By Jessica West and Gilles Ducet
When we consider the norms that govern human use of outer space from the perspective of space security, we face some serious questions. How do we think that this body of rules and accepted behaviours and attitudes—this normative landscape—can be strengthened and extended to fill in critical gaps, particularly in relation to military and security activities? What tools would encourage responsible behaviour to become the norm? What would a future governed by the best possible assembly of norms look like?
We hope to approach answers to these and other questions in our research project on norms in space, which is funded by a policy-focused research grant from the Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) program of the Canadian Department of National Defence. Our goal is to generate an understanding of how existing and emerging norms of responsible behaviour in outer space—many of which relate to safety and sustainability and were developed by the civil and commercial sectors—might be applied to space-based security activities and norms.
As part of this project, we have created a survey that we are asking space experts from around the world and from varying professional background to complete. We trust that this group will provide us with diverse perspectives and new insights into prevailing normative behaviours, and will generate additional ideas that we can pursue in the next phase of our work.