The Moon has been a constant feature of human existence since the time of our earliest ancestors, illuminating the night, regulating cultural activities, and inspiring science, knowledge and belief.
Since the development of the technology to travel into space over 80 years ago, the Moon has also come to be regarded as a resource for use by humans. International space treaties such as the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 proclaim that the Moon is part of the common province of humanity and not subject to territorial claims. Nevertheless, space agencies and private corporations are proposing to extract lunar resources for profit.
There are many legal and ethical complexities around lunar mining but underlying them is the common space community belief that the Moon is a dead world toward which we have no moral obligation. This view is at odds with public beliefs about the cultural and natural significance of the Moon. It also contrasts with a growing movement on Earth recognising the rights of nature, which has seen entities such as the Whanganui River in New Zealand granted legal personhood. There is mounting scientific evidence that the Moon has dynamic ongoing geological and cosmic processes. Given the acceleration of planned missions to the lunar surface, it is timely to question the instrumental approach which subordinates this ancient celestial body to human interests.
A few years ago, landscape architect Thomas Gooch, Director of the Office of Other Spaces, started running public forums to discuss how we should understand our relationship with the Moon, as part of his work with the Moon Village Association (MVA), an international NGO based in Vienna. The MVA is committed to ethical and sustainable engagement with the Moon. The last of these forums, in August 2020, considered whether the Moon could be granted legal personality as a way to acknowledge that the Moon had an existence of its own separate from human perceptions. Watch the recording of the forum here .
The forums led to a discussion between Dr Michelle Maloney (National Convenor, Australian Earth Law Alliance), Ceridwen Dovey (space researcher and writer), Alice Gorman (space archaeologist), Mari Margil (Executive Director of the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights, US) and Thomas Gooch, about creating a Declaration of the Rights of the Moon. One issue was clear: as the Moon held such importance for the people and non-humans of Earth, it was imperative to consult widely and gain as much input as possible. However, there had to be some starting point to open the discussion. Slowly the idea that the group would draft such a declaration was born.
Over the course of a year, the group met regularly to define and refine the necessary concepts. The Draft we have created here is the end result. But it’s really just a beginning – a way to start the discussion at a global level. We don’t know how this declaration will evolve, but your participation is a key part of the process.
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We invite your support (please sign the register below), and your respectful feedback in the comment field below. Thank you!
|This declaration is an important step towards ecocentric recognition of the rights of nature including that of the Moon and the other celestial bodies.
|Love the moon !
|We are hurtling towards a future where the moon is purely seen as a resource to extract from. We live in a reality where we can see how harmful and destructive this approach to the natural world is. Let's change course.
|Thank you for creating this. I can't believe governments and companies are clamoring to defile the moon like they have the Earth.
|How and why should we trust these organizations and corporations when they talk about establishing a closed loop system on the moon, in the name is sustainability, when there has been no true effort to establish such a system here on Earth with and for our own resources? We cannot trust them.
|Santa Clara, CA
|We have trashed this planet. Please leave the moon (and all other planets) alone!!
|It is so necessary to have this declaration!
|The moon shines up there in the sky like a blank slate and humans are clamoring to be the first to slap some paint on it. We must ensure it stays a happy little moon.
|Thank you for this beautiful declaration. Humans need to learn that we are not entitled to exploit and plunder whatever we want. We have a sacred responsibility to steward the health of our planet and moon; to live in balance and reciprocity; and to have some damned boundaries.
|This declaration contains values that should govern how we treat not just the moon, but our own planet
|It breaks my heart we even need this declaration.
|I think it's ghastly the way we're going to invade the moon and plunder its resources. Really disrespectful. I don't want to look up in the sky and think that humans are living there. Let's hope some spirit force prevents it and that universal forces just don't allow us to do it.
|Hoping this is one of many such acknowledgements of the rights of nature to exist and persist..
|Old South Wales
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