Ghana has assumed chairmanship of the African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development (ALC) for the next two years, to help harness space science and technology for the betterment of the human condition in Africa.
ALC also seeks to promote active and regular engagements and interactions among African political leaders and its professionals and scientists, with the goal of building a vibrant Africa partnership in space science and technology.
Ghana was selected at the on-going 5th ALC congress in Accra which focuses on giving African member states the opportunity to share their space aspirations, knowledge, experience and the lessons learned in their day-to-day space-related activities and foster collaboration.
ALC was established through the collaborative effort of the governments of Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, and is patronised by space professionals, academics, researchers and policy makers across the African continent and in the Diaspora.
Speaking on the “Need for Space Law Capacity Building in Africa,” Dr Tare Brisibe, Chairman of the Legal Sub-committee of Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) called for increased knowledge of the legal framework within which space activities were carried out.
He said capacity building was of paramount importance to national, regional and international efforts to further develop the practical aspects of space science and technology.
Dr Brisibe encouraged participants to visit the Space Law Website to familiarise themselves with the Treaty status database, the national space legislation database, Bilateral and multilateral agreements database and the Directory on educational opportunities in Space Law.
He said in the Implementation of the Law, States could not invoke legal procedures of national systems for not complying with international rules, citing Article 27 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
He said states had complete freedom on how they fulfilled their international obligations and incorporation techniques based on Constitutional procedures.
Dr Brisibe suggested the building of capacity and establishment of a pool of knowledgeable professionals in the area of space law in Africa, to participate in the international codification of space law, and ensure the domestic legislative implementation of relevant principles.
Ms Lulekwa Makapela of the National Earth Observations and Space Secretariat (NEOSS) of South Africa, said Satellite Remote Sensing was the sensing of the earth from outer space by making use of the properties of electromagnetic waves emitted.
On the objectives of legal principles, she mentioned equal rights for states to carry out remote sensing, national authorization for persons and entities, and promoting the protection of the Earth’s natural environment and humankind from natural disasters.
She said the nature of the principles was non-binding, unenforceable, widely accepted by civilized nations and international organisations, and accepted as customary international law.
Mr. Yaw O. M. Nyampong from the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, Faculty of Law, McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who spoke on “Environmental concerns in Outer Space,” said there had been 10 cases of space system failures leading to dispersal of radioactive material.
“This radioactive debris really exacerbates the problem and poses severe challenges for the sustainable exploration and use of outer space”, he said.
Mr Nyampong noted that to mitigate the problem, Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty required that States in the exploration and use of outer space exercised due regard for the corresponding interests of all other states.
The Accra ALC conference is being co-organized by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in collaboration with the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute.
Others stakeholders are the Center for Remote Sensing of Ghana and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
The event was supported by the European Space Agency and National Aeronautics and Space Administration with further collaborations from other space Agencies in Asia and the Pacific. GNA