A Space Lawyer’s Perspective
In the latest SpaceWatch Middle East interview series, Torsten Kriening speaks to Dr. Olga Stelmakh of McGill University, Canada. They discuss the area of global space governance. This is one that not often discussed, yet it is critical and as space becomes an increasingly important part of life on Earth, awareness must be heightened. Dr. Olga Stelmakh offer her perspective on space law. This is part 2. For part 1 follow the LINK.
Which other presentations did you find especially fascinating / important / innovative?
There were many interesting presentations delivered at this forum, however the one that I found particularly important was the presentation of Namira Salim, Founder and Executive Chairperson of Space Trust, on “Shuttle Diplomacy in a New Space Age”. I would not say that I fully believe that the idea of 0G Summit is a self-contained solution to the problems on Earth, however this could be seen as a crucial component for peacemaking and survival of humankind through demonstration to world leaders of the beauty and uniqueness of Earth and importance to preserve its integrity by taking them to space (to see her presentation please follow the LINK ).
I respect and am inspired by proactive, courageous and enthusiastic people who want to make a difference through generating ideas and solutions to address global challenges and dedicate years to implement their ideas. Namira is one of them.
Who do you see as the people that are driving global space governance? Who are the driving forces that inspire and encourage you to work further on this subject?
When talking about the Global Space Governance study, that I am currently coordinating, the key people who inspire me are the editors of the book to be published as the outcome of the study and its driving forces, namely Prof. Ram S. Jakhu and Dr. Joseph N. Pelton. I am honoured to have known them for many years this year, I am finally privileged to work with them under their supervision on this project. From the professional standpoint, they are role models to me. However, behind the scenes there is a large, strong team of dedicated professionals and experts who have invested a lot of effort in the success of the study. This synergy of intellectual power of all those who contributed to our project is a source of the most powerful inspiration.When talking about the UN OOSA, this is of course Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the UN OOSA, who is doing a tremendous job, and her people.
What gets you excited about space law / governance?
Space law and legal support of space activities is my conscious professional lifetime choice and passion. It requires interdisciplinary and analytical thinking and understanding of numerous constituent elements, of their complexity and interrelation. I would call it innovative and strategic thinking since we must look for out of the box solutions and think long-term, projecting all possible scenarios. In terms of space governance, this is what I am focused on at the current stage of my professional career. I would compare global space governance to the cover of a book, table of contents, introduction and conclusion without which the content would be scattered and hard to comprehend. I am convinced that space governance is the skeleton for space activities. However, the question is what do we expect from space governance, what role should it play and how do we measure its efficiency? As I said earlier, this topic has never before been examined in a comprehensive way that gives a freedom of “exploration” and “conquering” of space governance.
How did you start your career?
I started my space career back in 2003 by asking myself a question: “what is the most challenging, fascinating and full adrenaline law domain?” I wanted to challenge myself doing something that others either do not want to do because it is too complex, or do not know how to do it.
After these contemplations, I started working with a consultancy firm / think tank focused on the legal support of international space projects.
Do you have any special ideas / personal projects that you would love to see being realized?
There are two ideas that I would particularly love to see being implemented.
One of them is the creation of a web-platform “Way to Space. Share Your Success Story. Inspire Others” that would inspire and reach out to people. I truly believe that inspiration and passion are the most powerful drivers. I am convinced that world space leaders have a story to tell, not only to the young generation, but also to their peers. This should have a direct influence on future workforce development by engaging professionals from other sectors and keeping the best ones in the space sector, if willing to switch. The format of interviews would be non-conventional but reminiscent of TED talks or World Economic Forum keynote speeches. Fascination, inspiration, passion and a clear message would be the core of the interviews. Of course, the platform would not be limited to such stories. It would be complemented by an open source space library, a space calendar and networking platform, designed as a space boutique with intellectual “SPA”. The platform would be regularly updated and expanded depending on the way in which it evolves.
The second idea is to launch an international project on the drafting of a comprehensive International Encyclopedia on Space Law and Policy.
I have had both ideas for couple of years now, but due to my primary professional commitments, I have never been able to advance them past the conceptual phase.
Last year, I met a colleague from McGill Institute of Air and Space Law who also had a similar idea but with a different approach. Now we are contemplating how to ensure the global nature of this work and how to engage the best minds from the area of space law and policy. For me, the highest priority is to make the International Encyclopedia on Space Law and Policy an authoritative collective edition, as was the case with the Cologne Commentary on Space Law that brought together high-calibre space lawyers from different regions and law traditions. The Encyclopedia, if drafted, should serve as a reference book not only for lawyers, but also for policy- and decision-makers as well as industry people.
What is your advice for the next generation to work in / for space?
- Do not be afraid of competition. Surround yourself with those who are stronger and learn from them as much as you can.
- Look for a challenge, never be satisfied with a routine, go beyond your comfort zone and never stay for long in a golden cage (if you happen to be there).
- If you want to do something, the right time is now … go for it even if it looks unrealistic.
- Talk less, listen more, but always have your opinion / position, not for showing yourself, but for being a personality.
- Don’t be afraid of your dreams, be afraid when you have none or when they are related to things and not to ideas. However, dreams are good only when they are transformed into goals.
- Be courageous, interdisciplinary and open, stay hungry for new knowledge.
- Be grateful for all experiences, both good and bad.
- Think Big!
Dr. Olga Stelmakh is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Space Governance at McGill Institute of Air and Space Law where she coordinates the International Study on Global Space Governance and conducts research on space sustainability and security. She also serves as a Global Partnerships Manager for the World Space Week Association. Prior to that she was with the George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, Parliament of Ukraine, German Aerospace Center, Ukrainian Space Agency and European Space Agency. Olga has been in the space sector for more than 13 years, from which 7 years as a public officer (including governmental and parliamentarian experience). Institute of Space and Telecommunication Law (Paris) and International Space University (Strasbourg) alumna, she worked both nationally and internationally, combining public service with academic work and legal practice. She holds a Doctorate in International Law with concentration on space security. Her main scientific interest lies in the fields of space security, space governance, space diplomacy, international space cooperation and commercial space. In 2013 Olga was honored with the IAF Emerging Space Leaders recognition award and is a member of the International Institute of Space Law and Women in Aerospace.
SpaceWatch Middle East thanks Dr. Olga Stelmakh of McGill University, Canada, for the interview.
Original publishshed at: http://spacewatchme.com/2017/01/global-space-governance-part-2/