Declaration of Principles (Concerning Activities Following the
Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence)
A document, drafted in 1989, by a special subcommittee of the SETI
Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics which sets out principles
to be followed for researchers and others in the event that an unequivocal
signal is detected from an extraterrestrial race. The principles are:
1. Any individual, public and private research institute, or
governmental agency that believes it has detected a signal from extraterrestrial
intelligence, 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
2. 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.
3. After concluding that the discovery appears 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 discoverers 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
Telecommunications Union, the Committee on Space Research of the International
Council of Scientific Unions, the International Astronautical Federation,
the Internal 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.
4. A confirmed detection of extraterrestrial intelligence should be disseminated
promptly, openly, and widely through scientific channels and public media,
observing the procedures of this declaration. The discoverer should have
the privilege of making the first public announcement.
5. All data necessary for confirmation of the detection should be made
available to the international scientific community through publications,
meetings, conferences, and other appropriate means.
6. 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.
7. 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 Telecommunications Union. Immediate notice should
be sent to the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications
Union 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
Administration of the Internal Telecommunications Union.
8. No response to a signal or other evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence
should be sent until appropriate internal consultations have taken place.
The procedures for such consultations will be the subject of a separate
agreement, declaration or arrangement.
9. 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 the procedures for the detection of
extraterrestrial intelligence and 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. The 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 of the declaration.