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Laws in space governing human behavior (not related to resource extraction, territory claims, etc.)


Well-Known Member

Canadian astronauts no longer free to rob and kill with abandon in space or on the moon

In the Canadian newspaper the National Post. Yes, a clickbait headline but there is real content that interested me:
“A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offence is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada,” reads the measure included in Bill C-19, the 443-page document implementing the provisions of the 2022 federal budget.
The Criminal Code amendment included in the 2022 budget was made specifically to prepare for Canada’s involvement in Lunar Gateway, a NASA mission to establish a permanent space station in lunar orbit. Ottawa has previously boasted that their involvement in the mission will mean that Canada will become only the second nation in history to send one of its nationals beyond earth’s orbit.
The amendment explicitly states that Canadian criminal jurisdiction will apply to the lunar station itself, and any “means of transportation” to the station. And just in case, “on the surface of the moon.”
Which led me to wonder if any other nation had a similar law. There is the 1998 ISS treaty:
Article 22 of the treaty states that anybody aboard the station is subject to the criminal jurisdiction of their home country. But even then, there remains a messy gray area in the event that an astronaut commits a crime against an astronaut of a different country. In that case, the treaty simply advises the countries of the two astronauts discuss their “respective prosecutorial interests.”
So that is not very helpful. There is the Outer Space Treaty but it does not seem to govern personal behavior.

The issue of which laws regulate personal behavior is certainly a complex one for international missions in space, on the Moon, and later on Mars. Despite the Outer Space Treaty stating that no nation can claim territory off Earth, the reality is that when permanent bases are set up countries are going to start drawing lines demarcating areas they wish to control and realistically there is nothing to stop them from doing so. Within those lines they will say only their national laws apply in regards to personal behavior.


Well-Known Member
The laws we really need to worry about are what the non-humans will recognise / observe, and what they say about dealing with humans.

(And the non-humans might even be terrestrial in origin).
I’m not sure what “non humans” you refer to, but this thread is about humans. You are welcome to start a different thread for the non humans. At this point I’m not very concerned about them. 😁

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