Remarks of the president of the Sfdi

The next SFDI conference will be held in Toulouse on May 6 and 7, 2021 under the joint direction of Lucien Rapp and Clémentine Bories. The SFDI can rejoice in this prospect, even if the health crisis has delayed this meeting, initially scheduled for spring 2020, by one year. In this regard, we must salute the stubbornness of the organizers to maintain this conference in the face of the vagaries of this crisis. So we all hope to be able to meet in this beautiful city of Toulouse next spring.

It was high time that the SFDI returned to Toulouse since the previous colloquium of the Society in the city took place in 1974. The theme was then The development of public international law, and I remember that its publication had been very useful to me. as a student and doctoral student. I have no doubt that the same will be true of the 2021 conference, the theme of which this time is Outer Space and International Law. The two themes almost 50 years apart seem poles apart, yet outer space contains many important questions about how to frame international law. Among others, we can say, because the theme is so rich that it touches all aspects of international law as demonstrated by the presentation of Lucien Rapp in his presentation: privatization, commercialization, rampant national appropriation, defense system, etc. , often under the guise of legal uncertainties or the voluntary use of soft law.

This exploration (no pun intended) of space will therefore be fascinating because, beyond some received ideas or some approximate knowledge (including for international lawyers), we very often only have lunar knowledge ( in the figurative sense!) questions posed by outer space whose regime is too quickly judged comparable to that of the law of the sea. A study day in Brest in 2002 under the direction of Armel Kerrest on The law space and the privatization of space activities had already been able to enlighten us, and the rich themes addressed in Toulouse - too little appreciated by French-speaking doctrine - will allow us to continue and deepen this exploration of space.

At a time when the appetites of States, and particularly in the United States through the recent Artemis agreements proposed by NASA, are sharpening, and when the establishment of military commands is increasing for a space that we thought sheltered from such appetites, it is therefore high time to consider the role of international law both through the sources and the subjects and actors of this law, in other words to revisit international law in the light of the issue. of outer space because, if the law is not a weapon, it remains the reflection of technical and societal developments. This reflection has undoubtedly faded since the great texts which ventured to frame the law of outer space in the sixties and seventies, in the midst of the Cold War. However, it is never healthy that the law does not embrace the evolution of technology because this gap always leaves room for empirical solutions which give pride of place to certain state and / or commercial appetites.

This shows the importance of the planned colloquium, and the attention we will all pay to this exciting work.

Jean-Marc Sorel
President of the French Society of International Law

A word from the Director of IDETCOM and Scientific Director of the SIRIUS Chair

Space activities are now experiencing a new age of evolution. After having experienced, during the last two decades of the twentieth century, a double movement of privatization and commercialization, they are entering the era of mass production of satellites and in-orbit assembly operations. Deep space is a place of exploration, while near space is at the centre of intensive exploitation activity. The pace of this evolution could accelerate with the launch and commissioning of constellations of thousands of small satellites and the development of in-orbit service activities. Through the many legal challenges, it poses to the international community, the development of space activities calls for innovative legal solutions and might constitute the laboratory of the international law of tomorrow, both public and private.

The international regime of space activities was established, as early as the end of the 1960s, in the context of the Cold War and while space activities were still largely experimental. Are the treaties and principles in force still adapted to the space activities market? Can we be satisfied with the current outbidding of national laws? Should existing organizations be allowed to draw up a body of non-binding rules (soft law)? Has the time come to draw a boundary between airspace and outerspace?

The debris accumulated in near space is now a real challenge for the future of space activities which it could jeopardize. Should the rules on the registration of space objects be reviewed? Can the accumulation of space debris be assimilated to "pollution", eligible as such under the rules of international environmental law? Are the solutions of the international law of the sea transposable to outerspace (liability regime, salvage clauses …)? What would be the contours of an international organization specializing in the management of civil space activities and their traffic in outerspace?

The development of space activities and the commercial prospects they open, stimulate the ambitions of multinational groups and nations. Is space data a new industrial or commercial "asset"? What adjustments should be made to the regime of frequencies and orbital positions? Is the principle of non-appropriation still relevant? Can the proximity of States and operators in the space club nations give rise to a dispute over State aid?

Beyond the activities of deep space exploration and exploitation in near space, outerspace is today won by the spirit of conquest which has marked so many episodes, happy or unfortunate, in the history of international relations. Will public international law apply to Mars? What right on the ground and according to what model (mines, seabed)? What rules will apply to lunar villages and their inhabitants, for long stays (births on the Moon or on Mars, retro-application on Earth of major scientific advances ...)?

Space is becoming militarized. France, after the United States, has created a Space Command, the objective of which is to "have a reinforced space defence" and "strategic autonomy" in the field of space. Are we moving towards new forms of armed conflict? Is the law of war applicable to space? What European space defence policy, beyond the initiatives of a few of its member states?

Lucien Rapp
Professor at Toulouse Capitole University, Director of the Institute for the Study of Space, Territories, Culture and Communication (IDETCOM), Scientific Director of the SIRIUS Chair (Space Institute for Research on Innovative Uses of Satellites).


  • Lucien Rapp

    Professor at Toulouse Capitole University, Director of the Institute for the Study of Space, Territories, Culture and Communication (IDETCOM), Scientific Director of the SIRIUS Chair (Space Institute for Research on Innovative Uses of Satellites).

  • Clémentine Bories

    Professor at Toulouse Capitole University.

  • Stephan Hobe

    Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law, Professor at the University of Cologne.

  • Vincent Correia

    Professor at Paris-Saclay University.

  • Mireille Couston

    Professor at the University of Lyon 3.

  • Lukas Rass-Masson

    Professor at Toulouse Capitole University, Director of the European School of Law.

  • Emmanuel Bourdoncle

    Doctor of Law. Sub-Directorate of Public International Law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • Philippe Clerc

    Inspector General, Compliance and Corporate Ethics Officer (CNES).

  • Arnaud De Nanteuil

    Professor at the University of Paris Est Créteil.

  • Philippe Achilleas

    Professor at Paris Sud, Director of the Institute for Space and Telecommunications Law.

  • Roberto Virzo

    Professor, University of Sannio, Italy.

  • Stéphane Mouton

    Professor at the University of Toulouse Capitole, Co-Director of the Maurice Hauriou Institute, Director of the M2 in transport and aeronautics law.

  • Hélène Gaudin

    Professor, Toulouse 1 Capitole, Director of the Research Institute in European, International and Comparative Law (IRDEIC)

  • Isabelle Sourbes-Verger

    CNRS researcher, Alexandre Koyré Center, CNRS Paris.

  • Marco Ferrazzani

    Legal Director of the European Space Agency.

  • Loic Grard

    Professor at the University of Bordeaux IV, Director of the Center for European and International Research and Documentation.

  • Said Hamdouni

    HDR Lecturer at Toulouse Capitole University.

  • Geneviève Bastid-Burdeau

    Professor Emeritus at the Sorbonne Law School.

  • Jean-Christophe Martin

    Professor at Côte d’Azur University, Director of the Institute for Peace and Development (IdPD).

  • Mickael Dupenloup

    Ministry of the Armed Forces, Directorate of Legal Affairs, Deputy to the Head of the Office for Armed Conflicts.

  • Mathias Audit

    Professor at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Lawyer at the Paris bar.

  • Mathieu Carpentier

    Professor at the University of Toulouse Capitole.

  • Jérémie Ayadi

    Chief Commissioner of the Armed Forces, Legal Adviser to the Space Command.

  • Olivier Blin

    Lecturer in Public Law, Toulouse 1 Capitole University

  • Raphaël Maurel

    Lecturer at the University of Bourgogne

  • Valentin Degrange

    PhD student in Law Member of the Center for Space and Frontiers Law (CDEF) Associate researcher at the Institute of Strategic and Defense Studies (IESD)

  • Sabrina Robert-Cuendet

    Professor, Vice-Dean Faculty of Law, Economic Sciences and Management, Le Mans University

  • Jean-Marc Sorel

    President of the French Society of International Law

  • Sylvaine Poillot-Peruzzetto

    Professor at Toulouse Capitole University, IRDEIC, Advisor to the Court of Cassation in extraordinary service

Useful informations

Unless otherwise specified, panels and round tables will take place in the Cujas amphitheater of the University of Toulouse Capitole.

Toulouse University Capitole
Rue des Puits Creusés
31042 Toulouse Cedex 9


Registration for the SFDI conference scheduled for May 6 and 7, 2021 is open.

Sign up

The Sirius Chair
Thales Alenia Space
Toulouse town hall