Welcome to The Space Treaty Institute, a scientific and educational nonprofit located in Mendocino County, California. The mission of the Institute is to give people Hope and Inspiration by helping the nations of the Earth to build a Common Future.
At this moment in history, the best way to do that is by building an international framework of laws that will support public and private activity in outer space. By extending the rule of law into space, we can achieve the twin goals of peaceful cooperation and sustainable development.
Right now there is a gap in space law, one that finds its origins in the Outer Space Treaty. Article II of that treaty states that “Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
This simple prohibition worked well so long as missions to the Moon and beyond were by national governments and limited to science and exploration. But we have now reached a time when it has become technologically and financially possible for non-governmental entities to engage in commerce and otherwise use the celestial bodies of our solar system. Their greatest impediment now is a legal structure that does not support their efforts or, at best, is so ambiguous that they are not able to make rational business decisions or attract adequate investment.
There are also several public policy obligations that are unsettled. Some involve sharing information and registration. Others involve sharing the benefits of space exploration and development with all nations, regardless of their level of technological advancement. Both of these issues – private activity and public policies – can only be addressed by an international framework of laws for outer space.
The Space Treaty Institute has proposed an Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty that does both. The Agreement is based on four organizational principles:
1. The legal framework must be comprehensive in scope and support all private activity
2. The Grand Bargain: Trade private property rights for public policy obligations
3. Defer issues currently at impasse (e.g., monetary sharing of benefits) by creating a governance process for making future decisions.
4. Build upon and integrate current institutions and processes.
Why use the Moon Treaty? Because the Moon Treaty specifically authorizes a legal framework that overrides the non-appropriation clause of the Outer Space Treaty, but only if it is by international agreement. No one state can impose its will on others. That is the dominance model. But that model was tried 500 years ago, during the last age of exploration. It has produced endless conflict between nations, resulting in war, suffering, and neglect.
We must not allow that to continue. Extending the rule of law into outer space at the very moment that humanity is about to leave the home planet is the best way to promote peace and sustainability in outer space. It will also encourage peace and sustainability on Earth itself. The proposed Implementation Agreement is only 10 paragraphs long, but it establishes the basic framework needed to support private activity while protecting public policies. Please sign the petition to support the adoption of the Moon Treaty (with the proposed Implementation Agreement) and help bring hope and inspiration to all humanity.