Michael Byers

Wall Associate




Department of Political Science





Geographic Location

Michael Byers

Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law. His work focuses on Outer Space, Arctic sovereignty, climate change, the law of the sea, the laws of war, and Canadian foreign and defence policy. Dr. Byers has been a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, a Professor of Law at Duke University, and a Visiting Professor at the universities of Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Nord (Norway) and Novosibirsk (Russia). His most recent book is International Law and the Arctic (Cambridge University Press), which won the 2013 Donner Prize. Dr. Byers is a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Co-Principal Investigator Awards

Aaron Boley – International Research Roundtables – 2020

This roundtable will address new and acute challenges concerning the governance of outer space, including orbital debris, the weaponization of space, and space mining. The use and access to space is changing rapidly, due to technological change and the entry of new state and non-state actors, including large and highly capable companies. Interdisciplinary research is urgently needed to inform international policy decisions that will likely be made within the next 3-5 years. The complexity of the issues requires collaboration between astrodynamicists, planetary scientists, aerospace engineers, international lawyers, political scientists, industry leaders, and government decision makers – from around the world.

Moriba Jah – International Visiting Research Scholars – 2020

One of Dr. Jah’s projects, AstriaGraph ( http://astria.tacc.utexas.edu/AstriaGraph/ ) seeks to gather and curate all sources of information about artificial objects in Earth orbit via participatory sensing.  He is developing the analytics to assess satellite operators, and to support the Space Sustainability Rating.

Drs. Jah and Byers plan to research and co-author an article on space debris litigation. He will also work with Dr. Boley to co-author a paper on the ecological footprint of space debris, re-defining metrics to assess how crowded orbits are, including studying the carrying capacity of orbits.  These projects would open the door to using domestic courts to obtain compensation for damage caused by negligent satellite operations, as well as to provide well-defined criteria for assessing the load on the orbital environment. It would provide a powerful incentive for companies to exercise care in the design, construction, launch, placement, and operation of their satellites, and thus help to prevent a tragedy of the commons in Earth orbit.