CURRENT LEGAL POSITION & FUTURE OPPORTUNITY
WE NOW HAVE A PROVISIONAL LEGAL FOOTHOLD ON MARS! … we commissioned independent expert scientific analysis (including Prominent US Professor of Astrophysics, Dr Paul Sutter … see our SCIENCE page), plus independent expert legal critique (including a Legal Reality Check Report from Professor Frans Von Der Dunk, a follow-up report by Dr Philip De Man, and a valuable, brief assessment from Professor PJ. Blount). The legal reports (which can be linked to below) serve to validate our claim of ‘early’ factual possession … probably sufficient to create a ‘provisional’ inchoate title (a provisional legal foothold on Mars). Such early (or ’embryonic’) possession must be further strengthened (or perfected) in order to unequivocally establish factual possession – which would then (if space law were to favourably evolve towards private celestial property rights, as we expect it will do, within 50-100 years) create ‘de-jure possession’, sufficient for recognized ownership. Again, we should stress that at this time (2022), unlike most laws on Earth, space law does not yet facilitate the conversion of such possession into ownership. We expect it will do in future. BUT, we are not reckless land grabbers using cheat codes to get our hands on Martian land. We want peaceful, responsible and vibrant space commerce. We want the legal land title for Mars to be held for all humankind by a UN body (as trustee), with only beneficial title (hence financial benefits) going to our claimants/members. Read further (see below for info and links) to see how we can legally achieve this and thus facilitate the equitable distribution of land/rewards to people of all nations, encourage vibrant space commerce and provoke a new “top-up” Space Treaty to enhance existing space law. So, if you would love to save the Outer Space Treaty (to keep us safe from aggressive in-orbit weaponization just 350 km overhead) and provide your family descendants with the real probability of owning a huge chunk of land on Planet Mars, then do something amazing … JOIN THE MARTIANS!
But, there are massive dangers looming as large as the opportunity. All space faring nations intend to weaponize space (a defensive measure to protect space-based and Earthly assets). This will bring dangerous risk and will hurt the Outer Space Treaty (OST: the only thing that really prevents nuclear weapons from being parked 350 km above our heads). Astronauts will no longer be “Envoys of Mankind” (as per the OST) … potentially becoming space force combatants.
Space commerce itself does pose problems for the Outer Space Treaty (to do with use and ownership of resources – mining etc). The US Space Act and Artemis Accords do forge a rocky path through the Outer Space Treaty (basically, a work-around which should grow in strength over time). There is significant discontent (not just Russia and China) over both of these developments … and this tension does cause further harm to the Outer Space Treaty.
Perhaps the biggest risk is the unresolved “problem” of Article I of the Outer Space Treaty. This obligates space faring nations to ensure sharing of the benefits gained from their use of space (mining etc)… so, how much sharing is acceptable?… this is not defined. This uncertainty is a huge problem for space commerce which will need huge investment. It may not stall everything, but it is a massive hurdle.
Disputes (over the amount/type of sharing) will arise … with an already weakened Outer Space Treaty (some experts believe it unfit for purpose), this could be the final straw. It is conceivable that a space faring nation could pull out of the Treaty if pressurized to “share more.”
A weakened treaty (or worse… an abandoned treaty) may not prevent nuclear weaponization of space. As a species, we really are not mature enough to deal with that sort of weaponization. Even “mutually assured destruction” breaks down (a first nuclear strike from orbit = a big win).
Our project delivers a solution to all these big risks, including the obligations within article I of OST … it really is an elegant flat-packed solution … we have applied it to Planet Mars, but the UN could apply the same model to the Moon.
Legal Position & Strategy
Our Mars ‘activities’ are legal
We’ve received expert independent legal critique and advice: formal legal reports from Professor Frans von der Dunk (Director, International Institute of Space Law) and Dr Philip De Man (Rapporteur: International Law Association Space Law Committee). They confirm that our activities are legal & the claim is valid (CLICK-1 ) (CLICK-2)
Our factual possession is valid
Professor von der Dunk agreed that our activities (high powered laser applications to the Mars planet surface and governance planning) could be argued to qualify as factual possession. Such sustained factual celestial possession has never been achieved until now. BUT, the law will need to favourably evolve for that possession to ever become property.
We are first-in-line for ownership
Capitalism has such massive calorific value. We firmly expect that future law will evolve to tolerate celestial land ownership (in 100-200 years?.. major human settlement on Moon or Mars should be feasible by then). Prof. von der Dunk did not wish to speculate on this, but confirmed that in such a circumstance, our claim should be ‘first in line’ (click to read it).
we have options to shape the law
We strongly believe (as do perhaps most people) that celestial land will, in future, become legally susceptible to private property rights. Any number of trigger events may lead to this. The descendants of our co-claimants should be first-in-line to benefit. But Prof. von der Dunk also recognizes meta-legal and ethical arguments we can use to effect this.
Unique & Legitimate Project ... NOT novelty nonsense
“To you and me and anyone taking the time to read the carefully drafted strategy documents, it is clear that the specifics of the present case are vastly different from other private claims over celestial bodies that have often attracted ridicule. The Martians’ plans are rooted in carefully reflected and balanced actions based on objectives that are laudable and entirely contrary to those underlying other private claims of space property.”
Dr Philip De Man (2022)
We are All Mankind.
Our communal claim of possession is based upon the sustained use of extremely powerful lasers which positively influence/control the geo-atmosphere of Mars (to a very small degree). We do admit that the existing law would need to evolve in a favorable direction in order to facilitate the conversion of our possession into ownership.
We felt that in order to enhance our open, public-facing strategy, we needed some independent expert legal validation of our activities and strategy. We are very thankful and excited to have had the positive criticism from Professors Philip de Man, Fabio Tronchetti and P.J. Blount. We then commissioned the elite scholar, Professor Frans von der Dunk (and his world renowned agency, Black Holes BV) to provide two consecutive legal analyses/reports on our project. The second report, a “Legal Reality Check” was produced by Prof. von der Dunk specifically for our publication. It is a magnificent piece; it has served to further organize and shape our strategy such that we can now be fully confident in our legal position now (in current law, lex lata) and the exciting opportunities for our claim to be ready for (or even shape) the future law (lex ferenda).
This expert independent legal analysis has confirmed that our claim of factual possession of all land on Mars is legitimate. Currently, as the law stands now, we cannot convert that possession into ‘owned property”… but our legal advice confirms that should the law evolve (as we are sure it will) to tolerate/encourage private property rights in space, then our claim should morally and legally be ‘first-in-line’ for consideration. In maybe 150 years time, the descendants of our co-claimants could genuinely gain beneficial ownership title to large areas of land on Mars (9-35 sq km!!).
Even more interestingly, our expert legal advice confirms that our ownership/governance plans for Mars could be morally, ethically and politically appealing to space faring nations … such that we could encourage their molding of the law in our favour. It is feasible to facilitate such a pan-multinational ownership of celestial land without going against the text of the core space laws (Outer Space treaty 1967). Other changes to the interpretation of the law (customary international law) are required, plus some change within private international law… resulting in the legal title to Mars going to All Mankind (held in trust by the United Nations) and beneficial ownership going to all our co-claimants (from all 195 world nations).
Responsible space commerce is encouraged and governed by a core space-user group, representation on which can only be permitted to a space-faring nation on ratification of a new ‘top-up’ space treaty (to reinforce the OST: facilitating space commerce/mining, enhancing strength against aggressive space weaponization, and gaining control over space debris generation/removal. In this manner we safely enable vibrant and responsible space commerce.
Our strategy also solves one of the biggest problems facing space commerce right now, that being Article I of the Outer Space treaty (OST): the dichotomous problem of exploitation with compulsory sharing. Through our operational model, the space-user group approves/awards Mars mining contracts and the mining company pays the relevant land claimant(s) a ground rent (for hosting their installations). These claimants then must part-share (half) the ground rent payments with all other claimants. All nations are represented (in equitable numbers) by these co-claimants, so the commercial activity results in financial benefit going back to all nations. The mining company thus retains all profits (less tax to its parent nation).
We describe this elegant plan as ‘Inclusivity built on Exclusivity.’
It is important for would-be co-claimants to realize that we are doing this not because we are overwhelmingly pro-appropriation, rather it is that we think such a situation is inevitable and we want to be ready with an inclusive solution that also appeals to commerce.
Ultimately, space commerce should prove hugely beneficial to our planet Earth and all its people. Earth is the best planet in the solar system (maybe galaxy), so if mining other celestial bodies helps us preserve the geo-atmosphere and biodiversity of Earth, so be it … as long as we do so responsibly and peacefully.
We base this declaration on the actions we have been doing over those years.
So, what are those actions?..
- Using extremely powerful lasers (attached to astronomical telescopes) we have persistently targeted Mars in order to physically influence/control the surface geo-atmosphere of the planet. This effect is extremely small (physically trivial) but is not legally trivial.
- We have developed a detailed, beneficial and inclusive governance plan for the safe and equitable use of land on Mars.
Our factual possession of Mars is exclusive but not necessarily permanent. Our anticipation is that the laws applied to space will evolve to tolerate the appropriation of celestial land. In such a future situation we (or our co-claimants’ descendants) will be “first-in-line” to have the claim considered for conversion into ownership. We have declared our intent to have the ownership titles split into legal title and beneficial titles. The legal title is to be awarded to All Mankind and held in trust by the a United Nations committee (a celestial trusteeship council?). It is the beneficial title which is to go to our co-claimants (or their descendants).
Independent expert legal advice confirms that this legal position/strategy is correct and viable.
Professor von der Dunk is perhaps the world’s foremost scholar and lawyer in this subject. He runs the world’s leading legal consultancy agency for space law (Black Holes BV). He is a professor in USA, Director of IISL (International Institute of Space Law), author of “The Handbook of Space Law” and the keynote speaker at US Space Command’s ‘Inaugural Legal Conference 2021.’
Via his two consecutive legal reports (including the published ‘Legal Reality Check’), the professor concludes that our activities are legal, including those that can be argued to represent factual possession. He agrees that if, in future, the space laws evolve to tolerate private ownership of celestial land, then our claim should rightly be first in line for consideration. He also can see genuine moral, ethical and political worth in our meta-legal arguments, such that space faring countries might find our proposal to be sufficiently attractive to prompt them towards molding the law in this direction. Professor von der Dunk confirms that there is a route for this to happen that does not require any adjustment to the text of core space law (The Outer Space Treaty 1967).
We aim to build upon existing space law in order to save/preserve the Outer Space Treaty and legally facilitate space commerce/mining, prevent aggressive weaponization of space, and manage the ‘space debris problem.’ You may wonder then how a claim of possession of a planet can help with all that … read on (it could do)…
OK, first things first. Why the quite urgent need to build on existing space law?.. Well, we are sure that without early intervention, the following things are sure to happen:
- Increasing international friction as a small core of space-faring nations begin to mine celestial bodies (moon and asteroids) in a manner that does not sit easily within the Outer Space Treaty.
- Such friction will contribute to the existing motivation of some space faring nations to weaponize space (especially in orbit @ Earth).
- Such space exploitation and aggressive weaponization will further marginalize and discredit the Outer Space Treaty (seen as ‘out-dated). This is a big worry/problem as this treaty is the only significant law to prevent nuclear weaponization of space. Weapons of mass destruction will probably find their way up into orbit @ Earth, just 350 km above our heads.
- The risk of an international war employing space based strike weapons (including WMDs?) is then highly likely.
- Without suitable hard law, the generation of space debris is likely to continue with little control.
- Ultimately, as the feasibility of human settlement in space is realized (Moon/Mars in maybe 150-200 years) the laws will evolve to allow for land ownership. This is likely to follow an exclusive first-come-first-served model via sovereignty claims by the strongest nations.
- There will be very little left of the Outer Space Treaty. Inclusiveness will be long gone.
In summary, we are currently heading towards an unstable, inequitable, high-risk, weaponized future in space. Collaborations like the Artemis Accords will help somewhat, but are unlikely to significantly alter the current path. There are no good indications coming from the responsible UN committee (COPUOS) that any enhancement of ‘hard’ space law is likely. The space-faring nations attending that committee need a helpful JOLT.
So, we have developed a claim to possession of celestial land which, if followed to the intended conclusion, will see a safe/secure, responsible, equitable and pro-commerce solution that builds inclusivity upon exclusivity.
See our business/legal strategy document to see how our proposal can not only lead to vibrant, equitable space commerce but also ensure an elegant ‘top-up treaty’ to enhance the Outer Space Treaty and keep us all safe from aggressive space weaponization.
It is important for would-be co-claimants to realize that we are doing this not because we are overwhelmingly pro-appropriation, rather it is that we think such a situation is inevitable and we want to be ready with an inclusive solution that also appeals to commerce.
He is a generally positive proponent of the “US Space Act” and the “Artemis Accords,” but also scathingly critical of those private online agencies that sell ‘deeds’ (small-stamped ‘novelty item’) for celestial land to unsuspecting buyers.
Given his elite international profile and his publicized negative opinion of those online sales agencies, we wanted to get his expert analysis of our own project.
His two consecutive analyses/reports (separated by 5 months) of “The Martians” project, have lead to some significant change in the order/structure of our strategy … especially with respect to our legal position within current applicable law (lex lata) and opportunities within (or even to shape) the law of the near future (lex ferenda).
We are delighted with his positive findings!… our actions are legal; our factual possession of Mars is arguably real; our meta-legal arguments might prove ethically and politically appealing to space faring nations … and if the law does evolve to tolerate private celestial land ownership, our claim should rightly be first-in-line for consideration!
More about the professor:
Professor Dr. Frans G. von der Dunk holds the Harvey and Susan Perlman Alumni / Othmer Chair of Space Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s LL.M. Programme on Space, Cyber and Telecommunication Law since January 2008. He also is Director of the Black Holes consultancy company in space law and policy, based in Leiden . See:
Previously, he was Co-Director, then Director of Space Law Research at the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University since 1990.
Prof. Von der Dunk has served as adviser to the Dutch Government, a number of foreign Governments, the European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA), the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a number of space agencies, and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), as well as a number of companies, and was member of the Advisory Group to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the drafting of Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes relating to Outer Space.
He is Director Public Relations of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), Member of the Board of the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL), and Member for the Netherlands in the International Law Association’s (ILA) Committee on Space Law. He is also Member of the International Editorial Board of ‘Space Policy’. Further memberships include: International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA), International Bar Association’s (IBA) Section on Business Law (SBL), Committee Z on Outer Space Law, International Policy Advisory Committee (IPAC) of the International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA; Senior Member), and Centro de Investigacion y Difusion Aeronautico-Espacial (CIDA-E; Corresponding Member).
He has given many interviews to the international media on issues of space law and policy. He has written more than 180 articles and published papers. He was the author of “Advanced Introduction to Space Law” and editor of the “Handbook of Space Law.”
Legal Reality Check Report *
We sought expert legal guidance … eventually resulting in this critical document … CLICK HERE
The Martians' Initial Response
‘The Martians’ replied to Prof. von der Dunk concerning the likelihood of legal change… CLICK HERE
Potential 'First-in-Line' Status
Prof. von der Dunk considers our status within a possible future legal framework… CLICK HERE
Background and Strategic Development
Our revised business/legal strategy (early 2022) reflects recent expert legal advice … CLICK HERE
Follow-Up Legal Report
Excellent report from Dr Philip De Man: detailed & critical, it points to the way ahead… CLICK HERE
Dr Davies Replies to Legal Experts
There were some factual errors in the legal reports – here are the big corrections … CLICK HERE
Strategy Update Summer 2022
Some exciting remodeling of strategy after Dr De Man’s excellent legal report … CLICK HERE
The Martians: Strategy Bullet Points
The Summer 2022 Strategy Update: further shortened into bullet points … CLICK HERE
INDEPENDENT EXPERT LEGAL ANALYSIS
Questions & Answers
As a result of our fulfilled project, the land on Mars will be held open as common land and a responsible space-user group will manage the safe exploitation of Mars. Representation on that space-user group will only be possible for those space-faring nations who have ratified a new ‘top up’ Space Treaty which enhances the law against aggressive space weaponization, facilitates space commerce/mining and addresses the space debris problem.
So, we aim for a safe, responsible and business-friendly framework for all human space activity.
Why charge a small fee to join us? Well, we have already incurred substantial legal costs (see of NEWS section for details of our journey through the UK High Court and Court of Appeal), including the repeated commissioning of expert legal analysis. We anticipate much larger legal fees to come in future if we wish to see our project succeed. The small fees from joining co-claimants are helping to fund all this. We chose £14/$18 as this is a fee that more people in India than USA can afford … it appeared to represent an equitable price point.
Land on Mars lying between the latitudes 75deg N and 75deg S has been pre-allocated to 5.4M unequal land claims, ranging from 9 to 35 square kilometres in size (yes, they are huge ‘plots’).
If the laws applicable to space do evolve (and we are sure they will) towards the toleration of private land ownership on celestial bodies, then our claim should be first in line for legal consideration. If successful, then co-claimants (or more likely their descendants in maybe 150 years time) would be randomly awarded the beneficial title to a large plot. The allocation will be made via a lottery (except for those who purchased preference claims).
So, the question … how do we make this process equitable for people of all the worlds nations?..
Half of all available claims are allocated as ‘Nationality Claims’ (they are slightly cheaper than standard claims) … the number of claims allocated to nationals of each nations is determined by national population, national human rights statistics and state corruption listing. This is our attempt to be truly equitable in the distribution of available claims. Yet we also recognize that the commercial drive from technologically advanced space-faring nations will be the key enabler for any future human settlement in space. So, the remaining half of all available claims are available to any/all people on a first-come-first-served basis.
We declare that this model further adds to our genuinely equitable and business friendly foundations.
In order to raise funds for various business costs we aim to move towards a small-fee-per-claim model … so far the considerable High-Court fees and other legal costs have been paid by Dr Philip Davies himself. We now offer new co-claimants the chance to join us in communal possession of Mars for just £14/$18. Each new claimant is allocated a possession of a ‘still-to-be-defined’ area of Mars (an area ranging between 9 and 35 Square Km in size!.. average is therefore 22 Sq Km).
Each new co-claimant gets a claim certificate pack which confirms they have joined our communal claim of factual possession of all land on Mars. We declare our intent is to persist in our applications to seek opportunity to legally register and convert this factual possession into split ownership (legal title to ‘All Mankind’ ((held in trust by the UN)), beneficial title to all the co-claimants).
In the UK (private law) it is legal for a person holding property in adverse possession (not yet owner) to openly sell that possession to another individual. The UK government are well aware of our activities (having met us for the High Court and Court of Appeal). They do not question the legality (indeed they remark that our claim might hold up within international law).
Professor von der Dunk has also scrutinized our actions and agrees that our legal activities could be argued to represent factual possession. Without a further shift in the law, we wont yet be able to convert that possession into property… we understand that… but we know that many more people will now be happy to pay a small fee to join us (and perhaps provide a huge chunk of Martian land for their family descendants). Increasing numbers will always strengthen our claim towards the day that the law evolves in a favourable direction.
So, we say again. Our activities are known to be legal. Our factual possession is legitimate. We are offering claim certificates that declare a new co-claimant to have joined our communal claim of possession of Mars.
These claim certificates are REAL. They are not deeds!
Real, legitimate deeds to celestial land cannot exist at this time.
Since 2016 we have been submitting ‘Applications for First Registration of All Land on Mars’ … we sent these applications to UK Gov, US Gov and UNOOSA (United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs), which is the secretariat which hosts the COPUOS committee at the UN in Vienna. UNOOSA has acknowledged receipt of our applications and forwarded them to other UN elements and state legal representatives. Nevertheless, this acknowledgement could be regarded as simple courtesy rather than a formal ‘filing.’
The state representatives at the UN committee (COPUOS) do not, of course, need to worry right now. Our ‘factual possession of Mars’ cannot be anything more than just that, unless the law evolves to allow for celestial land as property.
BUT, that does not mean they can rest easy. We think that as we write this now (mid 2021), the committee might be quite alarmed to find that the world’s top lawyer in this subject (perhaps) opined that we may have been in factual possession of all land on Mars for nearly 12 years. This is an important step … because factual possession (read also ‘occupation’) is the universally accepted step towards new ownership of land on Earth.
Professor von der Dunk does opine that should the law change to allow for land-property rights in space, then our claim should rightly be first-in-line for consideration.
We do believe that the awareness of all that will awaken everyone (UN committees, state governments and general public) to our claim and its purpose.
For your interest, we have twice tried to ‘force’ the UK government to present the ‘problem’ of our claim to the UN (COPUOS). As expected, we were unsuccessful in the UK High Courts, but came through it all with enhanced credibility (the UK Gov and judges acknowledged that our claim might prove valid within International Law). But the UK Gov remains in a tricky position… despite invoking articles II and VI of the Outer Space Treaty (OST), they have confirmed that our actions do not yet require authorization/licensing … but if they were to change their mind on that, they would also have to report our activities to the UN General Assembly (as per Article XI OST), which is what we want. Professor von der Dunk has remarked on this in his published report.
Professor Frans von der Dunk has since persuaded us that whilst the text of core space law (OST) might not need any change, the interpretation of space law within Customary International Law would certainly need to change (as well as a change within Private International Law), and space faring nations would (for this particular legal model) need to legally tolerate international registration of private celestial land rights whilst still prohibiting national appropriation.
So what does that mean for us?… it means that unless the law evolves in future to tolerate such celestial land ownership (we are sure it will) then we are unable to convert our Mars land possession into ownership.
It also means that despite our pan-multinational composition, we are legally regarded as a UK based entity. Our founder/director (Dr Philip Davies, Mars Register LTD) and organization is based in London, UK.
That does mean (as Prof. von der Dunk does indicate in his report) that it is the UK Gov’s responsibility to monitor our activity and consider any need to authorize our space activities.
It also means that currently, our correct assertion of factual possession of all land on Mars might also mean that the UK state has also been in factual possession of Mars for almost 12 years. This unintended consequence is a matter that we now wish to explore further with the UK Government.
Again, this was not our original intention, but it appears to be fact, no less.
Beneficial title means a beneficial interest (esp financial) in the owned land.
After registration, each co-claimants will be awarded beneficial ownership of a large plot of land. This allocation of plots will proceed via random lottery. Plots vary in location (between 75deg N and 75deg S) and size (between 9 and 35 sq km).
So what of the (as yet) unallocated land in the polar regions. It is currently Dr Davies’ intent to have both legal and beneficial title ownership go to All Mankind (held by the UN trustee).
Currently, the factual possession of Mars is shared between Dr Philip Davies and all the existing co-claimants. The ‘shares’ are unequal in size (co-claimants are allocated to a land possession ‘share’ which averages 22 Sq Km (average of 9 and 35 sq km)) with Dr Davies holding the residual largest possession. Dr Davies’ share of possession will decrease with each new co-claimant that joins us.
In some common-law countries (UK is, USA also) it is entirely legal to sell land that is partially or even totally in ‘adverse possession.’ So what is being sold may not be owned (or just part-owned). As long as the possession is honestly described for the purposes of sale then it is legitimate. It is still “land for sale” … but not titled ownership.
Why would someone buy land-in-possession that was not yet owned by the seller? Well, there is often a requirement to show proof of time in possession of the land before registration of ownership title is possible. For unregistered land in the UK it is 12 years. In various US states it is less than that. So the buyer can gain that time in possession from the seller. If the seller can prove 9 years in possession then the buyer just needs to “tag on” 3 more years before applying for registration of ownership.
So, when we (‘The Martians’) operate the mars.sale website (or marsforsale.com), we are selling a share in our existing possession of Mars land (nearly 12 years already).