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Archive for the ‘treaties’ category

Jul 6, 2019

How Will We Govern Ourselves in Space?

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, law, space travel, treaties

A new golden age of space exploration is upon us, with growing numbers of countries and private enterprises eager to establish themselves in space for the sake of scientific inquiry, national prestige, adventurous tourism, billionaires’ bragging rights, mineral riches, and even as a hedge against any future calamity that might devastate our home planet.

Our motivations for exploration may vary, but the spaceward rush raises questions about how we will govern ourselves beyond the bonds of Earth. Cold War-era space treaties, vague notions of how legal frameworks on Earth might migrate to settlements in space, and cautionary tales from both history and science fiction offer some guidance, but we could benefit from a larger conversation about how we want to govern them.

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May 4, 2019

The Otso Incident with Donovia in 2030

Posted by in categories: computing, finance, geopolitics, treaties

“If we don’t study the mistakes of the future, we’re doomed to repeat them the first time :(” — Ken M, comedian.

[Editor’s Note: Today’s blog post is an excerpt from Mr. Robert J. Hranek’s short story entitled “Angry Engineer,” submitted to the 2019 Mad Scientist Science Fiction Writing Contest. The underlying premise of this contest was that, following months of strained relations and covert hostility with its neighbor Otso, Donovia launched offensive combat operations against Otso on 17 March 2030. Donovia is a wealthy nation that is a near-peer strategic competitor of the United States. The U.S. is a close ally of Otso and is compelled to intervene due to treaty obligations and historical ties. Among the many future innovations addressed in his short story, Mr. Hranek includes a “pre-mortem” in the form of two dozen lessons learned, identifying potential “mistakes of the future” regarding the Battle for Otso, so that we’re not “doomed to repeat them the first time!” Enjoy!]

The U.S. responded to Donovia’s invasion of Otso by initiating combat operations against the aggressors on 1 April 2030 — April Fools’ Day. Thousands of combatants died on both sides, mostly on ships; hundreds more were wounded, primarily from the land battle, and an unverifiable number of casualties occurred worldwide due to the sabotage of power grids and other infrastructure. An accurate civilian count was impossible in the chaos of reestablishing power, computer, and financial systems worldwide.

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Feb 5, 2019

Russian media threatens US with 100 megaton nuclear doomsday device after key arms treaty fails

Posted by in categories: existential risks, geopolitics, military, treaties

With the dropping of the INF treaty, Putin and Trump have brought the dangers of nuclear war back into a more realistic possibility. I’m not posting this to engage in a political discussion but nuclear war is definitely a lifeboat type of issue.


Russia’s military and state-sponsored media have reacted with a fire and fury of their own to the news that the US will exit the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaties, one of the last barriers to a full-on Cold War-like arms race in Europe — and there’s already talk of a nuclear doomsday device visiting the US.

The INF treaty banned land-based nuclear capable missiles with a range between 300 and 3,200 miles in 1987 when Russia and the US had populated much of Europe with intermediate-ranged nuclear missiles. The ban eliminated this entire class of missiles and went down as one of the most successful acts of arms control ever.

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Feb 5, 2019

The Air Force’s ‘rods from god’ could hit with the force of a nuclear weapon — with no fallout

Posted by in categories: biological, geopolitics, military, treaties

The 107-country Outer Space Treaty signed in 1967 prohibits nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons from being placed in or used from Earth’s orbit.

What they didn’t count on was the US Air Force’s most simple weapon ever: a tungsten rod that could hit a city with the explosive power of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

During the Vietnam War, the US used what it called “Lazy Dog” bombs. These were simply solid-steel pieces, less than 2 inches long, fitted with fins.

Continue reading “The Air Force’s ‘rods from god’ could hit with the force of a nuclear weapon — with no fallout” »

Feb 4, 2019

These Four Universities Are Trying to Figure Out Space Law

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, law, military, space, treaties

Jack Beard, a professor in the University of Nebraska College of Law’s Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program, told Politico that the Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations “will become the definitive document on military and security law as it applies to space.”

The Woomera Manual won’t actually lay out any new guidelines. Instead it will organize and present the laws that are already on the books so that politicians, industry leaders, and others can make better informed decisions regarding activity in space.

Given the fact that the Outer Space Treaty, which banned military actions in outer space, has all but been tossed aside, it’s unclear how much they’ll actually listen.

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Nov 5, 2018

Global governance must overcome ‘zeitgeist of mistrust’ to tackle world’s environmental issues

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, governance, sustainability, treaties

Ha…which would be the bigger challenge? 🤔.


The growing mistrust and hostility towards global intuitions must be overcome if the world is to successfully tackle the environmental challenges it faces, the head of the University of Sussex’s global sustainability research centre has warned.

Professor Joseph Alcamo, Director of the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP), said high-quality research and closer engagement with citizens around the world was needed to overcome the growing zeitgeist that viewed organisations such as the UN as meddling amid a geopolitical backdrop of cancelled treaties, neglected obligations and frozen negotiations.

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Sep 26, 2018

Inside the epic debate on rethinking our 50-year-old Outer Space Treaty

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, space travel, treaties

This week, the UN begins a conference to start the long-overdue discussion on updating the 1967 Outer Space Treaty for a cosmos that has gotten a lot more complicated.

[Image: SpaceX]

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Sep 2, 2018

Activists urge killer robot ban ‘before it is too late’

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, robotics/AI, treaties

Countries should quickly agree a treaty banning the use of so-called killer robots “before it is too late”, activists said Monday as talks on the issue resumed at the UN.

They say time is running out before weapons are deployed that use lethal force without a human making the final kill-order and have criticised the UN body hosting the talks—the Convention of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)—for moving too slowly.

“Killer robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction,” Rasha Abdul Rahim, Amnesty International’s advisor on artificial intelligence and human rights, said in a statement.

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Jul 2, 2018

Why Space Warfare is Inevitable

Posted by in categories: biological, cybercrime/malcode, geopolitics, military, space, treaties

There is increasing chatter among the world’s major military powers about how space is fast becoming the next battleground. China, Russia, and the United States are all taking steps that will ultimately result in the weaponisation of space. Any satellite that can change orbit can be considered a space weapon, but since many of the possible space-based scenarios have yet to occur, cybersecurity experts, military commanders, and policymakers do not fully understand the range of potential consequences that could result.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was interested in paralysing America’s strategic forces, strategic command, and control and communications, so that its military command could not communicate with its forces. They would do so by first causing electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to sever communication and operational capabilities, and then launch a mass attack across the North Pole to blow up US Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).

In 1967, the US, UK and Soviet Union signed the Outer Space Treaty, which was either ratified by or acceded to 105 countries (including China). It set in place laws regarding the use of outer space and banned any nation from stationing nuclear warheads, chemical or biological weapons in space. However, the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit, so such weapons as kinetic bombardment (i.e. attacking Earth with a projectile) are not strictly prohibited.

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May 30, 2018

China invites international researchers to do science on its future space station

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, habitats, science, space, treaties

By the end of 2022, China hopes to have its biggest space station yet orbiting around Earth, and the country’s space agency wants other nations to use it. China is inviting all members of the United Nations to submit applications to fly experiments on board the future habitat, dubbed the China Space Station. It’s a major step toward international cooperation for China and its space program, which has mostly relied on domestic hardware and capabilities in the past.

“The China Space Station belongs not only to China, but also to the world,” Shi Zhongjun, China’s ambassador to the UN, said in a statement about the initiative. As a guide for the decision, Zhongjun cited the 50-year-old Outer Space Treaty, which maintains that the exploration of space should be peaceful and benefit all countries.

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