Hardin Goes to Outer Space – ‘Mutual Coercion, Mutually Agreed Upon By The Majority of People Affected’

30 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2011 Last revised: 25 Feb 2011

Date Written: February 18, 2011


This article is the third and final installment of the ‘Hardinian Collection’.

The first series – “A Tragedy of the Space Commons?” – formulated a theoretical framework with Garret Hardin’s works to create an analogue of the outer space environment being a common-pool resource and consequently susceptible to environmental degradation which may lead to its ultimate ruin.

“Hardin Goes to Outer Space – ‘Space Enclosure’” is the second installment. It looked beyond the international space law for the possibility of relying upon other devices to provide an effective system of governance to control access to and the use of space. This article focused on Hardin’s works, and drawn its attention to one of the two property-rights arrangements he advocates favourably to save a commons from environmental ‘tragedies’ – the conversion of common-property rights to private property. It was concluded that the privatisation of the outer space environment would not prescribe a regime to promote the long-term preservation and sustainable management of the ‘Space Commons’.

For the completion of the ‘Hardinian Collection’, this article looks at Hardin’s second solution to save the commons: ‘mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon by the majority of the people affected’, or otherwise known as ‘nationalisation’. For ‘nationalisation’, the commons is transition into public property where the State or some other external body is vested with the authority to allocate rights as to whom may enter and for what purposes the commons might be used, and use coercive measures such as taxes to enforce good behaviour and management practices of the resource system. The proceeding sections shall test the suitability of vesting absolute control of the outer space to a single State or a regulatory organ, and their respective effectiveness to minimise the rising threat of orbiting debris polluting the space environment. On the assumption that either a ‘Single State Space Authority’ or an independent and authoritative ‘International Space Authority’ is granted jurisdiction to regulate access to and use of the ‘Space Commons’, this article concludes on what additionally must be done to support the implementation and success of this new regime.

Keywords: Outer Space Law, Outer Space Treaty, Liability Convention Space Debris, Garret Hardin, Property-Rights Systems, Mutual Coercion, Single State Space Authority, International Space Authority, Command-and-Control, Market-Based Regulations, Transparency, Accountability

Suggested Citation

Chaddha, Shane, Hardin Goes to Outer Space – ‘Mutual Coercion, Mutually Agreed Upon By The Majority of People Affected’ (February 18, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1763740 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1763740
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