What is Metalaw?

According to Dr. Ernst Fasan, Metalaw is “the entire sum of legal rules regulating relationships between different races in the universe.” Metalaw is the “first and basic ‘law’ between races” providing the ground rules for a relationship if and when we establish communication with or encounter another intelligent race in the universe. Dr. Fasan envisioned these rules as governing both human conduct and that of extraterrestrial races so as to avoid mutually harmful activities.

A Short Biography of Dr. Ernst Fasan

by Adam Chase Korbitz

One of the most visionary space lawyers of the 20th and 21st centuries, Dr. Ernst Fasan was born in 1926 in Vienna.  In 1958, Dr. Fasan was a practicing attorney when he helped to establish the Permanent Committee on Space Law of the International Astronautical Federation.  Two years later his friend, colleague and fellow pioneer in space law Andrew Haley invited him to join the committee's successor, the International Institute of Space Law.  In 1962, Dr. Fasan was elected to the board of the IISL and subsequently served as an officer of the organization.  In 1963, the IISL awarded him the Andrew G. Haley Gold Medal for his work.

Dr. Fasan has published dozens of articles on problems of space law, including Metalaw and SETI.  In 1970, Dr. Fasan published the seminal book on Metalaw, Relations with Alien Intelligences:  The Scientific Basis of Metalaw.

In June 2008, as an honorary director, Dr. Fasan was among those representing the IISL when it was granted Permanent Observer status before the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).  He remains active in the SETI field as a member of the SETI Permanent Study Group of the International Academy of Astronautics.


Ernst Fasan, Relations with Alien Intelligences:  The Scientific Basis of Metalaw, Berlin Verlag, Berlin, 1970

B.P. Besser, Austria's Ascent into Space:  A short historical account, Proceedings of the Concluding Workshop of the Extended ESA History Project, 13-13 April 2005

IISL granted Permanent Observer status within UN-COPUOS