Tag Archives: international relations

The Case for Dualism

Among the most important powers sovereign states have is the authority to establish treaties with other states. A treaty is essentially a contract between sovereign states, and as such states are obliged to confirm to the treaties they have agreed upon, or in Latin pacta sunt servandaThough states are bound by their treaties, the legal effect of treaties on the citizens of a state is much less clear.

There are basically two systems of how treaties interact with national law: monism and dualism. In countries which use a monist system, treaties become part of domestic law immediately after a treaty has been ratified by that state, this is called direct effect. On the other hand in dualist countries, a treaty has to be translated into domestic law before it can be invoked by or used against citizens.

States have the freedom to choose which system they will use, and usually this is determined by the national constitution. The question which now arises, is whether Space Settlements should choose either monism or dualism. In this post we will argue in favour of dualism.

In many nominally democratic countries which use the monist system, governments repeatedly use treaties to circumvent domestic democratic procedures. This because international treaties prevail above domestic laws, and because negotiating treaties is usually a prerogative of the executive and hence the legislature can only vote for or against the ratification of the resultant treaty. It’s quite clear that this leaves room for abuse.

Too often governments include clauses in treaties, of which they later claim were “forced” to accept such clauses. Given the secrecy in which such negotiations take place, it’s often impossible for legislatures and citizens impossible to check such claims. This creates opportunity for governments to push unpopular measures.

Though dualist countries could use the same strategy, but it would less effective since treaties in these countries cannot be enforced in courts unless translated into domestic law. Further the translation process has to follow ordinary legislative procedures, gives a greater role for legislatures, courts and citizens. Consequently governments are less able to use treaties as scapegoats.

A second benefit of dualism is that enhances the negotiating position of the nation’s government. When other governments propose an unfavorable clause, the government can simply state that such clause would not make it into domestic law. The other governments would not be likely to face such a failure, and are most likely to either drop the clause altogether or to soften it.

In line with our preference for a generally non-interventionist foreign policy, we recommend that Space Settlements should be reserved to make treaties in the first place, and to strengthen their independence they should implement a dualist system.

Space settlements and food security

Food security is defined by Wikipedia as “the availability of food and one’s access to it”. Usually we speak about individuals when we talk on food security, but we can easily extend this concept to societies at large. A society enjoys food security if there is enough food available for its members, and they have access to this food.

A society has two ways to ensure that the supply of food is sufficient: by producing its own food, or by importing such food. Once enough food is available, ensuring that each member of society has access to sufficient food is the big concern. The implementation of an adequate basic income guarantee will provide everyone with the means to buy food. Hence the sole concern would be availability of sufficient amount of food.

Related to food security is the concept of food power, which is the use of food as a mean to exert power. If country A depends on the import of food from country B, the latter country can exert power on country A by denying supply if A does not meet certain conditions establish by B. These condition might be unfavourable to A, and hence this country looses sovereignty.

Space settlements has to choose between producing or importing food.  If the latter option is chosen, the space settlements became vulnerable to the exertion of food power by Earth. In this way terrestrial governments might force space settlements to implement policies, which are in violation of their own preferences. If, however, the former option is chosen, a powerful weapon is denied to terrestrial governments to influence the (domestic) policies of space settlements.

If we want to implement the social reforms we desire in space settlements, such as our proposals for monetary and banking reform, it’s of great importance that these settlements have a certain degree of independence. Therefore space settlements should be able to produce their own food. In another post we will discuss how space settlements can grow food.

See also

Space settlements and vegetarianism

Molecular farming and Space colonization

Space settlements and foreign policy


When space settlements are reality, they will have to interact with other human communities, whether these are other space settlements or terrestrial communities. Especially in the early days of human space colonization, almost every space based community will be dependent on both the Earth and other space settlements, since it will be highly unlikely that one (small) space colony can be entirely autarkic. Therefore space based communities are required to maintain international relations and so they are in need of a foreign policy. In this post I will, for the sake of the argument, assume that space settlements will be sovereign entities, which are free to manage their own affairs.

Relations with terrestrial nations

Basically we have to distinguish between international relations with terrestrial nations on one hand and with other space settlements. This reason for this distinction is simple, for the next few decades, and probably for the next century, Earth will be the most populous entity in our Solar System and for obvious reasons it will also serves as man’s center of culture and civilization.

The first space settlements will depend on trading, especially mineral resources, with Earth for their economic survival. Additionally, the early settlements will have to rely on the importation of many specialized goods from Earth, at least until the moment these can produced in outer space. This means that the Earth as a whole has huge potential of power on space settlements.

It is easy to imagine that Earth will demand low prices for the resources they buy from Space Settlers, while asking for high prices on the goods they sell to Space communities. If terrestrial parties are able to play out space communities against each other, the Earth will probably be able to achieve its aims. One way to counter this is for Space Settlements to develop their economies as fast and as diverse as possible, in order to weaken their dependency on importing goods from Earth.

Another way is for Space Settlements to organize themselves and to act as a unity in their relations with terrestrial nations, much like how organizations as OPEC operate. This strategy is especially advantageous if space settlements are able to play into the differences and conflicts among terrestrial nations and to exploit them to their own advantage.

Relations between space settlements

Inter-settlement relations differ fundamentally from terrestrial-space relations in certain aspects. Trade between settlements will, at least during the early years, be limited. The abundance of mineral resources in outer space (recall that we believe in colonizing the near earth asteroids instead of, for example, the Moon), means that most Space Settlements will be self-sufficient regarding these. The most likely goods to be traded among Space Settlements are agricultural products (because this will be much less expensive than importing these from Earth), and when Space economy became more developed there will be a shift to more specialized goods, which will replace importing from Earth.

A complicating factor in inter-settlement relations are the great distances between space settlements. This will reduce the chance of escalating conflicts, but also hinders cooperation between Space Settlements. The abundance of resources reduces potential for conflicts, therefore war between (coalition of) Space Settlements is quite unlikely during the early decades. Most Space Settlements will probably tend to avoid interference with the domestic affairs of other Settlements.

Suggestions for foreign policy

How should Space Settlements shape their foreign policy? Our advise is basically: avoid meddling with the internal affairs of other communities, both terrestrial and space-borne. As we have argued earlier, Space Settlements shouldn’t join the UN, a statement we want to repeat here. A policy of strict neutrality regarding conflicts between terrestrial powers, will improve the reputation of Space Settlements as peaceful and non-threatening political entities.

Also should Space Settlements abstain from purely terrestrial questions, such as global climate change. There is absolutely no reason for Space Settlements to join, for instance, the Kyoto-protocol or similar treaties. By avoiding getting involved with purely terrestrial affairs, Space Settlements will avoid irritation by terrestrial governments and this will subsequently reduce the emerging of hostile sentiments among some terrestrial groups.

Further we of Lagrangian Republican Association, believe that Space Settlements should also refuse to act as mediators in conflicts between terrestrial nations/parties. If Space Settlement are able to get known as peaceful and neutral communities, some will be tempted to ask them to mediate in purely terrestrial conflicts. However this would be a violation of a strict non-interventionist foreign policy.

Also by acting as a mediator, Space Settlements risk to lose their reputation as neutral states, especially if negotiations are without result or if one of the conflicting parties believe that the results are not fair in some way or another. Since it is almost impossible to determine whether such party is right or not, this risk is in our opinion to great.