According to a report by a think tank, the Moon should be privatized to help eradicate poverty on Earth.
“Sixty years since Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to orbit our planet and John F. Kennedy spoke of the need to institute the rule of law to ‘man’s new domain’, property rights in space remain up for debate. But recent developments suggest this can’t and won’t remain a debate for long,” Rebecca Lowe wrote in a paper titled, “Space Invaders — Property Rights on the Moon” for the Adam Smith Institute.
“The ‘national appropriation’ of space — or at least of its ‘physical domain’ — is outlawed by long-standing international treaty. Yet problems stemming from the idealism of the international approach, alongside various nations’ unilateral shifts of attitude and practice, as well as growing demands from firms and individuals to shift away from a national focus, leave this framework unfit for purpose, at least in practical terms,” Lowe continued. “Beyond this, a clear, morally-justified, and efficient system for assigning and governing property rights in space — in land, in other resources, in the vacuum itself, and in anything else that might be found — would present vast benefits. These include not only serious financial rewards for those who would become owners under such a system, and for the other direct and indirect beneficiaries of space ownerships. They also relate to the provision of valuable incentives for the responsible stewardship of space, as well as opportunities for new scientific discovery, democratized space exploration, and much more.”
Despite the ownership of property by countries or individuals being banned by the United Nations’ 1967 Outer Space Treaty, “Property rights play a key role in boosting living standards, innovation and human dignity here on Earth,” Daniel Pryor, the Adam Smith Institute’s head of research, said.
“The same would be true if we applied this logic to space which presents a unique opportunity to start afresh when designing effective rules of ownership,” Pryor continued. “With more countries and companies competing in the space race than ever before it’s vital for us to move past the outdated thinking of the 1960s and tackle the question of extraterrestrial property rights sooner rather than later.’’
The UN’s Outer Space Treaty governs “the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies,” and includes the following principles:
- the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
- outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
- outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
- States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
- the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
- astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind;
- States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities;
- States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and
- States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
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