A Case Study in Policy Entrepreneurship
The Stimson Center’s Space Security Project was initiated in 2002 with grant support from The John D.
and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Space has long been used for various military purposes, but
during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union exercised uncommon restraint with respect
to the testing and deployment of weapons in space. With the advent of the George W. Bush Administration,
many were concerned that the United States might strive to extend US military superiority by weaponizing space.
These concerns were stoked by a commission report chaired by Donald Rumsfeld that appeared immediately
prior to his second stint as Secretary of Defense. The Rumsfeld commission concluded that,
[W]e know from history that every medium—air, land and sea—has seen conflict. Reality indicates that space
will be no different. Given this virtual certainty, the US must develop the means both to deter and to defend
against hostile acts in and from space. This will require superior space capabilities. Thus far, the broad outline
of US national space policy is sound, but the US has not yet taken the steps necessary to develop the needed
capabilities and to maintain and ensure continuing superiority. 1
The impulse by some in the Bush Administration to “seize the high ground” in space is based, in part, on the
assumption that warfare in, from, and through space is inevitable, was accompanied by the administration’s
withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and insistence not to engage in any diplomatic undertaking
that could reduce the US military’s freedom of action in space. Since the flight testing and deployment of
weapons in space would adversely affect all major powers that rely on satellites, and since the United States
relies more heavily on satellites than any major power, the Stimson Center sought to increase the likelihood
that space would remain as free as possible from destabilizing and dangerous developments. In diplomacy, as in
politics, it’s hard to fight something with nothing. So Stimson set about to devise an alternative concept to space
dominance and a diplomatic initiative that might advance space security. The alternative concept proposed in
Stimson Center programming is that of “space assurance.” The diplomatic initiative Stimson championed is a
Code of Conduct for responsible space-faring nations.
Stimson chose the concept of space assurance to appeal to common sense and to promise a safer future without
letting down America’s guard. Satellites are vulnerable as well as invaluable. They save many lives every day,
and they have become integral to national, economic, and personal security. The growing dependence on
satellites by all major powers in a domain that cannot be “protected” by classical military means suggests that an
uncommon level of interdependence is not only possible, but necessary. For example, long-lasting space debris,
whether created by anti-satellite (ASAT) tests or other means, constitutes a threat to space objects regardless
of nationality. Likewise, the absence of a space traffic management system raises hazards to space operations.
The goal of US space diplomacy, in the Stimson Center’s view, is to create global norms whereby the benefits
of space operations could be more assured in the future. In our analysis, the testing, deployment, and use of
weapons in space would constitute threats to space assurance, and should be avoided, if possible. To clarify the
costs and risks of engaging in destabilizing activities in space, it seemed appropriate that the United States be
able to hedge its bets without crossing these thresholds first. A hedging strategy would enable the United States
to respond appropriately if others crossed these thresholds first.
Stimson championed the concept of a Code of Conduct because this diplomatic initiative could help set norms
for responsible space-faring nations in the near term. “Rules of the road” exist for other domains, but they are
lacking in space. Granted, rules could be broken, but their existence could make rule breaking less prevalent,
while facilitating appropriate responses. Since a Code of Conduct would take the form of an executive agreement
between the United States and other space-faring nations, it could bypass the Conference on Disarmament
A Case Study in Policy Entrepreneurship | 5
(CD), which has not been able to agree upon a program of work for more than a decade, as well as the harsh
realities of Senate treaty ratification in a highly polarized US political environment.
MacArthur’s initial grant was for the production of a monograph analyzing the costs and benefits of the
weaponization of space. To help in this effort, the Stimson Center convened former government officials,
negotiators, Capitol Hill staffers, and nongovernmental experts for a series of workshops convened between
April 2002 and February 2003. Stimson received help in these deliberations from former US government
officials and negotiators, as well as policy experts from Capitol Hill and nongovernmental organizations. 2 Their
inputs helped inform a monograph written by the author with research assistant Christopher Clary, published
in 2003, Space Assurance or Space Dominance? The Case Against Weaponizing Space. 3
This monograph concluded that the costs of weaponizing space far exceeded potential benefits for all spacefaring
nations, especially for the United States. Stimson’s assessment also concluded that the weaponization of
space is not inevitable, and that with wise US policy choices, it might be prevented. Our analysis concluded
that, while a “space Pearl Harbor” couldn’t be excluded as a possibility, a surprise attack is far less likely in space
than on the ground, and that a US-led weaponization of space was a very poor choice to counter worst-case
assumptions. The monograph offered the concept of space assurance as an alternative to space weaponization
and dominance. We defined space assurance as the assured ability of the United States to utilize space for
national, economic, and personal security. We postulated that one of the key elements of space assurance was
a Code of Conduct to prevent dangerous military activities in space, analogous to existing codes of conduct
governing responsible military activities at sea, on the ground, and in the air. The Stimson Center’s monograph
was widely circulated and downloaded from our website by government officials, diplomats, defense officials,
military officers, legislators, reporters, and NGOs.
First Steps in Drafting a Code of Conduct
After the publication of this monograph, Stimson was fortunate to receive additional grant support from the
MacArthur Foundation, the Ploughshares Fund, the New-Land Foundation, and the US Institute of Peace to
particularize and popularize initiatives to promote the peaceful uses of outer space and to prevent dangerous,
destabilizing activities in this domain. Space Assurance or Space Dominance? highlighted key provisions for a
Code of Conduct, including responsible uses of lasers in outer space, dangerous maneuvers, simulated attacks,
collision avoidance, notification and registration, interference with space objects, orbital debris mitigation, and
space traffic management.
Stimson’s next step was to convene a group of experts conversant with military space policy and international
law to consider how these key elements might be worded in a draft Code of Conduct aimed at preventing
destabilizing military activities in space. These deliberations were held in October 2003 and December 2003.
Stimson’s project advisors suggested that the best way to develop rules of the road in space would be to work by
analogy, mostly by applying and adapting provisions of the 1972 Incidents at Sea (“IncSea”) Agreement and the
1988 Prevention of Dangerous Military Practices Agreement.
Our sessions focused on provisions to avoid risk of collision, not simulate attacks, provide notification of
actions, exchange appropriate information, and not use a laser in a manner that may potentially cause harm to
personnel or equipment. Stimson’s workshops also focused on provisions relating to space debris management
and reduction; communication measures to avoid inadvertent collisions, both with respect to active and
dead objects in space; information measures, such as providing notification of “non functioning space assets”
or other objects in space; notification measures, such as prior notification of space launches; transparency
measures, such as providing more data on registration and ownership of space assets; protection measures,
such as prohibiting activities that interfered with the proper functioning of satellites belonging to others,
and prohibiting non-registered satellites; prohibition on simulated attacks; prohibition on the use of lasers or
6 | A Code of Conduct for Responsible Space-Faring Nations
other directed-energy devises in ways that interfere with, or do harm to, the proper functioning of satellites;
prohibition on ASAT tests, including tests against a point in space; and prohibition on space-based interceptors,
mines, and other devices.
At the December 2003 session, participants recommended that we offer policy-makers, diplomats, and legislators
with two complimentary choices. The first option for consideration would be a Code of Conduct focusing on
non-interference provisions and other aspects of “good citizenship” for space-faring nations. A more ambitious
option would be an international convention of much broader scope, focusing on prohibitions against ASAT
tests and deployments. (We also understood that a mid-way point could be found between these two approaches
by including anti-ASAT provisions to a Code of Conduct.) We agreed that we could best serve policy-makers,
diplomats and legislators by providing a range of options for their consideration. Stimson’s initial draft of a Code
of Conduct for responsible space-faring nations was posted on our website on May 19, 2004. 4
The initial Stimson draft of a Code of Conduct looked very much like a treaty, with a preamble, a section
defining terms, and various articles. We sought at this early stage to ban space weapons, which we defined as
“any device or component of a system specifically designed, tested, or deployed to disrupt, degrade, impair or
destroy a satellite, and any device in space specifically designed, tested, or deployed to disrupt, degrade, impair
or destroy a satellite in space or an object on Earth.” 5
Among the general obligations of Stimson’s initial draft Code of Conduct were:
• The use of outer space in accordance with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations,
in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international co-operation
• The promotion of the peaceful uses of outer space by avoiding incidents and refraining from dangerous
military practices in space, including:
• Simulating an attack on a satellite; engaging in actions that increase the risk of collision and actions that
fail to reduce the risk of collision in space;
• Using a directed energy device, including a laser, to disrupt, degrade, impair, or destroy a satellite;
• Flight testing or deploying an anti-satellite weapon or a space weapon
Other articles of the 2004 iteration of Stimson’s draft Code of Conduct dealt with collisions, special caution
zones, dangerous maneuvers;,simulated attacks, lasers, communication and notification measures, registration,
data exchanges, space debris, traffic management, monitoring, cooperative measures, and consultation. 6
While Stimson was trying to particularize and popularize the concept of a Code of Conduct, others offered
more ambitious proposals. For example, Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr. suggested “the development
and negotiation of an international treaty on space weapons and anti-satellite weapons.” 7 The Russian and
Chinese governments were clearly inclined to endorse this approach, especially after the Bush Administration’s
withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in December, 2001. The following June, Russia and China
submitted a paper at the Conference on Disarmament entitled “Possible elements for a future international legal
agreement on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against
outer space objects.” 8
Gaining Traction During the Bush Administration
The release of the first draft of Stimson’s Code of Conduct was accompanied by outreach activities with key
target audiences, especially US government officials and military officers; members of Congress and their staffs
on Capitol Hill; foreign diplomats based in Washington and in key space-faring nations; the interested public
and NGOs; and media outlets. During this period, Stimson briefed scores of offices on Capitol Hill; made
annual presentations on the Code of Conduct at large workshops at the CD in Geneva; visited with diplomats
A Case Study in Policy Entrepreneurship | 7
from key space-faring nations based in New York, Washington and Geneva; met with senior US military officers
at the US Space Command and US Strategic Command; worked closely with European diplomats, especially in
France, Germany and Italy, to seek support for the concept of a Code of Conduct.
Private meetings on Capitol Hill left the clear impression that a significant block of Republican Senators might
resist a space treaty, even one dealing narrowly with a verifiable kinetic energy ASAT test ban, and that a Code
of Conduct approach might have greater feasibility. Meetings with Bush Administration officials clarified that
they remained disinclined—some more strongly than others—to pursue a Code of Conduct, with those most
opposed viewing this initiative as “arms control by other means.” Private contacts with senior military officers
suggested their unwillingness to take on political appointees in the Bush Administration on this issue.
In contrast, several European capitals were very receptive to this idea, and resolved to pursue it as a European
Union (EU) initiative. In March 2006, after making a presentation on space weapons and proliferation at the
CD, the author met with key ambassadors to the CD to promote the Code of Conduct, then spent a day in Paris
encouraging French government officials to lead this charge within the EU. In 2007, there were more meetings
and a talk at the United Nations, followed by an invitation by the German government to make a presentation
on the Code of Conduct at a EU workshop on space security in Berlin. In July 2007, the author traveled to
Wuhan, China, to meet with PLA officers working on space issues. During this trip, the author also met with
Chinese Foreign Ministry officials and NGOs in Beijing on the Code of Conduct. In November 2007, the
author met with Italian government officials who were working on the EU’s draft Code of Conduct. Also in
November, the author visited New Delhi to meet with Indian government officials working on space issues and
to make a presentation on the Code of Conduct to a conference convened at the Institute for Defence Studies
Stimson’s public outreach in the United States during this period took many forms. In 2004, we launched our
Space Security webpage on Stimson’s website, a one-stop shop for all of our publications, commentaries, and
other written products. 9 To help frame the debate on Capitol Hill and for lay audiences, Stimson published
Space Security or Space Weapons: A Guide to the Issues, written by the author and research assistant Michael
Katz-Hyman, in 2005. 10 This 27-page pamphlet was made possible through a collaborative effort with the
Secure World Foundation. This booklet was distributed on Capitol Hill and at talks about the Code of Conduct,
of which there were many, including a public debate (in Norfolk) with the Vice Commander of Air Force
Space Command. For three consecutive years, the author visited Maxwell Air Force Base to debate a proweaponization
of space faculty member before 250 officers attending courses at the Air University.
Redrafting the Code of Conduct
Stimson’s concept of a Code of Conduct was gaining traction, partly in reaction to the Bush Administration’s
rejection of diplomacy that might constrain any military practices in space, and partly in response to Pentagon
documents outlining ambitious plans for military uses of space. 11 Another reason for the appeal a Code of
Conduct was the growing recognition that an ambitious treaty banning space weapons would be time consuming
and unlikely to succeed. At the same time, the limitations of Stimson’s “first draft” of a Code of Conduct
were evident. We realized that, if this idea was to gain greater international support, we needed to have an
international effort to re-draft our handiwork. Plus, our soundings in Republican and Democratic offices on
Capitol Hill clarified that a Code of Conduct that attempted to define and ban tests and deployments of “space
weapons” would raise many problems.
So Stimson enlisted the help of partnering NGOs from major space-faring nations to re-draft a model Code of
Conduct. Efforts to enlist Indian and Brazilian NGOs with expertise in space to help produce a revised Code
of Conduct were unsuccessful. But Stimson did succeed in recruiting outstanding NGO partners from Canada,
China, France, Japan, and Russia. 12 Stimson convened two workshops held in Washington in August 2006 and
April 2007 with our NGO partners to consider a revised draft Code of Conduct. In between these workshops,
in November 2006, we assembled a small group of US project advisors to receive their guidance during the
8 | A Code of Conduct for Responsible Space-Faring Nations
e-drafting process. 13 After exchanging several drafts and numerous email exchanges with our NGO partners,
our agreed handiwork in the form of a revised draft Code of Conduct was released publicly by the Stimson
Center and by our Canadian, French, Japanese, and Russian partners in October 2007. 14 Our Chinese NGO
partners, who made constructive inputs during the drafting process, were unable to endorse this text.
The revised Code of Conduct included a preambular section, like its predecessor. In the new Preamble, we
sought to craft language that would acknowledge the desire by many, including our Russian and Chinese
colleagues, for a far more ambitious diplomatic undertaking. None of the drafters viewed the Code of Conduct
as an end state. Indeed, all of us were aware that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty was preceded by an October, 1963
United Nations General Assembly Resolution on “Stationing Weapons of Mass Destruction in Outer Space”
that laid out norms and principles for the peaceful uses of outer space that were later codified in treaty form. 15
Treaties that codify norms are usually preceded by less formal arrangements, and we wished to provide impetus
to a near-term, norm-setting initiative. Here is the bridging language we devised:
Believing that universal adherence to this Code of Conduct does not in any way diminish the need for additional
international legal instruments that preserve, advance and guarantee the exploration and use of outer space for
peaceful purposes 16
The 2007 version of the Code of Conduct was quite different in form than its predecessor. After due deliberation,
the drafters decided that, rather than providing an article-by-article treatment of various practices in space, it
would be better to lay out lists of rights and responsibilities for space-faring nations. Here are the lists we endorsed:
Rights of Space-Faring Nations:
• The right of access to space for peaceful exploration and uses and safe operations, including military support
• The right of self-defence as enumerated in the Charter of the United Nations.
• The right to be informed on matters pertaining to the objectives and purposes of this Code of Conduct.
• The right of consultation on matters of concern and the proper implementation of this Code of Conduct.
Responsibilities of Space-Faring Nations:
• The responsibility to respect the rights of other space-faring nations and legitimate stakeholders.
• The responsibility to regulate legitimate stakeholders that operate within their territory or that use their
space launch services to conform with the objectives and purposes of this Code of Conduct.
• The responsibility to develop and abide by rules of safe space operation and traffic management.
• The responsibility to share information related to safe space operations and traffic management and to
enhance cooperation on space situational awareness.
• The responsibility to mitigate and minimize space debris in accordance with the Inter-Agency Debris
Coordination Committee guidelines or possible future international standards.
• The responsibility to refrain from harmful interference against space objects.
• The responsibility to consult with other space-faring nations regarding activities of concern in space and to
enhance cooperation to advance the objectives and purposes of this Code of Conduct.
This approach reflected a consensus view that a multilateral NGO effort could be most useful in clarifying
norms rather than engaging in a painstaking drafting process akin an international negotiation. Our proposed
norms, if adopted by major space-faring nations, would then facilitate detailed drafting by government officials.
A Case Study in Policy Entrepreneurship | 9
Thus, for example, we decided to adopt a norm-based, indirect approach to banning kinetic energy ASAT tests
that produce long-lasting debris with indiscriminate and harmful effects on space operations, rather than to
specifically ban such tests. We did not seek to define space weapons or to ban them in our revised draft Code
An Idea Whose Time Has Come?
Toward the end of the Bush Administration, several events combined to clarify the utility of a Code of Conduct
for responsible space-faring nations. Over a twenty-five month period, from January 2007 to February 2009,
there were four wake-up calls attesting to the need for rules of the road in space, particularly with respect to
debris mitigation and space traffic management. In January 2007, the Peoples Liberation Army conducted
a kinetic energy ASAT test that produced the largest man-made debris field in the history of the space age.
In February of that year, a Russian missile body orbiting earth broke up, creating another large debris field.
In February 2008, the United States shot down a nonfunctioning satellite in a way not to create persistent
debris, ostensibly for safety reasons. In February 2009, a dead Russian satellite collided with a functioning US
communication satellite, further compounding the debris problem in heavily trafficked areas of space.
These developments badly undermined the Bush Administration’s stance that no arms control-related diplomatic
initiatives were needed for space because there were no troublesome practices in need of control. In particular,
the dramatic increase in space debris during this two-year period had the practical effect of endangering and
constraining US freedom of action in space – the fundamental reason why the Bush Administration opposed
diplomatic initiatives like the Code of Conduct.
These unfortunate developments heightened mainstream media interest in the topic of space security, a subject
previously confined for the most part in trade publications. After the Chinese ASAT test, the Stimson Center’s
work was cited in major articles appearing in the New York Times and Washington Post. The Post also carried
an article by the author in its Sunday Outlook section of the paper. Another essay appeared in Survival. The
Economist twice editorialized in support of a Code of Conduct for space-faring nations, citing the Stimson
Center’s work in this area. Space News and Aviation Week and Space Technology also editorialized in support
of the Code of Conduct. Throughout the course of this project, Stimson-authored op eds appeared in Space
News and Defense News, trade publications which reach all of Stimson’s key target audiences. Another way of
reaching key target audiences was through the author’s weekly blog posts on armscontrolwonk.com. 17
After the Chinese kinetic energy ASAT test, Stimson accelerated the pace of private meetings and public
events on the Code of Conduct. The author met with Gen. Kevin Chilton, then-Commander in Chief of
STRATCOM in Omaha, and with Gen. Bob Kehler, then head of SPACECOM (and subsequently nominated to
run STRATCOM) at the Pentagon. Stimson convened workshops in Washington on the policy implications of
a degraded space environment. In November 2007, Gregory Kulacki, a China space watcher with the Union of
Concerned Scientists, gave a presentation on China’s ASAT test. In February 2008, Clay Moltz, Deputy Director
of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and David Wright, Co-Director and Senior Scientist for the Global
Security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, discussed space weapons and the Chinese test.
The extended 2008 election campaign provided numerous opportunities to brief experts supporting Republican
and Democratic candidates on space security. In a strictly personal capacity, the author served as a policy
advisor to presidential candidate Barack Obama on issues pertaining to space and South Asia. Presidential
candidate Barack Obama’s campaign platform endorsed the Code of Conduct:
• Ensure Freedom of Space: America’s ability to use space as a location for its satellites and communications
grid is critical to our national security and economy. Unfortunately, this issue has been ignored and many
nations are preparing to threaten space as a commons available to all nations. An Obama Administration will:
• Restore US leadership on space issues by seeking code of conduct for space-faring nations, including a
worldwide ban on weapons to interfere with satellites and a ban on testing anti-satellite weapons.
10 | A Code of Conduct for Responsible Space-Faring Nations
• Initiating and stating a willingness to participate in a regime protecting access to space will help the
United States return to a position of leadership in promoting global stability. 18
During every presidential campaign, the Council for a Livable World sends a questionnaire to candidates. One
of their questions in 2008 related to space diplomacy: “Do you support or oppose a multilateral international
ban on placing weapons in space?” The Obama campaign responded that a treaty increasing space security,
while “a good idea,” would “take a long time to negotiate” and therefore suggested a “simpler and quicker”
alternative: a “Code of Conduct for responsible space-faring nations.” 19
A Change in Administrations: A Workshop in Bellagio
Shortly after the November 2008 elections, Stimson convened a Track II initiative at The Rockefeller Conference
Center in Bellagio, Italy, to discuss next steps in space diplomacy. Two operating foundations, the Secure World
Foundation and the One Earth Future Foundation, partnered with Stimson to make this workshop a reality,
helping to defray travel costs associated with the event.
Our Track II event was planned before the outcome of the presidential election was known. Stimson invited
an adviser to the McCain campaign and an advisor to the Obama campaign, to attend, along with diplomats
from Russia, China, Canada, Japan, Germany, Colombia, France, India, Italy, Japan, and the United States. 20
The Bellagio workshop was convened with governmental and nongovernmental experts to discuss ways to
provide momentum to space diplomacy and to facilitate new diplomatic initiatives if the US, Chinese, and
Russian governments were inclined to revise diplomatic postures adopted during the Bush Administration.
For this impasse to be broken, a new US administration would need to revisit President Bush’s rejection of any
diplomatic initiatives that might constrain the US military’s freedom of action in space. For their part, Beijing
and Moscow would need to favorably consider a diplomatic initiative far short of their proposed treaty banning
“any kinds of weapons” in outer space. Their draft “Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer
Space and of the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects,” submitted to the CD in February 12, 2008,
would not constrain the development, testing, and production of terrestrially-based ASAT weapons, and did
not have any verification provisions. 21
The Bellagio workshop was premised on several assumptions. First, that space security was diminished as a
result of recent anti-satellite tests. Second, new diplomatic initiatives were warranted to increase space security.
Third, these initiatives could be structured in ways to benefit all space-faring nations. The immediate workshop
objective was to have serious and constructive conversations, including “out of the box” thinking on diplomatic
initiatives. In order to promote meaningful dialogue, workshop discussions were off the record and views were
expressed on a not-for-attribution basis.
During the course of our deliberations, workshop participants conceived of three initiatives that might promote
space security, if governments would be prepared to move beyond current positions. It was clearly understood
that governmental representatives were not committed to the diplomatic agenda discussed at Bellagio, nor were
they asked to support this agenda, in whole or in part. Participants agreed to take these proposals back to their
capitals for due consideration.
The three initiatives are as follows:
• An agreement to enter into negotiations on a treaty that would seek to ban the testing and use of
destructive methods against space objects.
• Pending the completion of such a treaty, states participating in the negotiations would agree to pledge
not to test or use destructive methods against space objects.
• An agreement to enter into negotiations on transparency and confidence-building measures contained
in a Code of Conduct including preambular language outlining a common vision for the peaceful uses
of outer space in which weapons are not deployed.
A Case Study in Policy Entrepreneurship | 11
Workshop participants concluded that a treaty banning purposeful actions with destructive effects in space
would address the issue of space debris, which many perceive to be the most pressing threat to space security.
Second, an agreement to forego testing and use of destructive methods, of whatever kind, would serve the
national interests of all space-faring nations threatened by space debris. Third, this most pressing threat would
be addressed in the context of a legally-binding treaty that some states strongly support. Fourth, a treaty of
narrow scope focusing on destructive testing and use in space lends itself to monitoring by national technical
means, especially by the United States. For these reasons, it is conceivable that a treaty of limited scope focusing
on destructive testing and use in space might secure bipartisan support in the US Senate.
The pursuit of a Code of Conduct was endorsed because it would reinforce and expand norms for responsible
behavior in space, while clarifying irresponsible behavior. In addition, a broader framework for space security
—one that includes the key element of prohibiting purposeful, harmful interference—could make the other
elements of a Code, such as debris mitigation and space traffic management, more meaningful. A preambular
“vision statement” was proposed to reinforce the ultimate objective of keeping space free of weapons of all
kinds. Proponents of this initiative favored a non-treaty approach; skeptics stressed their preference for legallybinding
Pledges by participating states not to test or use destructive methods against space objects pending the outcome
of negotiations could also serve several purposes. If such pledges are honored, they could help protect space
from additional, significant increases in the common threat of space debris. In addition, pledges that were
honored could be signs of good faith during negotiations. Workshop participants acknowledged that different
elements of this proposed agenda could be pursued in different diplomatic venues. One criterion for the
selection of an appropriate venue would be the likelihood of achieving success in a timely manner.
The EU published its draft Code of Conduct the month after Stimson’s Bellagio workshop, in December, 2008. 22
One key principle of the EU’s draft Code is “the responsibility of States to take all the appropriate measures and
cooperate in good faith to prevent harmful interference in outer space activities.” One “general measure” is that
“Subscribing States will establish and implement national policies and procedures to minimise the possibility of
accidents in space, collisions between space objects or any form of harmful interference with other States’ right
to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.” Another is that “Subscribing States resolve to promote the
development of guidelines for space operations within the appropriate fora for the purpose of protecting the
safety of space operations and long term sustainability of outer space activities.” The draft EU Code addressed
the issue of kinetic energy ASAT tests in the context of debris mitigation, calling on Subscribing States to “refrain
from intentional destruction of any on-orbit space object or other harmful activities which may generate longlived
space debris.” 23 After issuing its draft Code of Conduct, EU officials engaged in consultations with other
space-faring nations, with the intention of issuing a final draft as soon as practicable.
Working with the Obama Administration
In March 2009, the author testified on space security before the House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic
Affairs Subcommittee, chaired by Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher. At this hearing, Congresswoman Tausher
acknowledged that she was about to be nominated to become the Undersecretary of State responsible for this
portfolio. Michael Nacht, who participated in the Bellagio workshop, was nominated to become the Assistant
Secretary of Defense responsible for the space portfolio. The Assistant Secretary of State, Rose Gottemoeller, and
her Deputy for Space, Frank Rose, Steve Fetter at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as other
appointees in the Obama Administration, were very familiar with Stimson’s Code of Conduct initiative. The
administration’s National Space Policy, belatedly completed in June 2010, opened the door for new diplomatic
initiatives “if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the national security of the United States and
its allies.” 24
With the advent of a new administration, Stimson picked up the pace of consultations with US officials at
the State Department, Pentagon, National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, the
12 | A Code of Conduct for Responsible Space-Faring Nations
Conference on Disarmament, STRATCOM, SPACECOM and the National Reconnaissance Office. The author
and Stimson research associate Samuel Black engaged in briefings on Capitol Hill. 25 During the past three
years, the author has also promoted the Code of Conduct in meetings with Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Russian,
Brazilian, Canadian, Japanese, Italian, French, German, Israeli, and US diplomats and military officers. 26
During the past three years, Stimson has produced seventeen analytical pieces, including contributing essays
that appear in this publication and will subsequently appear in volumes to be published by NDU Press and
Elsevier. In collaboration with the Secure World Foundation, the author and Research Associate Samuel Black
were able to publish a second edition of our citizen’s guide, titled Space Security or Anti-satellite Weapons, in
May 2009. When we ran out of these booklets, we were able to publish a third edition, again in collaboration
with the Secure World Foundation, in August 2010.
After the Obama Administration took office, Stimson convened several workshops to consider space diplomacy
initiatives in general, and the Code of Conduct in particular. In April, 2009 Stimson hosted a session on rules
of the road for proximity operations in space. Our speakers were David Wright, Union of Concerned Scientists;
Jeffrey Lewis, New America Foundation, now with the Monterey Institute; and Geoffrey Forden of MIT, now
with Sandia. In February 2010, Stimson hosted Frank Rose, the Principal Deputy to Undersecretary Tauscher.
In June 2010, Stimson hosted Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Nacht. In July 2010, Stimson convened a
half-day workshop. Our speakers were Peter Marquez of the National Security Council staff, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Jim
Armor, John Sheldon, Air University; John Logsdon, George Washington University; James Lewis, CSIS; Daryl
Kimball, Arms Control Association; Bruce MacDonald, US Institute of Peace; Alexis Morel, Embassy of France;
Alexander Trofimov, Embassy of Russia; and Dana Smith, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada.
Aside from the flurry of media coverage following the ASAT tests and other debris-causing events between 2007-
2009, mainstream media coverage of space security issues has been fleeting. 27 Op-ed sized pieces were placed in
trade publications, especially Space News and Defense News, or placed on Stimson’s website after being circulated
directly to Stimson’s space and nonproliferation listservs, which reach several thousand policy “influentials.”
Efforts to create norms for responsible space-faring nations are rare, and successes are rarer still. Nuclear
negotiations always jump to the head of the queue, and in those rare occasions when the White House enters
into space diplomacy, one of the negotiating partners typically overreaches. It remains unclear at this writing
whether the Obama Administration will be able to achieve a positive legacy in this domain. Bureaucratic
wheels have ground slowly, and the administration has yet to elevate and aggregate its varied initiatives relating
to space in the form of an overarching space diplomacy initiative.
The Code of Conduct approach is gaining adherents, but the Obama Administration seems content to allow the
European Union to take the lead on this issue. Meanwhile, the EU has its own bureaucratic gears to mesh, Russia
and China continue to champion an unverifiable treaty of extremely broad scope, and India and Brazil have no
reason to feel partial ownership in the EU’s efforts. Far more is required to gain a working consensus among
major space-faring nations to establish a Code of Conduct that sets norms of responsible behavior. A forum
needs to be found or created for this purpose, in which Russia, China, Brazil, and India can make substantive
inputs. For this to occur, the Obama Administration must somehow find the energy to add this objective to the
very burdensome agenda of senior officials. If this is not possible, a rare opportunity will be missed.
A Case Study in Policy Entrepreneurship | 13
1. Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Policy, January 11, 2001, http://space.au.af.mil/space_commission/executive_summary.pdf,
2. Providing counsel to Stimson were Victor Alessi, Bruce DeBlois, William Durch, Steven Fetter, Charles Ferguson, Peter Hayes, Theresa
Hitchens, Edward Ifft, Rebecca Johnson, Richard Kessler, Ellen Laipson, Michael Levi, Edward Levine, Jeffrey Lewis, John Logsdon, Matthew
McKinzie, David Mosher, Karl Mueller, Douglas Necessary, Janne Nolan, Michael O’Hanlon, Brad Roberts, Alan Shaw, Paul Stares, Sherri
Stephan, and Peter Zimmerman.
7. Thomas Graham, Jr., “Space Weapons and the Risk of Accidental Nuclear War,” Arms Control Today, December 2005, pp. 12-16.
11. One example: “The U.S. Air Force Transformation Flight Plan,” November 2003. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/af/af_trans_
12. Participants included Setsuko Aoki of Keio University; Alexei Arbatov of the Carnegie Moscow Center; Vladimir Dvorkin of the Center
for Policy Studies; Trevor Findlay and Scott Lofquist-Morgan of the Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance; Katsuhisa Furukawa of the
Japan Science and Technology Agency; Laurence Nardon of the French Institute of International Relations; Sergei Oznobistchev of the
Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis; Li Genxin of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association; and Zhang Tousheng of the
China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies.
13. Those who attended were Victor Alessi, Richard Buenneke, Richard DalBello, Theresa Hitchens, John Logsdon, David Koplow, and
20. Participants included Ciro Arevalo-Yepes from Colombia, the head of the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
(COPUOS); Gerard Brachet, former head of COPUOS and Vice Chairman, French Air and Space Academy; Rosine Couchoud of the
French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Filippo Formica of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ellen Goeltz of the German Federal Foreign
Ministry; Garold Larson of the Permanent Mission of the United States to the CD; Yang Li of the Permanent Mission of China to the CD;
Rudiger Ludeking of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Michael Nacht of the University of California, Berkeley; Michiru Nisida of
the Permanent Mission of Japan to the CD; Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao of the Delegation of India to the CD; Ashley tellis of the Carnegie
Endowment; Victor Vasiliev of the Permanent Mission of Russia to the CD; Pearl Williams of the Canadian Foreign Affairs and International
Trade Department; and Ray Williamson of the Secure World Foundation.
25. Meetings were held with, among others, the professional staff on the Senate Foreign Relations, Senate Armed Services and House International
Affairs Committees; the offices of Senator Jon Kyl; Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; Congressmen Mac Thornberry, Senator Jim
Webb, Senator Ben Cardin, Congressman Jim Langevin; Congressman Silvestre Reyes; Senator Bob Corker; Senator Thad Cochran; Senator
Chris Dodd; Congressman Buck McKeon; Congressman Ed Markey; Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, and Congressman Howard Berman.
26. Meetings were held with Senior Colonel Wu Tianfu, Second Artillery Command of the PLA; Senior Colonel Yao Yunzhu of the PLA;
Ambassador Hu Xiodi and Cheng Jingye of the Chinese Foreign Ministry; Zhao Li and Yu Dunhai of the Chinese Mission to the CD;
Minister Prithviraj Chavan, advisor to the Indian Prime Minister; Ambassadors Hamid Ali Rao and Sheel Kant Sharma of the Indian
External Affairs Ministry; Indian strategic affairs analyst Raja Mohan (who has subsequently endorsed the concept of a Code of Conduct);
K. Kasturirangan, former head of India’s space agency and now the Director of the National Institute of Advanced Study in Bangalore; Lt.
Gen. (ret.) Khalid Kidwai, Director-General, Strategic Plans Division, Joint Staff Headquarters, Pakistan; Sergey Rogov, Russian Academy of
Sciences; Alexei Arbatov, Carnegie Moscow Center; Vladimir Dvorkin, Center for Policy Studies; Ambassador Valery Loshchinin and Victor
Vasiliev, Russian Foreign Ministry; Everton Lucero, Embassy of Brazil to the United States; Brazilian Ambassador to the CD Luiz Filipe de
Macedo Soares; Jose Monserrat Filho, Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology; Ambassador Laura Kennedy, U.S. Mission to the CD;
Ambassador Paul Meyer, Phillip Baines, and Dana Smith of the Canadian Foreign Ministry; Tarja Cronberg, Finnish Institute of International
Affairs; Amb. Toshio Sano, Ambassador Akio Suda, and Michiru Nishida, Japanese Foreign Ministry; Setsuko Aoki, Keio University;
Ambassador Carlo Trezza and Filippo Formica, Italian Foreign Ministry; Raffaele De Benedictis, Italian Mission to the CD; Ambassador
Francois Rivasseau, Nicolas Roche, Jean-Paul Granier, and Rosine Couchoud, French Foreign Ministry; Gerard Brachet, former Chairman,
COPUOS, France; Ambassador Rudiger Ludeking and Ellen Goelz, German Foreign Ministry; Gerhard Brauer, European Space Agency;
and Isaac Ben-Israel, former head of Israel’s space agency.
27. Over the project’s duration, the author was interviewed by The New York Times, CNN, Reader’s Digest, Space News, the BBC, Wired
Magazine, PBS, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American, Yomiuri Shimbun, Orlando Sentinel, Voice of America, Business Week, Inside the Pentagon,
and Newsweek International, Washington Post, The Economist, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, U.S. News and World Report, CTV News
Net, Baltimore Sun, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC Newsnight, the Global Security Newswire and additional mainstream media outlets.
14 | A Code of Conduct for Responsible Space-Faring Nations