Only a paper moon: The Artemis Accords and future human settlements

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Project Artemis was announced in 2017 planning to send women and men back to the Moon. Through this project, the United States is seeking to create an enduring and sustainable presence on the Moon in partnership between NASA, the private sector, and international collaborators. The announcement of the Artemis Accords at the virtual 71st International Astronautical Congress was the result of a concerted diplomatic effort and the Accords are seeking to codify the way in which a sustained presence on the Moon would comport within established international agreements. Foundational principles for regulating the activities of states in outer space were laid down in the Outer Space Treaty 1967. But the Treaty contains no real detail of how humans might establish a society in space beyond a prohibition on State appropriation of outer space and celestial bodies (Article II), forbidding military bases (Article IV), and making states internationally responsible for their national space activities, including non-governmental entities (Article VI). The Moon Agreement of 1979 attempted to codify provisions relating to exploration and the management of resources, but this was largely repudiated by the international community, including China, Russia, and the United States.
There has been considerable academic discussion of the way in which the Accords interact with the existing international law. This discussion will touch upon that, whilst seeking to address the broader question about the evolution of space law. The question of the significance of the Accords will be addressed giving consideration as to the role that the Accords could have in shaping the way in which future human settlements might be governed beyond the terms of existing space treaties. It has been identified that a key problem, when considering any form of off-world governance, is the lack of an underpinning shared value system upon which to base any subsequent regulatory or governance structure. As much as the Accords may represent a new epoch in space law, it is timely to ask whether they are another step towards identifying areas of commonality around which new space settlements can coalesce.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Institutions of Extraterrestrial Liberty
EditorsCharles S. Cockell
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780191919541
ISBN (Print)9780192897985
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2023


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