With the advancement of technology, space exploration and space activities have greatly expanded prompting the need for administration of the use of space. The Moon Treaty, an international law meant to govern space activities, was developed subsequent to four other treaties to provide necessary statutes to control the behavior of nations, international organizations and individuals who explore space (Christol, 1981). The agreement was signed on 18th December 1979 after seven years of negotiation among the United Nations states and a consensus was reached then brought into use in July 1984. The Moon Treaty has potential efficacy towards the achievement of its objectives despite the challenges faced. The treaty was substantially meant to solve problems previously identified and correct omissions by the prior treaties.
The Moon Agreement constitutes articles whose major provisions protect the celestial bodies and equalizes all nations in the use of space. The treaty safeguards the Moon’s environment by banning the use of any military objects such as nuclear weapons and prohibiting the practice of heavily destructive activities such as nuclear testing on the moon. Further, the treaty requires that any personnel engaging in space activities be mandated by the space authority (Christol, 1981). Space and the available resources in the celestial space are defined as common heritage of humankind in the treaty thereby a beneficial asset for all countries hence steering clear of partiality. Of the twenty-one articles that cover the provisions of the Moon Treaty of 1979, six of those contain provisions which are formerly unaddressed in the prior treaties (United Nations, 2015). The articles in the treaty tend towards the security of the space.
Space resource management, amicable and unified space exploration, and equitable sharing of the benefits from the celestial bodies include the reasons that prompted the development of the treaty. The immense resources found in space such as minerals, metals, non-metals, regolith, energy sources, and atmospheric gases can be utilized to generate finances. Nations, organizations, and individuals have thus showed much interest in space activities. The Moon agreement aims to oversee that all non-space states and third world nations are included in the benefits obtained from space activities, celestial body exploration, excavation, and eventual colonization (Christol, 1981). The grounds for formation of the treaty were intended for satisfactory space management.
After development, the Moon Treaty purposed to work on several things. The goals included boosting chances and state of analysis of natural resources, promoting research and exploration of the celestial bodies, assuring exclusive tranquil use of space, increasing participation in seeking objectives of the prior treaties, and to legally define what constitutes space (United Nations, 2015). The aims were mainly geared towards avoidance of reckless depletion of the space resources and ensuring antidiscrimination among the nations of the world. The optimization of space activities such as space travel, astrobiology, astronomy, and exploration were put into account in light of the objectives set.
The treaty stipulates several beneficial objectives that are previously unaddressed in the prior treaties. Signatories to the treaty are required to consider possible outcomes of their actions in space and their effects on the current and upcoming generations, Christol (2022). Non appropriation of space which defines space as a common heritage of mankind or a public sphere and forbids any claims of space by individuals, nations or organizations is also stated. Alteration of the balance of the space environment through contamination during space activities is forbidden. Also, the agreement suggests an international regime for the management and administration responsibilities of natural resources of celestial bodies in future intergovernmental space projects which has however proved difficult (United Nations, 2015). The positive aspects defined in the treaty are valuable in space management and administration.
The valuable aspects that are highlighted in the Moon Treaty are of great importance especially to space stations. An aspect such as conservation of the space environment is of great importance to astronauts and cosmonauts. The control of radioactive materials such as missiles in space is beneficial to extraterrestrial life (United Nations, 2015). The suggested international regime would help avert conflicts associated with space and its natural resources among the nations of the world thereby enhancing peaceful coexistence between states. With an international regime, standard rules, principles, and decision-making procedures for issues concerning space would apply globally making it easier for space government.
The Moon Treaty, however, has several shortcomings compared to the prior treaties that attempted to address issues concerning space and other celestial bodies. Despite the fact that the treaty was developed to clarify the existing agreements regarding space exploration and exploitation of outer space, the Moon Treaty is a more compounding pact that is left to open interpretation, Christol, (1981). According to McGill (n.d.), the treaty fails to enhance chances and conditions for the evaluation, research and exploration of the natural resources of the celestial bodies. In addition, the pact fails to take extra steps to assure tranquil use of celestial bodies, and considerable remedies to continuing areas of interest in the space exploration. Further, the document fails to adequately address areas which most need clarification: establishing a legal order in space, defining “outer space” and the regulation of geostationary orbit, and setting up guidelines for space colonization, Christol (1981). The failures of the treaty make it difficult for implementation as an international law.
The moon treaty is, however, considered a failed agreement. The treaty has only been certified by seven nations while the other eleven members have acceded (Listner, 2018). The main reason behind failure of ratification for the treaty is the lack of enough signatories. The proposed international regime proposed in the Moon Treaty has also proved difficult to achieve due to opposition by certain states. The agreement has been described without fruition thereby possible a failure if it remains ratified by few countries, particularly those active in space (Christol, 1981). The fact that the key terms of the agreement are ambiguous and subject to self-interpretation among the signatories is also a cause for failure of its approval as an international law.
The Moon Treaty of 1979 substantially focuses on rationalization of space resource management and aversion of space conflicts. Just like the International Space Treaty, the Moon Agreement covers the non-appropriation of outer space, prevention of activities that are dangerous to the space environment, tranquil and unified free use of space, arms control in space, and generation of scientific study through research and exploration in the outer space. All the concepts covered in the pact are geared towards meeting the treaty’s primary objective which is effective government of space and other celestial bodies such as satellites, stars, asteroids and other planets excluding the earth.