The Lunar Conference

The Conference of Luna

In 490 ATD the Eichberger Foundation started trying to organise a peace conference. In 494 it secured agreement by the belligerent colonies to meet on Earth’s moon. The conference convened in reconditioned facilities on Nearside, with formal proceedings commencing on the 1st of December 494. The ruins of Earth were visible through landscape windows.

Delegations from the Foundation and the belligerent colonies (Aeneas, Barutanah, Farfalle, Iter, Ladon, New Athens, New Earth, New Rome, Sangreal, Seeonee, Simanta, Stockhausen, Svarga, Tau Ceti, and Todos Santos) were not the only participants. The Foundation also assembled envoys from its few significant allies and from a representative collection of colonies that had once been victimised by pirates. These could in no way impose a decision on the colonies whose acquiescence the Foundation needed, and their inclusion drew complaints. But their presence did not just waste time. It sensibly altered the tenor of the conference.

For over two months the Conference negotiated but made little progress. In the middle of February 495 the ambassadors from Seeonee and Todos Santos made a proposal that broke the deadlock by going a great way beyond negotiating a peace among the existing parties. They suggested creating a new organisation, a legitimate interstellar authority under the bicameral control of an executive that would pursue the Foundation’s goals and a legislature that would defend colonial interests. If this were given suitably limited powers, and with checks and balances agreeable to both sides, the Fleet and control of Eichberger devices could be passed to this confederation or empire, and the Eichberger Foundation could retire to its original philanthropic work.

Rather to the surprise of most delegates, it proved possible to work out acceptable details. The Treaty of Luna was signed on the 12th of March 495. Four delegations abstained, on the grounds that the agreement exceeded their instructions. In a separate instrument, the Foundation and the main belligerent colonies agreed to an armistice for three years, to allowed time for ratification.

The Treaty of Luna

The Treaty of Luna amounts to the constitution of the Empire. It established the Imperial Council as an executive committee self-perpetuating by co-optation, and gave it the power to veto legislation. It established the Imperial Senate as supreme legislature with control of taxation and appropriations, and gave it supervisory powers over the executive. It established the Imperial Supreme Court, and charged it to adjudicate disputes between the Empire and colonies, and under the terms of the Treaty itself, striking down pretended legislation that should exceed the strict limits it set for Imperial power.

The Treaty of Luna gives the Empire prerogatives over armed and interstellar spacecraft, Eichberger drives, CT weapons, interstellar commerce, and deep space. On the other hand it protects the sovereignty of the colonies within their atmospheres, and their freedom to use their own orbital space for peaceful purposes. The Empire may intervene in colonial affairs only as directed by law, and law can be made only by the Senate. Not only is the Senate appointed entirely by colonial governments, but its power to legislate is limited to enumerated causes, all of which relate to what the original signatories conceded to be inter-colonial issues or legitimate concerns of the Eichberger Foundation. There are no general security, common welfare, good government, or commerce clauses (though discriminatory import duties are banned).

The Treaty gives the Senate control over Imperial taxation and the expenditure of tax revenues. It also gives it authority to examine that actions of Imperial officials and to dismiss them for due cause, including the power to impeach members of the Imperial Council and the Imperial Supreme Court for malfeasance, negligence, corruption, criminal abuse, or gross impropriety. But it does not give the Senate the power to set policy for the Empire’s use of prerogative powers.

By the Treaty the Eichberger Foundation transferred to the Empire its naval fleets and military units, its public service functions, and its claims to monopoly on the Eichberger device and authority in deep space. This included personnel as well as matériel, so that the Empire was from its beginning basically the Eichberger Foundation under another name. Merchant ships, shipyards, orbital factories, orbital habitats, financial reserves, and other commercial assets were not transferred. Those remained the property of a rump Eichberger Foundation.

Ratifying the Treaty of Luna

The ratification terms in the Treaty were exacting. Among conditions more easily satisfied, it had to be ratified within three years by ten of the belligerent colonies (counting unanimous ratififaction by the Tau Ceti colonies as one) and by governments representing two-thirds of the populations of the original signatories. These conditions were not met until the 27th of December 497, when the last of eight colonies making up the Union of Tau Ceti ratified.

Four belligerents attempted to hold out: Aeneas, Iter, New Athens, and Ladon. But without a solid boycott their cause was hopeless: the Empire repaired its fleets and the Eichberger Foundation refilled is coffers without them. They ratified and took their places in the Empire, one by one. New Athens, last of the Belligerents to ratify, did so in 546 ATD, by which time its economy had suffered a setback from which is has not yet recovered.

Colonies not represented at the Conference of Luna continued ratifying the Treaty for over a century. Hundreds of colonies beyond about 100 lightyears from Sol had not been contacted by the Foundation at the time to the Conference. A systematic program to contact them all did not begin until 532. Settlements (new colonies founded by Eichberger Realty), customarily ratify the Treaty as their first legislative act on achieving self-government. About four do so per year.