Securing the Cyber and Space Commons: Is There Space for the UN? Trends in Outer Space and Cyberspace Regime Evolution by Larry Martinez for European Space Policy Institute

Once the preserve of powerful governments and technologically sophisticated companies, the space and cyber commons are now being accessed by an increasingly diverse array of state and non-state actors. In the following article, Larry Flynn argues that the United Nations appears to be failing in its attempts to develop effective controls for the management of these commons. Instead, leading scientific and technological powers are attempting to manage space and cyber-space through ad-hoc agreements that fall outside of conventional UN mechanisms.Until the 1980s, outer space and cyberspace (i.e. telecommunication) were accessible predominately to governmental entities or their licensed monopolist operators, an arrangement that enjoyed tight congruencies with long-standing UN jurisdictional competencies and governance mechanisms. By the late 1980s, technological and neo-liberal regulatory trends, shifts in strategic doctrine and growing concerns about orbital and spectrum sustainability emerged as salient factors requiring a re-thinking of how to manage and regulate the outer space and cyberspace realms being used and populated by an increasingly diverse range of military, civilian and commercial entities and services. In contrast to environmental regimes (e.g. law of the sea, Arctic, climate change and biodiversity, among others) that have steadily expanded the range of their legal and institutional jurisdictions within the UN system, the same cannot be said for the actions of the scientific-technological powers, which show a mounting willingness to develop mechanisms for outer space and cyberspace governance outside of the UN system. This paper argues that the seamless technological integration of space systems with cyberspace infrastructures to achieve goals expressed in cyberwar strategic doctrine is also acting to merge the outer space-cyberspace governance domains through a process of ad hoc agreements outside conventional UN legal mechanisms. The on-going negotiations both within and between governments over the European Union’s Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities is but the latest example of this trend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.