INTRODUCTION AND APPLICATIONS
Common Heritage of Mankind is an International Law Principle that holds
that any and all the element’s of Humanity’s common heritage shall be
preserved for future generations and shall not be subjected to exploration by
individual states and or corporations.
Now with regards to the application of this principle, many countries lying
on the equator have suggested that the Geo stationary orbit of Earth over the
High Seas shall be declared as a common heritage of all mankind.
The Province of All Mankind principle states that all the nations have a
vested interest in common resources, (such as the minerals discovered in the
high seas, or elements discovered in space) all such resources shall be shared
equally among them.
Its application can be found in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which stated
that, “Any exploration or discovery made on the moon or any other celestial
bodies shall be for the advantage of all the countries, irrespective of how
economically or technologically developed they are and hence it shall be the
province of all mankind.”
The first and foremost distinction between these two principles is that
“Province of all mankind” principle can be found in the Outer Space Treaty,
whereas the “Common Heritage of All Mankind” principle finds its genesis
in the moon agreement.
The Province of All mankind principle relates to activities in the outer space,
such as the exploration and use, whereas the Common Heritage of Mankind
principle in the Moon agreement relates to “material objects”.
The outer Space Treaty was drafted with a view to establish certain
fundamental principle, among which Province of All Mankind concept was
also there. Province of All Mankind principle is declaratory in nature and not
a specific legal maxim.
The Common Heritage principle as derived from the Moon agreement is
subject to determination of its own application by the future regimes, that is
not to be commenced unless the exploration becomes feasible.
PROVINCE V. COMMON HERITAGE DEBATE WITH REGARDS TO
HUMAN SETTLEMENT IN OUTER SPACE.
In the words of one of the greatest physicists Stephen Hawking, the
survival of humans as a species depends on their ability to move out into
the cosmos and settle there, while the window of such opportunity still
exists. The settlement of Humans on Moon or the Red planet would bring
incomprehensible economic and scientific value that could be shared
among the states, as it would lead to the opening of new frontiers,
allocation of resources, and the advancement of our species in general
and that too without causing harm to our planet.
Hence the settlement of humans in the outer space can be covered under
the “Province of All Mankind” principle, because such economic and
social benefits would find the interest of every state vested in them.
The problem which arises here is that, space is a frontier where there is
more competitiveness and less collaboration. All the nations with leading
space agencies such as NASA, ROSCOSMOS, CNSA, JAXA, ISRO are
operating from a very individualistic point of view rather than operating
as a species. This itself proves as a hindrance for achieving the goals of
the “Province of All Mankind” principle. If the current trend continues
then we would start seeing the division of borders on Mars as well, as
more and more humans start colonizing the red planet.
Given the specific and very confined nature of the Common Heritage
principle it cannot be applicable to Human settlements in outer space.
If I were to adjudicate this debate between Province of All Mankind and Common
heritage principle then I would take my stance with the former one, since it is
something which is quite progressive by its nature, whereas the common heritage
principle merely discusses about preserving the discovered resources for the use of
future generations. In my opinion the latter principle lacks the ability to be
operational in the short run, and as the renowned economist J.M Keynes said “In
the long run we all die”. The Province of All Mankind principle can make the
humankind to think as a species if the same is incorporated in the domestic space
legislations of various states and other upcoming international treaties and
conventions. Since it talks about the vested rights of all the states, it transcends the
boundaries of economic and technological differences between the nations, and
declares the exploration and use of outer space as a venture for all.