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Developing Verifiable Norms in Space: Enforcement as Verification, and the Problem of Dual-Use. A Virtual Think Tank (ViTTa) Report

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Technical Report

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Joint Staff J39, Strategic Multilayer Assessment Washington, DC United States

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This report describes expert views on the existence and non-existence of space norms and the challenges and opportunities norms represent for peaceful space use. At the broadest level, norms are informal but generally accepted rules of behavior that are recognized and understood by a community, in this case a community of nations. Norms can emerge from either formal or informal channels, as Jonty Kasku-Jackson of the National Security Space Institute argues. Informal means of norm development include persuasion emerging from being a good exemplar of norm-based behavior, such as the creation of domestic legislation and regulations that serve as a model for others to adopt, publication and acceptance of academic papers, and shaping the discussion during Track 2 nongovernmental, informal, and unofficial conferences and meetings Kasku-Jackson. Formal rule development examples consist of negotiation and implementation of binding international treaties, non-binding codes of conduct, United Nations General Assembly Resolutions, and state declaratory policy Kasku-Jackson. The expert contributors generally agree on the need for norms from both informal and formal channels to maintain a peaceful space domain. The most verifiable norms, the contributors emphasize, would generally stem from more formal channels in so far as the US could facilitate norm development by leading in the responsible and transparently measurable use of space, and through the use of treaties. An increasingly large and diverse array of actors, both state and commercial, are actively seeking to exploit and explore the space domain, dramatically shifting the political context of space. The contributors indicate that states newly entering the space domain India, North Korea, Germany, Australia, competing major powers US, Russia, China, and commercial actors SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, many new satellite companies have different interests and perspectives on space.

Subject Categories:

  • Astronautics
  • Sociology and Law
  • Defense Systems

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