Lunar Bill of Rights

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A Bill of Rights for Lunar Settlers

All the people who live on the Moon will need a clear statement of their rights as lunar citizens. This is particularly important in view of the many bad visions of space settlement that have so far been presented to the public, for example in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Outland".

A Charter

A bill of rights must be a key part of any settlement's charter. The present expectation is that the charter for the Moon will be based on the current international treaties for Antarctica.

It follows that, like Antarctica, all settlements must be under the auspices of a sovereign country that is a signatory to the treaty. The United States will be able to establish a settlement but a private company could not do so directly. Companies could operate under the United States charter.

It is therefore reasonable to start with the American Bill of Rights to develop a Lunar Bill of Rights.

Flag of Convenience

It is quite possible that once the research work is well advanced and lunar mining becomes a viable commercial venture, we may see lunar settlements under flags of convenience. Small countries, with no space capability of their own, may serve as cover for international corporations. We could see a lunar settlement under the Panamanian Flag. This is a common practice for ships. The country would receive fees and taxes. The corporation would receive legitimacy, low taxes, and firm control of the operation. Also in the event of a catastrophe, the company liability will be limited strictly to its lunar resources.

This is another reason we need to establish the Lunar Bill of Rights early.


Following the American Bill of Rights, here are a few suggestions for a Lunar Bill of Rights:

Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Right to petition


Having a right to religion, or to no religion, will help insure diversity in the lunar population. The mining operations needs to be a 24 hour / 365 day operation. Different people observing different Sabbaths and holidays will complicate work scheduling. In some ways it may help if people cover each others off time needs in a team effort.


Freedom of speech is likely to be mostly about free, bidirectional communication with Earth. If the government or the company can control that then they can spin problems any way they want. One possibility is to have Ham radio links back to Earth that are the strict property of the citizens.


Meeting rooms are likely to be very few and far between on the Moon and the security system will be automatically monitoring all such places. Privacy for a meeting may be a serious problem.

The right to assemble peaceably will certainly include the right to organize a union, although the right to strike may be severely restricted, as it now is with government employees.

Right to bear and keep arms

See Weapons

The lunar culture might be very different from anything we had on Earth. Therefore, weapons might be banned on the moon. As the population increases and gets less heavily controlled and pre-selected, the more the problematic aspects of nature might become unavoidable. When this happens, weapons might become necessary to give people power to prevent a tyrannic government, defend private property, enforce law, etc.

Several romantic views of the Lunar settlement forecast a Chief Security Officer like a Sheriff (See People on the Moon) and military trained selenites. This security officer would retain all guns and explosive in a locked facility. A number of other workers would voluntarily under go training and serve as first responders in emergencies supporting the Sheriff. The Posse members, and they alone, would be licensed to carry guns and then only under the direct control of the Sheriff.

Unreasonable searches and seizures

If the government or company owns all the buildings, and the computer equipment, and all the means of productions, what do you own?

It is clear that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their own room no mater who owns the building. They certainly would have an expectation of privacy for electronic files on a device that you carry on your person (like your Personal in What People Carry). The problem will come in areas were you share information with others on company computers and need public facilities for private purposes. These rules need to be very clearly worked out.

The owning of property can also be a problem given the extreme high cost of bringing anything from Earth. Will paying the cost of transport from Earth define ownership? Will the settlers be entitled to periodic small personal shipments at company expense?

A successful lunar colony will produce building materials locally. Buildings built by colonists in their own time with locally produced materials purchased on Luna from one of a number of companies and built on land assigned to the colonists for their own use would be their own property under sponsorship from one of the colonizing nations. Property taxes could apply.

Right to a fair trial

Several of the of the articles deal with a right to a fair trial. We will need to establish rules for jurisdiction in legal maters. Almost certainly this will define the settler's relationship to specific Earth courts. The flag the settlement flies may be important here.

Right to Transportation to Earth

This right would limit the pressure that an employer could put on an employee, and allow for a way to deal with trouble makers. The trip Earthside could be enforced for cause. An employee on Luna would need to be worth a round trip ticket to be hired in the first place. This right would eventually be extinguished when a good fraction of all people live in space.

Rights not Covered

All rights not specifically given to other specific entities are reserved to the people of the Moon.

UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Alternatively the lunar Bill of Rights could be based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 30 articles in this document are much more general and basic.

Please add your thoughts to the discussion tab of this article.

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