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Operating in space: current multilateral policy issues and challenges (Africa) (WP1795)


As technology continues to advance and costs fall, the use of space is growing more widespread internationally, both within government and the commercial sectors. Increased use brings increased risk associated with congestion and competition. These risks need to be managed to realise the significant security and prosperity opportunities space offers. Keeping space safe depends on good communication be it directly, through explaining intent and as demonstrated by behaviours.  

Improving transparency and communication of space activities and other confidence building measures are key to reducing emerging risks. Growth in real and perceived threats to space systems necessitate clear communication or established norms of behaviour. Multilateral mechanisms and procedures are already in place which facilitate a degree of communication and which could be leveraged or expanded upon. Their development should acknowledge the importance of the space industry, which would likely develop best practice behaviours and norms independent of states, as well as capacity building for less technologically advanced states, including on communication. 

This Wilton Park dialogue builds on the outputs of the April 2019 Wilton Park event “Operating in space: towards developing protocols on the norms of behaviour” ” and follows the first of this series of events which was held with Asian nations in Singapore in January 2020. It will include a demonstration of space activity, explore threats and current arrangements for governing operations in space. It will build off a framework of Earth-based and space-based threat to space operations, collaborative actions to reduce the perception of threat from space-based operations and from earth-based operations, and communications or other transparency measures to clarify intentions in space.  

Participants will share perspectives on communications to facilitate the sustainable use of space, to inform the event aim of identifying improved forms of communication and steps to realise them.  

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