Helms and the Extraterrestrials

For US Sen. Jesse Helms, always wary of UN overkill, it must have been the last straw - a UN priority in outer space. Imagine asking "sovereign nations" to report all contacts with extraterrestrial beings "directly to the secretary-general."

Mocking such a resolution in the journal Foreign Affairs, Mr. Helms may have thought of the 1967 outer space treaty, which includes reporting space activities to scientists, the public, and the secretary-general. But Helms appeared to refer to a non-UN declaration, replied Michael A.G. Michaud, who coordinated drafting of the document. It asks astronomers to inform the public and have international consultation before responding to extraterrestrial intelligence.

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