ECSL Essay Competition

In accordance with one of the ECSL's core objectives of promoting knowledge of and interest in the law relating to space activities through the encouragement of research activities, it was decided in 2014 to inaugurate a Student Essay Competition. The competition challenges students to think critically about a particular topic in space law and policy and to present cogent arguments in support of a position.

The first competition in 2014 addressed the question: What are the main legal issues raised by space mining? It was won by Lucius Klobucnik of the University of Helsinki, Finland.

The second competition in 2015 focused on the question: What is the current and what could be the prospective legal regime for non-orbital flights? The winner was Isis de Moortel of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

The third competition in 2016-17 attracted interest from a high number of students from across Europe. In light of the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty this year, students were invited to address the question of How Would the Outer Space Treaty Be Different If Drafted in 2017?

The 2016-17 winning essay came from Raphael Costa of the Institute of Space and Telecommunications Law (IDEST), part of the University of Paris-Saclay, France. Raphael received his award during the 2017 Practitioners' Forum held in Paris on 17 March 2017. 

His essay, as well as the entries from the previous winners, can be viewed on the right-hand side of this page.

Details on the 2017-18 essay competition will be posted on the ECSL website later this year.


1. Participation

(i) Eligibility
The Essay Competition is open to all students who are currently undertaking a university degree course up to (and including) a Masters degree, in any discipline, in an ESA Member or Cooperating State.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are enrolled students by sending a copy of their university enrollment certificate along with their registration form.

Candidates can enter the competition more than once.

(ii) Registration
Candidates must have their registrations confirmed by the ECSL in order to be eligible to participate in the competition.

Registration will  will close on 11 December 2016.

To register, please complete the registration form available on the right hand toolbar, and send proof of your student status as is indicated in the form.

Once registered you will receive an anonymous candidate number.

2. Format

(i) Language
Essays must be written in English.

(ii) Anonymity
In order to protect anonymity and to ensure a fair process, neither the name of the applicant nor the name of his/her university must appear anywhere in the submitted essay; only the candidate number provided upon registration should be used.

(iii) Software
Essays should be written using Microsoft Word and sent in Microsoft Word format only.

(iv) Length
The body of the essay should not exceed 12 pages (including the footnotes) spaced 1.5, 'normal' 1" margins all around, in Times New Roman, size 12. A covering sheet and bibliography should be added separately (not included in the 12 page word count). All pages must be numbered.

(v) Plagiarism
Plagiarism is cause for immediate disqualification. You are free to take ideas from copyrighted works (e.g. use the same court decision paragraph for your own analysis), but please do not copy or paraphrase ideas expressed previously by others.

Be sure to provide proper references for any material you cite from other sources and for observations or conclusions derived from others’ work. The ECSL recommends the Bluebook Uniform System of Citation. A helpful guide can be found by following the link on the top right hand side of this page.

(vi) Independent Work
All essays submitted should be the sole work of the applicant. It is not permitted to co-author an essay or to show any draft to a Professor or other person for correction or review. All research should likewise be independent.

3. Deadline

Essays must be submitted by 12 January 2017 via e-mail (Word format) to the ECSL Executive Secretary at

4. Assessment

(i) The Judging Panel
The Judging Panel shall be composed of a distinguished panel of professors and practitioners in the field of space law and policy.

(ii) Assessment Criteria
Participants should seek to fulfil the following assessment criteria in their essays:

- A logical presentation of subject matter and issues presented
- A clear understanding of applicable legal rules
- Evidence of research
- Originality of arguments
- Writing style and grammar

(iii) No Appeals
The decision of the Judging Panel is final. No appeals will be entertained.

(iv) Announcement of Results
Results of the competition will be announced on the ESCL website. All participants who submitted essays will be informed via email.

(v) Feedback
Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide individual feedback for each of the essays submitted.

5. Prizes

Essay competition winners shall be presented with their awards during the ECSL Practitioners’ Forum in the same year the results are announced.

First Prize: Reasonable costs of transport and accommodation (for a trip originating within Europe only) to attend the ECSL Practitioners’ Forum. The winning essay will be published on the ECSL website.

Second Prize: 2nd Place Certificate, ECSL membership for one year (free admission to the Practitioners’ Forum), special mention at the Forum and in the ECSL Newsletter & a selected publication on space law.

Third Prize: 3rd Place Certificate, ECSL membership for one year (free admission to the Practitioners’ Forum), special mention at the Forum and in the ECSL Newsletter & a selected publication on space law.

6. Further Terms and Conditions of Participation

The ECSL reserves the right to disqualify essays which do not comply with any of the rules above.

Participants accept all responsibility for late, lost, misdirected or illegible entries.

In consideration of the opportunity to enter the ECSL Essay Competition, participants agree to allow the ECSL to use their names and essays on the ECSL website.

By entering, participants agree to be bound by these rules and the decisions of the judges and ECSL.

7. Enquiries

For further information, please contact the ECSL Executive Secretary at

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