L5 News: Bulletin from the Moon Treaty Front

Appeared as a paid advertisement in L5 News, January 1980

“Congress is on the brink of war over a treaty …”
— International Herald Tribune, Nov. 3-4, 1979

On the Fourth of July 1979 the space colonists went to war with the United Nations of Earth. The proximate cause was the Moon Treaty, reported out in a surprise move by the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, (COPUOS) on the Third of July. The Treaty makes no provisions for the civil rights of those who go into space. In fact, it authorizes warrantless searches of space structures by any Earth-based government that signs the Treaty. In that vein a delegate to COPUOS commented, “But of course people in space will have no civil liberties.”

The “common heritage” provisions of the Treaty will stifle creative private initiative by prohibiting private property, and limits the economic system to a single undefined “Regime.” All investment decisions would be made by governments through a UN-type organization. This type of controlled economic planning is alien to the US, though well understood by countries like the USSR.

The Administration has publicly supported the Treaty. For reasons which have never been clear, they consponsored the resolution adopting the Treaty in the General Assembly on December 5, and, but for our efforts over the last three months, were prepared to sign and steamroll the Treaty through the Senate.

The tangible results of our lobbying are:

  • Testimony given by Leigh Ratiner before the House Committtee on Science and Technology.
  • Larry Winn (Ranking Minority Member – House Science and Technology Committee) refused to give a State Department speech favorable to the Treaty at the UN.
  • Chairman Frank Church and Ranking Minority Member Jacob Javits of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have gone on record in a letter to Cyrus Vance asking that the Treaty be renegotiated. A number of other senators have supported this view.
  • Chairman Don Fuqua of the House Science and Technology Committee has expressed grave doubts about a Treaty which so discourages private enterprise development of space resources.
  • Key Congressional leaders such as John Breaux have spoken out against the Treaty.

In the process L5 has made a phenomenal media impact. The Moon Treaty Fight has been favorably treated by magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, and the Wall Street Journal. The Journal of Commerce, and most recently Science, have reported on the Moon Treaty Fight as well. PBS-TV is preparing a new magazine-format program, the first of which will have a segment on the Moon Treaty.

We may have stalled Presidential signature of the Treaty. A letter to Frank Church from Cyrus Vance states, “The Administration has not yet turned to questions relating to signature of the Treaty or its submission to the Senate.” But the UN approved the Treaty on December 5 unanimously, without comment or vote, and opened it for signatures on December 18.

At this point the Administration will have to reverse itself and repudiate the Treaty or most countries will consider us bound by it even if we don’t sign.

The Treaty makes about as much sense as fish setting the conditions under which amphibians could colonize the land. But it could hold up space development for a long time, perhaps decades, by discouraging investment in space industries. If space resources are developed under this Treaty, the inhabitants of space may have no place to work save the “Regime,” no place to spend their wages except the Company Store, and no place to live but the Barracks.

If this doesn’t appeal to you, join us opposing the Moon Treaty. Volunteers and money have worked wonders. The cost of fighting the Treaty through November has been some thousands of hours and close to $50,000. We have raised about a third of the money. As long as there is a risk the President will sign the Treaty, we have to remain vigilant. That means we have to keep the pressure on, and that includes paying our bills. So write President Carter, and tell him the Treaty is the worst deal since OPEC, and if you can, write the Moon Treaty Fight a check.

Our sincere thanks go to those of you who have already donated. All is appreciated, from the $1.00 sent in by a high-school student, to the $600 record donation to date. Equally appreciated are the letters many have written, and the visits to Washington paid out of their own pockets by groups from Boston and Chicago.

Keith Henson
Fundraising Committee
Moon Treaty Fight