The International Institute of Space Law (IISL) has published the 2020 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition problem and invites students to apply for the Competition through the respective regional rounds.
Since its inception by the IISL in 1992, the Competition has grown to cover four world regions: North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa (added in 2012). For the first time since joining in 2012, AFRICA wins the Lachs moot world finals in 2018.
The Competition aims to promote the interest, involvement and knowledge of space law among students by providing a fair and competitive environment for the exchange of thoughts and the deepening of understanding of space law. The competition encourages further development on the subject matter of space law in the curriculum of academic institutions and assists participating countries in developing technical legal capacity by preparing the next generation of space lawyers.
For the 2019 edition, nine universities across Africa registered for the 8th African Regional Round of the Competition, but six managed to travel and participate in the Competition: three universities from Nigeria, two from South Africa (University of Pretoria & University of South Africa), and one from Uganda (Makerere University).
Students from the Nigerian University of Calabar emerged winners of the 2019 African Regional Round in May and are set to compete in the World Finals in Washington DC in October.
For the 2020 edition, the Competition will focus a Case Concerning Jurisdiction and Control in Outer Space, Space Situational Awareness, and Orbital Debris. See the competition case synopsis below.
Valenkova v SaRidia
Synopsis of the Case
Case Concerning Jurisdiction and Control in Outer Space, Space Situational Awareness, and Orbital Debris
The year is 2040. Earth missions to and through space are regular and represent a wide range of activities that benefit those still living on Earth as well as the humans that have chosen to explore and work on other celestial bodies and habitats in space. Space transportation has matured since the days of single-use launch vehicles; reusability is routine and built into all mission models.
The Space Station Hypatia is a permanently crewed civil space station for peaceful purposes in accordance with international law. The partners are the Republic of SaRidia, the Confederation of Valenkova, the Chimuk Nation and, the Haigeran Union. At the time of the events that led to this case, there were two governmental astronauts from each partner on board. There was also a private astronaut on board.
Station personnel received conjunction data messages from two different providers. The messages were intended to aid in the guidance and control of the station. The two messages were in conflict as to the severity and imminence of the hazard posed to the station by a piece of orbital debris. One provider described a low-valued probability of a collision and assessed that the probability of harm to the station did not warrant any action. The other message made it clear that a collision was almost certain in the absence of any change.
Members of the crew disagreed on the validity and meaning of the messages and the action they required. The Commander chose to evacuate. One crewmember disagreed and secured herself in a transfer vehicle at the station which she ultimately piloted to her home country. The evacuating Commander and crew collided with space debris, resulting in loss of life. These facts provide the foundation of the problem’s legal issues that include liability, extradition, and unauthorized use of spacecraft.
The calendar for the 2020 edition is still in the works and will be announced soon. Space in Africa will provide further updates as the event unfolds.
To register for the 2020 African Regional Rounds, fill out the registration form and send it as a PDF document or scanned to the African Regional Organizer: Adv (Ms.) Lulu Makapela at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Editor at Space in Africa. He writes about Africa’s NewSpace companies and emerging national space programs.