Launched in 2020 by WiseLaw, Jus Ad Astra is a legal project aimed at developing an authoritative international treatise clarifying the fundamental legal principles and human rights applicable to current and future human activities across outer space. This will be achieved in consultation and cooperation with prominent industry leaders, leading academics, and legal experts across the international space industry.
This treatise will seek to culture, consolidate and promote a common understanding concerning the physiological, technical and legal challenges faced by extended human habitation in space. This will be conducted in consideration of the existing terrestrial international human rights law framework and existing international space law instruments.
The project will pioneer the codification of novel and fundamental rights into international human rights law, and lay the foundation to address ongoing debates across international space law jurisprudence - involving space debris, space heritage rights, mining and resource rights, boundary disputes, armed conflict, space tourism, labour law, and property rights.
It is our belief that this avant-garde interpretation into the intersection between space and human rights will promote international cooperation over conflict, and facilitate international peace and stability amid the coming 'race for space'.
This website serves as a platform and point of contact for academics, professionals, industry experts, and the general public to learn more about and contribute to this innovative initiative for the benefit of all mankind. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Why Is Human Rights Important in Space?
While discussions on the connections between human rights and space law have predominantly concerned the influence of outer space activities on the human rights of individuals on earth, there has been little consideration upon the influence of outer space activities on the human rights of individuals residing in space or on a celestial body.
The protection and promotion of human rights across isolated human communities in the expanse of outer space is necessary in:
1) Establishing a stable foundation for the realization of property rights
2) Maintaining the rule of law
3) Supporting the lasting transference of universal values and ethical practices
4) Upholding basic human rights and human dignity
5) Reinforcing a common social, cultural and economic connection with terrestrial governments
6) Providing the foundational basis for sustainable human colonization activities
7) Holding local governments accountable
8) Promoting environmentally sustainable practices
To promote the development, consideration, and adoption of human rights principles and values across the international space industry and international space law jurisprudence.
For people of all nations to commit, before the decade is out, to the creation of a comprehensive treatise that articulates and clarifies existing international law on the role and utility of human rights in outer space.
In advancing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is our aim to advocate for the development of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Space which, among its articles, recognises and protects the:
- Right to Water -
- Right to a Breathable Atmosphere -
- Right to a Habitable Environment -
The Rule of Law is central to the maintenance of good governance and social stability. This is especially pertinent in isolated and small human groups in outer space, where each decision may have a disproportionate effect on the survivability and unity of the community as a whole.
To avoid the occurrence of conflict, social stratification, and social unrest the application of human rights in outer space must aim to uphold the rule of law across the following elements:
● That the law is readily known and available, certain and clear;
● That the law is applied equally and without discrimination between people on arbitrary or irrational grounds; and
● That all people are entitled to the presumption of innocence and a fair and public trial.
These elements are considered essential to the resolution of inter-personal disputes across civil and criminal matters, and creation of a stable environment conducive to economic prosperity, social harmony, and individual well-being.
The consideration of Economic and Social Law within the context of human rights in space is relevant to the viability and survivability of isolated human communities.
Where the environment of outer space is one defined by extremes in its hostility to life, distance between celestial objects, and bountiful natural resources - such conditions will undoubtably shape and define the economic, social and cultural characteristics of human communities.
For example, the domain of space heritage encompasses efforts by the international community to manage the preservation of history and human heritage in outer space. Such involves how governments and non-governmental entities cooperate in preserving objects and sites based on their outstanding value to humanity as part of mankind's common human heritage.
Labour issues must also be considered, particularly where human activities across the final frontier may involve addressing workplace injuries, workers compensation, employment terms, minimum wage, trade unions and collective action.
Amid the burgeoning 'race to space' the presence of human rights principles is essential to establishing and maintaining a basic standard of living for all individuals, precluding the rise of material inequality, preventing social stratification, safeguarding the development of unique cultural practices, and addressing the emergence of monopolistic practices by both governments and non-governmental entities.
Environmental Law, as a subset of international human rights law in outer space, is considered relevant given the dependence and fundamental impudence of humans on finite natural resources and fragile ecosystems.
This is a pattern which has been observed within terrestrial settings under the developing 'tragedy of the commons' - as governments and non-state entities recklessly rush to overconsume a scarce and non-renewable resource. The devastating consequences of such actions can be amplified if repeated among isolated human communities, where the scarcity of both water and air is a constant concern to the overall prosperity and survivability of such communities.
The evolution of Environmental Law jurisprudence, within the context of human rights and the unique circumstances of space, is to be expected when factoring the hazardous conditions of outer space to human health and dignity - in respect to radiation, gravity, and a breathable atmosphere - which will face isolated human communities. Where variations across any of these several elements may result in adverse consequences for human development and wellbeing, how will governments and non-government entities cooperate to safeguard human rights under such circumstances?
The essentiality of human rights is also relevant in considering the detrimental effects of space debris upon an individual's freedom of movement, and the right to life, liberty and security of the person. Where isolated human communities display a reckless disregard of space environmental issues and sustainability, this can have irreparable consequences for subsequent generations.
Criminal Law within the context of human rights and space is concerned with addressing the inevitable incidence of reprehensible actions by human beings in space across isolated human communities administered by local governments.
This will develop in tandem with the unique human conditions experienced in outer space - the scarcity of air, water and other resources central to the survival of a community may result in the development of unique legal jurisprudence across the area of criminal law. Several examples include:
● Will a person found to have siphoned such essential resources from the community be deemed to have committed a felony/indictable offense?
● How will criminal negligence evolve where reckless or negligent practices by the providers of these essential resources/services resulted in human casualties?
● How will criminal law and human rights respond to the use of environmental conditions in outer space (i.e. gravity, radiation, exposure) as a form of torture?
Additionally, what legal protections will be afforded to such individuals to maintain a fair, just and impartial legal process? Will the notions of habeas corpus, presumption of innocence, and corpus delicti be incorporated and maintained as essential principles of criminal law among isolated human communities?
From a structural perspective, will it be possible to create unified international criminal law principles in space which shall be applied in spite of the nationality? Or will each entity seek to create its own criminal law? If a crime happens in space, and multiple nationalities are involved, which law will be destined to be applied?
The development of Property Law jurisprudence, considered within the context of human rights and space, is anticipated to expand in response to the exponential growth of the global space industry and the near limitless mineral resources potential of outer space.
While existing international space law treaties and agreements limit the ability of governments to own, sell, gift or otherwise assign proprietary rights to resources accrued in outer space, it is acknowledged that such prohibitions do not inherently limit individual ownership of property in space. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 17 outlines that "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property."
A common proposal to the acquisition of property in space has been under John Locke's labour theory of property - where ownership and property rights are accrued when an individual pours their own labour and effort into a resource. While the US has recognized the property rights of its citizens to resources acquired in space, it remains undetermined whether this interpretation will prevail over international customary law and practice.
A unified agreement on the principles and enforcement of property law in space is paramount to stability and prosperity of all mankind, and is a concept which can be enhanced by the consideration and adoption of human rights principles to the unique opportunities and challenges of outer space.
Where the rule of law is not universally applied, the uniquely harsh realities of human habitation in space, abundance of natural resources, and scarcity of human resources among isolated communities may lead to 'hyper-capitalism' and monopolistic practices by governments and non-government entities via the impersonal forces of economics under the "invisible hand."
The role of health law in the context of international human rights law and space law represents the foundational basis for the realisation of human rights in space. Where the values and principles of human rights under existing terrestrial frameworks have been derived and advanced from the notion of human dignity, addressing the unique challenges posed to human health and wellbeing in outer space is inherently tied to the preservation of human dignity, and represents the starting point for research and public debate over what novel rights are required to safeguard human rights in space.
From this, it is foreseeable that existing gaps in space and human rights jurisprudence concerning prolonged or continuous human activities in outer space require the consideration of:
● The Right to Water;
● The Right to a Breathable Atmosphere; and
● The Right to a Habitable Environment.
The development and evolution of these human rights in outer space will have unprecedented effects upon the 9 core international human rights treaties:
1) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
2) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
3) the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
4) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
5) the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
6) the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
7) the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
8) the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)
9) the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)