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Memory Alpha is rather scant on the details of the history of the Prime Directive:

The fundamental principles were an important part of Earth Starfleet procedures as early as 2152, but it did not go into effect as a General Order until sometime after 2168.

It does mention that Archer seems to deserve some credit for seeing the need for it.

I'm assuming that there's no actual mainstream evidence for the person(s) responsible for the creation of the Prime Directive, but is there any 'fringe' evidence (ie sources that Memory Alpha wouldn't take into account) that tells us who created the Prime Directive? I'm looking for a person/people - not 'Starfleet.'

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    Who created the Prime Directive? Gene Roddenberry.
    – Omegacron
    Apr 24, 2014 at 14:42

2 Answers 2

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No truly canonical answer to this is available to my knowledge but some of the novels go into the creation of the Prime Directive. The closest I can get to canonical is that the PD was created sometime after the 2160s, when the USS Horizon left a book behind on Sigma Iotia (TOS: A Piece Of The Action).

Memory Alpha provides the following:

The Prime Directive did not go into effect as a General Order until sometime after the 2160s (which is when the crew of the starship Horizon left behind books on technology and culture that radically altered the course of civilization on the planet Sigma Iotia II.) (TOS: "A Piece of the Action").

While the Prime Directive was not officially formulated until after the 2160s, the fundamental principles were an important part of Earth Starfleet procedures as early as 2152. (ENT: "The Communicator")

Memory Beta provides some further outlines, but again the details are non-canonical:

"By the 2170s, it was decided by the Federation Council that action needed to be taken and in 2175 the Resolution of Non-Interference was drafted and signed by all Federation members, putting together a single philosophy to be adopted. By the 2190s, the Prime Directive had come into force. (TNG - Double Helix novel: Double or Nothing)"

Nothing I have read or seen outlines the details of exactly who proposed or seconded the motion to create a Prime Directive. In all likelihood, and this is pure speculation on my part, the PD was born because several incidents of interference with planetary cultures occurred and various Starfleet and Federation personnel decided to formalise some rules to attempt to make sure it did not happen again.

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  • This is confusing to me. Didn't the Vulcans have some kind of PD and that's why they didn't contact humans until after they achieved warp drive? Also, wasn't PD kind of this franchise's explanation of the Fermi Paradox? If it didn't exist until after humans went into space, it doesn't explain much.
    – zipquincy
    Dec 22, 2015 at 17:02
  • The Vulcans didn't have a PD. They are described in First Contact as "passing through" the Sol system when they detect the warp signature of Cochrane's ship and decide to come take a look. Hence the time critical nature of the events in FC - Phoenix had to launch before the Vulcan ship went out of range.
    – Selezen
    Feb 19, 2016 at 10:38
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    On the other hand, it's also made clear in First Contact that they will 'realize humans have achieved warp flight', implying that they were aware of the existence of humanity, but didn't bother to contact them until they had reached a certain level of advancement. It may not be 'THE Prime Directive', but the Vulcans clearly did not interfere with 'primitive' humans - whether out some principle of non-interference, or out of sheer lack of interest until they reach a certain threshold (knowing the Vulcans from this period of history, it could be either).
    – CGriffin
    Nov 6, 2017 at 15:09
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As of 2021, there is an actual written Prime Directive (also known as “Starfleet Command General Order 1”) as outlined in Star Trek: Prodigy (2021-). Specifically in the episode “First Con-tact” (S01E17) set in the year 2383; text follows:

Section 1:

Starfleet crew will obey the following with any civilization that has not achieved a commensurate level of technological and/or societal development as described in Appendix 1.

a) No identification of self or mission.

b) No interference with the social, cultural, or technological development of said planet.

c) No reference to space, other worlds, or advanced civilizations.

d) The exception to this is if said society has already been exposed to the concepts listed herein. However, in that instance, section 2 applies.

Section 2:

If said species has achieved the commensurate level of technological and/or societal development as described in Appendix 1, or has been exposed to the concepts listed in section 1, no Starfleet crew person will engage with said society or species without first gathering extensive information on the specific traditions, laws, and culture of that species civilization. Then Starfleet crew will obey the following.

a) If engaged with diplomatic relations with said culture, will stay within the confines of said culture’s restrictions.

b) No interference with the social development of said planet.

As for who specifically drafted those words? In universe I guess some Starfleet Command bureaucrats/lawyers; who knows.

Also, prior to Star Trek: Prodigy, there was a prop in the Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) that has text for the first three Starfleet General Orders. General Order #1's text is as follows:

As the rights of each sentient species to live in accordance with the normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture.

Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely.

Starfleet personnel may not violate the Prime Directive even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.

But as noted on the Memory Alpha page:

This phrasing of General Order One has its origins in the FASA Star Trek Role-Playing Game (The Federation sourcebook, p. 5). The text was slightly edited by the individual who made the prop for the film.

So for all intents and purposes, the Star Trek: Prodigy iteration of the Prime Directive text was the first real appearance of the Prime Directive in the Prime Timeline; with the Star Trek Into Darkness version of the Prime Directive text being in the alternative universe Kelvin Timeline of course.

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    They have to stop naming things “First Contact”! Feb 25 at 12:10
  • 1
    😆 Contact Plus, just $4.99 a month gives you basic Federation membership (with ads) Feb 25 at 22:13

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