Assuming that the criteria by which the offer of asylum is offered is based on human values, how can it be offered without violating the prime directive?

  • Not sure, but I think the idea is that the person is being removed from their society. Their disappearance might have some effect, but ultimately the native culture remains "untainted" by Federation culture at large.
    – Nerrolken
    Jan 30, 2015 at 22:45
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    Can you cite a specific instance where you think it might have done so?
    – Valorum
    Jan 30, 2015 at 22:45
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    yes we need specifics for this, they typically wouldn't be interacting with a planet in which offering asylum to somebody would infringe on the prime directive. plus its not human values anymore, it would be a set of values the entire federation holds by.
    – Himarm
    Jan 30, 2015 at 22:53
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    Don't most of the interactions with aliens in Star Trek end up violating the Prime Directive? As far as the writers are concerned, that rule was made to be broken.
    – KSmarts
    Jan 30, 2015 at 23:00
  • @KSmarts not at all. As originally written, the Prime Directive only applied to planets that were not already warp-capable. The idea was not to tell them there were other worlds or sentient life until they has started to discover those things for themselves. Depending on plot, the meaning has been occasionally expanded, but IMO once a planet was part of the Federation, the Prime Directive becomes irrelevant.
    – KutuluMike
    Jan 30, 2015 at 23:01

1 Answer 1


The Prime Directive (also known as the most routinely violated capital law in history) forbids the interference in the overall development of a non-warp-capable culture. I think it's been defined differently in different series, but the first time we get a real description of it, in the original series, it is given as:

"No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations."

Note that the reference is to the social development of the planet. Actions which affect a single individual, which cannot subsequently impact the planet as a whole, would appear to be legal under the prime directive.

Furthermore, according to the Star Trek Technical Manual, there are exceptions:

But this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.

This would imply that there were recognized legal situations where the Prime Directive can legally be ignored in the cause of justice. Someone in need of asylum may fall into this exemption.

  • There must also be exceptions when a low-tech society has already been contacted by some other warp-capable society.
    – Joe L.
    Jan 30, 2015 at 23:03
  • Nice answer, but if that is the case, it's not really the "prime" directive. The word "prime" implies it can't be trumped.
    – pingu
    Jan 30, 2015 at 23:04
  • probably. I think the general idea is "if they don't already know about aliens, you're not allowed to tell them, and you're not allowed to hurry them along."
    – KutuluMike
    Jan 30, 2015 at 23:04
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    @pingu Prime just implies that's it's first (primary) or most important, not immutable, inviolate, or inflexible. It's also separate from the mission, such as Enterprise's: To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
    – user31178
    Jan 31, 2015 at 0:06

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