Ratifications and signatories of the treaty
|Signed||December 18, 1979|
|Location||New York, USA|
|Effective||July 11, 1984|
|Parties||18 (as of January 2019)|
|Depositary||Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|Languages||English, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese|
|International ownership treaties|
The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies,better known as the Moon Treaty or Moon Agreement, is a multilateral treaty that turns jurisdiction of all celestial bodies (including the orbits around such bodies) over to the participant countries. Thus, all activities would conform to international law, including the United Nations Charter.
It has not been ratified by any state that engages in self-launched human spaceflight or has plans to do so (e.g. the United States, the larger part of the member states of the European Space Agency, Russia (former Soviet Union), People's Republic of China and Japan) since its creation in 1979, and thus it has little to no relevancy in international law.As of January 2019, 18 states are parties to the treaty.
After the 1967 non-armament Outer Space Treaty was signed, it was followed in 1968 with the United Nations convened UNISPACE, the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. It was the first of a series of UN-sponsored conferences intended to create an international framework of laws to guide humanity's use of outer space resources.However, the efforts failed.
After ten more years of negotiations, the Moon Treaty was created in 1979 as a framework of laws to develop a regime of detailed procedures, and as such, it remained imprecise: its Article 11.5 states that the exploitation of the natural shall be governed by an international regime that would establish the appropriate procedures. In order to define this regime or laws, a series of UN-sponsored conferences took place, but brought no consensus. The continuing disagreement is based mainly over the meaning of "Common Heritage of Mankind" and on the rights of each country to the natural resources of the Moon.
On July 29 and 31, 1980, the Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space, which was a part of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held hearings on the Moon Treaty. S. Neil Hosenball was one of the supporters of the treaty, and he attempted to compare the Moon Treaty to mining rights within the United States. Hosenball was unsuccessful in his attempt to convince the committee that the United States should ratify the Moon Treaty. The opposition, lead by Leigh Ratiner of the L-5 Society, stated that the Moon Treaty was opposed to free enterprise and private property rights. Ratiner provided a potential solution to the Moon Treaty, and suggested that there should be legal claims to the Moon and "there should be a system to register such claims. By the way, I'm not speaking of claims to territory...I don't think it's necessary for us to deal with the issue of whether one can make a claim to the land itself, as long as one has the exclusive right to use it."
The last effort culminated in June 2018 after eight years of negotiations,when the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) held a high-level meeting that tried to produce a consensus on a framework of laws for the sustainable development of outer space, but it also failed to do so when S. Neil Hosenball, who is the NASA General Counsel and chief US negotiator for the Moon Treaty, decided that negotiation of the rules of the international regime should be delayed until the feasibility of exploitation of lunar resources has been established.
If rights to economic benefits cannot be guaranteed, there will be little if any private investment.So seeking clearer regulatory conditions and guidelines, private companies in the US prompted the US government and legalized space mining in 2015 by introducing the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015. Similar national legislations legalizing extraterrestrial appropriation of resources are now being replicated by other nations, including Luxembourg, Japan, China, India and Russia. While the "national" treaty explicitly allows commercial mining, other experts argue that these new national laws are inconsistent with the Moon Treaty and customary international law. Other experts affirm that the Moon Treaty does allow commercial mining, after creating the needed international regulations. This has created a controversy on claims and on mining rights for profit.
It was noted that since the 1967 Outer Space Treaty was signed, technologies and society evolved, requiring a redefinition of the rights and responsibilities of citizens and governments alike in the use and development of outer space.The primary stated objective of the 1979 Moon Treaty is "to provide the necessary legal principles for governing the behavior of states, international organizations, and individuals who explore celestial bodies other than Earth, as well as administration of the resources that exploration may yield." It proposed to do so by having the state parties produce an "international regime" that would establish the appropriate procedures (Article 11.5).
The treaty was finalized in 1979 and, after satisfying the condition requiring 5 ratifying states, it entered into force for the ratifying parties in 1984. As of January 2019, 18 states are parties to the treaty,seven of which ratified the agreement and the rest acceded. Four additional states have signed but not ratified the treaty. The L5 Society and others successfully opposed ratification of the treaty by the United States Senate.
The Moon Treaty proposes to establish an "international regime" or "framework of laws" that apply to the Moon and to other celestial bodies within the Solar System, including orbits around or other trajectories to or around them.
The Moon Treaty lays several provisions outlined in 21 articles.In Article 1, the treaty makes a declaration that the Moon should be used for the benefit of all states and all peoples of the international community. It reiterates that lunar resources are "not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means." It also expresses a desire to prevent the Moon from becoming a source of international conflict, so that the resources should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. To those ends, the treaty lays several provisions, and some of these are paraphrased below:
When compared with the Outer Space Treaty, it reiterates most provisions, and adds two new concepts in order to address the exploitation of natural resources in outer space: to apply the concept of 'common heritage of mankind' to outer space activities, and to have the participating countries produce a regime that lays the appropriate procedures for orderly mining.Multiple conferences produced no consensus on these two items.
The current imprecision of the agreement generated various interpretations,and it is cited as the main reason it was not ratified by most parties. The agreement was ratified by few countries, which has been described as a failure and without fruition. Only one country (India) with independent spaceflight capabilities has signed (but not ratified) the treaty. An expert in space law and economics thinks that the treaty would need to offer adequate provisions against any one company acquiring a monopoly position in the world minerals market, while avoiding "the socialization of the Moon." Another expert commends the treaty as a germinal legal framework for developing the needed laws, rather than a finished set of detailed laws.
While the treaty reiterates the prohibition of sovereignty of "any part" of space, it proposes that the exploitation of resources shall be governed by an international regime (Article 11.5), but there has been no consensus establishing these laws.S. Neil Hosenball, who is the NASA General Counsel and chief US negotiator for the Moon Treaty, decided in 2018 that negotiation of the rules of this international regime should be delayed until the feasibility of exploitation of lunar resources has been established. A legal expert stated in 2011 that the international issues "would probably be settled during the normal course of space exploration."
In 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order called "Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources." The order emphasizes that "the United States does not view outer space as a 'global commons" and calls the Moon Agreement a "a failed attempt at constraining free enterprise."
|19 Jan 2018||Accession|
|7 Jul 1986||Accession|
|21 May 1980||11 Jun 1984||Ratification|
|29 Jun 2004||Accession|
|3 Jan 1980||12 Nov 1981||Ratification|
|11 Jan 2001||Accession|
|28 Apr 2014||Accession|
|12 Apr 2006||Accession|
|11 Oct 1991||Accession|
|25 Jul 1980||21 Jan 1993||Ratification|
|27 Jan 1981||17 Feb 1983||Ratification|
|27 Feb 1986||Accession|
|23 Jun 1981||23 Nov 2005||Ratification|
|23 Apr 1980||26 May 1981||Ratification|
|18 Jul 2012||Accession|
|29 Feb 2012||Accession|
|1 Jun 1981||9 Nov 1981||Ratification|
|3 Nov 2016||Accession|
|29 Jan 1980|
|20 Nov 1980|
|18 Jan 1982|
|17 Apr 1980|
|See also International organization|
The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. The treaty entered into force in 1961 and currently has 54 parties. The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activity on the continent. The treaty was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War. Since September 2004, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat headquarters has been located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an intergovernmental body based in Kingston, Jamaica, that was established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, an area underlying most of the world's oceans. It is an organization established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which took place between 1973 and 1982. The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. The Convention, concluded in 1982, replaced the quad-treaty 1958 Convention on the High Seas. UNCLOS came into force in 1994, a year after Guyana became the 60th nation to ratify the treaty. As of June 2016, 167 countries and the European Union have joined in the Convention. It is uncertain as to what extent the Convention codifies customary international law.
The Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law. The treaty was opened for signature in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union on 27 January 1967, and entered into force on 10 October 1967. As of June 2019, 109 countries are parties to the treaty, while another 23 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification. In addition, Taiwan, which is currently recognized by 14 UN member states, ratified the treaty prior to the United Nations General Assembly's vote to transfer China's seat to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1971.
Law of the Sea is a body of international law governing the rights and duties of states in maritime environments. It concerns matters such as navigational rights, sea mineral claims, and coastal waters jurisdiction.
Space law is the body of law governing space-related activities, encompassing both international and domestic agreements, rules, and principles. Parameters of space law include space exploration, liability for damage, weapons use, rescue efforts, environmental preservation, information sharing, new technologies, and ethics. Other fields of law, such as administrative law, intellectual property law, arms control law, insurance law, environmental law, criminal law, and commercial law, are also integrated within space law.
Planetary protection is a guiding principle in the design of an interplanetary mission, aiming to prevent biological contamination of both the target celestial body and the Earth in the case of sample-return missions. Planetary protection reflects both the unknown nature of the space environment and the desire of the scientific community to preserve the pristine nature of celestial bodies until they can be studied in detail.
Asteroid mining is the exploitation of raw materials from asteroids and other minor planets, including near-Earth objects.
Extraterrestrial real estate refers to claims of land ownership on other planets or natural satellites or parts of space by certain organizations, individuals, and scam artists. Such claims are not recognized by any authority, and have no legal standing. Nevertheless, some private individuals and organizations have claimed ownership of celestial bodies, such as the Moon, and are actively involved in "selling" parts of them through certificates of ownership termed "Lunar deeds", "Martian deeds" or similar.
The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was established in 1958 as an ad hoc committee. In 1959, it was formally established by United Nations resolution 1472 (XIV).
Global commons is a term typically used to describe international, supranational, and global resource domains in which common-pool resources are found. Global commons include the earth's shared natural resources, such as the high oceans, the atmosphere and outer space and the Antarctic in particular. Cyberspace may also meet the definition of a global commons.
Space jurisdiction, a field addressing what countries can enforce various laws in space, has become more important as the private sector enters the field of space tourism. Under the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, while space and celestial bodies cannot be appropriated by nations, objects launched into space and personnel on board them remain under the jurisdiction of the state of registry.
The Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space, also referred to as the Rescue Agreement is an international agreement setting forth rights and obligations of states concerning the rescue of persons in space. The Agreement was created by a 19 December 1967 consensus vote in the United Nations General Assembly. It came into force on 3 December 1968. Its provisions elaborate on the rescue provisions in Article V of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Despite containing more specificity and detail than the rescue provision in Article V of the Outer Space Treaty, the Rescue Agreement still suffers from vague drafting and the possibility of differing interpretation.
The Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, also known as the Space Liability Convention, is a treaty from 1972 that expands on the liability rules created in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. In 1978, the crash of the nuclear-powered Soviet satellite Kosmos 954 in Canadian territory led to the only claim filed under the Convention.
In archaeology, space archaeology is the research-based study of various human-made items found in space, their interpretation as clues to the adventures humanity has experienced in space, and their preservation as cultural heritage.
Common heritage of mankind is a principle of international law that holds that defined territorial areas and elements of humanity's common heritage should be held in trust for future generations and be protected from exploitation by individual nation states or corporations.
The space policy of the United States includes both the making of space policy through the legislative process, and the implementation of that policy in the civilian and military US space programs through regulatory agencies. The early history of United States space policy is linked to the US–Soviet Space Race of the 1960s, which gave way to the Space Shuttle program. There is a current debate on the post-Space Shuttle future of the civilian space program.
The Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, sometimes referred to as the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015, is an update of the United States Government of its commercial space use, legislated in 2015. The update to US law explicitly allows US citizens and industries to "engage in the commercial exploration and exploitation of space resources" including water and minerals. The right does not extend to extraterrestrial life, so anything that is alive may not be exploited commercially.
Asgardia, also known as the Space Kingdom of Asgardia and "Asgardia the Space Nation", is a micronation formed by a group of people who have launched a satellite into Earth orbit. They refer to themselves as "Asgardians" and they have given their satellite the name "Asgardia-1". They have declared sovereignty over the space occupied by and contained within Asgardia -1. The Asgardians have adopted a constitution and they intend to access outer space free of the control of existing nations and establish a permanent settlement on the Moon by 2043.
The Moon bears substantial natural resources which could be exploited in the future. Potential lunar resources may encompass processable materials such as volatiles and minerals, along with geologic structures such as lava tubes that together, might enable lunar habitation. The use of resources on the Moon may provide a means of reducing the cost and risk of lunar exploration and beyond.
[…] the Moon Treaty, must be revised so that investors in a future space economy can achieve a sustainable return on their investments.