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«LEGAL AND ETHICAL FRAMEWORK FOR ASTRONAUTS IN SPACE SOJOURNS Proceedings 29 October 2004 House of UNESCO 125, avenue de Suffren, Paris 7e Legal and ...»

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29 October 2004

House of UNESCO

125, avenue de Suffren,

Paris 7e

Legal and ethical framework for

astronauts in space sojourns /

Considération légales et éthique pour

les astronautes lors des séjour


Proceedings /


A symposium co-organized by: /

Un symposium co-organisé par:

The European Center for Space Law (ECSL) The Legal department of the European Space Agency (ESA) L’institut du droit de l’espace et des télécommunications de l’Université de Paris XI (IDEST) The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (SHS-2005/WS/22) Table Report of the Symposium

Jean Jacques Dordain

Marcio Barbosa

Philippe Achilleas

Monica Konrad

Agathe Lepage

Jacques Arnould

Juan Manuel de Faramiñán Gilbert

Gabriella Catalano Sgrosso

Pedro Duque

André Farand

Peter Redfield

Guillaume de Dinechin

Julien Tort

Adigun Ade Abiodun


Report of the Symposium Welcoming speeches The Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Marcio Barbosa, opened the meeting and thanked the organizers. Ethical and legal debates intercept, he stated, but are not identical. After recalling the history of ethics of outer space in UNESCO, he informed the audience of the ongoing consultation of experts by UNESCO in view of the preparation of a feasibility study for an international declaration on the ethics of outer space. The challenge we are facing, he concluded, is to devise an ethics of positive action and wise prevention, not an ethics of regret.

The Director General of the European Space Agency, Mr. Jean-Jacques Dordain, recalled the role of his predecessor, Mr. Antonio Rodota, as an initiator of the work on the ethics of outer space and of he cooperation between ESA and UNESCO on this matter. There are significant benefits to manned space flights, in the area of scientific experiments, technological spin-off, change induced in the perception of the earth by human beings. Ecology and manned space flights, besides, have developed at the same time. The International Space Station, is an ideal way to test and validate the behavior of human beings in space. It is only the beginning of the exploration of outer space by humankind, but the initial trajectory is essential.

The Dean of the Faculty Jean Monnet of the University Paris XI, Prof. Jean-Pierre Faugère also welcomed the participants. He mentioned the issues lawyers need to address as far as manned space exploration is concerned: activities are more and more collective, commercial and economical issues have gained importance, and the rights of persons are more and more affirmed. Respect of rights in outer space and upon return on earth is a fundamental issue. The Faculté Jean Monnet, he claimed, endeavors to respond to the needs of the space community notably with one of the three master programs in the world about space law. Space, he concluded, belongs to our cultural and natural heritage.

Status of astronauts The director of the Division of Ethics of Science and Technology, Prof. Henk ten Have then took the Chair of the Morning session. He emphasized the interest of bringing together lawyers and ethicists. Both disciplines, he explained, have a normative goal, but ethics focuses more on the interpretation, it is about values and virtues. The perspectives of the two disciplines are complementary.

The director of the Institut du Droit de l’Espace et des Télécommunications (IDEST) of the University Paris XI, France, Prof. Philippe Achilleas made a presentation on the status of astronauts. He emphasized the need to revise the legal status of astronauts that is currently very incomplete if human presence in space is to develop. Existing international rules can be categorized in two groups. The treaties and principles of the United Nations constitute the first one. From these texts, it is clear that any person that is in outer space is an astronaut, and, therefore, an “envoy of mankind”. This latter notion is not legally very clear; it is rather a political notion. In the UN space law, national laws play a great role as regards protection, jurisdiction and Legal and ethical framework for astronauts in space sojourns control. There is a need for conventions in order to refine the criteria for jurisdiction and control.

This is the case in the second group of rules related to astronauts, the rules related to the ISS.

The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) and the Memorandums of Understandings (MOU) signed between member states are legally binding. But the code of conduct and the criteria for the selection of the crew are not legally binding by themselves. As regards crew management, the main issue is the tension between the unity of a multinational crew and the cultural identity of each of its members. About criteria of selection, Prof. Achilleas emphasized that they are partly moral and cultural. A lot of distinctions are to be made among astronauts, e.g. captain vs. pilot, professional astronaut vs. flight participant, permanent crew vs. short-stay crew, etc. In conclusion, Prof. Achilleas wondered if space tourism did corrupt the image of the astronauts; he advocated a reinforcement of the distinction between crew and passengers; he emphasized that no property rights are planned, even in the Moon agreement, while the US government seems willing to discuss this issue in view of the long mission to Mars or the Moon.

Prof. Monica Konrad, social anthropologist at the University of Cambridge, UK, made a presentation about the ethical status of astronauts in three parts. In the first part, professional astronauts were considered as knowledge intermediary. Public hype, she claimed, must be countered, and excessive sensationalism about space exploration would prevent any ethical consideration of outer space activities. In the second part, Prof. Konrad considered space tourism, and emphasized the relevancy of the issue and the likely development of a significant market for this activity. The idea of flying to the stars, and colonizing them, is not a new one, and, there again, one should not fall in excessive hype. There is a role of the ISS for public consideration of the issue. What would a space-faring civilization look like, she asked? In the third part, Prof. Konrad took the example of medical experiments on astronauts to emphasize that professional astronauts do have an ethics of sacrifice that is to be distinguished of the spirit of space race. Hence there is an issue for what astronauts may get in return for their sacrifice. In conclusion, Prof. Konrad stressed the importance to continue developing legal, ethical and cultural aspects of activities.

One participant emphasized the diminishing role of the nationality of the astronaut, a remark to which Prof. Achilleas agreed. There was a question and a debate about the possibility of ownership of celestial bodies. Prof. Achilleas stated that appropriation of celestial bodies was contrary to the Moon Agreement and to Art. 2 of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

General Principles of law governing persons Prof. Agathe Lepage, professor of private law at the University of Paris XI, France, gave a presentation on how fundamental principles should apply to astronauts. The issue here is to know to what extent the moral and physical integrity of astronauts is and may be affected by the particular status of the astronaut. This particular status is twofold: astronauts are “envoys of mankind” according to the Outer Space Treaty, and they are also generally civil servants, either national (like in USA) or international (as is the case in Europe). In her first part, prof. Lepage considered the astronauts on mission. Several challenges to their physical and moral integrity take place on mission, such as the constant surveillance, the non confidentiality of private communication, the medical experiments, the lack of privacy, etc. In French law, for instance, human dignity can be opposed to the willingness of a person to submit himself to some practices.

In her second part, Prof. Lepage considered the use of the images of astronauts, and made several distinctions: is the astronaut willing to have his image used? Is it used by its agency or by commercial firms, or by himself? What kind of financial reward is acceptable? In any case, it should be emphasized that the willingness of the astronaut is the only legal ground for accepting disrespect of the physical and moral integrity of the astronauts.

Legal and ethical framework for astronauts in space sojourns

Mr. Jacques Arnould, Chargé de mission at the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) of France, started by stating that ethics should not be left to ethicists alone. He then asked the question that he said must be asked: “do astronauts have a future?”. He then described the evolution of the role and status of the astronauts, from the heroic days of first manned flights to the current multitasks astronaut who also knows how to handle the medias, from exploration to commercialization. However, he emphasized, heroic days are not totally over for astronauts, especially for those who will go to Mars. The crew, in this regard, should have a say in decisions regarding the flights. The future of astronauts, Mr. Arnould said, is colonization. The ISS is still camping. We are, however, used to the idea of inhabiting space through science fiction and engineering literature. What would then be a spatial culture? In the long run, would the inhabitants of space still be human beings? What would be the legal and cultural status of an extra-terrestrial human colony? Could we accept their independence? In conclusion, Mr. Arnould expressed his view that the “big step for mankind” that Armstrong mentioned when walking on the moon had not been fully made yet.

There was a remark that international public law is usually about states and international organizations, not about individuals. A question was also raised about the limitation of the use of the images of astronauts. Prof. Lepage responded that one should be careful that the new legal category of astronauts does not conflict with the category of person. Mr. Arnould mentioned the ethics committee put in place at ESA to study proposals of partnerships involving astronauts.

Celebrity, he said, has its downside. The astronauts who will go to Mars, he added, are currently teenagers, and we are educating them now.

Life in outer space, an astronaut’s experience The chairman of the European center of Astronauts, Mr. Michel Tognini took the chair of the afternoon session. A former astronaut on MIR, Soyiouz and Columbia, he reviewed the history of astronauts practices. They now spend up to 14 months in outer space, with a view to progressively study human behavior in space. He mentioned the difficulties of the job, and the texts governing the European Bodies of astronauts and the ISS. The responsibilities of astronauts, he said, have increased. The success of the ISS, he concluded, is key to the long-term exploration of outer space.

Prof. Juan Manuel de Faramiñán Gilbert, professor of international public public law in the University of Jaen, Spain, gave a presentation on the European Body of Astronauts. After recalling the special and difficult conditions in which astronauts do their job, he explained the specificity of the European Body of astronauts, which brings together national bodies of astronauts with a commitment that each astronaut participates at least to one flight. Prof.

Faramiñán mentioned the seven objectives of the Body mentioned in the relevant ESA resolution. The reduction of the number of expected flights is of course a difficulty. On the whole, the European Body of Astronauts is a tool for the human resources policy of the agencies and it will lead to an emphasis on the competency of astronauts rather than their nationality.

Prof. Gabriella Catalano Sgrosso, of the University “La Sapienza” of Rome, focused on the aspects concerning the jurisdiction and control over astronauts, from the Station and from transport shuttles, during the many activities outside the vehicle itself. The increasing number of visiting astronauts, and especially the “space tourists” has required the elaboration of specific rules. In the current situation, especially for such new situations, the criterion based on citizenship for the choice of the subject holding jurisdiction and control, is now losing effectiveness. The formulation of common rules, to which Partner States must submit, or flight

–  –  –

rules created for specific missions is the system mostly used also to solve problems concerning jurisdiction over the crew, she concluded.

Mr. Pedro Duque, European Astronauts, explained in six points the specificity of his job, before showing a short video of his last mission on the ISS. 1. It is not in any land; 2. the space experience is not comparable to anything on earth. The isolation is one important aspect of this specificity; 3. There is always somebody talking in your ear to tell you what to do; 4. The astronaut in the ISS is subject to urge to productivity; 5. Astronauts have to behave in such a way that they can be trusted by all clients and, 6. They get the attention of the medias and are always asked how it is on the Moon even if they never went there.

Criminal conducts and other behaviors on board the ISS Mr. André Farand, Head of new initiatives at the ESA Legal Department, made a presentation about the regulatory framework of the behavior of astronauts. Two sets of regulations are applicable: The Code of Conduct is an autonomous document, and other dispositions allowing repression of criminal conducts on board the station. ISS agreements are the starting point for regulations to be applied to future manned space missions. The only possible basis for repression of criminal conduct is the incorporation in national laws of international public law obligations.

There is a disciplinary policy annexed to the code of conduct, and it is not adapted to the “participants” and tourists. The outline of the code and a few specific issues were discussed. Mr.

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