Founded in 1960, the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) is an independent non-governmental organisation dedicated to fostering the development of space law. The membership of the Institute is composed of elected individuals and institutions from almost fifty countries elected on the basis of their contributions to the field of space law or other social sciences related to space activities. In addition, prospective membership is open to students and young professionals with a demonstrated interest in space law.
The objective of the IISL is to promote the further development of space law and the expansion of the rule of law in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. To this end, it holds meetings, colloquia and competitions on juridical and social science aspects of space activities, prepares studies and reports, publishes books, proceedings, reports and position papers, and cooperates with appropriate international organizations and national institutions in the field of space law.
The IISL holds its annual Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), in close cooperation with its two sister organisations, the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA). In addition, the Institute organises a variety of conferences on space law throughout the year in locations all over the world, such as the annual Eilene Galloway symposia on critical issues in space law.
The IISL is an official observer of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and its Scientific & Technical and Legal Subcommittees. The IISL appoints members as official observers to the sessions of the Committee and presents reports on its activities. Also, in cooperation with the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL), the IISL organises annual IISL/ECSL space law symposia for the delegates and staff attending the sessions of the UNCOPUOS Legal Subcommittee in Vienna, Austria.
The IISL publishes annual IISL Proceedings, containing papers presented at and reports of all its activities during the year, and issues Statements to foster the debate on legal aspects of space activities.
The Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition has been organised by the IISL since 1992. Each year, students from North America, Latin America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific and Africa prepare and present written and oral arguments on a hypothetical space law case. Regional competitions are conducted each spring, and the winning teams meet in the World Finals held in conjunction with the annual IISL Colloquium at the IAC. The World Finals are traditionally judged by sitting Judges of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.