15 June 2010. Issue 33 of the "ESPI Perspectives" series examines the issue of arms control in space and investigates the possibility of an “Ottawa process” in negotiating the ban of future space weapons
In order to provide new impetus to the debate concerning the prevention of an arms race in space, EU member states agreed upon a “Draft Code of Conduct For Outer Space Activities”, whose goal is to set some rules for the responsible use of outer space. While such a Code of Conduct has its merits as a pragmatic first step towards a better regulation of space, it cannot substitute for an international treaty banning the use, deployment, testing, and development of space weapons. In order to arrive at such a treaty, “a space version of the Ottawa process” was proposed. This refers to the process that culminated in the signing of a ban on anti-personnel land mines in 1997 in the city of Ottawa which was preceded by a large anti-mine campaign by a coalition of civil society organizations. This paper argues that while the model of the “Ottawa process” cannot be transferred to the case of space weapons, important lessons can be learned from it. States and non-state actors interested in the banning of space weapons should work together and further the development of scientific evidence that questions the utility of space weapons in order to reverse the burden of proof from the opponents to the proponents of space weapons.
Max Mutschler, the author of “ESPI Perspectives 33”
Max Mutschler is a doctoral candidate in social sciences at the University of Tübingen, Germany. He holds a M.A. in political science and history from the University of Tübingen where he worked as a lecturer and research associate from 2007 to 2009. For his current research on arms control in space, he was awarded a dissertation fellowship by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. This Perspective was prepared during his stay as a visiting researcher in ESPI from April to June 2010.