The declaration of principles for activities following the detection of extraterrestrial intelligence

  • John Billingham
  • Michael Michaud
  • Jill Tarter
Special Session: Post Detection Protocol
Part of the Lecture Notes in Physics book series (LNP, volume 390)


As the science and technology of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has slowly emerged over the last thirty years, so there has been a gradually increasing interest in examining the consequences of the detection of a signal transmitted by another civilization. As a result of many years of discussion in the SETI Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), a SETI “Post-Detection Protocol” was drawn up as a draft international document. After many revisions, a final document entitled “Declaration of Principles Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence” was approved by the International Academy of Astronautics and the International Institute of Space Law.

The genesis and scope of this document are presented in the paper. Attention is drawn to the importance of unambiguous international confirmation that the signal is indeed of extraterrestrial intelligent origin, on proper dissemination of the details of the discovery, on procedures for reporting and archiving the data, and on not sending replies without adequate international consultation. This last topic will be the subject for the development of a second “Declaration of Principles”, which will address questions dealing with decisions on the preparation and content of a return signal. These questions are discussed.


Outer Space Public Announcement International Consultation Credible Evidence International Academy 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Billingham
    • 1
  • Michael Michaud
    • 2
  • Jill Tarter
    • 3
  1. 1.NASA Ames Research CenterUSA
  2. 2.American Embassy (SCI)ParisFrance
  3. 3.SETI InstituteMountain ViewUSA

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