Resolving the Issue of Mars Settlement (2075)
Successive decades have seen an increasing human footprint on the Red Planet in the form of both technological presence and human residents. The creation of functioning enclosed settlements have become proof of humanity stepping into an existence as an interplanetary species.
In the aftermath of the human catastrophes witnessed during the period of peak global population there was both a greater impetus to accelerate space exploration and settlement abilities, yet also a greater need to use these resources for those suffering on Earth. As the effects of climate change wreak havoc on coastlines, agricultural land and ocean populations, the prospect of resource extraction and a more widely distributed population grew ever more appealing. The Martian population which recently reached approximately twenty thousand, a not insubstantial number, continues to grow with the hopes to eventually create a terraformed and inhabited Mars.
The settlements on Mars, some private and some state operated, abide by the last proper treaty with widespread support that regarded this issue, what is referred to as the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. The state of regulation on the issue of Mars settlements makes it such that these settlers simply inhabit the land but the state, whether blatantly or under government supervised private occupation, cannot claim this land as part of their national patrimony. In an international context where geopolitical tensions already run so high on Earth, a tense situation on Mars with vague and unclear notions of ownership and borders only accentuates the potential for conflict down the road.
Some states profess a dedication to the view that one day all colonies will fall under strictly regulated state authority while others commit to the notion that a privately owned and operated Mars carries the most potential for prosperity and peace in space. It also remains a prominent view among many member states that there should be a moratorium on colonization until the needs of the most vulnerable communities at home are accounted for. Regardless of the differing perspectives on the issue it is unilaterally acknowledged that the past treaties are insufficient and the UN must be decisive in ruling who should own what on Mars and what shape that ownership should take, if anyone should own part of Mars at all.
Therefore, it falls to the Security Council to avert serious conflict and create a definite set of policies regarding Mars settlement, something that has been put off for far too long already.
Questions to Consider:
Should states be able to claim land on Mars as their own sovereign territory?
Should corporations under state authorization or otherwise be able to own land on Mars?
Would states be able to militarize settlements on Mars if they are their sovereign dependency?
How should states weigh the implications of Mars colonization vs mitigating poverty on Earth?
Can the scope of any resolution regarding Mars be extended to other celestial bodies?
Sources and Resources for Further Reading: