SETI League Policy Manual
Declaration of Principles Concerning Activities
Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Note: By resolution of the Board of Trustees on 17 August 1997, The SETI League, Inc. officially endorses the following Protocols, and respectfully requests that our members embrace them.
Adopted by the International Academy of Astronautics, 1989
We, the institutions and individuals participating in the
search for extraterrestrial intelligence,
Recognizing that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is an integral part of space exploration and is being undertaken for peaceful purposes and for the common interest of
Inspired by the profound significance for mankind of detecting evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, even though the probability of detection may be low,
Recalling the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, which commits
States Parties to that Treaty "to inform the Secretary General
of the United Nations as well as the public and the international scientific community, to the greatest extent feasible and
practicable, of the nature, conduct, locations and results" of
their space exploration activities (Article XI),
Recognizing that any initial detection may be incomplete
or ambiguous and thus require careful examination as well as
confirmation, and that it is essential to maintain the highest
standards of scientific responsibility and credibility,
Agree to observe the following principles for disseminating information about the detection of extraterrestrial intelligence:
Courtesy of the IAA SETI Committee
- Any individual, public or private research institution, or governmental agency that believes it has detected a signal from or other evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence (the discoverer) should seek
to verify that the most plausible explanation for the evidence is the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence rather than some other natural phenomenon or anthropogenic phenomenon before making any public announcement. If the evidence cannot be confirmed as indicating the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the discoverer may disseminate the information as appropriate to the discovery of any unknown phenomenon.
- Prior to making a public announcement that evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence has been detected, the discoverer should promptly inform all other observers or research organizations that
are parties to this declaration, so that those other parties may seek to confirm the discovery by independent observations at other sites and so that a network can be established to enable continuous monitoring of the signal or phenomenon. Parties to this declaration should not make any public announcement of this information until it is determined whether this information is or is not credible evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. The discoverer should inform his/her or its relevant national authorities.
- After concluding that the discovery appears to be credible evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, and after informing other parties to this declaration, the discoverer should inform observers
throughout the world through the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams of the International Astronomical Union, and should inform the Secretary General of the United Nations in accordance with
Article XI of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Bodies. Because of their demonstrated interest in
and expertise concerning the question of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the discoverer should simultaneously inform the following international institutions of the discovery and should provide them with all pertinent data and recorded information concerning the evidence: the International Telecommunication Union, the Committee on Space Research, of the International Council of Scientific Unions, the International Astronautical Federation, the International Academy of Astronautics, the International Institute of Space Law, Commission 51 of the International Astronomical Union and Commission J of the International Radio Science Union.
- A confirmed detection of extraterrestrial intelligence should be disseminated promptly, openly, and widely through scientific channels and public media, observing the procedures in this declaration. The discoverer should have the privilege of making the first public announcement.
- All data necessary for confirmation of detection should be made
available to the international scientific community through publications, meetings, conferences, and other appropriate means.
- The discovery should be confirmed and monitored and any data
bearing on the evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence should be recorded and stored permanently to the greatest extent feasible and
practicable, in a form that will make it available for further analysis
and interpretation. These recordings should be made available to the
international institutions listed above and to members of the scientific community for further objective analysis and interpretation.
- If the evidence of detection is in the form of electromagnetic
signals, the parties to this declaration should seek international
agreement to protect the appropriate frequencies by exercising procedures available through the International Telecommunication Union. Immediate notice should be sent to the Secretary General of the
ITU in Geneva, who may include a request to minimize transmissions on the relevant frequencies in the Weekly Circular. The Secretariat, in conjunction with advice of the Union's Administrative
Council, should explore the feasibility and utility of convening an
Extraordinary Administrative Radio Conference to deal with the
matter, subject to the opinions of the member Administrations of the
- No response to a signal or other evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence should be sent until appropriate international consultations have taken place. The procedures for such consultations will
be the subject of a separate agreement, declaration or arrangement.
- The SETI Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics, in coordination with Commission 51 of the International
Astronomical Union, will conduct a continuing review of procedures
for the detection of extraterrestrial intelligence and the subsequent
handling of the data. Should credible evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence be discovered, an international committee of scientists
and other experts should be established to serve as a focal point for
continuing analysis of all observational evidence collected in the aftermath of the discovery, and also to provide advice on the release of
information to the public. This committee should be constituted
from representatives of each of the international institutions listed
above and such other members as the committee may deem necessary. To facilitate the convocation of such a committee at some unknown time in the future, the SETI Committee of the International
Academy of Astronautics should initiate and maintain a current list
of willing representatives from each of the international institutions
listed above, as well as other individuals with relevant skills, and
should make that list continuously available through the Secretariat
of the International Academy of Astronautics. The International
Academy of Astronautics will act as the Depository for this declaration and will annually provide a current list of parties to all the parties to this declaration.