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International Law at NATO’s Brussels Summit

The June 2021 NATO summit in Brussels was noteworthy for the U.S. renewal of its commitment to the Alliance. Speaking with Secretary-General Stoltenberg, President Biden reassured NATO members (the “Allies”) that “NATO is critically important for U.S. interests” and “Article 5, we take as a sacred obligation.” Also noteworthy was the extent to which NATO pointed to Russia and China as adversaries in the final communiqué issued by the 30 NATO Heads of State and Government.  Commentary on the summit, however, generally overlooked international law’s place of prominence in the agreement reached by the Allies. Brussels 2021 was perhaps the NATO summit at which international law came of age in the Alliance’s strategic calculations. Indeed, in Brussels, the Allies confirmed that NATO serves, inter alia, to guarantee shared values, including human rights and the rule of law. Worryingly, they also concluded that both State and non-State actors are challenging the “rules-based international order.” This post examines the consensus reflected in the communiqué on three key international law issues…

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Space Arbitration: Could Investor-State Dispute Settlement Help Mitigate the Creation of Space Debris?

In recent years, activities in outer space have increased and diversified, thereby causing a multiplication of objects being launched into outer space. This has rendered outer space increasingly crowded and has led to a growing amount of space debris. While technological advances provide hope for cleaning up our orbits, such efforts still face regulatory and financing issues.

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Defining military activities in outer space: the launching of the Iranian satellite Nour 1

The Iranian satellite, Nour 1, operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was launched on 22 April 2020. The US Space Force (USSF) tracked Nour 1 and its final stage in orbit and added orbital tracking data and orbital parameters for two objects from the launch, the satellite and the rocket third stage, independently confirming the result…

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Lost in Space? Gaps in the International Space Object Registration Regime

Despite having been operational for over 15 years, the satellites NSS-6 and NSS-7 are missing from the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space ('International Register'). Just as we do not accept unregistered cars on our roads, we should not accept unregistered space objects in orbit. Registration ensures that the state responsible for…

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What on Earth is Happening to Space Law?

In 2015 and 2017, respectively, the United States of America and Luxembourg enacted bills granting property rights on resources collected in outer space. The potential beneficiaries of these laws are hi-tech companies investing in the exploration and exploitation of space resources. Even though robotized mining of precious metals, rare earths and other raw materials on the Moon or on…

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