The further proliferation of national space laws to regulate national space resource activity? Without the context of these discussions at COPUOS, and the persistent raising of the Moon Agreement there, the executive order may seem strange in its strident denunciation of that treaty. The issuance of this executive order must be viewed not in isolation but instead in the larger context of US space exploration and space commercialization policy. The United States clearly views space resources utilization as both a key part of achieving the long-term goals of the Artemis program and future human space exploration, and as a foundational element of a robust future commercial space economy. However, “like-minded” does not mean that all participants begin from the same standpoint; it means that they are able to identify shared interests and work towards those shared interests. Resolving some of the legal uncertainties around space resources utilization is part of the strategy for achieving the policy goals of the Administration.  This plan describes a vision for sustained scientific and exploration activities on the Moon, conducted in partnership with other states, and in which in situ resource utilization (ISRU) is a key enabling factor. students. One such approach is the recently concluded Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group. He is also a Professor of Law (Adjunct) at Georgetown University Law Center, where he co-teaches the Space Law Seminar to J.D.  Far from engaging in a wide-ranging cooperation with China, US officials likely see China’s interest in lunar exploration and shift in position as opening a potential situational ally in moving multilateral space resources discussions beyond rehashing the Moon Agreement, and towards pragmatic discussions. This approach, of course, leaves open any remaining issues that truly need international agreement for directed consideration at COPUOS or at other international fora. During the negotiation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty to which it is a party, the United States rejected the Soviet position that space should be a commons where ownership was impossible. So what does this intention for bilateral coordination mean, and how will the United States go about engagement? The United States and Luxembourg have both passed domestic law enabling space resource utilization, have signed a cooperation agreement related to space commerce, and several space companies have operations in both countries. Christopher Johnson is the Space Law Advisor at the Secure World Foundation and represents SWF at the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Minilateral approaches enjoy the expediency of national space legislation, and as they are negotiated amongst several like-minded states, such agreements could not be honestly accused of being merely “unilateral” measures. The Building Blocks are unlikely to be implemented in a holistic fashion, but the principles contained within them might be implemented in a combination of multilateral guiding documents, state-to-state agreements (bi- or mini-lateral), and domestic law. As this strategy is executed, the actual operational practices developed for ISRU activities will significantly inform the establishment of applicable norms and principles. The views expressed are his own, and not necessarily those of his firm or its clients. In a briefing on the order, a senior administration official identified several potential countries to work with, based on space resources related statements that those countries have made: “We’ve been hearing positive statements out of Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia, and frankly even China. Note: we are temporarily moderating all comments submitted to deal with a surge in spam. Ian A. Christensen is the Director of Private Sector Programs at the Secure World Foundation, and holds a Master’s Degree from the George Washington University Elliott School for International Affairs. These activities within the Legal Subcommittee attest to the increasing attention paid to space resources within COPUOS. Properly understood in this context, the executive order is not a policy change for the United States; instead, it is implementation guidance to the State Department and other US agencies. However, once negotiated and adopted, treaties are essentially impossible to alter and therefore run the risk of becoming quickly outdated by advances in technology or scientific findings, as well as economically or politically irrelevant. These two policy goals (the Artemis program and development of commercial space) are linked. Most importantly, it reflects an understanding that we are at an inflection point in our relationship to space, one in which we are moving from exploration to expansion. A new international treaty, possibly replacing the failed Moon Agreement (a “Space Mining Treaty”)? International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG). This activity within COPUOS is one of the prompts that we believe gave rise to the executive order—an order that explicitly rejects the Moon Agreement on a number of fronts. In fact, given the still emerging nature of commercial space resource access and utilization, a binding treaty is likely inappropriate before the actual activity begins and may not even be appropriate thereafter. In this regard, the Building Blocks represent a set of principles and topics for which an expert group has identified the need for further implementation. The Building Blocks “are designed to serve as the basis for a possible international framework, without prejudice to its form and structure.” The Building Blocks identify principles and requirements that are, in the opinion of the group’s members, necessary to enable space resources utilization in a manner consistent with international law and providing industry legal certainty. 2019 Year in Review. To the United States, the access, use, possession, utilization, exploitation, and benefits of space resources is permitted by the Outer Space Treaty, with the understanding that no such access, use, possession, utilization, exploitation, or the occupation of areas will or could ever give rise to a national appropriation which Article II explicitly prohibits. For some of the countries identified, the alignment is clear. In those multilateral discussions, consensus is slowly emerging that space resources utilization is a permitted use of celestial bodies, rather than their unlawful appropriation (outside perhaps of the extreme case of the full consumption of an asteroid.) Open Letter to the Canadian Government Concerning Space Resources, Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development, Trump’s commerce secretary wants to turn the moon into a ‘gas station for outer space’, H.R.2262 - U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, #SpaceWatchGL Perspective On U.S. Space Resources Executive Order: Peter Marquez On The Need For The EO, How Simple Terms Mislead U.S. —The Pitfalls of Thinking about Outer Space as a Commons, Report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (A/74/20), Report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space – 62nd Session, Annex II. Some commentators are adamant that we need a new treaty, negotiated at COPUOS (because of, rather than despite, its size) and then presumably sent to the UN General Assembly as an Annex in a draft resolution for adoption there, just as treaties were done in the 1960s and ’70s. Because of Article II, outer space is simply not subject to such appropriation attempts. In November 2019, the Group released its 20 Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities (available in English, Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish via the Group’s website).. We've had a blast and are excited to see what 2020 has in store!  For example, the recently-concluded guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities is the latest success out of COPUOS, and shows that a committee of more than 90 states can meaningfully discuss complex issues of spaceflight and reach consensus on best practices on these activities—all without codifying any new rights, obligations, or prohibitions in a legally-binding manner for member states. There is a risk that the language used in this EO 13914—in particular its refutation of the global commons concept and the Moon Agreement—could become associated with President Trump and an “America First” approach. As the international forum of the peaceful uses of outer space, COPUOS is the established, traditional, and natural place for such discussions and the development and codification of any necessary new norms for space activities.  These reactions are no doubt a reflection of the view of the current president as much as, or perhaps more than, the underlying subject matter of EO 13914. These instruments include the Direct Broadcasting Principles (1982), the Remote Sensing Principles (1986), the Nuclear Power Sources Principles (1992), and the Benefits Declaration (1996). Providing private operators legal certainty in space resources utilization activities will fundamentally require international consultation and coordination. Or, a COPUOS-led initiative resulting in principles declarations adopted by the UN General Assembly (“Space Resources Principles”), or a resolution from the General Assembly on a specific issue (“Recommendations on the practice of States in space resource activities”)?  The group involved more than 30 industry, government, and academia members representing a range of viewpoints: from Moon Agreement parties and traditional spacefaring states to emerging nations and startup companies. Billing is accurate and timely. Questions are now centering on how to govern this type of use.
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