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Adoption of the Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities

During the final sessions; Credits: Working Group

The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group is pleased to announce the adoption of the Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities.
On 12 November 2019, the members of the Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group adopted the Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities, during the last meeting of the Working Group that took place in Luxembourg from 11 to 12 November 2019. The Building Blocks are the result of four-year discussions among the Working Group participants and aim to lay the groundwork for a future potential framework for the governance of space resources.

Final gathering of the Working Group; Credits: Working Group

The Building Blocks consist of twenty provisions that address different aspects of space resource activities, such as key terms, responsibility, jurisdiction and control over space-made products, priority rights, resource rights, due regard, harmful impacts from space resource activities, safety zones, sharing of benefits, registration, assistance in case of distress, visits related to space resource activities, and dispute settlement. The Building Blocks also provide for the objectives, the principles and the scope of the governance framework, as well as for appropriate institutional arrangements and for its monitoring and review. The Working Group identified these issues as essential in the discussion about the governance of space resources and recommends that they are taken into consideration by States, international organizations, and other entities, which may be involved in the negotiations of a governance framework. As it is mentioned in the introduction of the Building Blocks: “Guided by the principle of adaptive governance, the Working Group considered it neither necessary nor feasible to attempt to comprehensively address space resource activities in the building blocks. Space resource activities should be incrementally addressed at the appropriate time on the basis of contemporary technology and practices”.

The text of the Building Blocks is available online on the website of the Working Group and will be printed in booklets for distribution to various occasions. Furthermore, the Working Group will produce a Commentary to the Building Blocks, in order to provide background information regarding their formulation. The Commentary will be published online in early 2020.

About the Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group

The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group was established in January 2016 with the purpose to assess the need for a governance framework for space resource activities and lay the groundwork for such framework. Toward this end, it has formulated a set of Building Blocks for the development of an international framework on space resource activities. These Building Blocks are the result of discussion among the members and observers of the Working Group, who represent industry, space agencies, international organisations, governments, academia and civil society.

The Working Group is hosted by a Consortium of partners from around the word, namely the International Institute of Air and Space Law of Leiden University (Netherlands), the Catholic University of Santos (Brasil), the Secure World Foundation (USA), the University of Luxembourg (Luxembourg), the Nishimura Institute of Advance Legal Studies (Japan), the Indonesian Center of Air and Space Law of Padjajaran University (Indonesia), the SpaceLab of Cape Town University (South Africa) and the Ten to the Ninth Plus Foundation (USA). It comprises 32 members and more than 90 observers from many countries (the list of participants can be found on the website), that meet twice a year to discuss about the Building Blocks and issues related to space resource activities. The Working Group has also formed two panels; the Technical Panel and the Socio-Economic Panel that respectively address the technical and socio-economic aspects of space resource utilisation.

The Working Group presented in September 2017 the Draft Building Blocks for the development of an international framework for the governance of space resources as preliminary result of its work and in order to solicit feedback from its participants and the general public. The received comments were reviewed and taken into account for subsequent revisions of the Building Blocks. Moreover, the two panels assessed the feasibility and implementation of this text and recommended improvements, as well as additional issues to be considered. Among the latter, the panels focused on frequency allocation for deep space missions, safety measures around space resource activities, social licenses to operate space resource activities, responsible investment principles for operators, cooperation models among stakeholders and capacity-building programmes.

The Working Group will finish its activities at the end of 2019. All relevant developments will be made available online on the website of the Working Group.

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