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Copyright (c) 1994 California Western School of Law
California Western International Law Journal

"Republics of the Reefs:" Nation-Building on the Continental Shelf and in the World's Oceans

FALL, 1994

25 Cal. W. Int'l L.J. 81


Samuel Pyeatt Menefee *


Abalonia, the Grand Capri Republic, Taluga, the Duchy of Sealand, Minerva, the Kingdom of Humanity--a quick flip through the Statesman's Yearbook will reveal nothing about these states. Their representatives do not vote at the United Nations, their passports, stamps, and coins gather dust. This study will deal with countries on the continental shelf over which the waters have figuratively closed--not only do they not exist today, they may never have been more than the gleam in their founders' eyes. Or perhaps they were.

The oceans have always attracted nation builders; allegedly there were "pirate republics" in the early 18th century 1 and some years later the Mutiny at the Nore was dubbed "the Floating Republic." 2 The freedom as well as the isolation offered by a maritime location could both inhibit the control exercised by established powers and encourage the formation of alternative political societies, much as Darwin found that sePte ecosystems had evolved on different islands of the Galapagos chain. Proof of this political axiom is supplied by the current makeup of the Pacific; consisting of less than 1% of the earth's surface, it nonetheless boasts the sePte States of The Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Western Samoa, to name but a few. 3

However, this study is not of successful island states. It does not consider attempts to "subdivide" such nations through secession or other processes, of which the continuing ...
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