Justification in Law

The Truth. And its applications in law.

God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the earth in unity and blessedness.
—the first line of The Declaration of Rights, Both of the People and Chiefs (1839), regarded as the Hawaiian equivalent to England’s Magna Carta

Hawai’i was, by right and definition, an independent nation.  To understand the application of laws that obliges the U.S. and the countries of the world to observe the emergence of Hawaiian nationhood, there are points in fact and points in law that must be acknowledged first.

Major Events in the Political History of Hawai’i

On October 8, 1840, King Kamehameha III authorized the Hawaiian Kingdom Constitution, which described the sharing of governmental power between the monarch and the parliament.  This document marked Hawai’i’s departure from absolute monarchism.  The Constitution demonstrated the King’s commitment to domestic welfare and adherence to the law of nations.

In January of 1893, before Queen Lili’uokalani could institute a revised constitution with more democratic reforms (i.e., allowing all subjects the right to vote, as opposed to just male landowners), the lawful government of Hawai’i was overthrown in a coup d’etat devised by a group of wealthy landowners advocating annexation to the United States.  They were aided in this stroke of state by the U.S. foreign minister to Hawai’i and a detachment of U.S. Marines.

Demanding remedy for this unlawful act, Queen Lili’uokalani sent her formal letter of protest to U.S. President Grover Cleveland.  While Cleveland did insist on the reinstatement of Hawai’i’s lawful government, the annexationists’ friends in the U.S. Congress waited for a president sympathic to their agenda.  They got their wish with the 1896 election of William McKinley.

The annexationists installed their government de facto, renamed the nation the Republic of Hawai’i, then conveyed the islands to the United States on August 12, 1898.  All Hawaiian subjects — both kanaka maoli (persons of aboriginal Hawaiian ancestry) and kanaka’e (those of foreign ethnicity) — were collectively naturalized as U.S. nationals on that day.

Elements of a Nation

There are four conditions to qualify as a nation: Territory, Population, Sovereignty, and Government.  These are accepted standards that are articulated in public international law. Before it was annexed to the United States, the Kingdom of Hawai’i fulfilled these qualifications.

Without a document from the lawful Hawaiian Government consenting to U.S. occupation, the cession of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States depended on the removal or obfuscation of these four conditions of nationhood.

GOVERNMENT was the first to be suspended: the monarch was removed and the parliament emptied.  This separated the citizenry from their elected representatives and impaired their ability to exercise their political authority—their SOVEREIGNTY.  The absence of a chief executive and a legislative body made it possible for the government of the annexationists to convey control of the islands to America, thereby reclassifying the entire Hawaiian POPULATION as U.S. nationals.

It is the unconfirmed status of the final condition—TERRITORY—that revealed the imperfect claim the United States has on the Hawaiian Islands.

And it was shown for all the world to see in 1993.

The Queen’s Protest Letter and the U.S. Apology Resolution

The 1893 Protest Letter of Queen Lili’uokalani is an application in international law.  In the letter, she proclaims her “protest against any and all acts done against myself and the Constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom…”  Further in this document, she demands the undoing of the wrongful actions of the United States.  Amazingly, the guilty party — the U.S. Congress — responded to this law application.

A century later, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka includes the Queen’s Protest Letter in a resolution he introduces to Congress.  Either by accident or by design, his “Apology Resolution” exposes the truth of who lawfully possesses Hawai’i.

On November 23, 1993, this joint resolution is signed by U.S. President Bill Clinton.  Formally known as U.S. Public Law 103-150, it acknowledges the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai’i and apologizes to Native Hawaiians for the United States’ participation in the overthrow.  A joint resolution adopted by both houses of Congress and signed by the President has the effect of a law.

And as law documents go, this is a signed confession.  Within its text is this admission: “…the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum;”

Why would Congress allow such a statement into United States Public Law? To distinguish its liability.  The U.S. government knows that it does not lawfully possess the Hawaiian Islands. The governments of the United States and the State of Hawai’i preside in the islands in the absence of the government de jure.  The U.S. also knows that if the lawful government does not step forward to answer this apology, it can continue to legally claim dominion over Hawai’i.

In order to show the world that it is complying with the principles of international law, the United States was required only to offer a means of reconciliation.  But the U.S. is neither obliged to rebuild the lawful government nor is it responsible to show the Hawaiian people how to do it. That is the job of the kanaka maoli.

It was the burden of the kanaka maoli to rebuild the government that could answer the apology and keep the United States in compliance with the terms of international law.  The three branches of government were erected, a distinct population was identified, and the inherent sovereignty would be restored.

This was no simple task.

Efforts toward manifesting this authority began on June 8, 1996.

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