IDSA Publication Debates Issues Related to International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities

September 21, 2012

New Delhi: The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) publication, titled ‘Decoding the International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities’ debates a range of issues in regard to the International Code of Conduct (ICoC) for Outer Space Activities for multilateral negotiations.

Edited by IDSA Scholar, Wg Cdr Ajey Lele, the book presents a wide range of views on the proposed ICoC for Outer Space as proposed by the European Union. The views have come from a vast range of experts from various countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Japan, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom and United States. It gives a sense of what various individuals from different states think about ICoC, and gives a highlight of the recent thinking on this issue.

According to the editor, the need for ICoC arises because despite the rapid advances in space technologies no corresponding normative architecture has been put in place till date. The challenges in Outer Space, particularly the issues related to space debris, demand immediate attention. Hence it could be prudent to opt for a code of conduct as the first step. Support for designing a separate treaty for Outer Space issues at this point in time is limited.

The book also discusses the lack of transparency in designing the present and previous ICoC drafts and various procedural inadequacies and the efficacy of developing an ICoC that is non-binding and voluntary in nature.

The essence of various arguments and counterarguments leads to a reflection that the Code of Conduct as currently worded can only constitute a pragmatic part of comprehensive arrangements which should involve treaties, custom, and general principles of law, fostering international cooperation, as the foundation and catalyst towards guaranteeing continued use of Outer Space for peaceful purposes. The need of the hour is to get all the parties having stakes in space arena together and formulate a commonly agreeable ICoC to make the mission sustainable.

The book is divided into three main parts. The introductory section, Part I, captures the basic debate on ICoC. Part II highlights the important issues and sets the stage for the informed discussions by the experts. Part III sketches the basic debate on the ICoC, giving a different set of contrasting views on this subject highlighting a variety of range of opinions.

The e version of the book is now available on IDSA website