The International Institute of Space Law (IISL) is sad to note the passing on 27 January 2014 of our friend and colleague Vladimir Kopal.
An Honorary Director and former Vice President of the IISL, Prof. Dr Kopal was Professor of International Law at Plzeň University at the Czech Republic. In 2010, he received the IISL's Lifetime Achievement Award.
As a delegate of his country, and later on as a UN Officer, he participated in many sessions of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and its Subcommittees from 1962 until last year. He was Chairman of the COPUOS Legal Subcommittee from 1999 through 2003, and in 2008, he was reelected as Chairman of the Subcommittee for the period 2008-2009.
During the 1980s, he served as Principal Officer of the United Nations in New York and Secretary to the COPUOS Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, and from 1983 through 1988 as Chief of the UN Outer Space Affairs Divisions. He participated in all the UN Conferences on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (1968, 1982, and 1999) and also in the five-year review by the General Assembly of the implementation of the recommendations of the Third UN Conference, which took place in 2004. He lectured and chaired at UN Workshops on space law and other UN meetings. As a delegate of his country, Dr Kopal also participated in the Seabed Committee and during the period 1974 through 1980 in the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.
Prior to his admission to the United Nations, he was chief of the Department of International Law and Organisations in the Institute of Law of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Professor of International Law at Charles University of Prague. He was a founding member and scientific secretary of the Commission on Astronautics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (1959-1980).
Professor Kopal was the long-serving General Counsel of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) until his death and was member of several organisations dealing with space matters and international law. He was also Member and Legal Counsel for the International Academy of Astronautics along with roles within COSPAR, the European Centre for Space Law, the International Council of Environmental Law, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and many other national and international bodies.
Professor Kopal lectured on general international law, the law of international organisations, space law and the law of the sea at several universities in his home country and abroad, at many international conferences and other institutions. He was an author of more than 250 monographs, articles and other papers. Six years ago, he was co-author, together with Professor I.H.Ph. Diederiks-Verschoor, of a manual "An Introduction to Space Law".
Alongside his IISL award, Professor Kopal received recognition from the International Astronautical Federation for his dedication to the development of international cooperation in space activities for peaceful purposes, a golden medal of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences for his contributions to the progressive development of international law; and a golden medal of the Hermann Oberth Society for the development of international cooperation in space activities.
His funeral will take place on 11 February.