Morality, Rights And Responsibilities in Space

As humanity begins to break out into space, the biggest obstacle we must overcome is not gravity or physics. It is ourselves. The outcome of the first Space Race illustrated the truth of this. Using only the technology of the time we were able to fly to the Moon. Yet, having tentatively touched our toes on its dusty surface, we withdrew and began circling our own world for the next 50 years, culturally unable to comprehend that we had stood for a moment on the edge of the universe. The international policies and codes of conduct for space in place today were created in that era when the concepts of colonizing space and utilizing space resources were still in the realm of science fiction. Now, with these prospects becoming increasingly real we have to consider a new approach to human action and interaction in space. In this article, Rick Tumlinson presents his ‘Declaration of the Rights of Humanity in the Universe’, a proposal for guidelines and shared principles for living and working in what is about to become the new reality beyond the boundaries of Earth – an open frontier in space that is owned by no one belongs to everyone and is open to all.

A future mining operation on the Moon, as envisaged by artist James Vaughan, using giant solar mirrors for illuminating a sunless crater.

Today, as we move through the first global catastrophe of the 21st century, we have seen both the best and worst of ourselves. Even as governments failed, science proved right and the people became the frontline heroes of the day. The attack of the coronavirus in fact demonstrates the weakness of top-down control, and a strong argument can be made that it is people themselves, through their own discipline, caring, and mutual support that has done much of the work to save the day. Thus, when I confront the legislative and political barriers to their independent participation in opening the space frontier, I am saddened, appalled, and confused.

Yes, governments made the initial investments in space exploration as part of their Cold War Space Race. But now the children of those times have stepped up into their footprints to take the giant leaps that will transform the future. While some visionary leaders and policymakers work to enable them to succeed, others try to slow them down, and all are stuck trying to re-interpret legal and policy frameworks designed for another era, almost literally trying to drive the future between commas in now obsolete treaties and texts.

Source: ROOM

Extending Human Rights Across The Final Frontier

The conception of outer space as a peaceful, cooperative, and collaborative domain is one that has persisted within the international community over the past half-century. The United Nations (UN) has continuously emphasized that the benefits tied to the exploration and use of outer space must collectively benefit the international community as a whole and not just those countries with space programs. Here, lawyer Jonathan Lim discusses the importance of human rights in space and how the maintenance of space as a peaceful and cooperative domain can be supported by established international law principles and agreements, including the international human rights law (IHRL) framework.

The extension of international human rights into the domain of outer space represents a necessary and foundational measure, conducive to supporting the exponential pace of humanity’s development and presence in outer space, and in reinforcing and maintaining the longstanding recognition of outer space as a “shared international commons” and the “province of all mankind”.

The intersection of human rights and space can be interpreted through two means. Firstly, the use of space technologies and applications to support the realization and maintenance of human rights obligations terrestrially, such as the use of remote sensing and Earth observation satellites for monitoring humanitarian developments in Burma. Secondly, the extension of terrestrial human rights into space, as a means of regulating and guiding human activities in outer space. It is this second intersection which will bear significance in shaping the ethical, moral, and philosophical character of humanity’s advance into space over the coming decades.

Introducing the contemporary IHRL framework into the domain of space gives rise to several noted benefits. First, it provides an agreed standard of norms for assessing and addressing the impact of human activities in space. Second, it facilitates understanding and engagement through shared language and values. Third, it provides an architecture to convene, deliberate, and enforce such standards. Finally, it provides a positive roadmap to guide decision making, and a moral compass necessary for promoting good governance and advancing the notion of inter-generational equity.

Source ROOM