Mars Needs Lawyers


“For instance, under the Outer Space Treaty, you can’t just go around claiming Martian land for Spain. But a habitation pod built by Spain is Spanish territory, Gabrynowicz said. And in a place where humans have no choice but to live in a pod or die, planting your habitat on a patch of ground might be a way to claim that land in practical terms, even if you can’t do so legally. Meanwhile, crew members retain their Earth citizenships and remain subject to the laws of their home nations, von der Dunk said.
So what happens when you have an American, two Indians, a Russian and a Nigerian living in a pod that’s owned by a private corporation under the authorization of Liberia? By whose laws are they all governed? What happens if the rules set by one country conflict with another’s? Who benefits from the mineral rights? What if India decides it’s OK for its citizens on Mars to secede and form their own Martian government before Liberia decides that’s OK?”