Stacks Image 108

The Mars Colony Legal Project

Why Now?

What's Inside


With so much interest in a manned mission to Mars, the colonization of Mars is no longer a question of "if," but "when?" What are the minimum legal requirements for operating the colony on Mars? Should Mars even have its own law? Why not just use the laws of the space-faring nations? But what if those laws conflict? The time to plan for a legal regime for the Mars Colony is now and not later. By the time the colonists land on Mars it will be too late.

This web site is designed to be the temporary home of the Mars Colony Legal Code.
Here you will find a draft of the Mars Colony Legal Code. Read more.

Whose Law?

The Mars Colony Legal Code is not just an effort to answer the question, "how much law do we take with us?" but also, "and whose law?"

It's not science fiction. What if you had to write a legal code for Mars. Where would you start?

Of course, you wouldn't start from scratch. But you wouldn't start with the hundred-plus volumes of the New York statutes, either.

So what's the minimum? Look at Alaska in 1959. Take out hunting and fishing and you know you have the minimum to run a jurisdiction.

Or the legal regime for the former Canal Zone in Panama, which, while frozen in time, also constitutes the bare minimum necessary to run a jurisdiction.

Other countries' laws are instructive, modern and workable. The most useful are listed in sources.

Much is missing from the Code, especially a chapter on rules for mining. Mining drove development in the American West and it is likely that commercial interests will drive space exploration.

There have been a few "international" jurisdictions in history. The international zone in Tangier. Shanghai in the 1930's. There is U.S. case law about what laws apply to crimes committed on ice floes in international waters.

There are international treaties which, in theory, govern man's conduct in space. But the concept of extraterritorial jurisdiction is discredited. The time to talk about these things is now, before people start living on Mars.


Sources for the Mars Colony Legal Code include the following:


Laws of Alberta


Civil Code


Real Estate Laws

New Zealand

Real Estate Laws

Saudi Arabia

KAEC Legal Code

United States of America


General Laws

Canal Zone

Canal Zone Code


Real Estate Laws


Civil Code

Become a Contributor

Send in your contribution to the Code. This can be in the form of specific articles of even whole chapters that you feel are missing from the Code. Keep in mind, though, that the goal is a MINIMAL compilation. One area that is missing from the Code are rules to govern mining on Mars.
We hope that through contributions of future Mars colonists, those who travel to Mars will be comfortable with the legal regime established there.

Contact Us:

Get the Code here.