International space law is entering a new era. Since the establishment of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) in 1959, the development of the Corpus Iuris Spatialis has regularly followed an interval of twenty years. Between the Sixties and the Eighties, UNCOPUOS negotiated the five Space Treaties. During the following two decades, it produced declarations and principles. Finally, over the last twenty years, the Committee developed resolutions and guidelines. Treaties, principles, and guidelines shaped the past 60 years of international space law. As we enter a new cycle, the question becomes: what comes next?
I believe that the next twenty years will see the rise of Charters. With this term, I refer to a legal document enacted to define the essential features and boundaries of a legal framework through the solemn commitment of its signatories. Examples of famous charters used in this sense include the Magna Carta, the Charter of the United Nations, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. All these documents implement the general properties of charters in different ways, depending on their context and purposes. I believe charters can support the further development of international space law in many ways.
This instrument naturally fits in a time like ours, where technology and economic development constantly progresses at a rapid pace, because it encapsulates a general but coherent approach that can provide guidance without hindering adaptiveness. Through Charters we can consolidate global consensus on how to operationalize the rules of space law for innovative endeavours, like space traffic management or space resource activities. By means of Charters we can also agree on the foundational elements of new concepts, like safety zones or heritage protection. Framed in these terms, Charters have the potential to successfully harmonize the fragmented landscape of space policy. They can provide a shared ground for the harmonious development of new regulation, operating as a middle level framework between international space law and national legislation.
Charters also offer us a unique opportunity to seal an intergenerational pact for the sustainable development of space. Recently, the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) has proposed the enactment of a Lunar Governance Charter to enable the development of Effective and Adaptive Governance for a Lunar Ecosystem (E.A.G.L.E. Report). You can read the EAGLE Report online. Through this proposal, SGAC wishes to prompt a global, intergenerational and multistakeholder movement on the exploration and use of the Moon under a shared narrative of peace, accessibility, prosperity and sustainability. If successful, the development of a Lunar Governance Charter can demonstrate the usefulness of this instrument and lead the way for its adoption in other fields of space law. As a young space lawyer, I am thrilled to contribute to the next twenty years of space governance and look forward to cooperating with you all!