Can you handle the truth?…

ALL MANKIND: AllMankind.Org
Our Mars Land Claim is ultimately a claim on behalf of All Mankind (humankind). It is validated by legal experts (we can assert factual possession). We seek to register ownership, where legal title goes to All Mankind (held in Trust by UN) and our members gain beneficial, ownership title.
Safety & legality of our protocols for laser deployment
Legitimacy of Mars Land Claim (possession)
Legal right to sell mars land claims (communal possession)

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Join The Martians and Save The Earth

*** Dr Phil Davies tells us (17 minute video) why this is all so important: What’s it all about?

  • For bullet point info on just WHY the Space Treaty urgently NEEDS to be built upon (a discrete ‘top-up’ treaty), go here: Save The Space Treaty NOW!

Want more detailed legal info? Here’s a PDF doc with good snippets from Int’l law and space law journals and books:  Click LAW!

*** $5000 PRIZES!… THE MARS PRIZE  moot court competition page is linked here:  THE MARS PRIZE

NOTE: the page below does require some updating (was compiled 2017 and some subtle changes have occurred since then)…

* Legal Self-Assessment Document:


“We have not planted a flag or marked out the land on Mars with fences … but current International Law still allows and supports our claim of ‘factual possession’ … but within the current law we cannot yet convert that possession into ownership”

NOTE: We make three claims. Claim 1 should be considered first.  Claims 2 & 3 are discrete, but need not apply if Claim 1 is successful.


Claim 1: Through our continuous acts of exclusive Factual Possession of all Land on Planet Mars, for 10 years, we continue to openly declare our claim of Factual Possession and are applying for First Registration of (Possessory/legal) Title to all land on Mars. We understand that there does need to be some shift in the interpretation of the Outer Space Treaty for such registration to become possible (not the text of the treaty, more the interpretation within customary international law). We think that is likely, but could take 100-150 years to be realised.

If ultimately successful in our application, the Registrar (most likely UN body) in instructed to allocate the new land title into a trust, with UN being requested to assume the trustee role (if UN declines, then two responsible non-beneficial claimants will assume the role, unless a novel trust model, such as that of Czech Republic or Quebec, can be accommodated). The UN will become the trustee, holding legal land title on behalf of ‘All Mankind.’ All co-claimants will receive the  beneficial ownership title as per the terms of this document.  In order for UN to acquire full ownership (legal and beneficial title) it must, by date of land ownership registration or 10.10.2038 (whichever comes first),  have delivered a successfully ratified top-up treaty to enhance the modern applicability of the Outer Space Treaty. It must also then make a  nominal payment to each co-claimant (the beneficiaries). The details of the nominal fee is described later in this document.

If the UN is not able to deliver on these criteria by the date of land registration, Dr Philip Davies will instigate the formation of an elected governance organization (effectively a responsible space-user group, with suggested name: “All Mankind”) which will then oversee the allocation, by random lottery, of plots of Martian land to all co-claimants (the beneficiaries). These plots, ranging from 9 to 35 Sq Km are (at least initially) to be held ‘open’ as common land (a concept well known in national common law but not yet within public international law).

So, the governance organisation and individual landowners are obliged to maintain all owned land as “Common Land” (with open access for use, as per the articles of Outer Space Treaty) until such time (if and when) that full individual land ownership of celestial land is approved by the accepted UN/supranational body, thus legitimately representing all nations and peoples of Earth.

All Mars land claimants are notified that if a holder of beneficial title has not established an actual presence (either for settlement or use) on the allocated plot within 500 years of registration date, the title and benefit will be withdrawn by the governance organization.

Claim 2: Through our continuous acts to prove exclusive Factual Possession of all Land on Planet Mars, for 10 years, we demand internationally recognized registration of:

1/ Our exclusive priority rights (effectively, time limited priority property rights over all others) to seek, obtain and recover all the natural resources (in situ) of Planet Mars.

2/ Our exclusive priority rights (time-limited property rights) to possess, own, transport, use, and sell the Martian resource obtained.

If successful, the registration of these rights will require their immediate placement into trust, with the UN being requested to assume the role of trustee. If UN declines, then two responsible non-beneficial claimants will assume the role).  The co-claimants will become beneficiaries of the trust. If by date of registration or 10.10.2038 (whichever comes first), the UN has failed to update OST and pay nominal fee to each beneficiary (as per the terms of Claim 1), then Dr Philip Davies will instigate the formation of an elected governance organization (effectively a responsible space-user group, with suggested name: “All Mankind”) which will then oversee the allocation, by random lottery, of individual plots to all co-claimants (the beneficiaries).  Operation and utilization of the plots and resources will be governed by an approved regulatory user group in accordance with obligations, as the province of all mankind, under the Outer Space Treaty 1967.

Whilst open access for all (to explore and use (subject to article XII OST), will be facilitated, the building of installations within the geographical limits of another owner’s plot will require prior permission (and will be strictly limited, regulated and may be refused) by the governance organisation.

We demand that the registered priority rights, once applied to individual plots, should apply for a minimum of 999 years, subject to the proven assumption of actual on-site exploration/exploitation activity within 500 years of registration.

All claimants are notified that if a holder of priority rights (to resources) within a plot has not established an actual presence (either for settlement or use) within the allocated slot within 500 years of registration, the priority rights will be withdrawn by the governance organization.


Claim 3:  Through our continuous acts to prove exclusive Factual Possession of all Land on Planet Mars, for 10 years, we make a further claim to possession of exclusive priority rights to “mining/homesteading slots” (discrete mapped areas) located on Planet Mars. A slot is an area in space and time which is closely applied to the surface of planet Mars.

We claim 5.4 million temporal-geographical slots (most are varying from 9-35 sq km in size), positioned on Martian land as per “Mars-for-Sale: Globe 1” found in our Media section. In total, all 5.4 million slots serve to cover the complete full surface of planet Mars. We demand internationally recognized registration of these priority rights. Successful registration will involve the placement of all priority rights into trust, with UN requested to assume trusteeship. If UN declines then 2 responsible non-beneficial co-claimants will assume the trustee role. The UN will be awarded a preferential right to acquire all priority rights, subject to the same terms as Claim 1). Co-claimants will become trust beneficiaries. If, by date of registration or 10.10.2038 (whichever comes first), the UN has not updated OST or paid the nominal fee to each beneficiary (as per terms in claim 1) then Dr Philip Davies will instigate the formation of an elected governance organisation (the responsible user group, as per terms of Claim 1) which will oversee the allocation, by random lottery, of slots to each co-claimant (beneficiary). Individual slots will be allocated to every co-claimant (by lottery) soon after registration as per the terms of this document (also described in the declaration of intent).

Operation and utilization of the slots and resources will be lightly regulated by the governance organization in accordance with obligations, as the province of all mankind, under the Outer Space Treaty 1967. Whilst open access for all (to use explore and use (subject to article XII OST), will be facilitated, the building of installations within the temporal-geographical limits of another owner’s slot will require prior permission (and will be strictly limited and regulated) by the governance organisation.

We demand that the registered priority rights, once applied to individual slots, should apply for a minimum of 999 years, subject to the proven assumption of actual in-slot exploration/exploitation activity within 500 years of registration..

All claimants are notified that if a holder of priority rights to a temporal-geographical slot has not established an actual presence (either for settlement or use) within the allocated slot before 500 years post registration, the priority rights will be withdrawn by the governance organization.

This particular claim is loosely modeled on the current method of ITU allocation of GEO satellite slots.

For all 3 claims (land, resources, mining slots), we demand a reasonable time-lag for preparation/implementation. We believe that 200 years will be required before manned mining installations and homesteading is safely feasible. For current nationals of non-space faring nations it will require more time. Thus we demand that our rights to those claimed lands, resources, mining/homesteading slots and temporal-geographical slots, remain valid as a minimum until 500 years post-registration. Our claim holders must show evidence of human settlement or resource usage within 500 years of registration in order to maintain possession, the right to ownership, or retention of the relevant priority rights.

In all cases, unless the UN accepts and delivers on the actions requested (OST update and nominal fee payment to all claimants), an elected responsible space-user group, the governance organization (proposed entity name is “All Mankind”), will be formed (from delegations of space-faring nations) in order to lightly regulate activities such as exploration, exploitation, research, homesteading and other uses. The governance organization, being a user group, will assume a light-touch, business friendly position, yet will serve to ensure responsible land use and development, with appropriate benefit streams and waste management protocols. The governance organization will also be tasked to preserve Martian opportunity for peoples from nations yet to become space faring. Again, however, it must be stressed that the organization, as a user group, aims to be nimble and encouraging for “easy” space commerce.

In order to gain representation within the space-user group, a space faring nation must ratify a new ‘top-up space treaty’ which adds law to the existing OST: thus, vibrant, responsible celestial commerce can proceed with enhanced protection against aggressive space weaponization and stronger control over space debris management.

Ultimately, delivering a significant benefit not only to the primary user/occupier/owner, but also to Earth and humanity will always be a keen goal for the governance organization.

** In documenting these claims we assert our strong intent to possess that which is claimed.

** The purpose of the claims is, amongst several factors, to influence COPUOS to produce an appropriately updated Outer Space Treaty (to ensure safety and benefit for all mankind)  and to initiate a particular, commerce friendly mode of UN Trusteeship over the solar system (a UN supported, pro-business “space-user group” with governance responsibilities). Such a business friendly UN Trusteeship should prove a useful short to medium term construct in order to facilitate commercial opportunity in Space whilst still preserving the wider celestial lands for the use and benefit of all Humanity.

It should be stressed from the outset that this communal celestial land claim is open to all peoples of the World.  Many thousands of FREE claims (based upon our single act of actual possession) are allocated to people from ALL NATIONS of the the world. We have been notifying (and will continue to do so) all national governments and major media outlets of the numbers of FREE CLAIM certificates allocated to nationals of each country. Using a voucher code (advised to each national government and media outlet), citizens of each nation may thus individually register to join in our communal claim to Martian celestial land. The numbers of claim certificates allocated to each nation is based on a formulation using population size and national standing on corruption/human rights (statistics used: Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index). Thus people of every world nation are appropriately represented in our communal claim. Note again: this means that it is the people of all the world’s nations that get to join in … not the nations themselves.

Our aim is not to bring national sovereignty into space, just an equitable representation of all humankind (the law will ideally evolve a little in order to realise this).

In order to recognize the great future value of responsible commercial ventures in space, we also have a business component to our mission. In order to meet the expected legal costs of international arbitration, we are also selling a finite number of claims (with recorded certification), each for a very small fee. At just $18 for a 35 sq km Martian land claim, the opportunity is available to all (there are more people in India than USA that can afford that). That being said, it is likely that most “paid-for” claim certificates will be issued to nationals of wealthy developed nations (this is indeed the pattern of uptake that we are currently observing). Thus there are further substantial numbers of claims held back in reserve for a final free lottery to only peoples of non space faring developing countries.

With the claimed land to be ideally placed under UN Trusteeship and maintained as “common land”, it can be argued that our claim, in its entirety, provides for the key principles of the Outer Space Treaties: celestial land to be held and managed as “the heritage of mankind”, a space commerce friendly governance body (either UN appointed user group or internally elected by users/claimants) and the preservation of  Treaty strength against WMDs being placed in orbit.




1/ Introduction:

Well, to start with, we are not breaking any laws which would constitute a criminal offence! It is important to state this fact to avoid any confusion with internet businesses trading in celestial land deeds.  As founder of this “Save The Space Treaty” Campaign (and our associated Mars Land Claim), I am responsible for the honest and ethical stance of this project (and as a practicing UK medical doctor I am absolutely required to avoid any nefarious or unsavoury business activity).


We are completely different from ALL those internet companies that are selling DEEDS to celestial land (e.g. Moon, Mars, Venus etc). Deeds are legal ownership documents which can only be issued by an officially recognized body. None of those companies have been nationally recognized as a valid celestial registry. That is not surprising, for the Outer Space Treaty does not allow a signatory state to do so. It is almost feasible, but most unlikely, that such a company could gain International recognition as a celestial registry. This recognition would have to come from an approved international body … currently, there is really only the United Nations that could provide such approval. Again, this is barely feasible because of the “non-appropriation” principle that the UN believes to be underpinning all space law. There are some gaps in the law, but it is scarcely conceivable that the UN would appoint an internet based commercial agency to administer to those possible rare cases where a valid celestial land claim could be processed.

The current situation is that there exists no such thing as a valid celestial registry.

So, in issuing deeds to celestial land are these internet agencies breaking the law? Well, of course different countries apply their laws differently, but suffice to say that nearly all of these companies do apply a small stamp on their Deed certificates stating “this is a novelty gift” (or ‘novel’ gift). This clearly reduces the worth of the document (most legal interpretations would agree that such a stamp renders the certificate as almost worthless in legal terms). In declaring the Deed to be a novelty gift those companies are effectively playing a “get out of jail card”.

The original celestial deeds purveyor was D. Hope who founded the Lunar Embassy and spawned many further ‘daughter’ companies like lunarland, buymars and moonestates (franchises? … ‘MoonEstates’ bought lunar land from him and sells lunar plots from that chunk to buyers in the UK).

Certainly from as far back as the late 1990’s (maybe earlier), most Deeds issued by Dennis Hope and the Lunar Embassy were stamped “This is a novelty gift”.

Without such a stamp (“novelty gift”), any company selling celestial land deeds is doing so illegally (in most developed Nations) without any national or accepted international authority.

Some of these companies, including Mr Hope’s original, make claims about having valid trademarks and copyrights within their chosen trade. That of course is perfectly legal for a company that sells novelty gifts. A copyright or trademark has no relevance towards any authority to sell real land deeds. The problem with all these companies is that they outwardly claim to be genuine celestial registries with the legal authority to issue valid deeds. Despite charging pretty big fees for their Deed certificates, it is usually only in the small print of terms & conditions (or deep in the FAQs) that one can find the admission that the certificates are stamped as novel/novelty gifts. This is, at the very least, rather unfair and misleading!


As part of our fundraising exercises and for a fraction of the price of these “novelty deeds” (usually 1000 times cheaper), we are offering people the chance to buy perfectly legal Celestial Land Claims … in this case, claims to land on Planet Mars. These claim certificates document that a claimant has joined our communal factual possession of all land on Planet Mars. So far, the majority of issued claims have been free, on a first come first served basis, then we offered big savings for “Earlybirds”. Those have all been snapped up, but at time of writing there are still plenty of “Saver claims” available ($9), which offer a good reduction from the standard price. So what is the standard price? …. within our single, communal claim to possession of land on Mars, a claim up to 35 Sq Km (more than 8500 acres) can be bought for under $20 which works out as close to 2 Acres for 1 cent!

Ok, so is this just a trick? … a play on words? … what’s the difference between a land claim and a deed?

A land title DEED is an official legal instrument used to confer rights and ownership to land. Our land CLAIM is a legal declaration of “factual possession” of celestial land. The merits of the claim must then be assessed by an official Registry in order to award title Deeds to the land.

Now this is important! You see, as long as we have done all we can to ensure our claim to possession is openly honest and not illegal in current International law, then we can see that it is legal/legitimate to invite others to join us in this claim, each for a small fee.

How do we know this? … well, after confirming this fact through our own legal research, we sought proper legal counsel.

A comparison? .. ok, let’s take an example from the process for Registration of land title based on a sustained act of adverse possession (see English law: adverse possession). The original person in adverse possession may sell all or part of his ‘single possession’ at any time. This may (or may not) occur several years before submission of Application for Registration documents and thus well before the hopeful award of title by the appointed registry. This, perhaps surprisingly, is quite a common occurrence. Also note that the application for land registration can then be made on the basis of a single act of possession, but on behalf of many people.

So, what we are doing is already established (in several national laws) as perfectly legal & legitimate. We issue claim certificates that are also entirely legal. There is no novelty gift stamp on them! They confirm that the new claimant has joined in our claim of possession to land on Planet Mars. They effectively have joined in a “single continuous” act of possession, which means there is no requirement for them to actually join in the actions required of possession, because we are doing these on behalf of all of us. The claim certificates also confirm their future beneficiary status should a recognized registry (appointed via UN) decide in our favour with respect to our Application for First Registration (for title deeds) of Mars land. The small fee paid by each new Mars land claimant goes towards the likely costs for the legal due process that lies ahead.

So those claim certificates might end up being worth quite a lot! It is up to us to do our best on behalf of all our fellow Mars land claimants.

So, to recap, does that mean that if anybody just openly states that they consider themselves to be in exclusive possession of celestial land, they can legally start selling land claim certificates? … NO, it does not!… A certain amount of due diligence must be undertaken and demonstrated. The claimant must be prepared to show that they have based their claim, in good faith, upon the existing rules or norms within the applicable law. That means that supporting evidence, in line with the legal requirements for proof of possession, will be required. In the absence of any genuine attempt to meet the proof requirements for ‘Actual Possession’, the claim would be “hokum” (and possibly nefarious), so it would not be legal & legitimate to sell claim certificates to other people.

OK, so if we were talking about selling land claims (or indeed issuing deeds) for new land on Earth, that might be the matter settled, but this is celestial land!

Is there not something in Space Law that prohibits all such land acquisition?… such that it doesn’t matter whether we are selling Mars land claims or land deeds, its all forbidden?!?! … and hence not legitimate and possibly illegal?…

NOT if we honestly stick to selling Claim Certificates that confirm factual possession of land on Mars … such factual possession is tolerated within the law. Our independent expert legal advice is in agreement with this.

So what of the current space law (not even 60 years old)?..

With respect to celestial land  appropriation, the most significant thing in writing within the Outer Space Treaty is located in Article II, whereby it prevents celestial land acquisition by nations. It neglects to mention individuals and companies.

Now that is by no means the end of the matter! Article VI of OST can probably extend the non-appropriation principle to individuals and companies in most/all circumstances. Space lawyers award more weight to the unwritten extent of the “non appropriation principle”. … a customary rule. But, has it been damaged by the latest wave of national space law developments  (e.g. US Space Act 2015)? … YES, it has.


2/ “Guidelines” for land acquisition” (on Earth), derived from modern Public International Law and Private law:

These paragraphs detail the acceptable criteria, on Earth, for the legal conversion of a claim towards ownership or, in the case of nations, sovereignty. We are comparing apples with pears of course, since unregistered land on Earth might be termed ‘terra nullius’ (which is capable of being owned) and celestial land is, perhaps, res communis (global commons that cannot be owned). There is also the matter of applicable law… public international law or private international law. Nevertheless, given that we strongly believe that space law will evolve towards tolerance of some limited form of private celestial land rights, it is worth looking at what might represent a sufficient qualification to earn registration of ownership. In the absence of any hints in space law, we can look to public international law (which does apply to space) and some national private laws…

Brownlie’s Principles of Public International Law states: “The concept of “effective occupation” in international law represents the type of legal relation which in private law would be described as possession.”  So he was conceptually equating the acquisition of new land by a nation to land acquisition by an individual. This is important to us because we wished to understand what the typical proof requirements might be for “actual possession”(=effective occupation) of new or unclaimed land on Earth. We thought we might be able to equate the proof requirements for possession of poor quality land on Earth to that which might be required to posses land on Mars. We found that in both public international and private law, the requirements were remarkably similar.

In Public International law (just as in private law e.g squatting / adverse possession), the required proof for Factual Possession (or “Effective Occupation”) is very dependent on the nature of the land claimed. For distant, difficult and rather barren land there is NO requirement for human settlement or established trading of resources (McDougal and Lasswell’s ‘3rd category’ of ‘poor’ land for acquisition). Also the old colonial flag-planting method is long outdated. For such difficult land on Earth, an honest claim can be legally and robustly made through the demonstration of “intent to possess/occupy” and some sustained, exclusive governance/control measures, ideally with some early or preparatory benefit to the land involved. There are good primary sources of evidence (including court cases) to support this accepted view and indeed also for the possession equivalent in private law (for individuals claiming factual possession). Be it a nation in “effective occupation” or an “individual in factual possession”,  the proof requirements are almost identical and vary according to the quality of the land claimed.  See these excerpts regarding continuous factual possession:

Possession did not require actual occupation [Powell v Mcfarlane]

‘In the case of open land, absolute physical control is normally impractical’ [The law of Real Property]

Legal policy may lead a court to regard as sufficient a tenuous connection with the territory
in certain conditions’ [Principles of Public International Law]
Effective Occupation does not necessarily require the settlement of the territory or a
physical presence’ [Brilmayer and Klein]
Also look at the three major international court decisions that have shaped current international law: See how France beat Mexico to get ownership of Clipperton Island; Netherlands beat USA to get Palmas Island; Greenland went to Denmark rather than Norway. See the very minimal requirements that the law requires in order to successfully claim difficult, distant and relatively barren land.

Our land claim to Mars is based on exactly these requirements in existing law.  Our evidence base will not be detailed here (it is all provided within the supporting documents to our Application for First Registration of land on Mars … this application having been sent and received/acknowledged by UNOOSA and UK & US Governments. We document written statements of activities performed on a continuous basis, over 11 years, in support of our claim to Mars land possession (all witnessed independently). This involves governance/control activity of an administrative nature (Including the planning and set-up for The Mars Trust and UN Trusteeship), announcements of our exclusive claim of possession (by automated laser Morse Code, radio SpaceSpeak, social media (@IClaimMars and @JoinTheMartians) and other means,  plus the sustained, repeated, frequent high power laser targeting of Planet Mars.

We are perfectly correct to declare that, in geographical terms, Mars land is certainly difficult, distant and rather barren. It is difficult to settle and set up a vibrant trading business. Our governance/control measures include planning for the Mars Trust and the development of a communal land claim (based on a single, exclusive sustained act of possession for over 10 years). They also involve the repeated accurate targeting of Mars with strong laser light. Such class 4 lasers can impart up to 10 quadrillion photons per second to the surface of Mars, which does provide a very small amount of light energy to the planet (300 photons per square meter per second)… but this is NOT negligible. Indeed, with a suitable detector it could be measured on Mars. The positive effect upon land, atmosphere (and primitive photosynthetic life, should it still exist there) would be very small but definite… a measurable ‘non-zero’ effect. See our ABOUT section and Science Section to understand the math and basis for our laser strategy and to learn how we can assert that this provides a genuine but very small, beneficial  controlling influence upon the geo-atmosphere of Mars. We suggest that such a positive effect should be regarded as very small but legally relevant rather than small and legally trivial.

A judge may rightly choose to uplift the proof bar for evidence of possession of land on Mars (e.g. perhaps requiring actual settlement on the land) which is more than is required for “geographically equivalent” land on Earth. The reason for such deviation from the expected norm (and meaning we would be unsuccessful in gaining title registration) would likely be the higher strategic value of such celestial land when compared to its Earth “equivalent”.

We find this to be a very interesting issue…. Understandably, for rather barren, difficult land, International law admits proof of a lower level of governance, as being sufficient for “factual possession” of the land. The fact that the “strategic value” of the inhospitable land on Mars could have such a big influence upon the judge’s decision, shouldn’t be surprising, but it raises new challenges for the judge…

If the judge can find no significant fault in the construct of our Mars land claim and the evidence therein, but finds that the level of governance and control over the land was way too trivial to meet the adjusted ‘proof bar’, then in failing our application, he/she will be leaving the gate open to others with considerably more resources than us.  A wealthy, technically advanced corporation, having harnessed the latest “peta-watt lasers”, could (in a few years time) target Mars with such laser power that the evidence of effect and control on the land claimed would be hugely more obvious.  So if “scale” rather than construct becomes the reason for our failure, then it will be very difficult to resist this scaled-up claim… and it might not come in a benevolent bundle such as ours!

The Judge will have to explain his decisions and should he find that we fall short (in terms of evidence of effective control and governance), he would be expected to state the criteria that would be required for successful proof of Mars land possession.

In such a situation, in order to avoid the problem of scale (as just described), we would expect the Judge to opine that for strategically valuable Mars land, proof of possession would require actual human settlement. Unless our membership has progressed to celestial settlement by the time of this scrutiny by a Celestial Registry, we might lose out … but there is another factor to consider …

If the strategic value of otherwise inhospitable land can influence the judge’s decision in such a significant manner, then so can the nature of the strategic plan associated with the claim being submitted.

Our claim could be viewed quite positively in an international court. Why?… it comes bundled with the requirement (if we win) to have the Mars land immediately placed in trust, The Mars Trust, under secure UN Trusteeship with a likelihood of a new ‘top-up’ space treaty. What we are implying here is that an international judge might view our claim more favourably (esp. compared to alternatives) if reassured by the prospect of a safe, controlled outcome … indeed one that actually implements the “Heritage of Mankind” principle, so valued by the UN committees. At this point we should stress that we are NOT anti-commercial. Far from it. Space exploitation will be the driver for further space exploration and development. Ultimately, we hope that celestial resources, obtained responsibly, will benefit (and power) Planet Earth such that we don’t need to destroy or pollute it so much. We all know that Planet Earth is the BEST PLANET in the solar system! Our hope is for a UN trusteeship that can approve a nimble, savvy, space -faring user group which can efficiently facilitate commercial contracts and waste/debris mitigation, whilst delivering benefit to humanity and preserving opportunity for people from hitherto non-space faring nations.

SO DON’T MISS OUT!… Stake your claim to land on Mars and help us Save The Space Treaty … JOIN US NOW!



US SPACE LAW: Another conceptual analogy…

So here is a straight question to any space lawyer. …

How can you honestly say there is not a hint of appropriation about mining an asteroid and keeping the extracted minerals for your own profit?…
The US Space Act says it is fine for their miners to do just that… and that they are not appropriating any of the planet/asteroid. Only once the mineral/water is removed from the asteroid does the miner appropriate it (then it does becomes his!!!). The IISL thus accepted the possible legality of US Space Act and still suggests that the celestial bodies’ special status as res communis is preserved (open access and use for all, with benefits going to all).

I have often heard the following completely wrong analogy being made by US space lawyers… they say their new law just allows them to do in Space what fishermen are allowed to do in our oceans… remove resources for commercial gain. Well, the obvious thing here is that fish, like grass, is a replenishable biological entity. As long as not over-grazed or over-fished, the activities can be continued to benefit all. The US Space Act, rather unwisely, states that their law does not apply to living/biological entities (the only things that are replenishable). So they are removing something that cannot be replaced… it is lost.
The best, most completely accurate analogy I can now manage is this (it addresses the issues raised when the US Space Act confronts Articles I and II or OST):
Think of Space exploitation being like an expensive elite sport that only a few countries can afford to produce teams for. I’m thinking fast-jet aerobatics (red arrows etc)….

Think of a world cup jet aerobatics event held in Dubai. Only USA, Russia, China, India, Brazil and France have felt able to field a team in this expensive sport. The Chinese, Russian and Brazilian teams are state entities, the French and Indian teams being part state sponsored and part commercial. The US team is a commercial venture with State approval and regulation.

The spectators, in the heat of Dubai, frequent the drinks stalls which are mostly manned and privately owned by rather poor local tradespeople.

In the main aerodrome hangars and aircrew rest-rooms, there are cooled water dispensers everywhere, for the free use of all aircrew and ground-crew (mechanics etc)…. but not for spectators.

All competing teams have been visiting the water dispensers quite frequently because of the heat. So the Russian Ground-crew Chief issues each member of his team with a 3 litre personal flask and directs them to go to the nearest dispensers and fill their flasks (in order to avoid the repetitive, time wasting journeys to and from the dispensers). 

Now this action completely empties 5 of the nearest water dispensers. Most of the other teams are annoyed by this, as they now have further to go to the nearest functioning dispenser, plus losing valuable competitive time in doing so. 

The well funded US team has completed its performance and is by now on the verge of victory. The aircrew watch the final display of the French team from the comfort of a plush, communal aircrew restroom. The US lead pilot then produces a document from the US state Dep’t. It entitles him and his team the opportunity to earn themselves a bit of extra beer money (to help with the expected victory celebrations later). On his direction, the US aircrew begin dismantling all the water dispensers in the recreation rooms and restrooms.  They carry the 10 litre water bottles outside to the wealthiest of the public drinks stall owners. They sell all twenty of these big containers to this propriator, for just $100 . That’s enough for their beer money and they return happy to their restroom. The stall owner is now able to undercut his rivals’ prices. He thus goes on to have a great day, but some of these rivals suffer a poor outcome in what is a difficult low margin business. One or two might even go bust.

The other teams complain about this to the “World Enabling Aerobatics Committee” (WEAC), the multinational body which writes the rules for the competition. The US team protest in reply that they were benefitting all spectators in providing more water which reduced the prices for all. The Team also produces the document from US State Dept which states that the US team is permitted to remove the communal water containers from the dispensers, sell them elsewhere and keep the profits gained. On reading this document, WEAC is nervously reassured by the last paragraph in the document, where it states that despite all this profiteering, the USA and its Team are definately not laying any claims to the entire aerodrome or Dubai itself. ….Phew, that’s alright then …. all is fine!

Now what the Russian team did might have annoyed the other teams, but I dont think we can say they illegally appropriated the communal water (this is more typical of “the tragedy of the commons” model). 

The US team however, removed the water bottles containing the communal water and sold them to an outside market for their own gain… and in the process of doing so, dramatically affected the situation in the outside market. Even in a world of smoke and mirrors, we can see that’s appropriation…. and probably not ‘legal,” despite the document from US State Dep’t. 

Now, if WEAC just lets this roll on without admitting any problems (as they are doing), you can clearly see that the other teams might in future try a few cheeky tricks of their own. Rivalries and animosities will deepen. Collaborative international aerobatic training exercises will cease, being replaced by protectionist national programmes with military applications. There is no control or authority coming from WEAC …. things are getting messy.

My point is not to have a go at the US. Their US Space Act was indeed needed and long overdue …. but we all have to be mature enough to say that it does suggest appropriation (to some degree, even if they were to use the resources to produce a cure for cancer which they distribute to the world via not-for-profit programmes!). In sensibly admitting that some ‘mild’ appropriation is involved, there exists a new need to update the space laws accordingly (OST) and form some overarching regulatory body (or UN Trusteeship in the short-medium term, as we do advocate).
When all you have to work on is the frustrating 100% consensus voting structure in COPUOS, you need to sting them with something. Our claim might just help (in addition to other people’s efforts) to do the trick.



Smoke, mirrors and a big old emperor in new clothes:

Whats’s the bottom line in all our shouting for space law updates?… well, for one thing, intergovernmental bodies like the UN (COPUOS included) appear designed to stifle any earnest and imaginative talent. Committees that operate by near absolute consensus must be a nightmare to endure. I understand that consensus is, by design, a slow process that allows a hearing for everybody, a chance for tempers to cool and crises abate. However, for maybe 20 years there has been a growing need for COPUOS to act decisively on commercial space law development and a plan for practical celestial governance. But COPUOS, with its bulky membership and low motivation for achieving consensus, is paralysed.  I would expect the elite within governmental service to either briefly endure, or steer well clear of such places. Yet, right now we need all the zest and intelligent cohesive spirit that these state delegates can muster. They also must, by mandate, shoulder the requisite power/responsibility to effectively negotiate in order to do anything really progressive. That normally requires some concessions from the more powerful nations, such that legal and/or commercial advancements come with fairness and clarity.

The truth right now is that a fair but market friendly framework does need to be incorporated into treaty.  It is clearly best to include that framework into an update to the Outer Space Treaty… something that would preserve the Treaty’s wider strength against weapons etc. The trouble is that these state delegates to COPUOS might have become fully assimilated  “committee pawns”… no longer striving for the “impossibility” of a new treaty;  instead they may fudge out new soft agreements (non binding) and rely on sympathetic academics to help shape non-ratified “customary law” to accommodate the path of least resistance. Yet the path of least resistance is not always the most natural interpretation of a treaty or law, it is sometimes that which accommodates the viewpoint of the most powerful. Now that’s nothing new! … but we’d like that to change.

What we really want to change is the notion that hard law and treaties are a bad thing. They only become cumbersome and outdated when you don’t build upon them! We think it is a necessity to have a responsible governing body with applicable modern hard law for current space matters. Space law is too young a subject (50 years barely), without any testing case law for support, to rely on a fluffy framework of unwritten, disputed customary norms, soft laws and guidelines. Indeed, the first time the customary norm of non-appropriation came up against a proper opponent, an American space miner, it backed down whilst still trying to keep a brave face. Surely it would be better to encourage the miner with a clear, simple contract under independent governance that encourages his commercial opportunity and reward whilst still safeguarding him, celestial bodies and the rights of all humanity. So we absolutely need COPUOS to somehow regain the cohesive spirit of 1967 (50 years ago the OST came into force) and somehow manage to prescribe a ‘top-up treaty’ (to build on OST) that is so badly needed. COPUOS can feasibly strike the consensus rule in favour of majority rule, but has never done that to date. It might actually require UNGA to bypass COPUOS in order to produce a workable resolution on all this (as occurred in 1982, concerning the use of satellites for TV broadcasting).

So, what do you think?…can we solve the urgent problem of space debris with all those different bits of soft law from multiple sources (which can resemble debris in itself)?  Can we afford to let die the the only hard law stopping “nukes” in space…and trust in new non binding agreements and codes of practice?  Will they protect us all?

We say…. “without some governance and a proper spine of modern hard law (such are especially needed in this young, dynamic arena), these soft laws and customary norms are just an exercise in smoke, mirrors and a big old emperor in new clothes.”

Now, whilst I have no doubt that the first 20 years of space mining projects will be small scale, explorative and scientific, it would be wise to have some governance framework in place for the future. See below…

Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights (UN … 2011):

“At present States are not generally required under international human rights law to regulate the extraterritorial activities of businesses domiciled in their territory and/or jurisdiction”. … [sad but true].
Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UK Gov…Updated May 2016)
The State’s Duty to Protect Human Rights:
Human rights obligations generally apply only within a State’s territory and/or jurisdiction. Accordingly, there is no general requirement for States to regulate the extraterritorial activities of business enterprises domiciled in their jurisdiction, although there are limited exceptions to this, for instance under treaty regimes. The UK may also choose as a matter of policy in certain instances to regulate the overseas conduct of British businesses…..  [so 5 years on from the UN’s GP there’s no shift to regulation or even proper national governance… and the UK is one of the more committed developed nations on this issue!]

Injustice incorporated (from

Companies operating across borders are often involved in severe abuses, such as forced labour or forcibly relocating communities from their lands.

Unsurprisingly, abuses are particularly stark in the extractive sector, with companies racing against each other to mine scarce and valuable resources. Traditional livelihoods are destroyed as land is contaminated and water supplies polluted such as in Ogoniland, Nigeria. The impact can be particularly severe for indigenous peoples because their way of life and their identity is often closely related to their land.

Affected communities are frequently denied access to information about the impact of company operations. Meaning they are excluded from participating in decisions that affect their lives.


Now the point of all that is to show you that worldwide, when it comes to international commercial development, ‘soft laws’ and non binding guidelines are the current way ahead. But are they?… Does this mode of soft governance work?… Maybe in some sectors, but clearly in the “extractive sector” (and many others), there is cause for great concern.

It is this very sector that we are inviting into space, to mine resources responsibly, with consideration of providing additional benefit to all humanity… and this is being done largely contrary to (or certainly not “in keeping with) existing space laws … such that in order to make it alright, the responsible nation (US) passed a law to say “go for it guys, its all yours!… and ours!”

Finally, we must state that we are actually very supportive of the US in their introduction of the US Space Act. Its been a long time coming. It is well written (despite the denial of any celestial appropriation) and does what it needs to do. However, it is the job for COPUOS and independent space law bodies/institutes to stand up and honestly appraise the status of the non appropriation principle and OST should the US Space Act be accommodated. Instead, there appears to be a soft acknowledging of US power and leadership, such that the Act must be accommodated without any admission of collateral damage incurred. That amount of rule-bending just doesnt help. It kicks the problem down the road. Better to admit that that they do see some hint of appropriation in the US Act and make recommendations for a governance regime and Treaty updates which are long overdue.




*** The key to avoiding a nuclear war that starts in space and targets Earth is to NEVER have such weapons loaded into orbit. Currently the OST stops this…. but without updating it will be kicked aside very soon.




NOTE: the flowchart, below, does need some editing (was compiled in 2016 – there have been some strategic changes since)… but until we get round to updating it we can advise that the general schematic remains useful…