of General Assembly resolutions, their views on deterrence and the non-use of nuclear weapons in the recent past. The Court finds that “The members of the international community are profoundly divided on the matter of whether non-recourse to nuclear weapons over the past fifty years constitutes the expression of opinio juris. Under these circumstances the Court does not consider itself able to find that there is such an opinio juris The emergence, as lex lata, of a customary rule specifically prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons as such is hampered by the continuing tensions between the nascent opinio juris on the one hand, and the still strong adherence to the practice of deterrence on the other”. The Court concludes that there is no comprehensive and universal prohibitions on the threat or use of nuclear weapons under treaty law or customary law.

Thus far, the Court has concluded that there are no provisions in international law that authorises or prohibits the threat or use of nuclear weapons by States. The Court now goes a step further to examine if the threat or use of these weapons is regulated under international law. In other words, should its use be compatible with the requirements of international law applicable in armed conflict (which includes international humanitarian law) and the U.N. Charter?

Continuing on the Public International Law case Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, the Court finds as follows: “The Court had established that the U.N. Charter did not permit or prohibit the use any type of weapons. However, it finds that for the a threat or use of force in self-defense to be lawful under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, the use of nuclear weapons must be necessary and proportionate to the armed attack against which self-defense is exercised. The Court says that the use of nuclear weapons may be proportionate in certain circumstances (the Court does not specify the circumstances)”. The Court goes on to hold that even if the threat or use of nuclear weapons is lawful under the U.N. Charter (in other words, when it is necessary and proportionate), it must still meet the requirements of laws regulating armed conflicts, including international humanitarian law and principles relating to neutrality. The Court finds that it cannot conclude that the recourse of nuclear weapons “would be illegal in any circumstances” or if the use of nuclear weapons was inherently and totally incompatible with international humanitarian law. In view of the unique characteristics of nuclear weapons the use of such weapons in fact seems scarcely reconcilable with respect for such requirements (relating to distinction and suffering). Nevertheless, “The Court considers that it does not have sufficient elements to enable it to conclude with certainty that the use of nuclear weapons would necessarily be at variance with the principles and rules of law applicable in armed conflict in any circumstance”. This was reaffirmed in the Court’s conclusion when it held that nuclear weapons were generally, and not absolutely, contrary to international law applicable in armed conflicts: “It follows from the above-mentioned requirements that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law”. The Court also finds that it could not reach a conclusion on the legality or illegality of the use of nuclear weapons in “an extreme case of self-defense”. The Court highlights the “fundamental right of every State to survival” and holds that “In view of the present state of international law viewed as a whole (and base on) the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court is led to observe that it cannot reach a definitive conclusion as to the legality of the use of nuclear weapons by a State in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which, its very survival would be at stake”. The Court didn’t elaborate on what would constitute an extreme case of self-defense nor address whether a State having nuclear weapons (a nuclear State) can use it in the defense of another non-nuclear State when that second State very existence is threatened.

The Court finds that there is an obligation “To pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to disarmament”. Other interesting aspects of the judgement that haven been dealt with in this post, in detail, includes paragraphs relating to the applicability of human rights and environmental law in times of armed conflict, policy of deterrence, and General Assembly’s contribution to the progressive development of customary law. This is what can be said concerning the Public International Law case Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons.

The Order of the Dolphin and the birth of SETI

Let us look for this new article at the Order of the Dolphin and the birth of SETI. In 1961, when UFOs were all the rage, a group of top scientific minds met in secret at a rural observatory in West Virginia. At the time, the Green Bank Observatory was the biggest telescope in the burgeoning practice of radio astronomy. While the list of meeting attendees now reads like a who’s who of the era’s luminaries, the reason they gathered covertly was because of the taboo nature of their topic of discussion. These scientists wanted to find, and talk to, aliens. They didn’t know it, but they were about to launch the modern Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI.

Let’s back up a moment. In 1958, a newly minted Harvard Ph.D. named Frank Drake came to Green Bank. Usually, he sought out typical radio astronomy targets – the Van Allen Belts around Earth, say, or the surface temperature of Venus, or the radiation belts of Jupiter. But one day in 1960, Frank Drake and his colleagues instead tuned into two nearby stars, Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. Their goal was simple: they were alien hunting, hoping to hear radio communications originating from intelligent extraterrestrials. UFOs were popular then, but Drake’s research was legitimate, one of the first dedicated scientific searches for aliens. Frank Drake had been spurred on by Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison, who the previous year had co-authored a Nature paper with the provocative title “Searching for Interstellar Communications”. It remains a foundational SETI text. Much to Drake’s surprise, his team actually heard something in those first few experiments. Unfortunately, it ended up being just a high altitude plane. Project Ozma, as the research was called (after Lyman Frank Baum’s fictional Princess Ozma), was both the first SETI experiment and the first SETI false alarm. “We had failed to detect a genuine alien signal, it was true, but we had succeeded in demonstrating that searching was a feasible, and even reasonable, thing to do” Drake wrote in his book Is Anyone Out There?, co-written with science writer Dava Sobel. While Frank Drake was launching some of the first SETI programs, John Lilly – a physician, philosopher, writer and inventor – was attempting to communicate with his own alien intelligence. He just wasn’t looking quite as far.

Humans are, in fact, surrounded by intelligence. Our fellow great apes understand the rudiments of language, and seem to possess highly organised social structures, tool-making skills and self-awareness. Creatures literally great and small – elephants and crows – have many of these qualities as well. Intelligent life isn’t isolated to land, either. The octopus brain is one of the most remarkable on Earth, and its close cousin, the cuttlefish, is no slouch either. But the superstars of the sea, to most humans, are marine mammals, especially dolphins and whales. John Lilly wanted to understand and communicate with dolphins – literally, to speak their language. And his ideas were taken seriously. He founded the Communication Research Institute in the late 1950s, and published research suggesting that his attempts to talk to dolphins were working. He also saw the experiments as a way to help efforts to contact aliens. If we can crack the code of dolphin language, John Lilly thought, we might just have a shot at decoding other alien communications, too. Now, back to that clandestine 1961 meeting at Green Bank.

The Space Science Board, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, had tasked scientist and ballistics expert J. P. T. Pearman with putting together a meeting to expand the search for alien intelligence. While it wasn’t officially a secret meeting, it wasn’t well publicised either, since the topic was still considered one of the fringes of established research. No one wanted to put their career on the line to search for little green men. Counting J. P. T. Pearman, the gathering included ten scientists. Frank Drake and John Lilly were there, of course, as well as Drake’s inspiration Philipp Morrison. Also in attendance were experts Dana Atchley, pre-eminent biochemist, Melvin Calvin, optical astronomer, Su-Shu Huang (who first proposed the concept of “habitable zones”), computing pioneer Bernard M. Oliver and Russian astronomer Otto Struve. The final attendee was a young Carl Sagan, now perhaps the best known of the bunch. The biggest outcome of the conference was the Drake equation. To know if aliens were out there, it helped to have an idea of how abundant they might be. The equation quantified estimates of star formation, planet formation, the likelihood of intelligent life arising and other factors necessary for intelligent life to exist.

Despite its output of hard numbers, the Drake equation is more symbolic than descriptive, a thoughtful tool to guide how scientists should think about looking for alien life. It set the tone for SETI and how it would be carried out in the subsequent decades, and offered a way forward for research that combined various legitimate scientific disciplines. As it happened, Melvin Calvin won the Nobel Prize, and the attendees indeed busted out the bubbly. But John Lilly became another star of the show. Drake would write that “Much of that first day, he regaled us with tales of his bottlenose dolphins, whose brains, he said, were larger than ours and just as densely packed with neurons. Some parts of the dolphin brain looked even more complex than their human counterparts, he averred. Clearly, more than one intelligent species had evolved on Earth”. John Lilly told the attendees he also heard signs of language, and empathy, in recordings of the dolphins. “In fact, if we slowed down the playback speed of the tape recorder enough, the squeaks and clicks sounded like human language. We were all totally enthralled by these reports. We felt some of the excitement in store for us when we encounter nonhuman intelligence of extraterrestrial origin”. John Lilly’s research generated so much excitement that, by the end of the conference, the attendees called themselves the Order of the Dolphin. Calvin, in his post-Nobel joy, even went on to send commemorative pins to the attendees. “He caused to be made these little pins which had silver dolphins on them, which he sent to all of us. It wasn’t that we ever had meetings or chose officers of the Order of the Dolphin. It was just a souvenir of the particular time together”.

Their excitement may have been a little hasty. In retrospect, Frank Drake wrote: “I now think that Lilly’s work was poor science. He had probably distilled endless hours of recordings to select those little bits that sounded human-like”. “At that time, we were quite enthusiastic about it because John Lilly came and told us about communications with dolphins. Within a few years, the subject had pretty much dissipated, and Lilly’s work was not found to be reliable”. Shortly after the Order of the Dolphin meeting, Lilly began incorporating ketamine and LSD (legal at the time) into his experiments, hoping it would help him communicate better with dolphins. While Carl Sagan visited the early experiments, reporting back to Drake on Lilly’s progress, as the science became hazier, Sagan’s interest drifted as well. The work has tainted attempts to understand the intelligence of dolphins ever since. But while he may have veered into the realm of pseudo-science, Lilly did provide one useful guideline for future SETI efforts. “We came to a general conclusion, that in order to make any sense out of an alien language, you had to hear a conversation between two of them. You had to sit between them and hear a call and a response. You couldn’t just hear one side of the conversation, you couldn’t just receive”. This is what can be said concerning the Order of the Dolphin and the birth of SETI.

A history of Vomit Comets

Parabolic flight using what is sometimes referred to as Vomit Comets, as a way of simulating weightlessness, was first proposed by the German aerospace engineer Fritz Haber and the German physicist Heinz Haber in 1950. Both had been brought to the U.S. after World War II as part of “Operation Paperclip”. The primary purpose for Operation Paperclip was U.S. military advantage during the Cold War, and the Space Race.

The “Vomit Comet” refers to a NASA program that introduced astronauts to the feeling of zero-gravity spaceflight. Recruits climbed aboard a specially fitted aircraft that dipped and climbed through the air to simulate the feeling of weightlessness, in twenty to twenty-five second intervals.

The Vomit Comets

According to NASA, its “reduced gravity” research program started in 1959. NASA has flown several types of aircraft over the years, perhaps most famously the KC-135A aircraft that is now retired. The agency currently offers flight opportunities on the Boeing 727-200F operated by Zero G Corp. In late 2004, the Zero Gravity Corporation became the first company in the United States of America to offer zero-g flights to the general public, using Boeing 727 jets. Each flight consists of around fifteen parabolas, including simulations of the gravity levels of the Moon and Mars, as well as complete weightlessness. This profile allows ZERO-G’s clients to enjoy weightlessness with minimal motion discomfort.

In 2014, Integrated Spaceflight Services, the research and education partner of Swiss Space Systems (S3) in the United States of America, began offering comprehensive reduced-gravity services on S3’s Airbus A340 aircraft, as well as FAA certification of science and engineering payloads. This project has been unsuccessful and Swiss Space Systems has bankrupted and ceased all operations.

Aurora Aerospace in Oldsmar, Florida, offers zero-g flights using a Fuji/Rockwell Commander 700. It is also used to simulate the gravity of the Moon and Mars. The Canadian Space Agency and the National Research Council have a Falcon 20 used for microgravity research. The small plane is normally not used for people to float freely and experience weightlessness.

The first zero-g plane to enter service in Latin America was a T-39 Sabreliner nicknamed CONDOR, operated for the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency and the Ecuadorian Air Force since May 2008. On June 19, 2008, this plane carried a seven-year-old boy, setting the Guinness World Record for the youngest person to fly in microgravity.

Europeans, meanwhile, did the first parabolic flights to carry out experiments in microgravity since 1989 aboard a Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle. This program was initiated at the time by the French astronauts Jean-François Clervoy and Jean-Pierre Haigneré, to be independent of the United States of America or Soviet planes, which realized this type of flights after the Second World War. It was the French DGA which was operator at the time of the plane.

In Russia, commercial flights are offered on the Ilyushin Il-78 jet. Several U.S. companies book flights on these jets. OK Go, an American alternative rock band, made a music video for their song “Upside Down & Inside Out” while moving about in microgravity. The music video was shot on an Ilyushin Il-76 jet as part of an advertising campaign for Russian S7 Airlines.

What are they used for?

An airplane flies with its engines and wings mainly. The engines provide the acceleration necessary to counteract the drag force due to friction of the air. The wings provide the lift, a force that counteracts gravity. During a parabolic flight, the aircraft is brought into an angle that allows the suppression of lift and fall into free fall, like satellites.

For this, in a first step, the plane flying at twenty thousand feet (about six thousand meters altitude) is pitched between forty-seven and fifty degrees. The pilot then decreases the thrust of the reactors so as to compensate for the friction of the air and the aircraft enters the phase of free fall. Its content then returns to microgravity. The momentum of the aircraft allows it to reach twenty-eight thousand feet (about eight thousand meters) then it falls (descending phase of the parabola) with an angle of about forty-two degrees. Then, the plane resumes its horizontal flight at twenty thousand feet. The operation lasts about one minute to obtain twenty to twenty-five seconds of weightlessness sandwiched between two periods. During the phases of ascent, people on the plane can weigh up to almost twice their weight.

A typical flight will see two to three hours of plunging arcs, giving astronauts about thirty or forty chances to experience weightlessness when the airplane drops to a lower altitude. Some researchers also use the flights as a chance to run experiments in weightlessness.

At the beginning these flights were useful for science research, indeed many scientists work all day on theories related to space or lack of gravity, and that sometimes these same scientists need to go through experiments, their theories. These practical cases could be done in outer space, but for budget and practical reasons, the zero-g flight is an excellent compromise. The thing that is great with the zero-g flight, it is that the experiment can embark with the scientist, which is priceless and what is not really feasible during a space flight. The zero-g aircraft can board up to fifteen experiments at the same time. Some student research projects (and the students themselves) can also come on board. Nearly eighty percent of scientific experiments are satisfied with one or more parabolic flights, and do not need a space flight afterwards.

Also with Vomit Comets, before going into space, astronauts must train. They must know how to move in a state of weightlessness and these flights allow them to do this, as well as training in the pool to complete their training to go on missions aboard the ISS. Microgravity flights are used for a variety of purposes, especially in the film industry. For instance, the actors of the movie “Apollo 13” (Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton) were probably the most famous visitors on the KC-135A parabola flights in the 1990s. Set designers created a spacecraft interior adapted to the inside of the airplane, then the cameras captured shots on film, in less than thirty seconds of acting at a time. Director Ron Howard leased the aircraft over six months to achieve the weightless shots. This is what can be said concerning Vomit Comets.

The Bogotá Declaration and space law

For this new space law article, let’s study the Bogotá Declaration. Faced with the saturation of the orbit and frequencies by developed countries, some equatorial countries have claimed in 1976 sovereignty or exclusive rights over portions of the geostationary orbit located above their territory. They questioned the applicability of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty to this area. Most states, on the contrary, believe that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty applies to the geostationary orbit.

By the Declaration Of The First Meeting Of Equatorial Countries or “Bogotá Declaration”, adopted on December 3, 1976, seven equatorial countries affirmed their sovereignty over the portions of geostationary orbit over their territory. These states are: Colombia, the Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda and Zaire; an eighth state, Brazil, has signed the Bogotá Declaration as an observer. Gabon and Somalia joined this group later.

The Bogotá Declaration and space law

In order to preserve their interests against the developed countries, the equatorial countries have claimed to extend their national jurisdiction to the part of the geostationary orbit situated above their territory. Because it only benefited a tiny minority of uninfluential states, this claim ran into opposition from the international community. The equatorial states have recently reformulated their claims in more moderate terms: instead of asserting their sovereignty, they now prefer to invoke preferential rights. Nevertheless, even in this form, these claims appear to be inconsistent with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, of which Article II prohibits national appropriation: “Outer  space,  including  the  Moon  and  other  celestial  bodies,  is  not  subject  to national  appropriation  by  claim  of  sovereignty,  by  means  of  use  or  occupation,  or by  any  other  means”.

On a scientific level, the equatorial countries have argued that the geostationary orbit is a phenomenon related exclusively to Earth’s gravity and is not part of outer space. Legally, therefore, it cannot be subject to space law and the prohibition of appropriation enshrined in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The part of this area which is located above the equatorial countries would fall within their national space. These countries added that geostationary orbit is a limited natural resource on which they exercise their permanent sovereignty. The absence of delimitation of outer space and the right of each State to define its national space are invoked in support of these claims. It follows from this absence of delimitation that the scope of the principle of non-appropriation remains undefined and that that principle appears in any event to be inapplicable to the geostationary orbit.

The Bogotá Declaration states that geostationary positions above the high seas are the common heritage of mankind. On the other hand, no specific legal basis is clearly invoked to justify that the portions of the geostationary orbit claimed by the equatorial countries belong to these states rather than to any other state. Siegfried Weissner, a Professor of Law, believes that the claims of these countries are based on the idea of contiguity; “The Public Order of the Geostationary Orbit: Blueprints for the Future”.

As a consequence of its incorporation into the national territory claimed by the equatorial countries, the geostationary orbit (overlying) would not be subject to a regime of free and equal access for all states. The former would be the sole masters of the use of this space. The placing of geostationary satellites in orbit would be subject to prior authorization and the exploitation of this position should be in accordance with the national laws of the countries in question.

In the context of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the equatorial countries have repeatedly reaffirmed their claims. At the WARC on Direct Broadcasting, they expressed reservations to the Final Acts of this conference. They emphasized that they did not claim sovereignty over space within the meaning of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which did have the effect of including in outer space spaces previously subject to the jurisdiction of states.

They further stated that the positioning and operations of geostationary satellites over their territories should be subject to the authorization and national legislation of the underlying state. Finally, they added that they did not consider themselves bound by the resolutions, agreements and decisions of the Conference relating to the positioning of satellites in their orbital space. At subsequent ITU conferences, the equatorial countries have generally maintained their claims.

Because of the opposition they have faced with the Bogotá Declaration, the positions of the equatorial countries has evolved: they no longer claim sovereignty over the geostationary orbit, but only “preferential rights”. At the same time, they no longer oppose efforts, particularly by the ITU, to define an international regime for access to the geostationary orbit, taking into account the interests of developing countries, but consider that this regime should give them preferential rights. However, at the level of the legal regime of the geostationary orbit, the evolution of the requirements of the equatorial countries is less clear, since they always claim to require prior authorization for the geostationary satellites into orbit. Finally, Colombia suggested an analogy with the Exclusive Economic Zone in the Law of the Sea to distinguish sovereignty from the “rights to explore and exploit”. The role of the ITU and the place of a future international regime in relation to these rights does not appear to be very clear in the conception of the equatorial countries. Their claims have been rejected by the dominant doctrine and by most states.

The current access regime to the geostationary orbit includes both the prohibition to appropriate this space and the right to use it. The principle of non-appropriation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty does not impose limits on the duration or number of satellites that a state may place there. Geostationary satellites also have the right to use the associated frequencies. This de facto appropriation by the first-comers, developed countries, of the orbit and frequencies, is protected by space law and International Telecommunications Law. The challenge by developing countries of grabbing these resources is therefore unjustified on the basis of existing law. Denying access to newcomers or making access more difficult does not constitute appropriation; it simply results from the traditional system of distribution of access rights.

The practice of developed states is based on free access and priority given to the first satellites placed in the geostationary orbit. The placing into orbit of satellites is in accordance with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. These satellites have the right to pursue a trajectory without interference from satellites later placed in orbit. In addition, the international regulation of the radio spectrum has favored the development of satellite telecommunications systems. Increasing congestion of the orbit and frequencies may limit the access and opportunities of developing countries in the future. It will become more and more difficult to use frequencies from the geostationary orbit under satisfactory conditions (without creating or suffering radio interference, or without incurring additional costs). Common law regime for the use of frequencies traditionally protects the first users against such interference. In this situation, new entrants must design their space telecommunication systems taking into account both the trajectory and the frequencies used by the satellites in place.

Unlike the regime of orbit and outer space in general, for more than half a century, there has already been an institutionalized mechanism for access to radio frequencies. This mechanism makes it possible to coordinate the use of frequencies and thereby, prevents harmful interference between radio stations under the jurisdiction of different states. In order to avoid anarchy in this area, ITU distributes radio waves between recognized radio services. Thus, the frequencies used by the various services at the international level are determined in advance before the establishment of telecommunications stations. Any state wishing to establish a station and allocate a frequency band, must comply with the service allocation deriving from international regulations.

While inter-service distribution is pre-established, the distribution among states within a given service is traditionally done according to their order of arrival: the first to notify the use of a frequency band by a station under its jurisdiction acquires a right of priority at the international level. Frequency assignments by states must be registered with the ITU. Within the latter, the International Frequency Registration Board examines the compliance of these assignments with the regulations in force and the possibility of interference with other stations already in operation. In case of conflict between an existing user registered before the International Frequency Registration Board and a newcomer, preference is given to the first one; this is sometimes described as “first come, first served”.

Some developing countries have argued that the utilization of geostationary orbit by developed countries is contrary to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and, in particular, to the principle of non-appropriation. For a variety of reasons, this challenge to current practice does not really addresses the problem of orbital saturation. First, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the prohibition of appropriation do not limit the use of orbital space. In addition, this instrument appears unable to provide a solution to the problem of saturation of the orbit, because it is primarily due to exogenous constraints related to the use of radio frequencies. Access to the frequency spectrum depends on International Telecommunications Law and not on space law.

Continuing with the Bogotá Declaration, Article II of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibits, inter alia, appropriation “by use”. This terminology seems to support, as developing countries have done, that the occupation of geostationary positions constitutes appropriation. On the contrary, developed countries, including the United States of America and Russia, have argued that the use of a favorable orbit for legitimate activities cannot be considered a prohibited appropriation. The German Democratic Republic, for its part, has stated in 1976 that: “The use of the geostationary-satellite orbit by States or international organizations does not constitute an appropriation by use or occupation within the meaning of Article II of the 1967 Treaty as long as it is not dictated by the manifest intent to establish and maintain exclusive sovereign rights over any part of the orbit”.

Only a minority of authors have challenged the current practice of access to the geostationary orbit on the basis of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. According to Marko G. Markoff, the permanent occupation of an orbital area by a space station which is used for the exclusive benefit of a state contradicts, even in the absence of animus appropriandi, the principles of non-appropriation and use of space in the interest of all states.

Concluding remarks

The geostationary orbit is part of outer space and, as such, the customary principle of non-appropriation and the 1967 Outer Space Treaty apply to it. The equatorial countries have claimed sovereignty and then preferential rights over this space. These claims are contrary to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and customary law. However, they testify to the anxiety of the equatorial countries, shared by developing countries, in the face of the saturation and seizure of geostationary positions by the developed countries.

However, the question of saturation of the orbit is too complex to be considered and resolved within the limited framework of the principles of space law, including the principle of non-appropriation. The regime of res communis of outer space in space law (free access and non-appropriation) does not meet the demand of the developing countries that their possibilities of future access to the geostationary orbit and associated radio frequencies be guaranteed. New rules appear necessary and have been envisaged to ensure the access of all states to these positions and frequencies. That is what can be said concerning the Bogotá Declaration.

What is Asgardia?

Asgardia, also known as the “Space Kingdom of Asgardia” and “Asgardia the Space Nation”, is a micronation formed by a group of people who have launched a satellite into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). They refer to themselves as Asgardians and have given their satellite the name Asgardia-1. They have declared sovereignty over the space occupied by and contained within Asgardia -1. The Asgardians have adopted a constitution and they intend to access outer space free of the control of existing nations, and establish a permanent settlement on the Moon by 2043.

The nation proposal was announced in October 2016 by Igor Ashurbeyli, the founder of the International Center for Aerospace Research (Vienna), and by the chair of the UNESCO Space Science Committee. Asgardia has not yet attained the goal of being recognized as a state.

How does Asgardia works?

The Constitution of Asgardia divides Governance of Asgardia into three branches: (1) a legislative branch named the Parliament, (2) an executive branch named the Government, and (3) a judicial branch named the Court.

(1) The Parliament is composed of one hundred and fifty non-partisan members and each member is referred to as a Member of Parliament (MP). The Members of Parliament elect one Member to the office of Chairman of the Parliament. The Members of Parliament also appoint the Chairman of the Government. The Parliament has twelve permanent committees; the Chairman of Parliament of Asgardia is Mr. Lembit Opik.

(2) The Head of Nation is the most senior official of the executive branch. The Head of Nation is elected to a 5-year term of office. The Head of Nation may dissolve the Parliament and may then order the holding of parliamentary elections. The Head of Nation may initiate legislative proposals and may veto acts adopted by the Parliament. The Head of Nation may issue decrees that must be obeyed by governmental bodies and by the citizens of Asgardia. The Head of Nation is Igor Ashurbeyli.

The Chairman of the Government supervises twelve Ministers. Each Minister supervises the operation of one Government Ministry. Each of the permanent committees of Parliament monitors the operation of one Government Ministry. The Parliament may invite Ministers to attend meetings of the Parliament. Asgardia’s Head of the Government is Ms. Ana Díaz.

(3) The judicial branch includes a Supreme Justice, who supervises the operation of four judicial panels: (1) a constitutional panel, (2) a civil panel, (3) an administrative panel, and (4) a criminal panel. The Supreme Justice is appointed by the Head of Nation. The Justices who serve on the judicial panels are appointed by the Parliament.

Asgardia’s Supreme Justice is Zhao Yun, head of the Department of Law at The University of Hong Kong, and was appointed as Asgardia’s Supreme Justice on June 24, 2018 during the first parliamentary session in Vienna, where he was introduced to the elected Members of Parliament.

Its activities

Asgardia intends to launch a series of satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Its first satellite was successfully launched by Orbital ATK on November 12, 2017 as part of an International Space Station resupply mission.

Asgardia-1 was boosted to space and then deployed by U.S. companies on a NASA-funded mission; so the satellite falls under U.S. jurisdiction. Asgardia intends to partner with a non-signatory to the Outer Space Treaty (OST), perhaps an African state such as Ethiopia or Kenya, in the hopes of circumventing the OST’s restriction on states claiming territory in outer space. The satellite is expected to have a lifetime of five years before its orbit decays and it burns up on re-entry.

Often described as a billionaire, Igor Ashurbeyli, Head of Nation, has said that he is currently solely responsible for funding Asgardia, and that members will not be funding the planned first satellite launch. Although the cost has not been made publicly available, NanoRacks have said that similar projects cost approximatively seven hundred thousand American dollars. The project intends to move to crowdfunding to finance itself. Sa’id Mosteshar, of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law, says this suggests that Asgardia lacks a credible business plan. A company, Asgardia AG, has been incorporated, and members can buy shares in it. Asgardia wants to enable its founders’ companies to use Asgardia’s satellite network for their own services and business activities. These are to be settled via the crypto currency Solar and the reserve currency Lunar.

Eventually, Asgardia hopes to have a colony in orbit. This will be expensive: the International Space Station costed one hundred billion American dollars to build, and flights to it cost over forty million American dollars per launch. Asgardia has been compared to the troubled Mars One project, which aims to establish a permanent colony on Mars, although Asgardia’s organizers point out that setting up a small nation in orbit will be a lot easier than colonizing distant Mars. Other proposed goals for the future include shielding the Earth from asteroids and coronal mass ejections, and a Moon base.

Its future

Both U.N. General Assembly Resolution 1962 (XVIII) and the Outer Space Treaty (OST) of 1967 have established all of outer space as an international commons by describing it as the “province of all mankind” and, as a fundamental principle of space law, declaring that space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to any national sovereignty claim. Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty vests the responsibility for activities in space to States Parties, regardless of whether they are carried out by governments or non-governmental entities. Article VIII enounces that the State Party to the Treaty that launches a space object shall retain jurisdiction and control over that object.

According to Sa’id Mosteshar, “the Outer Space Treaty, accepted by everybody, says very clearly that no part of outer space can be appropriated by any state”. Without self-governing territory in space where citizens are present, Sa’id Mosteshar suggested that the prospect any country would recognize Asgardia was slim.

Ram Jakhu, the director of McGill University’s Institute of Air and Space Law, and Asgardia’s legal expert, believes that Asgardia will be able to fulfil three of the four elements that the U.N. requires when considering if an entity is a state : citizens ; a government ; and territory, being an inhabited spacecraft. In that situation, Ram Jakhu considers that fulfilling the fourth element, gaining recognition by the U.N. member states, will be achievable, and Asgardia will then be able to apply for U.N. membership. The Security Council would then have to assess the application, as well as obtain approval from two-thirds of the members of the General Assembly.

Joanne Gabrynowicz, an expert in space law and a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology’s School of Law, believes that Asgardia will have trouble attaining recognition as a nation. She says there are a number of entities on Earth whose status as an independent nation have been a matter of dispute for a long time. It is reasonable to expect that the status of an unpopulated object that is not on Earth will be disputed.

Finally, Christopher Newman, an expert in space law at the UK’s University of Sunderland, highlights that Asgardia is trying to achieve a complete re-visitation of the current space-law framework, anticipating that the project will face significant obstacles with getting U.N. recognition and dealing with liability issues. The Outer Space Treaty requires the country that sends a mission into space to be responsible for the mission, including any damage it might cause. That is what can be said concerning Asgardia.

Swarm Technologies and space law

Swarm Technologies, the Silicon Valley creator of “SpaceBee” picosatellites, is an American start-up led by a former NASA and Google collaborator, based in California, founded in 2016 and which produces the world’s smallest two-way communication satellites, the SpaceBee. With these miniature satellites, Swarm Technologies wants to test in space a new type of Internet network, operating through a swarm of miniature satellites.

Since 2017, Swarm Technologies has built, launched and operated nine miniature satellites, raised more than twenty-eight million American dollars for a 150-spacecraft constellation, and forged agreements with some two hundred potential customers.

Swarm Technologies and space law

Four prototypes of the American start-up Swarm Technologies were illegally put into orbit on January 12, 2018, by Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), which could be presented as the commercial branch of the Indian Space Agency (ISRO). These stowaways (because Swarm Technologies knew they were not authorised by the Federal Communications Commission or FCC, an independent agency of the United States government created by statute to regulate interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable) were loaded aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C40), containing a total of thirty-one satellites of different sizes. The information was revealed by the website IEEE Spectrum, and confirmed by the FCC.

Whenever a U.S. company wants to send a satellite into orbit, it must apply for a license with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to access the radio frequencies needed to communicate with the satellite. The same is true for international companies hoping to do business with their spacecraft in the United States of America” says The Verge.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had rejected Swarm Technologies’ application for authorisation in December 2017, because, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the prototypes represented a risk of collision with other spacecraft due to their size. Each picosatellite is the size of a book, four times less than a standard CubeSat with a size of ten centimetres by ten centimetres by ten centimetres. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), these picosatellites are not large enough to be tracked and located effectively in outer space, and could in case of software failure, turn into space debris potentially devastating for their neighbours. Swarm Technologies has added a GPS module and radar reflectors in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s fears, but for the latter, these precautions were not enough.

In addition, during its investigation, the FCC discovered that the start-up had been acting in the most complete illegality, including exploiting satellite signals for more than a week, by conducting unauthorised testing of weather balloons with the company (a ground station in Georgia and some equipment before the launch of “SpaceBee”). All of these activities normally require the approval of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Access to outer space is regulated

Contrary to what we might think, access to outer space is well and truly regulated. It is not possible to place any object in orbit around the Earth without having previously obtained certain permissions. For example, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty requires States to register all their space objects by registering them in a national register, which is then communicated to the United Nations (UN).

Article II of the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (entered into force on September 15, 1976), states that “1. When a space object is launched into Earth orbit or beyond, the launching State shall register the space object by means of an entry in an appropriate registry which it shall maintain. Each launching State shall inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the establishment of such a registry.

2. Where there are two or more launching States in respect of any such space object, they shall jointly determine which one of them shall register the object in accordance with paragraph 1 of this article, bearing in mind the provisions of article VIII of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, and without prejudice to appropriate agreements concluded or to be concluded among the launching States on jurisdiction and control over the space object and over any personnel thereof.

3. The contents of each registry and the conditions under which it is maintained shall be determined by the State of registry concerned”.

Such registration naturally implies that the authorities of the country in which the application was made have approved access to outer space. And this is not just about businesses; space agencies are also concerned. Thus, when NASA (United States of America), ESA (Europe) or any other space agency involved in the International Space Station (ISS) adds a new module, it must also be registered.

The registration application is not the only step to deal with. With respect to communication with the ground, one must also obtain, for the United States of America, permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In the French case, the approval of the French Frequency Agency (ANFR for “Agence nationale des fréquences”), which must ensure that the file is compatible with the rules in force. If these are respected, requests for frequency assignments are communicated to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). From that moment, the lights are green to orbit an object around our planet.

Sanctions in case of illegal launch

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sanctioned the American start-up. The company was fined nine hundred thousand American dollars and subjected to extended surveillance for three years. This last point means that Swarm Technologies will have to notify to the FCC five days before the signing of a launch contract, and at least forty-five days before the effective date of this launch. The company, based in Los Altos, California, is now committed to strictly abide by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Reacting to this sanction, one of the FCC officials said that it is not about preventing start-ups from conquering outer space, but from doing so in an orderly manner. “These important obligations protect other operators from radio interferences and collisions, making space a safer place to operate”. No need to make a Wild West. Nonetheless, less than a year after these sanctions, for the least severe, Swarm Technologies has reinforced its relationship with the American Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to the point where the Silicon Valley start-up is closing in on a license to offer communication services in the United States of America. This is what can be said concerning Swarm Technologies and space law.

The Convention on Biological Diversity

The International Convention on Biodiversity or “Convention on Biological Diversity” (CBD) brings together, under the auspices of the United Nations, one hundred and ninety-six countries participating in international negotiations on the preservation of biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on June 5, 1992, and entered into force on December 29, 1993.

The Convention is a legally binding international treaty with three main objectives: conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of biological diversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. Its overall goal is to encourage actions that will lead to a sustainable future. Moreover, because of its three objectives, the Convention on Biological Diversity is often considered as the main international instrument for sustainable development.

The Convention on Biological Diversity: context of its adoption

Since the dawn of the industrial era, the biological diversity of our planet (that means, the diversity of life forms on Earth, also called biodiversity) disappears at an alarming rate: this rate is estimated between one hundred and one thousand times faster than the normal rhythm on the geologic time scales. The experts call this ecological catastrophe the sixth massive extinction of species in the history of the planet (the last since the collision of a huge asteroid with our planet, sixty-five million years ago, that has erased of its surface half of the living species).

Awareness of this alarming situation by the international community is not new. It really emerged in the 1970s with the Stockholm Summit on the Environment as a highlight. Over the next decade, the publication of the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development had greatly increased the attention of policymakers and civil society to this situation. In the wake of this report, governments decided to take action by adopting the Convention on Biological Diversity, not without difficulty, in May 1992, in Nairobi (Kenya).

The Convention on Biological Diversity was opened for government signature at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June of the same year. During the Conference, one hundred and fifty states signed the text, with the notable exception of the United States of America. Governments have recognised that sustainable management of the world’s living resources is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and have expressed their commitment to addressing it collectively.

The scope of the Convention

The Convention on Biological Diversity is a remarkable convention in scope, complexity and potential to redefine the distribution of rights and obligations of states. It is the first comprehensive treaty covering biodiversity in all its forms, from genes and species, to ecosystems. It recognises the need for a multisectoral approach to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, the importance of sharing information and technologies, and the benefits that can accrue from the use of these resources. For the first time in an international legal instrument, it recognises the importance of traditional knowledge: the sum of the knowledge, innovations and practices of local and indigenous people with direct relevance to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

Since its adoption in 1992, almost two hundred countries and one regional economic integration organisation, the European Union, have ratified or acceded to it, and it has become one of the most important international agreements. It has given rise to a great deal of activity both nationally and internationally, and increased coordination of intersectoral action within and between countries. It has also enabled the release of international funds to help developing countries and those with economies in transition, mainly through its financial mechanism, the “Global Environment Facility” (GEF).

It also recognises that the causes of biodiversity loss are of a diffuse nature and that they occur most often as secondary effects of economic activities such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, water supply, transportation, urban development or energy. But it is mainly the activities that focus on short-term gains rather than long-term sustainability that have the greatest impact on biodiversity. Thus, taking into account economic and institutional factors in the management of biodiversity is the keystone to achieving the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which will take into account the needs and concerns of many stakeholders involved, starting with by local communities.

Progress and efficiency

Since governments have not agreed to make the Convention on Biological Diversity a truly binding instrument, it follows that it does not favour the conventional or traditional regulatory approach. Likewise, its provisions are expressed in the form of strategies and general goals, and it is up to the Parties to decide on specific actions according to the circumstances and their capabilities, quite the opposite of precise and inflexible obligations. The Convention also does not set concrete and precise goals, as it does not contain lists or appendices relating to protected sites or species (which several European countries, and above all France, would have strongly desired).

Indeed, there can be only a very partial idea of the effective implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity at both global and national levels, since there is no independent mechanism for monitoring and evaluating such implementation. The European Union has proposed the creation of such a mechanism at the last meeting of the Conference of the Parties (The Hague, Netherlands, April 2002), but both developed and developing countries are fiercely opposed. Only national reports by governments provide some insight, but many States Parties have not yet established and have not provided information through case studies or other submissions.

Countries did not prepare their strategy and national action plan on biodiversity, which was part of their commitments and cornerstone of national action in the implementation of the Convention. However, most countries became to be in the process of preparing it around nine years after the entry into force of the Convention. At the global level, the effectiveness of the Convention requires, especially, cooperation and coordination with a broad range of other conventions, institutions and processes. But the realisation of the calls for cooperation from the Conference of the Parties is a difficult task. Indeed, each convention or agency has its own work plan, its own constraints whether political or institutional or financial.

The Convention on Biological Diversity has been a key element in addressing the ecological challenge, but is not enough on its own to cope with the magnitude of the situation.

The Philippine Space Act

Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines, has just signed a new law called “The Philippine Space Act” (Republic Act No. 11363) on August 8, 2019. The latter will allow this country of Southeast Asia to create its own national space agency: the PhilSA. This agency will be situated in the Clark Special Economic Zone, north of Manila.

This new law also creates the Philippine Space Council (SPC), which will be the main advisory body responsible for coordinating and integrating policies, programs and resources affecting space science and technology applications. With this law, the Philippines will be able to acquire a space agency and respond to the “urgent need to create a coherent and unified strategy of development and use of space to keep pace with other countries in space science and technology”, according to the President of the Philippines.

In accordance with the law, a Philippine Space Policy (PSP) will be developed around six key areas; national security and development, risk management and climate studies, space research and development, capacity building of the space industry, space education and awareness, and international cooperation. It constitutes the adoption of the first roadmap for national space policy for the Philippines.

One more actor in the Space Race, thanks to the Philippine Space Act

The Philippines were already part of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) as observer status since 2006; it was an inter-governmental space agency responsible for the cooperation of the space programs of the Member States in the Asia-Pacific area. However, the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) was not intended to allow the Philippines to truly enter the space race, considering the fact that some other countries had already their space program.

The ambitions of the Government of the Philippines is obviously not to send people on the Moon or expensive probes on Mars, nor even develop its own launcher (like India, China or Japan), but aims above all to respond to the need to implement a coherent and unified strategy for the development and use of outer space, with the goal of not lagging behind in space technology. It is also essential to provide the country with a single interlocutor, which will facilitate international cooperation and help maintain its national independence.

The Philippine Space Agency’s objectives will focus on several crucial areas for the country, starting with the management and study of climate risks, which particularly affects the archipelago with disasters and extreme events that are likely to become even more frequent in the context of climate change, or in a general way of global warming. Without real surprise, the Philippine Space Act will address issues of security and national defense, but will also establish a program of research and space development. The Philippine Space Agency, which will be attached to the Office of the President, will be the only interlocutor in the field allowing the country to seal international cooperation agreements on outer space.

According to The Philippine Space Act, an initial operating fund of one billion pesos has been allocated to the Philippine Space Agency, with a ten billion pesos “Philippine Space Development Fund” created exclusively for capital outlays. The agency is also permitted to generate income from its specialised products, services and royalties, as well as accept grants and donations and secure loans.

Soon, Filipino satellites in orbit?

In 2014, the country adopted a micro-satellite program called Philippines Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite or “PHL-MICROSAT Program” which honed local engineers to produce Diwata-1, Diwata-2, and Maya-1, which were all subsequently launched to outer space via foreign facilities. Indeed, these satellites had been designed with the help of Japanese scientists, and launched by Japan.

Diwata-1 was the first microsatellite and the first satellite built and designed by Filipinos. The satellite was deployed from the Kibō module of the International Space Station (ISS). Its deployment took place in April 27, 2016. This deployment marked the first attempt of the Kibō module to deploy a microsatellite weighing fifty kilograms. The microsatellite was launched for a mission of approximatively twenty months.

Thereafter, Maya-1 was jointly implemented to the program as the first nanosatellite of the Philippines. It has been launched in outer space on June 29, 2018, and has been deployed on August 10, 2018 from the Kibō module of the International Space Station (ISS). Its mission was to experimentally test commercial apparatus. Due to its size, it is a cost-effective educational platform that can help Filipinos build future satellites. It can also be used to relay messages during natural disasters, such as typhoons. Its mission duration is from about six months to a year. Then Diwata-2 was launched on October 29, 2018. It has the same mission as its predecessor, Diwata-1, which is Earth observation. It also carries an amateur radio payload which extends the satellite’s mission to communications.

Filipinos aim to be permanently present in outer space, using these microsatellites within the period of 2017 to 2022. Indeed, Maya-2 and Diwata-3 will replace in the future respectively Maya-1 and Diwata-2. Nonetheless, their launch date is not announced yet.

These missions led the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to invest around eight pesos since 2010 in space research and development, and has already more than a thousand experts in space science. The challenge of developing observation satellites is crucial for the Philippines. Indeed, the data collected by these satellites is essential, especially for weather forecast. For instance, in France, the data collected by satellites currently represents between seventy-five and ninety-five per cent of the data that feed the numerical weather forecasting models.

Created in 2000 at the initiative of the CNES and the European Space Agency (ESA), the “International Charter: Space and Major Disasters”, a venture between seventeen space agencies to provide free satellite data to those affected by natural or man-made disasters. During the Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Yolanda, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, ten satellites from the “International Charter: Space and Major Disasters”, have been solicited, especially optical satellites, which are more suitable. The difficulty was to cover a huge area that had been damaged, and the need for very high resolution images to cover all of it.

If the Philippine Space Agency’s budget will initially be only one billion pesos, the country intends to allocate ten times more in the years to come. The Philippines would then be able to design its own satellites, to reach mains goals like launching satellites by themselves, to have more independence, and could anticipate more effectively natural disasters. This is what can be said concerning the Philippine Space Act.