What India Hates About The Space Code of Conduct

Posted: November 30, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , ,

The Space Review has an offering on why India is a no-go for participation in the EU’s space Code of Conduct (CoC). Here are the six reasons, lifted quite directly from the Space Review article:

1. The non-binding nature of the CoC

2. Repetition of and intrusion into a country’s domestic space policies

3. The failure of the EU to consult Asian countries when drafting the CoC

4. The failure of the CoC to address the geopolitical realities of the Asian sphere of influence

5. Ambiguity of terms and phrases within the CoC

6. Administration of the CoC

Regarding India’s third and forth concerns, one of the initial moves the EU took on the CoC (ignoring Russia, China, and India while crafting the CoC), has come home to roost. The assumption that the Indian space community should well-regard something that they did not participate in is 1) absolutely idiotic and 2) violates both human nature and history (this, and the fact India has Pakistan on one side and China on another).

Because the Obama administration is looking for foreign policy wins (consider the Russian reset, New START, Iran’s nuclear program, and a more belligerent China as fails), especially multi-lateral wins, the U.S. was willing to lead from behind by largely supporting the CoC’s many flawed premises.

The rest of the Indian concerns are common-sensical to anyone who has been paying attention to space for any period of time (which also include the general non-usefulness of the grand daddy of them all, the Outer Space Treaty). Therefore, let us proceed down their list.

Regarding concern number one, since the CoC is non-binding, what’s to keep any space-faring entity from saying they’ll participate in the CoC, and when it comes to judgment day, choosing not to? Nothing. India has seen this obvious concern, should the U.S. government as well?

At concern number two, the EU seems to have little regard for the important concepts of intellectual property, proprietary information, and/or espionage (perhaps assuming that knowledge should be literally free to those who didn’t spend the monies to develop and acquire such knowledge).

Tell me again why the United States would want "international space authorities" (to possibly include Chinese and/or Russians, or perhaps, those sympathetic to their causes) watching proprietary satellite builds, processing, or mating, or the same for a booster? Right, I keep forgetting that they’re always honorable and would never do anything underhanded.

With concern number five, terms and definitions matter in the extreme. Agreements without clear definitions and terms are comparable to intercontinental voyages (pre-GPS) without maps, compass, or experience. Maybe in the ram-jam effort to get the Outer Space Treaty signed and ratified, we would have been better served to, for example, have an agreed definition of where outer space even starts. In this regard, the CoC is just another band-aid on top of the OST’s already in-place gauze. But space doesn’t need band-aids or gauze; it needs enforceable and understood laws that allow its development to benefit human beings here on earth.    

Finally, concern number six rolls full circle back to concern number one; that is, how (or better, why) will we administer something that isn’t even binding? Administration of the CoC would likely to be adjudicated by the wise and inherently unbiased existent "international space authorities" such as the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, so how would CoC participation benefit India (or again, anyone else)? Sounds like another jobs program/cottage industry for the arms control industry.

While the CoC purports to be a solution to make space safer for all, it really purports to address space security non-problems like the mythical "arms race in outer space" (which is simply arms control code for banning space-using missile defense).

At the end of the day, the CoC appears to be another stillborn idea from the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. Why even the EU would participate in their own CoC is idea that is worth exploring, but in the mean time, the CoC’s wholly ambiguous framework, lack of enforcement, and sanctioned intrusions seem ill-equipped to improve India’s national security.

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