Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies


Greg Melchin


The common heritage of [hu]mankind (CHM) principle is an element of the Moon Treaty of 1979 that was foreshadowed by the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. However, its precise content and legal implications have been the subject of conflicting interpretations. This paper will apply a Gramscian analysis to the formation of international law. Gramscian theory is a school of neo-Marxist International Relations (IR) theory that focuses upon the ways in which a dominant historic bloc (called the “hegemon”) maintains control over other groups. This paper applies Gramscian theory to the power dynamics in international law in order to gain insight into the current state of the CHM principle as it applies to space resource law. The CHM principle has had little impact on the development of space law. Although existing space treaties enshrine CHM to varying degrees, the principle is too vague in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty to have had much impact, and no major space powers are parties to the 1979 Moon Treaty. Given the dominance of space travel in the 20th century by imperialistic superpowers, any interpretation of the CHM principle is consonant with the preservation of hegemony.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.