SHARE THE MOON!
SHARE THE MOON!
Why this petition matters
[For more information about the Space Treaty Project and related papers/articles, please go to https://spacetreaty.org/wordpress/index.php/the-space-treaty-institute/]
A new Cold War is developing in outer space, along with a new Age of Imperialism. Although the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 requires free access for all and no appropriation of territory, some countries are trying to establish exclusive economic zones, euphemistically called "safety zones". This effort to exclude others from prime resources, such as water ice in polar craters, can only lead to conflict and a perpetuation of the war, suffering, and neglect that has gripped our home planet for centuries. What we need now is an international agreement that requires countries and their nationals to share access to outer space resources and to conduct their resource activities in such a manner that others can safely access the same resources.
Granting exclusive rights on the Moon is an act of sovereignty that is prohibited by international law. The Outer Space Treaty, adopted in 1967, states that "Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law, and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies. . . . 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." The Moon Treaty, a follow-up treaty proposed by the United Nations, allows such commercial development, but only within the framework of an international resource agreement. The declared purpose of the Moon Treaty is "to promote on the basis of equality the further development of co-operation among States in the exploration and use of the moon and other celestial bodies" and "to prevent the moon from becoming an area of international conflict." It also calls for the “orderly and safe development” of space resources and the sharing of benefits with less-developed countries. It has so far been adopted by 18 nations, but not the United States or any other space-faring nation.
Since 2017, the Space Treaty Project has been developing a Model Resource Agreement for the Moon Treaty. After extensive peer review and public comment, the current version establishes a legal framework for resource development that supports private activity while still protecting essential public policies, all without creating a new supra-national government. The full text of the agreement (two pages) is at www.spacetreaty.org/modelimplementationagreementcurrent.pdf.
This effort has just been given a boost by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. It recently created a Working Group on Outer Space Resources, whose five-year mandate includes considering "additional international governance instruments". Their work so far is available at https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/copuos/2023/index.html. But a stalemate has developed, one that threatens to derail efforts toward a new international agreement. This Petition is intended to show popular support for such an agreement, to make it easier for negotiators and world leaders to achieve consensus on a framework for sharing outer space resources.
We have reached a moment in humanity's history when an international agreement is essential. In December 1968, our view of the world changed, literally. As Apollo 8 rounded the Moon, the astronauts on board were suddenly overwhelmed as humans saw the Earth rising above the lunar horizon for the first time. The picture taken at that moment showed our beautiful planet hanging in the vastness of space. Humanity as a species began to realize that we are all one, living together on a fragile planet hurtling through the cosmos.
But even though no borders were visible, war and suffering continue to wrack our home world. In the half-century since, people have begun to lose faith in their governments, their private institutions, even in humanity itself. Every day we wake up to news of worsening climate change, increasing social unrest, and rising international conflict. To that has now been added the threat of war in outer space. The people of Earth are beginning to despair, wondering if there is anything they can really believe in. They are losing hope.
The mission of the Space Treaty Project is nothing less than to restore that hope, to counter the despair of war and violence and neglect, to give the people of our planet a future they can believe in by helping the nations of the Earth to build a common future. We have a unique opportunity to set an example, to build that shining city on a hill that will light the way for all.
It has been 500 years since the world has had such an opportunity to start anew. At that time, we chose to perpetuate military conquest and economic exploitation, which caused misery and countless wars. And when the Industrial Revolution came along, we placed profits ahead of people, resulting in economic and environmental catastrophe. Much of humanity stopped believing in our ability to control our own destiny.
We can change that. But we must act now. There will be only one time when humanity leaves its home world, only one chance to create a new pattern that will lead each person, and all nations, to their best destiny. That time is now. Please join in this effort to restore hope and create a better world – a better universe – for all of us.