1
$\begingroup$

Let's say that a generation ship sent into space by NASA returns to Earth many years in the future, and find that the United States is a relic of the past. The land that used to be the U.S. is split up into pieces that belong to a bunch of different countries, so it's not even like you can say there is one country that all former U.S. citizens became a part of. So now this ship of people who are technically U.S. citizens (having been born on a space ship that is U.S. property) lands on Earth. How would they be dealt with? Can any country legally claim these people as their own citizens? Who would have authority over them?

$\endgroup$

closed as off-topic by AndreiROM, TrEs-2b, Green, Hohmannfan, cobaltduck Oct 13 '16 at 18:49

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A generation isn't supposed to come back to Earth $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Oct 13 '16 at 18:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think what you're basically doing is asking us to write an entire story for you, given only the basic premise. You should be telling us what those countries would do. We can't possibly imagine the political, and cultural landscape of this fictitious land. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Oct 13 '16 at 18:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The question was more along the lines of, is there precedent/are there laws that would take effect if for some reason there were citizens of a country that no longer existed, and I gave an example of how such a situation might arise. I'm asking about Earth, not a fictitious land. $\endgroup$ – Tori Oct 13 '16 at 18:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What happened to sailors on ships of the Soviet Navy which were deployed in December 1991? $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Oct 13 '16 at 18:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! An interesting question, but what you are describing is a fictitious land. It's based on Earth, but has already diverged very far from our Earth. Since the US is gone, which country's laws do you propose would apply? What form of government(s) are those countries? Maybe the returning humans would seek refugee status, but that's really their (your) decision. Unfortunately the question is too broad/unclear to answer as-is. $\endgroup$ – type_outcast Oct 13 '16 at 18:52
4
$\begingroup$

If your country is gone and you go to another one, you are basically a refugee from your home country. The country you go to then has the self-given right to add you as a citizen, deport you, or imprison you. Largely depends on what their government is like.

There is also the part of how do they land? While in space, Maritime law is in effect, so no country has legal jurisdiction on them until they land. (Of course, language barriers would still be a problem.)

EDIT: (adding notes from comments)

While in space, you can do whatever you want (other people also reserve the right to shoot you if they don't like you though, though that might attract bad attention without good reason). Once you land, the country you land in determines how to process you, and what you are allowed to do (as you no longer have your old country to seek embassy with).

Also, if different people land in different countries, each country has jurisdiction only on the people who landed in their territory. Since they aren't legal citizens though, if they flee the country, that country has no jurisdiction to pursue them (and the country they flee into will gain jurisdiction over them).

And for completeness (thanks Molot), assuming that your home nation just split/reformed/was taken over, than you may still be a citizen depending on the rules they made (if the new countries still honor them). (see Citizenship of Russia about when the Soviet Union ended. Particularly the Citizenship acts) In that case, you have all the pros/cons of already being a citizen of a country.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Does this mean that whichever country allowed them to land would then have the opportunity to add them as citizens? And would the passengers have a say in whether or not they become citizens of this country? Would you ever have the choice to not be a citizen of any country? $\endgroup$ – Tori Oct 13 '16 at 18:26
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ While in space, you can do whatever you want (other people also reserve the right to shoot you if they don't like you though, though that might attract bad attention without good reason). Once you land, the country you land in determines how to process you, and what you are aloud to do (as you no longer have your old country to seek embassy with) $\endgroup$ – Tezra Oct 13 '16 at 18:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, if different people land in different countries, the country only has jurisdiction on the people who landed in their territory. Since they aren't legal citizens though, if they flee the country, that country has no jurisdiction to peruse them (and the country they flee into will gain jurisdiction over them) $\endgroup$ – Tezra Oct 13 '16 at 18:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tori if old country made some rules, they may be forced to get some particular citizenship. For example when Soviet Union split, it left rules. Oh, and there was Soviet astronauts in space. Read about that! $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 13 '16 at 21:24
1
$\begingroup$

I would think that the citizens and their ship would then become the USA (should probably rename themselves to simply "America") in orbit (a generation ship would be WAY too big to land).

Now, the UN or whatever passes for that in the future may or may not recognize your giant spaceship in the sky as a country. There wouldn't be much need for trade, as a gen-ship is self sustaining, so unless, your "Americans" decide to retake all or part of North America, you'd be pretty much fine in orbit.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.