AIJA Best International Future Lawyers Award • 2018

About the Award

The Best International Future Lawyer Award is granted by AIJA, the International Association of Young Lawyers, for the best written Essay on "".

This is a prestigious opportunity to show law students’ potential to their future colleagues and employers.

Applications were accepted until May 15.

The winner 2018

Christopher Sawyer’s essay explores the existing, but perhaps inadequate, international legislation vis-à-vis humanity’s use of space and celestial bodies. He shows that although some legislation exists, there are simply not enough controls in place at present to properly govern a colony formed on the Moon.

His essay considers that if a colony was formed off-world, its inhabitants would be from different countries and therefore different legal systems. Without a written legal system, without certainty, legal nuances would be lost and chaos would ensue shortly after inhabitation. Christopher also explores the concepts of citizenship and what this would mean for people who emigrate to the colony and the generations of people born there, as well as different forms of government which could work in controlling the colony (or colonies, as it were).

Christopher graduated from the University of South Africa (UNISA) in September 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in commerce (BCom), with double majors in law and tax. He then pursued a bachelor’s degree in law (LLB) at the same university and graduated in September 2018. In his final year of LLB studies, Christopher took modules on International Law, World Trade Law and International Transport Law. With interests in aviation, science-fiction and law, Christopher hopes to move further into the expanding international, space and commercial legal fields, both academically and in practice.

Read here the essay

Winner of previous editions

2017 - “Will the increasing use of technology in law invigorate or diminish legal professionalism as the nature of information in the Digital Society changes?”, Lorraine Chimbga - Read here the essay

2016 - “Governing Shared Natural Resources of the International Seabed Area”, Sharefah Almuhana - Read here the essay


The Winner will be honoured with:

Free AIJA Membership until 2021.

Publication of the Winner’s name and Essay’s title on AIJA’s website, social media and various communication channels.

Invitation to attend free of charge the 2018 International Young Lawyers’ Congress taking place in Brussels, Belgium, on 28 August - 1 September. Travel and accommodation will also be covered.


Professor Armel Kerrest

Emeritus Professor of Public Law in the French Universities, Professor Armel Kerrest taught International Public Law, especially Space Law and Law of the Sea at the Universities of Western Brittany and Paris XI. He taught in other French and foreign universities on many occasions, published books and articles on European and International Law especially Space Law and Law of the Sea.

He advises for Space Law International Organisations, Governments and Companies. He is the Vice chairman of the European Centre for Space Law of the European Space Agency (ECSL/ESA), the President of the Association for the Development of Space Law in France, the Chairman of the Institute of Law of International Spaces and Telecommunications (Brittany); a Member of the Space Law Committee of the International Law Association (ILA) and of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) and a member of the Société francaise de droit aérien et spatial (SFDAS) a member of the board of the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL). He is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and a corresponding member of the Académie de l'Air et de l'Espace.

Professor Dr. Frans G. von der Dunk

Professor Dr. Frans G. von der Dunk holds the Harvey and Susan Perlman Alumni / Othmer Chair of Space Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s LL.M. Programme on Space and Telecommunication Law (more information on the programme) since January 2008. He also is Director of Black Holes BV, Consultancy in space law and policy, based in Leiden (more information).

Von der Dunk was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in Vancouver, in October 2004, the Social Science Award of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) in Valencia, in October 2006 and the Social Science Book Award of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) in Jerusalem, in October 2015. He was a signatory, together with various Nobel Prize winners, dozens of astronauts and cosmonauts and other luminaries from the global science and entertainment community, of the ‘Asteroid 100x Declaration’, December 2014.

He defended his dissertation on “Private Enterprise and Public Interest in the European ‘Spacescape’” in 1998 and published the first comprehensive “Handbook on Space Law”, with a foreword by Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, in 2015. As of 2006, he is the Series Editor of ‘Studies in Space Law’, published by Brill.

Von der Dunk has written more than 180 articles and published papers, many of which can be accessed here, giving rise to hundreds of full-text downloads monthly. He has given more than 150 presentations at international meetings and was visiting professor at over 30 universities and other academic institutions across the world on subjects of international and national space law and policy, international air law and public international law. He has (co-)organised some 20 international symposia, workshops and other events, and has been (co-)editor of a number of publications and proceedings.

Von der Dunk has acted as legal advisor or legal task manager in more than 90 projects, advising various government agencies and international organizations as well as a number of non-governmental organizations and industrial stakeholders on matters of space law and policy, including major space applications such as satellite navigation, remote sensing and private commercial spaceflight.


  • 1 February

    are accepted
    as from

  • 15 May

    to submit
    your Essay


Exclusive sponsor

With the support of the European Centre for Space Law

Terms & conditions

  1. Description: The Best International Future Lawyer Award (the “Award”) is granted by AIJA for the best written essay (the “Essay”) submitted on any topic in the field of internationally related law.
  2. Eligible candidates: Law students aged 45 and under who are still enrolled at any university worldwide at the time the Paper is submitted (“Eligible Candidates”). Eligible Candidates may be pursuing law studies at any level -including graduate or postgraduate studies- to the extent they are not yet admitted to practice and/or licensed in their jurisdiction. AIJA membership is not a requirement to submit application. Eligible Candidates may only submit one individual or joint Essay per year. Previous winners of this or any other AIJA award or scholarship are also excluded from the Competition. All other Eligible Candidates from previous years may reapply.
  3. Submission Format: an electronic application submitted through the website form available here. Joint papers are eligible, but all authors must be Eligible Candidates at the time of submission.
  4. Deadline: Essays are due on 15 May . AIJA will start accepting Essays on 1 February . Submission deadlines will be strictly observed; late Essays will not be accepted.
  5. Essay requirements:
    1. The paper may be the outcome of an Eligible Candidate’s assignment at University or the full or revised version of the Eligible Candidate’s graduate thesis.
    2. It must be about the following topic “”.
    3. It must be written in English or in French.
    4. The text must be double-spaced, with twelve-point Times New Roman font and one-inch margins, in A4 paper-size.
    5. Between 10 and 15 pages, including footnotes.
    6. It must be divided into; (I) Executive Summary; (II) The Question(s) Presented section; (III) the Statement of the Facts / Statement of the Case section; (IV) the Argument section and (V) Conclusion.
    7. Anonymous. Essays need to be anonymous. Identifying information will be part of the submission form. Essays must not identify the university name or location. AIJA may disqualify any Essay that includes such identifying information.
  6. Evaluation:
    1. Anonymisation: AIJA will allocate a secret associative code to each set of Entry Form and Essay. Each Essay will be then detached from its Entry Form and only the former will be provided to the Evaluators, so as to make sure neither the Eligible Candidate’s identity nor his University are known by any of the Evaluators. Once the Award is granted to the winning Essay, AIJA will re-attach it to its Entry Form by using the secret associative code to know the Winner.
    2. Evaluators: The evaluation will be done by a panel of selected judges chosen by the Membership Forum of AIJA. There will be an evaluation panel consisting of an uneven number (at least three) of Evaluators. The Evaluators will read the anonymised Essays and will select one as the winner by majority of votes (the “Winner”).
    3. Evaluation Criteria: Essays will be evaluated on quality of research and analysis and novelty, profundity and overall contribution of the Essay to legal knowledge. Bearing in mind that part or most of the Eligible Candidates may not be native English or French speakers, Evaluators will nonetheless take into consideration the Essay’s grammar, spelling, usage and syntax, clarity, structure, and overall appearance. Eligible Candidates shall have no claim to be awarded the Award, even if all prerequisites are met. The decisions made by the Evaluators cannot be appealed against.
  7. Prize: The Winner will be honoured with:
    1. Free AIJA membership for the three years following the award ceremony.
    2. Publication of the Winner’s name and Essay’s title on AIJA’s website newsletters, etc.
    3. Invitation to that year’s AIJA Annual Congress, where the Winner (i) might be required to present a summary of the Essay at the relevant Commission’s meeting and/or working session; and (ii) will be granted an Award certificate during the Congress. The Winner will be exempted from paying registration fees. In addition, AIJA will pay for economy travelling expenses and accommodation. The Winner will also receive a specific badge.
    4. When the winning Essay is a co-authored paper, the prizes described in (a) and (c) above will have to be divided between the co-authors, either in the way jointly indicated by them or in the way decided by AIJA if the former are unable to reach an agreement on how to divide the prizes.
  8. Copyright: AIJA shall be fully entitled to publish, both in hard copy and electronically, the winning Essay in any AIJA’s publication in any format or language. The Winner will be fully accredited as author.

Application form

Registrations open on February 1st and close on May 15th, .

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