Since the start of humanity’s space journey, four countries have conducted anti-satellite tests that have destroyed objects in space. Several other countries are now assessed to possess counterspace capabilities. The prospect of an arms race in space and a future conflict in space is unfortunately very real. The webinar will examine the counterspace capabilities being developed, the implications and the constraints on their deployment, and consider the various ongoing efforts to reduce threats to space security.
Issues to be potentially discussed include the specific nature of the threats (direct ascent, co-orbital, EW, Cyber, directed energy), constraints on the use of these capabilities in conflict such as international law and norms, initiatives to enhance space security such as the past groups of governmental experts on space TCBMs and PAROS and the ongoing open-ended working group on reducing space threats, and others.
Organised by the Future Issues and Technology Research Cluster with support from the Centre of Excellence for National Security, RSIS.
About the Speakers
Almudena Azcárate Ortega is a Space Security Researcher at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). She has published widely and briefed UN Member States on the topics of space security law and policy and has presented her research in multiple fora. She is currently leading UNIDIR’s participation in the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats Through Norms, Rules and Principles of Responsible Behaviour, established pursuant to UN General Assembly resolution 76/231. Almudena is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown Law and holds an LL.M. in National Security Law from the same institution, where she was the recipient of Georgetown’s Thomas Bradbury Chetwood, S.J. Prize for the most distinguished academic performance in the programme. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Navarra, Spain.
Kuan-Wei (David) Chen is the Managing Editor of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (McGill Manual, https://www.mcgill.ca/milamos/). David was formerly the Executive Director of the McGill Centre for Research in Air and Space Law (2017-2022), the Editor of the Annals of Air and Space Law (2012-2015), and a Sessional Lecturer at the Faculty of Law of McGill University. He served as the Co-Chair of Canada’s Ad-Hoc Remote Sensing Space Systems Act Advisory Committee and has been an invited speaker at various international workshops and conferences, including ones organised by United Nations. He holds an undergraduate degree in Law and Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, an LLM (cum laude) in Public International Law from Leiden University and an LLM in Air and Space Law from the Institute of Air and Space Law of McGill University. He is currently the recipient of an Australian Government Research Training Program scholarship and pursuing a PhD in Space Law and Human Rights at Bond University.
Victoria Samson is the Washington Office Director for Secure World Foundation and has over twenty-five years of experience in military space and security issues. Prior to joining SWF, she served as a Senior Analyst for the Center for Defense Information (CDI), where she leveraged her expertise in missile defense, nuclear reductions, and space security issues to conduct in-depth analysis and media commentary. Prior to her time at CDI, Ms. Samson was the Senior Policy Associate at the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers, a consortium of arms control groups in the Washington, D.C. area, where she worked with Congressional staffers, members of the media, embassy officials, citizens, and think-tanks on issues related to ballistic missile defense and nuclear weapons reduction. Before that, she was a researcher at Riverside Research Institute, where she worked on war-gaming scenarios for the Missile Defense Agency’s Directorate of Intelligence. She is a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF)’s Task Force on Security and the Space Security Working Group of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM)’s Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC). Victoria Samson holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in political science with a specialization in international relations from UCLA and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
About the Chairperson
Benjamin Ang is Senior Fellow and Deputy Head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at RSIS. He leads the Cyber and Homeland Defence Programme of CENS, which explores policy issues around the cyber domain, international cyber norms, cyber threats and conflict, strategic communications and disinformation, law enforcement technology and cybercrime, smart city cyber issues, and national security issues in disruptive technology.
Prior to this, he had a multi-faceted career that included time as a litigation lawyer arguing commercial cases, IT Director and General Manager of a major Singapore law firm, corporate lawyer specialising in technology law and intellectual property issues, in house legal counsel in an international software company, Director-Asia in a regional technology consulting firm, in-house legal counsel in a transmedia company, and senior law lecturer at a local Polytechnic, specialising in data privacy, digital forensics, and computer misuse and cybersecurity.
About the Discussant
Tiana Desker is Director (Strategic Futures & Emerging Tech) in the Defence Policy Office at the Ministry of Defence, Singapore. In that role, she oversees scenario planning, as well as the governance of emerging technologies in the military domain, with a particular focus on AI, autonomous weapons, and space security. Tiana represents Singapore at the UN GGE on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems and the UN OEWG on Reducing Space Threats. Earlier in her career, Tiana was Deputy Head of the Centre for Strategic Futures, a think tank within government. She also worked on digital government and public sector reform initiatives. Tiana began her career as a policy analyst in the Ministry of Defence covering Southeast Asia. She holds a B.A. in History and an M.Sc. in Management of Innovation.