In News by Mars Register

Now that we are starting to get mainstream media attention, we think we need to assert our campaign validity a bit more openly:

1/ Our goal is to ensure  peaceful exploration and development of Space through a much needed update to the Outer Space Treaty (OST). If the chance to do this is lost then we face dangerous times ahead, with the weaponization of space being inevitable (Chinese Military sources openly state this).

2/ Our legally competitive claim to land on Mars should prove sufficient to get us our day in court… that being International Due Process. Whether we end up with the land or not (and there is a definate chance we could get it registered), the high profile such a legal process would give us would be all we need to really apply pressure on UN to deliver on our main goal (see point 1).

Specialist media are also taking an interest now, and we hope they might shed more light on our actual campaign and the state of current space law and the risks thereon.


From Senior UK Legal Counsel at UN HQ in New York:

Thank you for your email of 4 July, sent again on 5 July.

The UK will work with international partners to contribute to global efforts to ensure a safe and secure space environment.  However, there are no plans to discuss UN trusteeship of the solar system.”

Again, an email from the same source at UN HQ, dated 29 July 2016. This was in reply to our first submission of an “Application for First Registration of Land on Mars”:

“The UK Government will not be taking any action on this.  The provisions of the Outer Space Treaty (Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies) apply to this issue, with Article 2 providing:
                “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 applies to Mars, the Moon and any other celestial body. “
We then replied, challenging them that Article 2 applied only to national sovereign acquisitions, not to individuals like ourselves. You can see the recent response back from UK-UN further below.
Meanwhile, we identified UNOOSA (United nations Office for Outer Space Affairs) as a key body to approach in all this. A very senior executive replied to our application:


I thank you for your efforts in this regard, and I appreciate your substantive clarification.”
The Office for Outer Space Affairs serves as the Secretariat of the intergovernmental Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, comprising 83 States members”.
By rules and procedures, including the mandates given by the intergovernmental Committee, and under authority of the United Nations General Assembly the Office for Outer Space Affairs acts under the UN treaties and principles on outer space and implements decisions taken by the Committee and the GA”.


It is not for the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs to have a legal opinion on whether you are entitled to due process”.

the Office does not have a mandate to review or act in any manner on your claim”.

“States members, represented by Governments, and permanent observer organizations may bring matters to the attention of  COPUOS. Only States have decision-making powers”.

They acknowedged the nature of our campaign and then pointed us to the process by which we may advance our claim:

You see, the UN is really just a forum (with secretariat services) for nation members to conduct the business of international collaboration. UNOOSA has no mandate to help us, but a national member can introduce a proposal for our right to due process to the committee (COPUOS). With a majority decision we can progress to Due Process either at a bespoke UN court/registry or through the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

Thus, before we applied pressure upon members of COPUOS (we would initially target UK and US members) we thought we could tighten the net around them if we first approached the PCA. That proved to be a very good move.

We were astonished to find that PCA had expected something like this would come up and they had developed bespoke rules for arbitration on disputes arising from Outer Space Activities. The PCA Deputy Secretary General said:

“The PCA’s arbitration services can be used in such cases where the parties to the dispute agree to it. I am not aware of any treaties relating to outer space that include consent to arbitration, so such agreements would presumably need to be reached on an ad hoc basis. “

Our reply to that:

Your guidance has been most helpful. I shall make more formal contact again, hopefully in the near future, should UNCOPUOS agree to have PCA arbitrate on merits of our claim (either just to decide on right to Due Process or potentially even celestial land registration rights).

The Deputy Sec-General PCA replied:

” It is a fascinating issue that you are addressing!”

“… we finished the work on the PCA’s Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Outer Space Activities a few years ago.  It must be inevitable that disputes will arise eventually that will be appropriate for arbitration”.

The PCA is ready to arbitrate on either just our right to due process or on our right to celestial land title registration.

With that knowledge we looked again at national and international law. In US Constitution the right to “Due process” is upheld for land/property claims. Other nations have similar rights (“natural justice”). International law is still evolving but already recognises rights to Due Process. This is all we are asserting. With a technically/legally sound claim we demand Due Process be afforted to us. Whether or not due process would lead to us actually getting the land awarded to us is a different matter (although there is a real chance of that). Most important to us is that such a high profile legal case would allow us to prove that there really are dangerous loopholes in Space Law (by going through one of them!). This would allow us to spotlight the need to update the Space Treaty to keep space safe and free for us all.

So, now we know that even if the UN dont feel able to form a registry or court to decide on our claim, there is still another route: the PCA. All the UN COPUOS members have to do is recognise that we do have a right to due process (even if they dont like the idea and dont support us). If they refuse to act then we are advised that we can take legal action against them. Well, we would rather save our pennies for the actual “Due Process” case itself (we will need big funds for that!). So instead of throwing money to sue our UN members, we will give them a month or so to finalise a response to us. Already we are noticing movement towards our position as they progressively realise that there is nothing strong in space law that stops our claim. You can see this in the follow up email from UK-UN representatives. Initially they quoted Article 2 of OST to block the advancement of our claim. When we replied to point out that Article 2 was not relevant to us we got the following reply (from the Head of UK Delegation to UN COPUOS):

Thank you for your email and the information about your initiative. I am aware of your correspondence with UNOOSA.

I appreciate the intent of your initiative. We too are working to ensure that outer space remains a safe and secure domain, free of conflict, in which productive human activity can be conducted.

Our priorities for achieving this are:
§  working within UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) to develop guidelines for space faring nations on the long-terms sustainability of outer space activities;
§  encouraging responsible behaviour in outer space including through implementation of the Group of Governmental Experts report on Transparency and Confidence Building Measures in Outer Space.
Although there are complex challenges to doing so, a new legally binding treaty to update the OST maybe something we can achieve in the future.
But we do not believe that attempting to establish legal title to land on Mars (or any other celestial body beyond Earth) is a viable or constructive route towards establishing a new treaty”.

As we’ve already mentioned, Article II of OST provides 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.”

Under Article VI of the OST, national governments bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including where such activities are carried out by non-governmental entities, and bearing in mind that responsibility we would not support your attempt to gain private legal title for land on Mars, using lasers.     
I note your intent would be to pass the land into UN trusteeship at a future date. However, there is no basis for the government to support  the ownership-in-trust of celestial lands by the UN.
For these reasons, we cannot support your request for legal assessment of your claim by the UN or any other body”.


That email was a couple of weeks ago. I am very appreciative to FCO for taking the time to respond in this manner. They clearly understand the beneficial intent in our campaign and even share most of our goals. It would have been nice to have heard more enthusiastic, positive committment on the issue of a new Treaty update. Alas, the rather resigned approach is so typical in the bureaucracy of committees. With regard to their understanding of our celestial land claim, we can see that they have slipped from using Article 2 to adding Article 6 in order to block our progress. We expected this. Unfortunately for them, if they just read the plain English text of Article 6 (and also Article 8, which we would expect them to also try), they will see that it really doesn’t apply to us. Article 6 is all about actual activities in outer space. We we are not doing anything in outer space. Our actions (administrative activity and laser actions) are all done here on Earth.  In case they try to come back at us with Article 8 we have reminded them that laser photons are not ‘objects’ (physicists agree this… they are massless particles or waves). Although Article 6 does not apply to us, in raising it as a barrier to us the UK-UN team must then take on the full responsibilities that Article 6 descibes (authorizing and supervising our activities in Space, ensuring they fit within the OST!). This would mean a real mess for them if Article 6 did actually apply to us… but of course it does not.
So, we have replied to both UK and US members of COPUOS. If they continue to block us with quotes from space law that do not concern us then we can take legal action against them (or find a more amenable member, perhaps the Dutch representative). These are all options as we do have a bit of time to play with. We were aiming to have all this play out next year, 2017, being the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty.
Watch this space for more news on this. If you think we are starting to show some confidence here, you would be right.


Our latest email to UK member (and later the US member) of COPUOS. Note FCO = Foreign and Commonweath Office:

Thank you for your consideration of our campaign and your official response.

It is clear that you understand our purpose but it is astonishing that you quote law that has no direct bearing on our claim in order to justify your rejection of our demand for Due Process.

So, to make this crystal clear:

1. OST Articles 1,2,6 & 8 do not block our claim in any manner. It does not involve national sovereign responsibility in that we are a private entity, does NOT involve any activity in space (Earth based administrative and laser activities) and does not involve the sending of objects in space (physicists formally describe photons not to be objects, rather massless particles or waves). This is not a piece of dodgy legal wriggling…. It is a matter of clear written fact.

2. You state that FCO cannot support my effort to acquire land on Mars. That’s fine. I do not expect such from FCO. What I do demand of FCO is that they support my right to international due process. With a claim that is faithful to international law and is not blocked by space law we claim the right to have that claim subjected to due process. Whilst we declare a right to due process, our minimum demand to FCO is that you support a formal international assessment of our right to Due Process.

3. Contrary to your statement, the PCA informs that it does offer arbitration process which is appropriate to our situation. xxxxxxxxxx (deputy Secretary General) has, in writing, informed us that with appropriate international consent, the PCA could feasably arbitrate on either just our right to due process (our minimum demand) or the full assessment of our right to celestial land registration. Indeed, having looked at our claim, he states that their bespoke rules for arbitration of disputes arising from outer space activities could apply. International consent could be represented in a majority vote from COPUOS.

To summarise the 3 points above: our claim is legitimate and not blocked by international or space law; we don’t need you to support our claim, just our demand to have formal legal assessment of our right (or not) to due process;  the PCA has rules in place to deal with either just our right to due process or the full land registration question.

It doesn’t particularly matter that you don’t support our claim, nor agree with our opinion on how it might advance progress on space treaty updates. We believe that should we get the Due Process (which we recognise to be our right), we still might not be awarded the celestial land. Not because of any of the OST content which you quote (which does not in writing block our claim), but rather because the application of international law is subject to standards of proof (of land possession) which could possibly be adjusted upwards from the ‘norm’ because of the strategic importance of the land claimed. That does not bother us particularly and our co-claimants understand this. The actual award of land title, whilst desireable to us, is not necessary to advance our core campaign. The Due Process itself is all we require, since such a high profile case would allow us to shed light on the vagueries and loopholes in the current OST and the big risks to safety in space if we don’t update it really soon. If such arbitration (on our right to due process) were to take place next year, being the 50th anniversary of the OST, the media focus will be high.

So, although you, representing FCO, may choose to not respond further, I would be astonished if you truncate our negotiation with a negative response founded on misunderstanding and factually incorrect statements.

We do have funds set aside for the arbitration process and it would be regrettable for us to have to us this to instead legally challenge the incorrect and unjust decisions of our own FCO.

We also have the option to approach other UN members. Most of our co-claimants to date reside in USA. Given the absolute right to Due Process (including land claims) is upheld in US Constitution, our next approach would be the US member. Again, we don’t seek support in our ultimate claim to celestial land, just a recognition of our right to have the claim formally assessed (due process) and an acknowledgment of duty to initiate this.

I do expect a more informed response from FCO.