17 November 2003
Space Rights Proposal To Be Launched At Lunar Conference
spacedaily


http://www.spacedaily.com/news/spacelaw-03a.html

According to the United Nations "Outer Space Treaty", signed by the US, the Moon and other worlds "shall be the province of all mankind". In the "Moon Treaty" it is further elaborated that it cannot be anyone's property. To some, this is a major road block preventing us from doing business in space. A rule limiting our freedom and imposing Earthly laws and bureacracy to the free realms of space. To others, it's a very beautiful idea - that the heavens belong to all of us - and a strong mark against the export of old territorial thinking to this new frontier.

Waikoloa Beach -
From Sunday November 16 through to Nov 22, the International Lunar Conference 2003 is being held in Hawaii with the stated purpose of getting us back to the Moon. Many countries and space agencies are sending large delegations, and among the gueats speakers are Moon astronauts John Young and Harrison Schmitt. John Young, still working at NASA, has gained much attention for his statement that "Single-planet Species do Not Last".

The conference is also expected to see the launch of a new proposal aimed to solve the issue of extra-terrestrial property rights. Clear, internationally accepted rules for the useage of lands beyond Earth is today one of the most crucial issues in the opening up of the space frontier. But for many years, the debate has been focused more on differing political systems and values, rather than finding practical solutions acknowledging the realities of our time.

According to the United Nations "Outer Space Treaty", signed by the US, the Moon and other worlds "shall be the province of all mankind". In the "Moon Treaty" it is further elaborated that it cannot be anyone's property. To some, this is a major road block preventing us from doing business in space. A rule limiting our freedom and imposing Earthly laws and bureaucracy to the free realms of space. To others, it's a very beautiful idea - that the heavens belong to all of us - and a strong mark against the export of old territorial thinking to this new frontier.

A few American entrepreneurs, opposing these treaties, have taken the matter in their own hands and registered entire worlds as being their own property. Dennis Hope of the Lunar Embassy claims to be the owner of the Moon, and Gregory Nemitz of Orbital Development claims to own asteroid Eros, simply because they say they were the first. In addition, the Lunar Embassy is even selling off small pieces of the Moon to people around the world, stating that the buyers actually own their lands.

In Europe, many citizens see these sales as a fraud. You can't own the whole Moon, nor refer to American constitutional rights or sit behind your desk and claim these ownerships without having been there, they say. To further visualize the stupidity of these claims, Virgiliu Pop, a Romanian space law expert, registered his own ownership claims for the Sun - with the only difference he didn't start to sell off his sunshine...

Although many Europeans welcome commercial activities on the space frontier, most people maintain this is an international issue which must be solved through international agreements and understanding. The new proposal to be presented at ILC 2003 in Hawaii, therefore aims to harmonize the need for commercial rights in space with existing treaties. These respective interests do not have to oppose each other, the paper's author Hans Starlife says, suggesting a shift in approach from "Property Rights" to "Useage Rights".

The UN vision of space as our Common Heritage is a very beautiful principle deserving to be kept alive. But space industrialists could gain nearly the same rights and opportunities as they would through a regular ownership, by instead gaining the rights to use these lands. The only difference is that this solution does not violates any existing treaties. All parties will be happy.

The ILC 2003 takes place at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Hotel, Hawaii Island, Hawaii, between November 16-22. The Law/Proerty Rights session is currently scheduled for Friday 21 November.

 


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