global commons

Why Isn’t Outer Space a Global Commons?

The United States does not view outer space as a global commons, according to Executive Order (EO) 13914 issued by President Donald Trump on April 6, 2020. This policy declaration will be welcomed by some, lamented by others, and surely many more will simply find it confusing—an intriguing range of reactions for a seemingly simple term to generate.

John S. Goehring’s article examines the role that notions of the global commons play in U.S. policy on the recovery and use of space resources. It argues the term “global commons” has more than one legitimate meaning, and, in failing to account for this complexity, the EO complicates, rather than simplifies, productive discourse not only about the space domain but also about other domains.

Lead Author

John Goehring
John S. Goehring is a space and national security law attorney for the Department of Defense and a judge advocate in the United States Air Force Reserve. The views expressed are solely that of the author and do not reflect the position of the US government, the Department of Defense, or the Air Force.
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