Your Comments on Draft International Space Treaty

Here is a unique opportunity for the commercial space industry to help shape a hot new international treaty that will encourage space business. It's also an exciting digital experiment in interactive treaty-making via the blogosphere. Peter D. Nesgos of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP and Prof. Mark Sundahl of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, who have been hard at work with the Space Working Group for UNIDROIT's Cape Town Convention, seek your comments on the draft Space Assets Protocol. Now's your chance. Below is the background from Mark, along with links and information about submitting your comments.--JL

UNIDROIT is currently in the process of finalizing the text of the Space Assets Protocol to the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (the “Cape Town Convention.”)

Here is the
Draft Space Assets Protocol.

This new international treaty promises to invigorate the space industry by facilitating the asset-backed financing of commercial space ventures.

The Space Working Group (organized by UNIDROIT to obtain the input of the commercial space industry, the financial community and other interested private parties) continues to seek comments from those involved in the financing of commercial space activities on the text of the draft Space Assets Protocol in order to ensure that it is responsive to the needs of the commercial space industry.

The Space Working Group urges interested parties to review the text and send their comments by email to Prof. Mark Sundahl at
mark.sundahl@law.csuohio.edu by February 15, 2007.

A brief description of the Cape Town Convention follows, along with a list of outstanding issues.

In short, the Cape Town Convention will benefit the commercial space industry by allowing for the creation and enforcement of security interests in a company’s space assets. As a result, space entrepreneurs will be able to attract more affordable funding. The ability of creditors to easily enforce a security interest (by foreclosing on the collateral) is a mainstay of modern finance and keeps interest rates low by reducing the creditor’s risk of non-payment. Although U.S. law provides a reliable system of rules to support asset-backed finance, the laws of many countries are hostile toward the creation and enforcement of security interests. The Cape Town Convention solves this problem by creating a uniform international law for the creation and enforcement of security interests in all contracting states. A more detailed description of the Cape Town Convention can be found in Prof. Sundahl’s recent article in The International Lawyer (
40 Int’l Law. 381).

Here are the outstanding issues in the Draft Space Assets Protocol:

  • Is the definition of “space assets” sufficient to include all space-bound assets that space companies may be likely to own?

  • The protocol provides for the creation of security interests in “debtor’s rights” (payment and performance obligations owed to the debtor) and “related rights” (licenses, etc.). As currently defined, is the scope of these terms adequate?

  • What are the optimum identification criteria for space assets when registering a security interest in a particular asset?

  • Are the provisions satisfactory regarding the availability of remedies and limitations thereon (particularly relating to export-controlled information and assets used for public services)?

  • Are the provisions satisfactory regarding the application of default remedies on an interim basis to revenue streams emanating from the operation of space assets?


  • Thanks in advance to everyone who offers input. I will follow up with Mark and Peter on the status of the treaty. Don't forget the Feb 15, 2007 deadline. And as we say here on SLP (generally in connection with things like proposed federal rulemaking in the commercial space arena), everyone who did not comment loved every word of the draft ;). --JL

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