The Charter marks a major turning point in human history. Like the Magna Carta of 1215 CE, the Charter was a significant enabling compact for the transfer of power. Magna Carta was the most significant early influence in the development of the rule of constitutional law. Magna Carta was originally created because of disagreements between Pope Innocent III, King John and his English barons about the rights of the King. Magna Carta required the king to renounce certain rights, respect certain legal procedures, and accept that the will of the king could be bound by law.
Where the Magna Carta limited the power of the English king over the feudal peerage and the Church, the Charter transferred power over outworld colonial expansion from the State, i.e., the United Nations, to the Economy as personified by the multi-world corporations.
The Need for Change
The Charter was signed in a political environment that was fraught with discord among the states of the United Nations and a weak Executive Branch headed by President Jimmy Wagoner. Colonial expansion was in its infancy with major settlements on the Moon, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Claims had been staked on many of the Earth-crossing asteroids and the largest of the trans-Martian asteroids, and the UN courts were clogged with cases of claim jumping, murder and assorted other felonies.
Physical conflicts had even overflowed onto the floor of the General Assembly where delegates from France and the United Kingdom started a fist fight over a dispute for mining rights on 1354 Apollo. Delegates from the southern states – lead by India and Australia – were pressing the administration for the declaration of martial law in all colonies. Observers from the Moon and Mars colonies were powerless to enter into the argument because the colonies had no representation to the General Assembly. Delegates were being lobbied heavily by the multi-national corporations with colonial interests.
Pieter ter Houck, CEO of ExMShell, was frustrated by the incompetence of the bureaucrats in Amundsen-Scott, and vowed to put an end to the impasse. ExMShell had invested heavily in the exploitation of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere for Helium-3, the isotope of helium needed for fast fusion. He enlisted the commitments of the CEOs of the other fifty largest multi-national corporations with similar colonial interests to boycott the United Nations.
Ter Houck informed President Wagoner that if the impasse was not broken by January 1, 2281 CE, three months from the date the ultimatum was delivered, the Committee of Fifty-one would shut down the government by cutting off supplies and services. Wagoner was left with no alternative but to sign the Charter: This he did on December 7, 2280 CE.
Instruments of Power
The Charter delegated all authority to govern the outworld colonies to a governing body to be called the Charter Convention. Seat of government for the Convention was to be 1 Ceres. The Convention held the power to establish administrative departments and courts to try crimes and settle disputes. An Executive Board was to recommend policy and administer the colonies. The Committee of Fifty-one became the first Executive Board and ter Houck its first Chairman. The first meeting of the Charter Convention was held in Ceres the first Monday in August, 2290CE with subsequent sessions every ten years. Special sessions of the Convention could be called by the Executive Board.