24 Nov 2021
Professor Jack Beard was interviewed and quoted in Harper’s Magazine November 2021 issue: The Coming Battle Over Space. Harper's Magazine is a monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts.
The article discusses the possibilities of future provocations in space between rival nations participating in what is seen as a new cold war style race of tech and potential arms to gain a leg up in the outer space domain. “We are watching tensions ratchet up,” Beard says.
With these rising tensions, there is a dire need to shore up the “soft edges” of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST); the basic legal framework of international space law. The Woomera Manual, a rule book drafted by an independent team of scholars, government officials, and other space and legal experts from around the world, will attempt to address the inefficacies of the outdated OST. For example, article nine of the OST introduces a nebulous concept, saying that states are required to “undertake appropriate international consultation” if an action in space will cause “harmful interference” with the peaceful activities of another party. What is “harmful interference”? Woomera’s task, Beard said, is in part to answer this question.
When looking at all the potential conflict points in outer space, and the inclusion of ever-increasing civilian activities by companies such as Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and Space X, it becomes clear that space is a coveted domain, and the battle for dominance over that domain has only just begun.
Professor Beard is a Co-Director of the Space, Cyber and Telecom Law Program, teaching courses in International Cyber Security and National Security Space Law. He also teaches courses in National Security Law, Arms Control, and Human Rights & International Criminal Law. His primary research interests focus on public international law and national security law, with a particular emphasis upon space law, cyber capabilities, arms control, the law of armed conflict, and the international legal implications of modern military technologies.