Space Diplomacy, Law and Regulation

Annie Handmer is a final year PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science, in the School of History and Philosophy of Science. Her research traces the social history of Australian space science projects in order to better understand international and interdisciplinary cooperation, the social construction of achievement, and the nature of the military-industrial-academic complex in Australian space science. In addition, she is on the Advisory Council for the Space Industry Association of Australia, a member of the Space Generation Advisory Council ‘Ethics and Human Rights in Space’ Project Group, the Space Law Council of Australia and New Zealand, program consultant to the Australian Youth Aerospace Association ASTRA Committee, and is also the host and creator of the Space Junk Podcast.

Steven Freeland is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Western Sydney University and Professorial Fellow at Bond University. He also holds Visiting or Adjunct positions at various other Universities/Institutes in Copenhagen, Vienna, Toulouse, Hong Kong, Montreal, Kuala Lumpur, Vancouver and London. He is a Member of the Australian Space Agency Advisory Board and has been an advisor to various Governments on issues relating to national space legislative frameworks and policy. He has represented the Australian Government at Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) meetings and, in June 2021, was appointed by UNCOPUOS as Vice-Chair of a 5-year Working Group addressing issues related to the exploration, exploitation and utilisation of space resources. He has also been a Visiting Professional within the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court, and a Special Advisor to the Danish Foreign Ministry in matters related to the International Criminal Court. He is a co-Principal of specialised space law firm Azimuth Advisory and is also a Director of the International Institute of Space Law, a Member of the Space Law Committee of the International Law Association and a Member of the Space Law and War Crimes Committees of the International Bar Association.

Gerard Oakes is the Acting Director in the International Security and Space Section at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where he focuses on outer space policy issues, including space security and the peaceful uses of outer space. Gerard manages DFAT’s key space responsibilities: UN engagement on space issues including through the General Assembly, the Conference on Disarmament and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS); multilateral and bilateral space-related agreements and commitments; and space issues that affect bilateral and regional relationships.

Cait Storr is the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Law Faculty at the University of Technology Sydney. Her research addresses the relationship between property, territory and jurisdiction in international law, with a focus on historical struggles for legal control over natural resources. Cait is an experienced legal researcher and lecturer with a professional background in government and corporate legal practice. She has held posts at Melbourne Law School and the Glasgow School of Law, and is a junior faculty member with the Institute of Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School.

Session 7: Space Diplomacy, Law and Regulation

As Space evolves from being the domain of national governments to include civil and commercial entities, new challenges emerge for governance and regulation. What earthly concepts may apply in Space? How does Australia fit into global Space governance? This panel considered the diplomatic, legal and regulatory parameters within which Australia conducts space activities. It also interrogated the relationship between diplomacy and industry, law and strategy, regulation and ethics, in the context of issues that will come to define Australia’s relationship to space and with other spacefaring nations in the years to come.

Moderator: Annie Handmer, University of Sydney


  • Emeritus Professor Steven Freeland
  • Gerard Oakes, DFAT
  • Dr Cait Storr

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