The Article XI Project is a joint venture of the Global Space Law Center (GSLC) at Cleveland-State University and the E.A.G.L.E. Team of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) undertaken to address the pressing need of the international community for a universal approach to information-sharing as governments and private industry return en masse to the moon.
The Problem: How Best to Share Information about Lunar Activity?
Sharing information about lunar activities is critical for the following reasons:
- to ensure transparency regarding the peaceful nature of space activities;
- to avoid harmful interference; and
- to enable operators to act with “due regard” with respect to the interests of others.
Current practice of information-sharing under the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space falls short of these objectives for several reasons. First, the Registration Convention was intended primarily for orbital missions, not for missions on celestial bodies. Second, the Convention was designed for the registration of space “objects”, not space activities. Third, registration imposes potential liability upon the state of registry which has the effect of discouraging registration. Fourth, the Convention does not provide for updates to the submitted information. Fifth, only “launching states” are permitted to submit information under the Registration Convention. Finally, the Convention does not provide for registration of future activities.
The Solution: Expanded Use of the Article XI Index
In order to overcome the limitations of the Registration Convention and enable the level of information-sharing that is needed to ensure the safety of upcoming lunar activities, we recommend that all States involved in lunar activities provide fundamental information on their nature, conduct and locations to the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) for inclusion in the existing Index of Submissions by States under Article XI of the Outer Space Treaty which implements the obligation to share information set forth in Article XI:
In order to promote international cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, States Parties to the Treaty conducting activities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, agree to inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as the public and the international scientific community, to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, of the nature, conduct, locations and results of such activities. On receiving the said information, the Secretary-General of the United Nations should be prepared to disseminate it immediately and effectively.
To assist States in the process of making submissions under Article XI OST, the Article XI Project has developed a template (linked to below) specifically designed for the notification of lunar activities. This template is based on the form provided by UNOOSA for submissions under Article XI OST. The template supplements this form through the addition of further informational fields needed to ensure basic coordination among lunar activities, even though each of these additional fields remains optional and their use would be at the discretion of States.
To maintain accuracy of submitted information, we recommend that States submit supplementary notifications in the event of any material changes to the information provided in the original submission. With respect to lunar activities conducted by private actors, we recommend that the relevant notification be made by the authorizing state (under Article VI OST) by submitting information received from the private actor in the course of the domestic authorization process.
Our recommendations have the benefit of leveraging existing norms and frameworks. The implementation of these recommendations does not require the creation of new law, new institutions, or a new process. Our recommendations only call for the expanded use of the existing Article XI Index. In this regard, we wish to underline that our recommendation to use the Article XI Index is intended to be in addition to, not a replacement of, the registration of all space objects pursuant to the Registration Convention and/or UN Resolution 1721 (XVI) B.
The Article XI Project is co-chaired by Prof. Mark J. Sundahl, Director of the Global Space Law Center at Cleveland State University and Antonino Salmeri, Lead of the Effective and Adaptive Governance for a Lunar Ecosystem (EAGLE) Team of the Space Generation Advisory Council and Doctoral Researcher at the University of Luxembourg.
Recent Articles, Reports, and Initiatives Calling for Reform of Information-Sharing for Space Activity
Mark J. Sundahl & Antonino Salmeri, The Registration of Lunar Activities: Recommendations from the Registration Project, in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law (forthcoming 2022)
Space Generation Advisory Council, Effective and Adaptive Governance for a Lunar Ecosystem. Lunar Governance Report (2021)
Moon Dialogs, Registration Mechanisms for the Moon (2021)
Henry R. Hertzfeld, Unsolved issues of compliance with the registration convention, 8 Journal of Space Safety Engineering 3:238-244 (2021)
The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group, Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities: A Commentary (Olavo Bittencourt ed., 2020)
Moon Village Association Best Practices for Sustainable Lunar Activities (2020)