The Accord of Galactic Polities

The Accord of Galactic Polities, less formally known simply as the Accord, is a loose meta-civilization composed of the non-starbound polities of the known regions of the galaxy. The Accord is frequently conflated with the Associated Worlds, which is more properly a galactographic term. (While the Accord is primarily composed of the polities of the Associated Worlds, it is neither exclusively nor exhaustively so composed; there exist both Accord signatories not galactographically part of the Worlds, and polities of the Worlds who are not Conclave signatories.)

It should be noted that the Accord is an association, not a governance – its membership is comprised of those polities which have agreed by treaty to observe certain borders, protocols, and procedures designed to maintain the peace and make trade and communication possible. Similarly, the Accord itself has no officers and maintains no offices; it is simply an agreement between its members.

The most important of the treaties which make up the Accord, of course, is the Accord on the Conclave, being a signatory to which grants full membership in the Conclave of Galactic Polities. This in turn grants you an embassy and exclave on the Conclave Drift, and the right to send one voting representative (titled curate) to the Conclave itself, along with a number of secondary negotiating representatives on the basis of your population. In short, it gives you a seat at the table.

Conclave membership also commits you to the single binding principle thereof: Members of the Accord shall not make war on each other, nor commit acts of war upon each other (including but not limited to piracy, slaving, and intentional destruction or confiscation of property), to the detriment of the Accord.

Violations of the Accords are arbitrated before the Central Conclave Court, an arm of the Conclave.

The ten lesser Accords (which are almost universally adhered to among signatories to the Accord on the Conclave, although a small number of members derogate from one or more of these agreements) are these:

I. the Accord on Colonization

The Accord on Colonization establishes the rules by which claims on colony worlds may be made and negotiated, and/or purchases may be made from the star systems held in trust by the Accord as the stargate plexus expands, including the allocation of limited numbers of habitable and near-habitable worlds as freesoil worlds, open to settlement by anyone.

NOTE: We would urge those polities for whom it galls to be asked to subordinate one’s expansion claims to the overall growth of known space, rather than to be able to expand as one wills into terra nullius, to study the historical summaries included in the first contact packet.

II. the Accord on Intellectual Properties

The Accord on Intellectual Properties provides for the mutual recognition of intellectual property claims between signatories, requiring them to treat all foreign intellectual property at least as well as domestic examples, and setting both strong minimum standards and weaker recommended standards for creator’s privilege, copyright, patent, discovery, and trademark law.

The Accord on Intellectual Properties does not provide for the recognition of intellectual property claims from non-signatory polities.

III. the Accord on Mail and Communications

The Accord on Mail and Communications establishes the Conclave Communications Commission, which addresses both the extranet and physical packet delivery.

In the former role, it defines and publishes open standards for extranet networking protocols and policies, and acts as a registrar for various shared extranet resources.

In the latter role, the Commission publishes transstellar addressing standards, and coordinates postal unions and other cooperative endeavors to ensure efficient and secure physical packet delivery throughout the volume of its signatories’ space.

IV. the Accord on Protected Planets

The Accord on Protected Planets establishes the Galactic Trusteeship Commission to regulate research access to and passage by protected planets, those planets subject to administration or interdict under the jurisdiction of the Conclave. Such planets typically include quarantined worlds, necropolis worlds, Precursor sites or other fossil worlds, unique sites of scientific interest, promising prebiotic worlds, and worlds home to unusual emergent sophont species that have not yet achieved technological competence or xenognosis.

It also sets the rules for designating a world a protected planet under Conclave law.

V. the Accord on the Law of Free Space

The Accord on the Law of Free Space sets common standards for interstellar jurisdiction, starship operations, space traffic control, communication protocols, duties and privileges of Flight Commanders and owners, distress, salvage, and related matters.

VI. the Accord on Trade

The Accord on Trade, through its arbitration and standards body, the Galactic Trade Association, defines protocols for trade and other forms of economic exchange between signatories, generally accepted accounting standards, transstellar corporate forms, choice of law, form contracts, trade categories and open standards, and provides access to interstellar transaction clearing services via the Accord Exval Fiscal Exchange.

VII. the Accord on Uniform Security

The Accord on Uniform Security coordinates law enforcement between the various jurisdictions within the Accord. Its provisions require either the extradition or local trial of criminals who are accused of serious crimes in another jurisdiction, with the reservation that signatory polities may reserve the right to only extradite and/or try those whose crime would have been such under local law.

It defines no universal legal code of its own.

VIII. the Common Volumetric Accord

The Common Volumetric Accord defines the agreement between Accord polities concerning what will be considered sovereign territory among star nations, on the system, planetary, and habitat scales, and which areas within and without it shall be recognized as free space, open to the passage of all.

It provides, additionally, for the recognition of regional galactographic institutes, and their coordination via the Galactic Volumetric Registry.

IX. the Ley Accords

The Ley Accords extend the Universal Accord on Sophont Rights to encode the rights of sophonts, both combatant and non-combatant, in time of war.

Their first chapter concerns itself with those Instruments of Regrettable Necessity which are capable of causing gross damage, such as gigadeaths or major environmental damage to a world, proscribing their use and laying out pains and penalties for violations.

The later chapters lay out the conventions of civilized warfare applying between signatories, forbidding the use of Instruments of Regrettable Necessity near civilian areas, types of noetic warfare which might affect or corrupt noetic backups, mistreatment of prisoners, and other causes of permanent and irreplaceable harm. Terrorism and other asymmetric or indiscriminate attacks on non-military targets are forbidden. Parole is to be accepted, as is honorable surrender, and quarter will be given. A baseline is also established for the treatment of POWs and of civilians under martial law in areas under occupation.

X. the Universal Accord on Sophont Rights

The Universal Accord on Sophont Rights (noted as universal as it is intended to be applied even to non-signatories) establishes the equality before the law of all sophont species, regardless of substrate, and their fundamental and inalienable possession of certain sophont rights: to liberty, to property, to associate and to contract freely, to defense of their self-integrity. It goes on to establish, too, certain rights derived therefrom to avoid misinterpretations.

The difficulty, of course, is in the details, and interpretations of the Universal Accord on Sophont Rights have been known to vary considerably between signatories – leading to a cautious approach in Conclave Court-led mediation which might prefer one interpretation above another – and in addition, the rights asserted are notably circumscribed: attempts to include economic “rights to” rather than “rights of” have been vetoed by the Conclave, for example, as have pressures to include protections for sub-sophonts against suffering or sophont cruelty, although non-binding statements of principles on these and other matters have been appended.

– An Introduction to the Accord, First Contact Publications

Trope-a-Day: What Measure Is A Non Super

What Measure Is A Non Super: (now merged with Muggle Power) Technically, by the letter of the Universal Accord on Sophont Rights, every sophont from the humble baseline to the most transcendent of the Powers and Potentialities has an identical set of rights.  Sure, the latter has much more scope within which to exercise them, but they are equally protected from infringement.

Not all, however, of the postsophont Powers & Potentialities (say, the hegemonizing Leviathan Consciousness) are friendly and agreeable on that point; and even mere transsophonts, if ethically challenged, can develop something of an attitude regarding all these wretched untermenschen.  These are the ones who make up a respectable fraction of Renegades and Renegade-equivalents.


Actually, there’s one other thing I could append to the previous post, with regard to Earth and why it’s probably a good thing that first contact ain’t gonna happen any time soon:

As has been pointed out to me, the thing that would truly make the Imperials despair is that even among people who recognize the problem, there is no significant movement to actually extend sophont, or even human, rights to everyone. We just have to push it forward one tiny special-interest group at a time, in what almost looks like the fear that if we start going around claiming rights are universal, we might accidentally give them to the wrong people.

(Personally speaking, my near-complete cynicism on this in re humanity was firmly set back on Tumblr some years ago, when I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a committed anti-racist, by their own account and history, argue firmly that Cerberus’s pro-human/anti-alien to downright human-supremacist policies in the Mass Effect universe were absolutely, 100% correct and justifiable, and that speciesism was in no way similar to and certainly not the same thing at all as actual racism, because it’s totally okay to discriminate against people who are actually, genuinely different.

…and other recapitulations of arguments isomorphic to historical arguments made by historical racists.

And so that was the week when my days of not taking rights activists seriously came to a definite middle, without some actual convincing evidence that their posture wasn’t a thin gloss over “give us ours, and fuck everyone else”.)

Trope-a-Day: What Measure Is a Non-Human?

What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Averted to varying degrees (and, obviously, in the naïve sense, completely averted since there are no humans at all).  The standard view, in the Associated Worlds, is that described in the Universal Accord on Sophont Rights: anything that thinks and has volition (i.e., is a sophont) is a person, and is entitled to all the rights associated therewith, and is exactly equal in the exercise thereof to every other sophont.

The Empire plays this very straight, and does, indeed, include all sophonts, including non-native aliens (and, yes, the starfish kind, and even the not-yet-understood), uplifts, neogens, artificial intelligences whether embodied or infomorph, uploaded minds, clones, forks, etc., etc. without distinction.  Anything and everything that thinks.

They also go further in extending limited, but still extensive rights to the merely prosophont, including more limited artificial intelligences and higher animals.  (The Empire is noted, in these cases, for eschewing “animal cruelty” laws in favor of simply broadly applying their existing laws where they fit.  In the Empire, you are expected to swerve your vehicle to avoid hitting animals of this class – and, y’know, not do tuna fishing the way we do tuna fishing, or eat octopodes, or go whaling at all – and should you, say, shoot someone’s non-uplifted dog without equivalent self-defense justification to that which you’d need to shoot a full sophont, you will be charged with corpicide and/or cognicide, and will suffer the full criminal penalties, including – if deemed malicious and/or sadistic – potentially being shoved into the fires of purification and purged out of the universe.

(And, yes, that we don’t do this, and, in fact, behave in the manner listed on the trope’s [since deleted] Real Life page are among the many reasons that they’d consider us to be playing Humans Are Bastards very straight indeed.)

Some would argue that they also go farther and extend at least some rights to inanimate objects – that, however, is not a matter of law, that’s just a matter of Blue and Orange Morality and that going around willfully damaging and/or destroying things really gets people’s negentropic hackles up.  Which then in turn, courtesy of this opinion being generally held, the reputation network, and the unlimited freedom of non-association, leads to being absolutely crucified in the Court of Public Opinion, and finding it very difficult to maintain any kind of reasonable lifestyle.

The civilized mode of the Associated Worlds follows this at least as far as sophonts are concerned, taking the broadest view there in law, although some private bigotries persist, as ever, and interpretation of some of those rights may locally vary (the Empire has long since had to recognize that it’s not going to be able to ram its views about government by the unanimous consent of the governed down everyone’s throat just yet).

Some of the less civilized parts (and, indeed, the arguably-superpower Voniensa Republic, which as an Expy of the Star Trek Federation replicates its noxious attitudes towards AIs, transsophonts, and property rights) carve out their own exceptions with regard to particular members of the list, which is where all those AI-slaver civilizations that produced the Silicate Tree, anti-upload ephemeralists, anti-uplift naturalists, etc., etc., come in.  And, of course, a few nasty areas don’t really apply these principles at all; the Equality Concord, for example, doesn’t recognize any sophont rights other than The Right To Serve The People With All Your Heart And Soul.

And finally, of course, there are all those backwater and uncontacted worlds that have never even heard of the Universal Accord, much less had a chance to sign it or not; travellers there are pretty much taking their chances.  Some, pleasantly enough, are cosmopolitan planets in waiting, and sign on to a broad view as soon as they run into one.  Others are nasty nests of nastier bigots who don’t recognize any personhood outside their own species, and for that matter, don’t even recognize the rights of plenty of people of their own species.

Like, say, Earth.


A Long Chase (1)

Slavery violates the Universal Accord on Sophont Rights.  It also violates at least half a dozen other solemn articles of interstellar law – the kind which, as matters which offend everyone’s sensibilities tend to do, are applied ecumenically even to non-signatories – and, indeed, the natural order of things.

None of this means that it isn’t also practiced in the galaxy’s darker backwaters.

Nor does any of this mean that there are an abundance of tools to deal with it.

Flight Commander CGGGTTCACTTTATATGGAACAGT glared at the red dot floating far ahead of his own ship’s position in the tactical tank.

“Freighter identifying as IUS People’s Harvest, this is Macrophage Militant, Imperial Navy.  Under the provisions of the Accord on Uniform Security, you are directed to cut your drive immediately and prepare to be boarded, or be fired upon.  Militant, clear.”  He thought for a moment, leaning back in his command pod to let its cilia ease some of the tensions out of his tissues.  “And, Sensory, punctuate that for me, would you?”

The sensor operator’s tentacles caressed the rounded surface of his console for a moment, and a light-map icon-counter joined the time-to-receipt counter next to the target.  “Pulse away, sir.”

The Exec pushed his drinking bulb back into the retaining clip, and leaned over.  “Do you think there’s any chance they’ll do it?”

“Not if their captain’s got the brains of a rock.  We’ve got more accel, but they’ve got the range advantage in a stern chase.  Our weapons can’t bear at all until he’s within half a light-minute of the gate, and he’s got to know that we can’t fire on him until knife-fight range.  He’s betting we won’t violate Galian volume just to catch one ship.”

“So what’s the plan?”

“He’s betting wrong.  Pass the word to rig for crash transit, if you please.”