Prof. Michael Byers wins 2023 Donner Prize for “Who Owns Outer Space?”

UBC Political Science Professor Michael Byers recently won the 2023 Donner Prize for his book Who Owns Outer Space? International Law, Astrophysics, and the Sustainable Development of Space, co-authored with Professor Aaron Boley of UBC Physics & Astronomy.

The Donner Prize is awarded annually to the best public policy book by a Canadian. Jurors praised the Who Owns Outer Space?, saying that it offered a “down to earth” analysis of a vital topic that explores both the scientific and governance aspects of space law.

Professor Byers is now one of only two people to win the Donner Prize twice. He also won in 2013 for his book, International Law and the Arctic, which explored how law-making and regulation have developed in the Arctic as it has gained a more prominent role in foreign policy.

Who Owns Outer Space? draws attention to the many risks that are linked to the deployment of very large numbers of new satellites, and the growing rivalries among leading spacefaring nations and corporations.

The book includes an examination of existing international treaties and state practices that show both the effectiveness of the rules and practices already in place and, importantly, their limitations, as well as suggesting how international law and other cooperative arrangements could be strengthened to avoid catastrophic incidents.

Professors Byers and Boley are also the co-directors of the Outer Space Institute, a network of world-leading space experts working on transdisciplinary research that addresses challenges facing the continued use and exploration of space.