Commentary | Space law and protest


Yesterday, a dozen members of Demilitarize McGill burst into the lecture hall of the Strategic Space Law Program, hosted by the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL). Their unruly behaviour, profanities, and rude slogans were militant and did nothing more than to undermine their cause and message.

Members of Demilitarize McGill were invited to attend the sessions and see for themselves what the Institute actually does. That goodwill was met with heckling and swearing by people who hid their faces behind the large black banner. If they had such conviction in their beliefs, why must they hide their faces like those extremists bent on death and destruction who appear on TV with masked faces? And the greatest irony of all? They interrupted one of many invited speakers who underlined how space law and international treaties must always be interpreted in light of references to using space for peaceful purposes.

This is not the first time Demilitarize McGill has tried to discredit the Institute and misinform the public about the Institute’s mission. They have repeatedly fabricated baseless and absurd accusations that the “military-industrial complex” is funding and dictating activities and research conducted by the IASL. If anything, the Institute’s objective is to educate the public, officials, military personnel, and students about the importance of law in constraining military power and preventing the dominance of any one state in outer space. Outer space is a common heritage of humankind, and its use and exploration must be for the benefit of humanity.

Calls for dialogue were met with swearing. Requests to sit down, listen, and discuss were met with rhetoric about space colonialism and imperialism. Higher education is supposed to open minds and let academic discussions flourish in a respectful way. Instead, they embarrassed themselves and the university, and then quickly fled as police approached.

– David Kuan-Wei Chen, Institute of Air and Space Law