Dr. Jessica West

Dr. Jessica West is a Senior Researcher at Project Ploughshares, a Canadian peace and security research institute where her work is focused on technology, security, and governance in outer space. She has held this position since 2015, and previously worked there on space security and nuclear disarmament issues as a Project Officer (2006-2009).

As part of her work at Project Ploughshares, Jessica served as the Program Manager of the international research consortia responsible for the Space Security Index project for seven years, and as Managing Editor for the 2007-2009 and 2016-2019 publications. She interacts regularly with key United Nations bodies tasked with space security and sustainability issues including the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), the Conference on Disarmament, the UN First Committee on International Security and Disarmament, and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). Her work has been presented at various international conferences including the Secure World Foundation Sustainability Summit, the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOSConference, the Observer Research Foundation’s Kaplana Chawla Annual Space Dialogue, and the International Astronautical Congress (IAC).

Recently, Jessica has concluded a significant research effort to identify and map existing values, principles, and norms in outer space and identifying opportunities for advancing international security related norms, with funding from the Canadian Department of National Defence’s MINDS program (Mobilizing Insights in National Security). She currently has a second research grant to extend this work with a study of lessons learned from other domains of arms control and their applicability to outer space.

In addition to this work, Jessica has produced several publications in leading books related to space security including:

  • “Space Security Cooperation: Changing Dynamics,” in Kai-Uwe Schrogl et al. eds. Handbook of Space Security
  • “From Peaceful Uses to Warfighting: The Dangers of the New Military Era in Space,” in Nikki Coleman ed., Military Space Ethics (2021)
  • “Governing military competition in space: the need for arms control,” in Thomas Hoerber and Iraklis Oikonomou eds., The Militarization of Space Policy: The EU and Beyond (Forthcoming)
  • “Arms Control and the Abiding Myth of Peace in Space,” in JP Blount and Saadia Pekkanen eds., Oxford Handbook of Space Security (Forthcoming)
  • "Norms for Outer Space: A Small Step or a Giant Leap for Policymaking?," for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
  • "Clearing the Fog: The Grey Zones of Space Governance," in the Centre for International Governance Innovation

Jessica is also a Research Fellow at the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College and the University of Waterloo, a member of the North America and Arctic Defence Research Network (NAASDN), and a member of the Canadian Pugwash Group.

Dr. West completed her PhD in global governance and international security studies at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier, with a dissertation titled “Defense in Depth: An Anatomy of Containment from Quarantine to Resilience.” She holds an MA in international affairs from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and an Hons.BA in political science from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Last updated on January 22, 2024