Hague Institute’s “Off-World Approach” Seeks Inclusive, Equitable Space Future

Hague Institute’s “Off-World Approach” Seeks Inclusive, Equitable Space Future

Ken Hodgkins, who recently retired after two decades as the point man for space policy at the State Department, has joined with Sohair Salam Saber to create the Off-World Approach as part of The Hague Institute for Global Justice. Their goal is to bring together space experts from around the world to formulate solutions that ensure the future of space is peaceful, inclusive, and equitable.

Sohair Salam Saber. Credit: Hague Institute for Global Justice.

Saber is President of The Hague Institute. The Netherlands-based independent non-profit has a broad mandate to “shape discourse and bridge gaps between research, policy and practice on global issues at the critical intersection of peace, security and justice.”

The space program is just one focus of its work.

Saber and Hodgkins co-chair the Institute’s new Off-World Approach. She has over 20 years of experience working with governments from North America to Africa and from the Middle East to Asia on issues including public policy, innovation and development. After a career at NOAA and then Director of the State Department’s Office of Space and Advanced Technology, Hodgkins retired from the government in 2020 and now is President of International Space Enterprises Consultants.

The two envision the Off-World Approach as a platform for finding solutions to space security and justice issues like space debris and space traffic management. In a press release, Saber said it will “bring together the leading minds in space enterprise to discuss emerging issues that impact us all. We believe that in order to build a world that is peaceful, secure and just, we must ensure that space resources are utilized in an equitable manner for the benefit of all mankind.”

Ken Hodgkins. Credit: The Hague Institute for Global Justice.

Hodgkins added they are looking for a bottoms-up approach “where leading experts in space enterprise can work to develop a rule of law in space that is flexible, inclusive, and permissive for the next generation of space adventurers to excel.”

The Off-World Approach’s advisory council boasts an impressive list of space law and policy experts with extensive international experience, especially through the U.N. Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Hodgkins was the U.S. representative to COPUOS when he was at the State Department.

The list includes former COPUOS chairman Sergio Camacho-Lara, who is Secretary General of the Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the Caribbean; Mazlan Othman, former Director of the U.N. Office of Outer Space Affairs, which administers COPUOS, and later was founding director of Malaysia’s space agency; Peter Martinez, former chairman of COPUOUS’s Working Group on the Long Term Sustainability of Space, former chairman of the South African Council for Space Affairs, and currently Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation; and Gouyu Wang, China’s delegate to COPUOS.

Other members are Mike Gold, who led development of the Artemis Accords when he was at NASA and now is with Redwire; Setsuko Aoki, law professor at Japan’s Keio University; Kai-Uwe Schrogl, ESA chief strategy officer; Jean-Jacques Tortora, European Space Policy Institute Director; Michael Simpson, former International Space University President and past Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation; Michelle Hanlon, University of Mississippi law professor and founder of For All Moonkind; Frans von der Dunk, University of Nebraska law professor; Col. Artem Bondarenko, Russian Armed Forces and Federal Penitentiary Service (Retired), founding President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Academy of Space Law; Diane Howard, former Chief Counsel of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commerce; Wade Larson, former manager of international relations at the Canadian Space Agency and co-founder of UrtheCast Corp.; and Dan Dumbacher, Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Hodgkins and Saber held a roundtable event in April, but the first meeting of the entire group was on September 14 where they began discussions “aimed at developing a framework for the use of space by national governments and civil society. … The outcomes of these discussions are intended to inform policymaking and private enterprise ventures.”

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