Common Heritage of Mankind Law and Legal Definition

Common heritage of mankind is a principle of international law that states that the elements of the earth and cosmos are common to humankind. Common heritage of mankind includes ocean floor and its subsoil and also outer space. The principle states that areas of Antarctica, the sea bed, and outer space cannot be monopolized for the benefit of one state or group of states alone, but should be treated as if they are to be used for the benefit of all mankind.

There are five core components of the common heritage of mankind concept:

1.There can be no private or public appropriation, ie; no one legally owns common heritage spaces;

2.Representatives from all nations must manage resources contained in such a territorial or conceptual area on behalf of all, because commons area is considered to belong to everyone;

3.All nations must actively share with each other the benefits acquired from exploitation of the resources from the common heritage region;

4.There can be no weaponry or military installations established in territorial commons areas.

5.Tshe common space should be preserved for the benefit of future generations.

The concept of common heritage of mankind has been explained in various treaties and conventions adopted by the United Nations. Developing nations often see the principle as a means of protecting critical resources from exploitation by developed nations and their corporations.[Ass'n for Molecular Pathology v. United States PTO, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35418 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 2, 2010)].