On May 17, 2013, the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/67/L.56) to reinscribe French Polynesia to the United Nations’ list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGT). This is an action that will have significant implications for many, especially Alaska and Hawaii.
We’ll come back to that. First, lets look at some of the broader implications.
A SHIFT IN UN POLICY?
The action might be signifying a shift in the United Nations’ attitude and policy toward the decolonization process.
- This GA action awakens the UN’s decolonization process from dormancy, possibly signaling a policy shift to restore decolonization as an active pursuit rather than a passive maintenance program.
- This is the first reinscription since New Caledonia in 1986. It ignites hope for others striving to be inscribed or reinscribed as NSGT such as Alaska and Hawaii, Rapa Nui, West Papua, Maluku, Malvinas, Mapuche, Jammu and Kashmir, and others under ‘captive-nation’ circumstances.
- This successful initiative, led by Pacific Island nations raises the stature, credibility and effectiveness of those island states and regional organizations such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum. It confirms that Pacific Island states can affect policy at the UN and will be extremely important as the Pacific leads in developing strategies to deal with the effects of climate change.
- This Pacific Islands-led initiative carried with overwhelming support from the UN membership, even though power-houses like France, the United States, Great Britain, Germany and a few others opposed the measure.
- The resolution introduces a peaceful (Pacific), orderly model for decolonization instead of the acrimony, violence, warfare and bloodshed that is usually experienced.
SO, WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO ALASKA AND HAWAII?
Like French Polynesia, Alaska and Hawaii were inscribed by the United Nations as Non-Self-Governing Territories in 1946. But some years later, the administrative powers, France and the United States, respectively, had these territories removed from the NSGT list through deceptive claims that these territories had been amicably incorporated into France and the United States.
Unfortunately, the United Nations General Assembly went along with these misrepresentations by the administrative powers resulting in French Polynesia, Alaska and Hawaii being dropped from the NSGT list.
French Polynesia, was simply left off the list after 1986 at the behest of France, who had granted the islands a form of self-governing autonomy as an “overseas collectivity” (formerly known as “overseas territory”).
But Hawaii and Alaska were removed from the NSGT list as the result of General Assembly Resolution 1469 on 12 December 1959, an action that was based on reports by the United States claiming the people of Alaska and Hawaii had approved integration into the United States through plebiscites held in those territories. The problem is, the “plebiscites” were rigged by the U.S. to produce only the integration outcome, but no one at the UN bothered to check.
The General Assembly accepted the United States’ reports without any examination to verify truth or accuracy. This oversight by the General Assembly resulted in an action (GA 1469) that in effect, consigned the Non-Self-Governing Territories of Alaska and Hawaii to the jurisdiction of the United States, thus depriving the people of their right to self-determination — especially the opportunity for decolonization and independence.
Based on the appearance of legitimacy bestowed by GA 1469, the United States proceeded to build, “rebrand” and promote Alaska and Hawaii into what the world sees now as ‘domestic states’ of the U.S. In essence, this elaborate fraud was enabled by the UN’s shoddy procedure 50 years ago. The natives and nationals of Alaska and Hawaii have been the victims of this elaborate scheme; deprived of their self-determination, control over their lands, their natural resources, their economic and general wellbeing, and their dignity for the past 54 years as subservient, “domestic states” of the United States of America.
For many years, the natives and nationals of French Polynesia, Alaska and Hawaii have been fighting for justice against the miscasting of their political status by the United Nations and protesting the conditions caused by the miscasting…all to no avail. Until now…
THIS CHANGES THINGS
The reinscription of French Polynesia could also be a game changer for those of Alaska and Hawaii who have been pursuing remedy for their plight for many years; dutifully and persistently registered complaints at numerous UN human rights bodies and agencies; peacefully protesting the United States’ occupation of their sovereign territories and so forth. All this work might be finally reaching fruition as the United Nations becomes aware once again of the noble concept of decolonization and the standing obligation the UN has to those nations left languishing on the decolonization list.
However, Hawaiians have not limited themselves to the human rights mechanisms. The Hawaiian Kingdom maintains that it is a sovereign, independent nation in continuity, but under hostile occupation by the United States. Thus, the Hawaiian Kingdom and Hawaiian Nationals are directly asserting their sovereign rights under international laws. Here are a few significant examples of just the past year.
• On 10 August 2012 – the Hawaiian Kingdom filed a Protest and Demand with the President of the United Nations General Assembly concerning the U.S. Occupation of the Hawaiian Islands. The action protests the United States of America’s prolonged, unjustifiable occupation of the Hawaiian Islands since1898, and demands that the 173 member-States of the United Nations with un-abrogated treaty relations (either directly or as successors) with the Hawaiian Kingdom, reject U.S. claims of jurisdiction over the people and territories of the Hawaiian Islands.
• On 10 December 2012 – the Hawaiian Kingdom filed with the United Nations Secretary General in New York, an Instrument of Accession acceding to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In April 2013 Investigations began for certain State of Hawaii judges, banks and attorneys, for the commission of War Crimes. The ICC acknowledged receipt of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s referral to initiate criminal investigations and extended the jurisdiction of the ICC to investigate war crimes committed on Hawaiian territory as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the ICC.
• On 14 January 2013 – the Hawaiian Kingdom filed with the General Secretariat of Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, for deposit to the Swiss Federal Council, an Instrument of Accession to the Fourth Geneva Convention, thus becoming the 194th country to be a High Contracting Party to the 1949 Convention.
Not to mention the dozens of legal challenges and actions of resistance “on-the-ground” in Hawaii by Hawaiian nationals…
Coupled with the reinscription of French Polynesia, these legal actions have placed Hawaii (and Alaska) in position for a major breakthrough.
WHAT ABOUT THE UNITED STATES?
The measure to reinscribe French Polynesia passed by an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly. The United States, predictably, was on the losing side, having aligned itself with France in a futile effort to try to hold back the decolonization tide.
The policy of the United States government has been to treat the question of Alaska and Hawaii’s self-determination as a strictly domestic matter and to disregard and deny any reference to international law. But it is getting harder to dodge the issue.
Two weeks after the reinscription of French Polynesia, the U.S. was faced with another challenge. A report titled, Study on Decolonization of the Pacific Region (Document: E/C.19/2013/12) was adopted by the 12th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Among the study’s recommendations was — decolonization for Hawaii!
This triggered an immediate intervention from the United States, insisting that self-determination for Hawaiians is limited to autonomy within the domestic context of the U.S., like that provided for Native American Indians. The United States’ intervention said that this “autonomy” could be available if Native Hawaiians had “federal recognition” as an indigenous tribe of the United States. Thus, the U.S. defends its current policies, insisting that self-determination for Hawaii (and presumably Alaska) can only be derived from U.S. domestic laws (e.g. subservient tribal status), not through international laws (e.g. decolonization, de-occupation, independence).
Proponents for Hawaiian and Alaskan independence see the United States’ response as a positive, not because of the content, but because at long last, the United States is actually engaging in dialog at the international level regarding Alaska and Hawaii! Even if their ‘dialog’ was completely self-serving, it broke the deep silence of their long-time policy of refusing to engage at all. The United States blinked.
A few weeks later, proponents for “federal recognition” converged on Washington, D.C. to discuss how to create a Hawaiian tribe to stave off the independence movement. Their new plan is to have President Obama issue an Executive Order to include (force) all Native Hawaiians into a subserviant “federally recognized” tribe and pretend the people of the Hawaiian Kingdom don’t exist.
But just as France recently learned, one can no longer use a “domestic autonomy” remedy to address an international problem of liberty.
Stay posted. Things are about to get very interesting.
H.E. Leon Kaulahao Siu is the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Hawaiian Kingdom, a nation in continuity, presently under foreign occupation, but in the process of restoration. Foreign Minister Siu is working to reestablish diplomatic relations between the Hawaiian Kingdom and other nations, including reviving still existing treaties.