Undoubtedly Space is the new frontier and a new wave of activities arising from the increasing commercialisation of space, including space tourism, is now the rave. Different from the days of yore when only sovereign/space-faring nations engaged in outer space activities, the current space actors are business entities led by progressive-minded and ambitious CEOs who have changed the narrative of space from being accessible only to government agents to being open to all.
Space operations have thus increased dramatically in recent years, expanding not only into new industries such as space tourism, but also increasingly involving commercial actors. This growth in actors engaging in space operations, as well as the resulting congestion of at least the lower orbits, is projected to lead to an increase in space-related disputes over time. If they had their way, even today we’d all vacation in space for the yuletide
Despite this upsurge of space activities by the developed nations, and the resulting spats between the private actors, there have not yet been many discussions in the Nigerian public fora that focus on educating the Nigerian legal community about space law and the intersection between space law and arbitration.
This is why the news of the launching of the Space Law and Arbitration Association (SLAA) by the Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL) on the 13th day of December 2021 filled me with great hope and joy.
According to Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, the Space Law and Arbitration Association (SLAA) will work with the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) to protect the integrity of Nigerian space, strengthen the legal, institutional, and regulatory frameworks that govern space administration in Nigeria and offer the possibility of an exchange that can educate legal practitioners, professionals and startups about space. To this end, SLAA will review and analyze the current space policy and create a new policy that covers more aspects of space activities, (e.g. military policy, public policy, commercial policy), harmonize national laws with principles in international law and ensure all areas/aspects of space activities are covered by domestic legislation. The Space Law and Arbitration Association will also focus on giving information and arranging events around the issues of space, space law and international arbitration.
The Space Law and Arbitration Association also aim to foster dialogue between international arbitration and space communities. It will compile a database of publications and public documents connected to space-related arbitration cases, as well as host events on the subject. SLAA will be a network of legal professionals and students who have a common interest in space law and arbitration.
Legal professionals and space law enthusiasts are all invited and encouraged to become members of the Space Law and Arbitration Association (SLAA) in Nigeria. As these commercial actors and CEOs chart a new course for space activities, it would be a terrible tragedy if the Nigerian community failed to key in. As was said by the Late Professor Steven Hawking: “the future of mankind is in Space”. Thus whatever we do, Nigerian lawyers must ensure that they have a seat at the table when Space Law and Arbitration is being discussed. Indeed as Olisa Agbakoba, SAN submits, “As Nigeria diversifies away from oil, Space has the potential to be a massive revenue earner. Space policy should therefore be part of Nigeria’s new National Development Plan 2021-2025 and all lawyers must key into it”. The Space Law and Arbitration Association offers you this opportunity.
Join the Space Law and Arbitration Association via this link: https://forms.gle/wnQvUBnnnQ9bcre27