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In Twilight Imperium, when you activate a system, you don't have to move units. The rules for Movement say:

The player may choose to not move any ships.

This rule appears to be for the purpose of letting you use production abilities in a system without needing to move units there. But can you still activate a sector, moving no units, if you don't have any units there?

This would let you do two things. First, you could spend a tactics token to delay acting (similar to the race ability of The Yssaril Tribes). Second, if done on a system adjacent to one or more of your PDS II's, this would let you fire a volley of space cannons at the ships without committing any units.

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You can (barring an rules reference update by FFG).

The rules on Tactical Actions have the following restrictions:

The active player must activate a system that does not contain one of his command tokens.

• To activate a system, the active player places a command token from his tactic pool on that system. That system is the active system.

• Other players’ command tokens do not prevent a player from activating a system.

As noted in the question, moving ships is not a requirement of the movement step of tactical action. Nowhere in this are you prevented from activating such a system.

Three things to note if you are doing this to get a space cannon volley:

  1. You will not be able to subsequently move units into that system this round (unless you use the Warfare strategy ability) as it already has one of your command tokens.

  2. You cannot do this if you have already activated that system this round (unless you use the Warfare strategy ability).

  3. The only space cannons that work with this are your own (see this question for details).

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