The Effectiveness and Applicability of the Moon Agreement in the Twenty-First Century: Will There Be a Future?
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, a significant number of nations showed keen interest in space activities that focus on the exploration of the Moon and near-Earth asteroids. This prospect, which is mainly a result of the privatization and commercialization of such activities, reveals new challenging tasks for space-faring nations and raises the issue of effectiveness of the already existing legal framework.
This paper considers the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Moon Agreement) as the most relevant legal document to address the topic in question. This position is followed because the Moon Agreement can be viewed as a text designed specifically to provide for a globally acceptable legal regime to govern such unavoidable development. However, during the past decade, legal and policy concerns – including concerns on the interpretation of the current legal regime – have arisen and put the effectiveness of the Moon Agreement in the spotlight. For instance, the lack of definition of the term “celestial body” or issues concerning state responsibility, as drawn in Article 14 of the Agreement, reveal significant legal gaps that need to be addressed to enhance the possibility of a wider acceptance of the Moon Agreement. Through the analysis of the aforementioned, the author will emphasize the need that the Moon Agreement be reviewed and reconsidered by the future international community. Therefore, this paper addresses questions on the future of this legal instrument and on whether it should be reformed or discarded once and for all.