Micronations/Starting your own micronation/Independence

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The basics of independence[edit | edit source]

According to the 1933 Montevideo convention

"The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (A) a permanent population; (B) a defined territory; (C) government; and (D) capacity to enter into relations with the other states."

However, in practical terms, recognition as an independent state requires other independent states to agree with this status. The best way to get recognition from major countries is for a state to join the UN. For an "island state" a good way to be recognized would be to join SIDS

Territory[edit | edit source]

By most definitions, a nation must possess territory of some kind. There are a few different ways micronations have approached acquiring such territory.

Non sovereign Micronations[edit | edit source]

The Conch Republic exists in Florida, and thanks to a playful attitude to its micronation status, has cultivated a symbiotic relationship with the local tourism industry.

A self proclaimed micronation can exist within the borders of another nation, and some of the most successful examples of micronations have simply done this, typically by owning land within the legal framework of the host nation. This has many benefits, namely that property rights, defense, and basic infrastructure is typically provided by the host state.

This comes with the caveat that such micronations are fully at the mercy of the recognized government which claims that territory - members of the micronation are typically obliged to pay taxes and follow the laws of the host country. The micronation would be at the mercy of the host nation, and if the host nation so decided, could quash it. This is unlikely in host nations with strong freedoms of speech where the micronation exists in a less serious capacity, especially when the micronation is seen as a joke or playful entity. However in host nations with less freedoms, or when the sovereignty of the micronation is more seriously asserted, the likelihood of the host state intervening to disband the microstate increases dramatically.

Furthermore, this will almost certainly preclude formal recognition by the government of the host nation, since doing so would affectively cede their existing territory to a new entity, with virtually no benefit to the host nation in doing so. Remember that sovereignty over an area is a big deal - It affects the national defense, economic outlook, policing system, and immigration policy of every area on the border that sovereign area, adding considerably to the cost and burden of administrating the surrounding land.

Disputed territories[edit | edit source]

One potential way for a micronation to claim land is to settle in land claimed by no country due to a border dispute. This typically fails, either because the land claimed is not viable for long term human habitation, or because one of the countries involved in the border dispute needs another country to take the land in the case of their specific claim, and having the land be occupied by a micronation precludes this.

Who Owns the Ocean?[edit | edit source]

Sealand, perhaps the most famous sea based micronation. Now based in expanded British territorial waters on an abandoned British made defense platform, Sealand has been unable to receive international recognition.

One way for a micronation to pursue independence is to look to the seas. Recognized nation states have historically only been interested in the high seas as a place for economic activity and transit, not as a place to live or settle. As a result, the seas offer a high degree of potential autonomy for any micronation which is able to seastead. Historically this has been the strategy pursued by the Principality of Sealand and the Republic of Rose Island, to mixed results.

Zones[edit | edit source]

Ocean waters are politically divided into zones based on proximity to recognized nations:

  • Internal Waters: These are any bodies of water that are above the low-tide mark, such as rivers and deep bays. You can do anything here. These are within your territory in all respects, and you can expel other countries' ships from here even if they do not pose a risk to you because anyone passing within these waters without express permission is trespassing. (However, some countries have agreed to allow ships free passage through some rivers to allow landlocked countries access to the sea.)
  • Territorial Sea: The 12 nautical miles about a territory are usually under the exclusive control of a state and all activities are permitted, most notably harvesting minerals and fishing. Any other countries' ships can pass through without danger, as long as they do not threaten you in any respects. You can regulate other countries' ships' activities here. You can expel other countries' warships, but in peacetime that is usually considered unnecessary.
  • Contiguous Zone: Another 12 miles past the border of the territorial sea, you can enforce your customs, immigration, and sanitation in this area. You can also engage in Hot Pursuit, or chasing lawbreakers.
  • Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): You can do any kind of fishing and mineral exploration here. You are trusted to use it wisely. This zone extends as far as 200 nautical miles, making exceptions for countries that are closer together. All natural resources in this area are yours and yours only, unless agreements have been made to the contrary.
  • The High Seas: This extends beyond the EEZ, and anyone can do anything here, unless it is prohibited by international law. The mineral resources out here are for anyone that is able to extract them.

The Micronation Perspective[edit | edit source]

A micronation is most likely to be left to its own devices if it somehow exists on the high seas, ideally far away from any claimed territory. The historic Republic of Rose Island was a Micronation located 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) from Italy, and it was ultimately destroyed by the Italian government. Without recognition and the ability to be a signatory to the treaties which create these zones, it is unlikely a micronation would be able to enforce its own zones. Attempting to enforce micronation zoning by force (Except perhaps on internal waters, which would require a substantial artificial island), is likely to simply be recognized as piracy or marauding by the international community, rather then one defending a zone.

External Links[edit | edit source]

  • UN -complete document of UNCLOS.
  • Vanderbilt -article on artificial islands constituting territory.