Declaration of Objectives and Activities Regarding Cultural Heritage in Outer Space
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(A Declaration recognizing the existence of human cultural heritage sites in outer space and seeking the implementation of certain preliminary steps to manage and balance preservation goals with exploration of space and utilization of space resources.)
The undersigned participants (the “Participants”),
RECOGNIZING the common interest of humankind in furthering the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes;
EMPHASIZING that outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is free for exploration and use by all;
RECALLING that this freedom is enshrined in international law as part of the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, more commonly referred to as the Outer Space Treaty;
NOTING that the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space promotes international cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of space by, among other things, calling for the rendering of possible assistance to astronauts and the return of objects launched into outer space;
MINDFUL that the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, also known as the Liability Convention, elaborates international rules and procedures concerning the liability of launching States for damage caused by their space objects;
ACKNOWLEDGING that the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space establishes that the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall maintain a Register in which certain information furnished in respect of objects launched into outer space shall be recorded;
GUIDED BY the 1972 Convention Concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage which recognizes “that deterioration or disappearance of any item of cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all nations of the world;”
AWARE that the nonprofit, non-governmental organization, For All Moonkind, Inc. (“For All Moonkind”), is focused on obtaining international recognition of Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space as part of common human heritage and international agreement to provide relevant levels of protection for each of the Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space as to be determined;
NOTING that as of April 2019, there are at least 111 sites on the surface of the Moon and an increasing number of sites throughout outer space that bear evidence of human activity (hereinafter expressed as “Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space”) and that a digital and publicly accessible register of such sites (the For All Moonkind Registry”) is being developed by For All Moonkind;
EMPHASIZING that each of Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space (1) represents part of the narrative of human history on the Moon and in outer space, (2) provides evidence of the first achievements of humankind in the realm of space travel and exploration, and (3) contain artifacts and/or other evidence of human exploration activities that remain, in their undisturbed state, a potential source of historic, archaeological, anthropologic, scientific and engineering knowledge;
CONVINCED that interfering with any of the Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space, or the environment surrounding any of the Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space could cause irremediable loss of its historical, archaeological, anthropologic, scientific and engineering significance and value;
RECOGNIZING that neither international law, nor any binding and enforceable laws, regulations, principles or guidelines recognize or protect any Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space;
CONCERNED about properly managing the balance between the protection of Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space against the sustainable exploration and use of outer space today and in the future;
BELIEVING that cultural preservation is important for the continued evolution of sustainable and successful space activities, including, in particular, missions to utilize space resources as well as missions to create human communities in outer space, on the Moon and on other celestial bodies; and
DESIRING to address the legal lacuna exposes each and all of the Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space to the risk of both inadvertent and intentional damage or destruction which would constitute a harmful impoverishment of human heritage;
Have agreed as follows:
SECTION 1 – OBJECTIVES
- This Declaration has as its primary objective the collaboration and participation of all Participants to ensure that Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space are recognized for their outstanding value to humanity and consequently preserved and protected for posterity as part of our common human heritage.
- The secondary objective of this Declaration is to encourage and educate humanity of the value of the exploration and use of outer space and recognize that the exploration and use of outer space offers many benefits to all humanity by embracing the universality of human achievement in outer space.
SECTION 2 – ACTIVITIES
The Participants do hereby agree to:
- Work together and with For All Moonkind, including the legal and archaeological experts that are engaged in an advisory capacity with For All Moonkind, to promote the recognition of Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space.
- Work together and with For All Moonkind, including the legal and archaeological experts that are engaged in an advisory capacity with For All Moonkind, to promote the development and promulgation of standards (the “Standards”) regarding the appropriate protection of each of the Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space; provided that the proposed Standards:
- may include recommended practices and procedures dealing with the protection and preservation of Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space on a general and a site-by-site basis;
- will be transparent, progressive and flexible and may be amended from time to time as may be necessary;
- will promote and facilitate the exploration and use of space, while balancing development and preservation; and
- will take into consideration any national recommendations and guidelines implemented by national governments in respect of their own space objects.
- Contribute to the For All Moonkind Registry as appropriate.
- Use their reasonable best efforts to assure that each of their outer space activities, whether on the Moon or elsewhere, planned or implemented before the development of relevant Standards, will avoid disturbance and damage to any Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space.
- Use their reasonable best efforts to assure that any entity seeking access to outer space through or with their services also agrees use their reasonable best efforts to assure that each of their outer space activities, whether on the Moon or elsewhere, planned or implemented before the development of relevant Standards, will avoid disturbance or damage to any protected Cultural Heritage Sites in Outer Space.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned, duly authorized, have signed this Declaration.