The Space Treaty Project

Our Mission: To give people Hope and Inspiration by helping the nations of Earth to build a Common Future

The Space Treaty Project was started in 2017 in response to the growing Cold War over outer space resources. In 2019 it was incorporated as a scientific and educational nonprofit based in Mendocino County, California USA, and is formally known as the Space Treaty Institute. It has been recognized as a charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code.

The immediate goal of the Project/Institute is to help create a new international agreement for outer space that supports private activity while protecting essential public policies. This effort received a big boost in 2022, when the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) created a Working Group on Outer Space Resources, with a five-year mission that includes developing possible “international governance instruments”.

Since 2018, the Project/Institute has published 13 articles (including a peer-reviewed journal article), 17 conference papers/presentations, and one book, all on space law and policy. A full list, with links to sources, is below.

In the third decade of the 21st century, humanity has reached a historical crisis, when just the slightest change will affect future generations for decades, perhaps centuries. Every day people wake up to news of the increasingly disastrous effects of climate change, racial and gender injustice, worsening economic inequality, and assaults on democracy. To that has now been added the threat of war in outer space. The people of Earth have begun to lose faith in their governments, their private institutions, even in humanity itself, wondering if there is anything they can really believe in. They are losing hope, and the resulting cynicism is poisoning our politics, our relationships, even our thinking.

Our mission must be nothing less than to restore that hope, to give the people of Earth something to believe in. To build that shining city on the hill that will light the way for all.

To join this effort, please sign our Share The Moon petition. It will be shared with the member states and official observers of COPUOS and other world leaders. If you would like to help us maintain and increase our presence at space conferences throughout the world, please consider making a secure donation online at www.cloudforest.org. Please include “Space Treaty Institute” in the notation field. All donations to STI are tax-deductible.

Thank you very much for your interest and support.

Dennis O’Brien, Founder and President, The Space Treaty Project/Institute dennisobrien@spacetreaty.org

ARTICLES

Why it’s a bad idea to weaken the Moon Treaty. The Space Review, March 5, 2018. https://www.thespacereview.com/article/3444/1

Space law 2018: nationalists versus internationalists. The Space Review, April 30, 2018. https://www.thespacereview.com/article/3482/1

Mars: A case study in space law. The Space Review, November 26, 2018. https://www.thespacereview.com/article/3609/1

Beyond UNISPACE: It’s Time for the Moon Treaty. The Space Review, January 21, 2019. https://www.thespacereview.com/article/3642/1

Why improved registration is essential for public and private activities on the Moon, The Space Review, January 13, 2020. https://www.thespacereview.com/article/3862/1

Legal Support for the Private Sector: An Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty (peer-reviewed article). Journal of Advances in Astronautics Science and Technology, May 20, 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42423-020-00059-w (pdf available at http://www.spacetreaty.org/implementationagreementjournalrevision.pdf

Hard law or soft law? The debate about the future of space law, The Space Review, April 13, 2020. Article about the Cleveland conference (below). https://www.thespacereview.com/article/3918/1

The Artemis Accords: Repeating the Mistakes of the Age of Exploration. Modern Diplomacy, June 10, 2020. https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/06/10/the-artemis-accords-repeating-the-mistakes-of-the-age-of-exploration/

In the new spectrum of space law, will Biden favor the Moon Treaty? The Space Review, November 23, 2020. https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4073/1

Is outer space a de jure common-pool resource? The Space Review, October 25, 2021. https://www.thespacereview.com/article/4270/1

Confidential or Shared? The Discovery of Outer Space Resources by the Private Sector. SpaceWatch.Global, September 2022. https://spacewatch.global/2022/09/spacewatchgl-opinion-confidential-or-shared-the-discovery-of-outer-space-resources-by-the-private-sector/

Will COPUOS five-year mission produce a new “international governance instrument” for outer space resources? Modern Diplomacy, February 3, 2023. https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2023/02/03/will-copuos-five-year-mission-produce-a-new-international-governance-instrument-for-outer-space-resources/

Space Law 2023: Can nationalists and internationalists find common ground? SpaceWatch.Global, May 2023. https://spacewatch.global/2023/05/spacewatchgl-opinion-space-law-2023-can-nationalists-and-internationalists-find-common-ground/

UN-COPUOS space resources meetings reveal wide spectrum of opinions but also some consensus on scope of discussions. SpaceWatch.Global, July 2023. https://spacewatch.global/2023/07/spacewatchgl-opinion-un-copuos-space-resources-meetings-reveal-wide-spectrum-of-opinions-but-also-some-consensus-on-scope-of-discussions/

PAPERS AND PRESENTATIONS

OTV: An Argument for the Independent Trader. Research paper for the NASA – UC Law Research Project (University of California Law, San Francisco), June 1985. www.spacetreaty.org/OTV.pdf

Major Tom: A Story Of Hope. Novel, January 2018. Amazon. Free electronic version available at www.spacetreaty.org/majortom.docx.

UNISPACE +50: Time for the Moon Treaty. International Astronautical Congress, Bremen, Germany, September 2018. http://www.spacetreaty.org/unispace50timeforthemoontreaty.pdf

The Grand Bargain: Private Property Rights for Public Policy Obligations. Conference paper for Symposium on International Governance of Emerging Space Issues under the Rule of Law, Changsha, China, April 2019 http://www.spacetreaty.org/thegrandbargaincisl.pdf

The Way Forward: An Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty. 8th CSA-IAA Conference on Advanced Space Technology, Shanghai, China, September 2019. http://www.spacetreaty.org/thewayforward-animplementationagreementforthemoontreaty.pdf

(Same paper at the Superpower Dominion in Outer Space conference, National Law University, Andhra Pradesh, India, October 12-13, 2019. https://dsnlu.ac.in/seminars-conferences/)

Public Policy Obligations of the Moon Treaty (poster presentation), 27th IAF-UNOOSA Workshop on Space Technology for Socio-Economic Benefits, Washington, D.C., October 18-20 2019. https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/psa/schedule/2019/2019-iaf.html

MVA White Paper: Registration of Landing Sites and Other Surface Activity on the Moon (principal author and presenter), Moon Village Association 3rd International Symposium & Workshop, Tokyo/Kyoto, Japan, December 5-8, 2019. https://moonvillageassociation.org/download/white-papers-of-coordination-cooperation-working-group-public-consultation/;

Closing the Gap in Space Law: An Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty. Pamphlet, same event. http://www.spacetreaty.org/implementationagreementpamphlettokyo.pdf

Returning to the Moon: Legal Challenges as Humanity Begins to Settle the Solar System. Symposium presented by the Global Space Law Center, Cleveland State University, March 6, 2020. Panel member, How Will We Govern a Moon Village? and final discussion. Videos, transcripts at https://www.law.csuohio.edu/newsevents/events/2020030608305549

Legal Support for the Private Sector: An Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty (video presentation). The Moon Society, Lunar Development Conference, July 20, 2020.

Space Law: How the Moon Treaty can Help Humanity Return to the Moon in a Peaceful & Sustainable Way. Video for International Astronautical Congress, October 13, 2020 (cancelled) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFd-kyT6IeQ

Legal Support for the Moon Village: An Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty. Video presentation, Moon Village Association Annual Workshop & Symposium, November 10, 2020. https://mva2020.cseo.org.cy/presentations-repository/

An Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty: A Basic Framework of Governance for the Commons of Outer Space. Video, Commons in Space Conference, International Association for the Study of the Commons, Feb. 22, 2021. https://youtu.be/n_R70y613Pk

Legal Support for Polycentric Governance: An Article 11 Implementation Agreement for the Moon Treaty. Video, Polycentricity Conference, International Association for the Study of the Commons, May 18, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljqmjjZo-CM&t=2s

Avoiding a new Age of Imperialism. Conference paper and video for GLEX 2021, Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 2021 (did not attend due to health, covid).

http://www.spacetreaty.org/implementationagreementglex2021.pdf

Exclusion or Sharing? An Article 11 Resource Agreement for the Moon Treaty. Conference paper and video for IISL/IAC in Dubai, October 2021 (did not attend due to health, covid).

http://www.spacetreaty.org/exclusionorsharing.pdf

Governance Without a New Government: A Model Resource Agreement for the Moon Treaty. Commons in Space 2022 (virtual conference), International Association for the Study of the Commons, Nov. 2, 2022. https://2022space.iasc-commons.org/space-resource-extraction/ (video available to IASC members at https://2022space.iasc-commons.org/)

The Status of Lunar Settlements and Settlers under Customary International Law. 6th Global Moon Village Workshop & Symposium, Nov. 8, 2022. https://moonvillageassociation.org/6th-global-moon-village-workshop-symposium/mva2022-recording/ (Day 1, 7:02:26)

Governance Without a New Government: A Model Resource Agreement for the Moon Treaty. United Nations/China 2nd Global Partnership Workshop on Space Exploration and Innovation, Nov. 22, 2022. https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/psa/schedule/2022/un-china-workshop-programme.html#Tag3 (International Laws and Policy)

Dennis O’Brien is a lawyer and former member of the NASA – UC Law Research Project in San Francisco. He is currently a member of the Adaptive Governance Working Group of the Moon Village Association and the Space Law Committee of Space Renaissance International. In 2017 he started the Space Treaty Project, now the Space Treaty Institute, a scientific & educational nonprofit located in Mendocino County, California. Its mission: To give people Hope and Inspiration by helping the nations of the world to build a Common Future. This mission received a boost in 2022 by the creation of an Outer Space Resources Working Group by the United Nation’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), with a five-year mandate to consider “additional international governance instruments”.