The University of Vienna as "Local Organiser" of the virtual European Rounds of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court 2022
After the European Rounds of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court in Vienna had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the Corona epidemic, a new attempt was made for 2022. Preparations began as early as autumn 2021, and a packed social programme was planned, starting with a welcome reception on the top floor of the Juridicum, an event at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), an excursion to the AustroMir exhibition at the Vienna Museum of Science and Technology, as well as a closing dinner in the Rathauskeller. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in February 2022, the competition had to be rescheduled again to a digital-only event in cooperation with the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL).
The European regional rounds were finally held virtually from 21 March to 28 March 2022. The National Point of Contact for Space Law (NPOC) of the ECSL at the University of Vienna continued to act as "local organiser", but in a modified form. A total of twelve universities from different European countries took part in the preliminary rounds. More than 50 Austrian and international experts in the field of international and space law participated as members of the three-member juries in the simulated court hearings and evaluated the oral pleadings delivered by the teams in English. The fictional case before the International Court of Justice involved legal issues arising from the use of 3D printers and other newly developed technologies to manufacture satellite parts, as well as a devastating collision between two satellites whose scrap metal severely damaged a military aircraft and caused it to crash.
After the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Kings College London, the University of Sofia, as well as the University of Leiden entered the semi-finals, the University of Leiden convinced in the final and was crowned the winner of the European Regional Rounds 2022. The team from the University of Cologne won the prize for the Best Memorial. Second place went to the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, whose team member, Georgios Chatzicharalampous was also awarded Best Oralist.
To give the participating students at least a virtual impression of Vienna as an international city, the NPOC team at the University of Vienna organised a digital tour of the United Nations premises in Vienna, in particular to introduce the Vienna-based United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). In addition, an online quiz on cultural, historical, political and geographical questions about Austria and Vienna was organised. This gave the students and guest judges the opportunity to get to know each other and exchange ideas.
Despite the adverse circumstances caused by the pandemic and the depressing background of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, traditionally a very active and internationally connected country in the area of space activities, it was possible to offer the participating students the opportunity to take part in this international competition and to test and develop their skills in space law. The Leiden University team will represent European universities at the World Final of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court, organised by the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), at the margins of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Paris in September 2022.