The collection treaties and agreements that I shall refer to collectively as the Outer Space Treaty (OST) are rather vague about exactly how the exploitation of the Moon's natural resources should be regulated. There are a few points that are repeatedly emphasized, however, such as:
1. the Moon is not to be weaponized;
2. all installations sent to the Moon or constructed thereon are the property of the organization that sent or constructed the installations;
3. the surface and subsurface, however, will always be part of "the common heritage of mankind".
4. there shall be "an equitable sharing by all States Parties in the benefits derived from [lunar] resources, whereby the interests and needs of the developing countries, as well as the efforts of those countries which have contributed either directly or indirectly to the exploration of the Moon, shall be given special consideration."
And there are a few environmental caveats:
1. the "existing balance" of the Moon shall not be disrupted;
2. "contamination" shall be avoided;
3. the U.N. Secretary-General shall be notified of the purpose of any radioactive materials sent to the Moon;
4. consideration be given to areas of especial scientific interest that they be designated as specially protected international scientific preserves.
Beyond these considerations, it's pretty much a free-for-all. However, paragraph 5 of Article XI of the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies implies that more regulations will be established in the future, when it becomes appropriate to do so:
Back in 1979, when the agreement was drafted, regulating the development of the Moon was a moot issue; however, now that both China and the U.S. are proposing independent manned lunar missions to the Moon, the potential for conflict and competition for real estate is becoming a realistic possibility. There is only one lunar South Pole.5. States Parties to this Agreement hereby undertake to establish an international regime, including appropriate procedures, to govern the exploitation of the natural resources of the Moon as such exploitation is about to become feasible. This provision shall be implemented in accordance with article 18 of this Agreement.
Therefore, "Desiring to prevent the Moon from becoming an area of international conflict, and Bearing in mind the benefits which may be derived from the exploitation of the natural resources of the Moon and other celestial bodies," I thought this forum might be a good place to start hammering out some fresh ideas. The starting premise of this thread is that future exploration shall be done under the auspices of the OST (I shall assume that withdrawing from the OST is not an option). Therefore, the question is how to sufficiently augment the OST so that a complete, and fair international regime governing lunar exploitation can be established that will be adequate for the future.
The topic of the thread is by its very nature political. Discussing outer space politics, however, is permissible according to the board rules. Still, I take it that there's no need to descend to China bashing or jingoist American triumphalism.
Questions to be considered might include (but are not limited to):
1. What percentage, if any, of the Moon should be left in pristine condition as international scienfic wilderness areas?
2. How are people to be rewarded for the trouble it takes to get to the Moon?
3. How are the interests of developing countries that take no direct part in lunar exploration to be taken into account?