Allegations of War Crimes Against New Zealand Citizen in Hawai‘i

Mera Lee-Penehira

Dr. Mera Lee-Penehira, from the University of Auckland, has this week lodged a criminal complaint with Attorney General Christopher Finlayson QC, under the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act 2000.

“The U.S. unilaterally seized the islands of Hawai‘i back in 1898 for military interests during the Spanish-American war, and have remained there as illegal occupiers ever since. This is about acknowledging and righting the wrongdoings of the U.S. in Hawai’i”, says Dr. Lee-Penehira.

A recent visit from leading political scientist Dr. Keanu Sai of the University of Hawai’i who met with tribal and political leaders, has brought to the fore the illegal occupation of Hawai’i, and the implications for New Zealand. He states that, “In 2001, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, acknowledged that, in the nineteenth century the Hawaiian Kingdom existed as an independent State recognized as such by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and various other States. By virtue of the 1851 treaty between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the British Crown, as well as our connection as peoples of the Pacific, New Zealand citizens have a special relationship with Hawai‘i.”

Dr. Lee-Penehira, has been to Hawai’i on a number of occasions in recent years, and last month visited Mauna a Wakea, a sacred site at the centre of contention between the U.S. government and Native Hawaiians. The planned construction of the world’s largest telescope, the TMT project, on this sacred site, has received much media attention of late and many New Zealand citizens are concerned about this issue.

Marama DavidsonMarama Davidson, member of Maori women’s political advocacy group Te Whare Pora Hou states, “Protectors of Mauna a Wakea have been occupying the sacred ancestral mountain on the island of Hawai‘i for over 120 days now, to prevent the construction of this telescope. We stand in solidarity with the protectors in efforts to stop this destruction. This is a direct attack on the physical, spiritual and cultural integrity of the maunga, and the wellbeing of both the environment and people.”

In lodging the complaint Dr Lee-Penehira is invoking her right as a New Zealand citizen under the 1851 treaty, “We need to challenge everything the U.S. government does in Hawai‘i, because on the basis of law, it is quite simply wrong. The historical documentation is clear, that the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist under an illegal occupation by the U.S. and that the laws of occupation must be complied with. As a victim of war crimes committed in Hawai‘i, this cannot be allowed to continue to take place with impunity.”

According to the complaint, Dr. Lee-Penehira states that she has suffered grave harm and calls upon the New Zealand Attorney General to “initiate an immediate investigation into the private organization called the State of Hawai‘i for the war crime of pillaging under the guise of taxation in accordance with 11(2)(b) of the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act 2000 and fraud. The so-called taxes were collected under what the State of Hawai‘i calls a General Excise Tax (GET) at 4.712% while on the island of O‘ahu that includes a 0.546% “County Tax” and 4.166% on the other islands, and a Transient Accommodations Tax, also called a Hotel Room Tax, at 9.25%. The County Tax is deposited with the City and County of Honolulu, Island of O‘ahu.”

She also states in her complaint, “When a car is rented at the State of Hawai‘i’s Honolulu International Airport, there is a State of Hawai‘i GET at 4.712%, a Highway Surcharge at $3.00 a day, a Vehicle Registration fee between $0.35 and $1.45 a day, and an Airport Concession Recovery Tax at 11.1%. Except for the GET, the revenues collected for rental cars are deposited with the State of Hawai‘i Department of Transportation—Highway and Airport Divisions. Although the GET is levied on businesses for doing business in Hawai‘i, the State of Hawai‘i allows these businesses to pass those extra taxes on to the consumer of all goods in Hawai‘i.”

The alleged war crimes at the centre of the complaint include both unlawful taxation by the State of Hawai‘i, and the destruction of property by the State of Hawai’i for allowing the construction of telescopes on the summit of Mauna a Wakea.

Ms. Davidson supports the complaint saying, “These allegations of war crimes committed in Hawai‘i are very serious, and if true will have a profound effect on all New Zealanders as well as the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations that are ironically taking place this week in Hawai‘i. It is now incumbent on New Zealand authorities to either prove that the Hawaiian Kingdom does not exist under international law and that there is no Hawaiian-British treaty, or initiate a criminal investigation into the allegations of war crimes committed against a New Zealand citizen.”

Denationalization through Americanization

John_StevensOn November 20, 1892, U.S. Diplomat John Stevens assigned to Hawai‘i stated in a confidential dispatch to U.S. Secretary of State John Foster, we must “Americanize the islands, assume control of the ‘Crown lands,’ dispose of them in small lots for actual settlers and freeholders for the raising of coffee, oranges, lemons, bananas, pineapples, and grapes, and the result soon will be to give permanent preponderance to a population and a civilization which will make the islands like southern California, and at no distant period convert them into gardens and sanitariums, as well as supply stations for American commerce, thus bringing everything here into harmony with American life and prosperity. To postpone American action many years is only to add to present unfavorable tendencies and to make future possession more difficult.”

After seizing the Hawaiian Islands during the Spanish-American War, the United States initiated a formal policy of denationalization through Americanization throughout the Hawaiian Kingdom’s public schools system. Private schools followed the policy. In 1906, the formal policy was initiated to not only obliterate the national consciousness of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the minds of the children, but to also conceal the blatant violation of Hawai‘i’s sovereignty as a neutral state and the international law of occupation. This program was called “Programme for Patriotic Exercises in the Public Schools.” The purpose of the program was to inculcate American patriotism in the minds of the children and forced them to speak English and not Hawaiian.

Patriotic Exercises_TH

According to the Programme, “The teacher will call one of the pupils to come forward and stand at one side of the desk while the teacher stands at the other. The pupil shall hold an American flag in military style. At second signal all children shall rise, stand erect and salute the flag, concluding with the salutation, ‘We give our heads and our hearts to God and our Country! One Country! One Language! One flag!’”

In 1907, Harper’s Weekly magazine covered the Americanization taking place at Ka‘ahumanu and Ka‘iulani Public Schools, which has students from the first to eighth grade. When the reporter visited Ka‘iulani Public School, he documented the policy being carried out and took a picture of the 614 school children saluting the American flag. He wrote:

“At the suggestion of Mr. Babbitt, the principal, Mrs. Fraser, gave an order, and within ten seconds all of the 614 pupils of the school began to march out upon the great green lawn which surrounds the building. Hawaii differs from all our other tropical neighbors in the fact that grass will grow here. To see beautiful, velvety turf amid groves of palms and banana trees and banks of gorgeous scarlet flowers gives a feeling of sumptuousness one cannot find elsewhere.

Out upon the lawn marched the children, two by two, just as precise and orderly as you can find them at home. With the ease that comes of long practice the classes marched and countermarched until all were drawn up in a compact array facing a large American flag that was dancing in the northeast trade-wind forty feet above their heads. Surely this was the most curious, most diverse regiment ever drawn up under that banner—tiny Hawaiians, Americans, Britons, Germans, Portuguese, Scandinavians, Japanese, Chinese, Porto-Ricans, and Heaven knows what else.

‘Attention!’ Mrs. Fraser commanded.

The little regiment stood fast, arms at sides, shoulders back, chests out, heads up, and every eye fixed upon the red, white, and blue emblem that waved protectingly over them.

‘Salute!’ was the principal’s next command.


Every right hand was raised, forefinger extended, and the six hundred and fourteen fresh, childish voices chanted as one voice:

‘We give our heads and our hearts to God and our Country! One Country! One Language! One Flag!’

The last six words were shot out with a force that was explosive. The tone, the gesture, the gaze fixed reverently upon the flag, told their story of loyal fervor. And it was apparent that the salute was given as spontaneously and enthusiastically by the Japanese as by any of the other children. There were hundreds of them in the throng, and their voices rang out as clearly as any others, their hands raised in unison. The coldest clod of a man who sees the children perform this act of reverence must feel a tightening at the throat, and it is even more affecting to see these young atoms from all the world actually being fused in the crucible from which they shall issue presently as good American citizens.”

Under customary international law, Americanization is a war crime of attempting to denationalize the inhabitants of an occupied territory. Germans and Italians were prosecuted for the same war crime after World War II for implementing a systematic plan of Germanization and Italianization in occupied territories.




Since the program began, Americanization had become so pervasive and institutionalized throughout Hawai‘i, that the national consciousness of the Hawaiian Kingdom was nearly obliterated, but for the institutional recovery of the Hawaiian language and the resurrection of diligent historical research that has begun to uncover the true status of the Hawaiian Kingdom as an independent state under an illegal and prolonged occupation. This revelation is reconnecting Hawai‘i to the international community and its treaty partners regarding the violations of rights and war crimes committed against the citizens and subjects of foreign states who have visited, resided or have done business in the Hawaiian Islands.

Lili‘uokalani_3In 1898, Queen Lili‘uokalani, in her autobiography “Hawai‘i’s Story by Hawai‘i’s Queen,” told what was to come. She wrote,

“Oh, honest Americans, as Christians hear me for my down-trodden people! Their form of government is as dear to them as yours is precious to you. Quite as warmly as you love your country, so they love theirs. With all your goodly possessions, covering a territory so immense that there yet remain parts unexplored, possessing islands that, although near at hand, had to be neutral ground in time of war, do not covet the little vineyard of Naboth’s, so far from your shores, lest the punishment of Ahab fall upon you, if not in your day, in that of your children, for ‘be not deceived, God is not mocked.’ The people to whom your fathers told of the living God, and taught to call ‘Father,’ and whom the sons now seek to despoil and destroy, are crying aloud to Him in their time of trouble; and He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.”

New Zealand News: United States Occupation of Hawai‘i

Te Karere New Zealand Television (NZTV) covers the illegal occupation of Hawai‘i by the United States. For the past week Dr. Keanu Sai has been meeting with tribal and political leaders in an act to raise awareness and gain support from Māori and New Zealanders on the illegal occupation of Hawai’i by the United States of America.

During his visit to New Zealand, Dr. Sai has met with Members of Parliament, a Cabinet Minister of the New Zealand government, Political Party Officials, Academics, and Tribal Leaders regarding the prolonged occupation of Hawai‘i by the United States. Dr. Sai brought to their attention the recent decision by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court specifically naming the State of Hawai‘i Governor Neal Abercrombie, Lt. Governor Shan Tsustui, the director of the Department of Taxation Frederik Pablo and his deputy Joshua Wisch, and the CEO of Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann.

In these meetings, Dr. Sai explained:

As my fellow countrymen and women are awakening to the stark reality that we’ve been under an illegal and prolonged occupation by the United States since the Spanish-American War, 1898, there are profound economic, legal and political ramifications that transcend Hawai‘i. My country was seized by the United States for military interests, and the belligerent occupation was disguised through lies and effected through a program of denationalization—Americanization—in the schools at the turn of the 19th century.

This revelation is reconnecting Hawai‘i to the international community and its treaty partners regarding the violations of rights and war crimes committed against the citizens and subjects of foreign states who have visited, resided or have done business in the Hawaiian Islands. My country’s treaty partners include Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the United States, and the United Kingdom, to include Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu, as member states of the Commonwealth Realm.

The State of Hawai‘i has evaded a precise definition of standing in international law because it has pretended to be a government within the territorial borders of the United States, when in fact it is a private organization operating outside of the United States. The U.S. Congress created the State of Hawai‘i in 1959 by a Congressional Act, but since Congress has no extra-territorial effect it could not vest the State of Hawai‘i with governmental powers outside of its territory in an occupied state. According to the laws and customs of war, the State of Hawai‘i is defined as an Armed Force of the United States, which pretends to be a government.

As an Armed Force, the State of Hawai‘i is presently operating from a position of no lawful authority, and everything that it has done and that it will do is unlawful. From the creation and registration of commercial entities, the collection of tax revenues, the conveyance of real estate, to judicial proceedings, the State of Hawai‘i cannot claim to be a government de jure. This has the potential of generating catastrophic economic, legal and political ramifications in foreign countries, and the mandate for some of these countries, which includes New Zealand (International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act 2000), is to prosecute war crimes committed in the Hawaiian Islands under universal jurisdiction.

Her British Majesty Queen Victoria was the first to recognize Hawaiian independence in a joint proclamation with the French on November 28, 1843, and subsequently entered into a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation on July 10, 1851. In 1893, my country maintained a Legation in London, and two Consulates in the cities of Auckland and Dunedin, and the United Kingdom maintained a Legation and a Consulate in Honolulu. These Consulates were established in accordance with Article XII of the 1851 Hawaiian-British Treaty, which provides:

“It shall be free for each of the two contracting parties to appoint consuls for the protection of trade, to reside in the territories of the other party; but before any consul shall act as such, he shall, in the usual form, be approved and admitted by the Government to which he is sent; and either of the contracting parties may except from the residence of consuls such particular places as either of them may judge fit to be excepted. The diplomatic agents and consuls of the Hawaiian Islands, in the dominions of Her Britannic Majesty, shall enjoy whatever privileges, exemptions and immunities are, or shall be granted there to agents of the same rank belonging to the most favored nation; and, in like manner, the diplomatic agents and consuls of Her Britannic Majesty in the Hawaiian Islands shall enjoy whatever, privileges, exemptions, and immunities are or may be granted there to the diplomatic agents and consuls of the same rank belonging to the most favored nation.”

The New Zealand Government’s recent creation of the New Zealand Consulate General in Honolulu was established by virtue of Article 16 of the 1794 Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation between Great Britain and the United States, also called the “Jay Treaty,” and not the Hawaiian-British Treaty. Therefore, the New Zealand Consulate in Honolulu stands in direct violation of the Hawaiian-British Treaty, and therefore is unlawful. This year, the Swiss authorities were faced with the same circumstances. In a decision by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court Objections Chamber this year, the Court concluded that the 1864 Hawaiian-Swiss Treaty was not cancelled and that the Swiss Consulate in Honolulu is unlawful. These decisions stemmed from war crime complaints filed with Swiss authorities by a Swiss expatriate residing in Hawai‘i and a Hawaiian subject. I represent both men in these proceedings.

The Court specifically named the CEO of Deutsche Bank and high officials of the State of Hawai‘i as alleged war criminals for committing the war crime of pillaging. Allegations of war crimes can only arise if there is an international armed conflict, and the evidence acquired by the Swiss Attorney General that was provided to the Court clearly established that an international armed conflict does exist between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States. According to customary international law, an international armed conflict is not limited to states engaged in hostilities, but also the military occupation of a state’s territory even if it occurred without armed resistance, i.e, Common Article 2, Geneva Conventions.

State of Hawai‘i is an Armed Force Under International Law

Seal_of_the_State_of_HawaiiThe State of Hawai‘i has evaded a precise definition of standing in international law because it has pretended to be a government within the United States, when in fact it is a private organization outside of the United States. The U.S. Congress created the State of Hawai‘i in 1959 by a Congressional Act, but since Congress is limited to U.S. territory it could not vest the State of Hawai‘i with governmental powers outside of its territory in an occupied state. The State of Hawai‘i is a private organization that pretends to be a government.

While the State of Hawai‘i cannot claim to be a government de jure (lawful government) or de facto (government of a successful revolution), customary international law defines it as an Armed Force for the occupying state. Military manuals define Armed Forces as “organized armed groups which are under a command responsible to that party for the conduct of its subordinates (Jean-Marie Henckaerts and Louise Doswald-Beck, Customary International Humanitarian Law, vol. I, 14 (2009).” According to Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, “this definition of armed forces covers all persons who fight on behalf of a party to a conflict and who subordinate themselves to its command (Id., p. 15),” and that this “definition of armed forces builds upon earlier definitions contained in the Hague Regulations and the Third Geneva Convention which sought to determine who are combatants entitled to prisoner-of-war status (Id.).” Article 1 of the 1907 Hague Convention, IV, provides that

“The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteer corps fulfilling the following conditions: (1) To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (2) To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance; (3) To carry arms openly; and (4) To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.”

The laws and customs of war during occupation applies only to territories that come under the authority of either the occupier’s military or an occupier’s Armed Force, such as the State of Hawai‘i, and that the “occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised (1907 Hague Convention, IV, Article 42).” According to Ferraro, “occupation—as a species of international armed conflict—must be determined solely on the basis of the prevailing facts (Tristan Ferraro, Determining the beginning and end of an occupation under international humanitarian law, 94 (no. 885) Int’l Rev Red Cross 133, 134 (Spring 2012).” Although unlawful, it is a fact that the United States created the State of Hawai‘i through congressional action and signed into law by its President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in 1959. It is also a fact that the United States approved the constitution of the State of Hawai‘i that provides for its organizational structure.

As an Armed Force, the State of Hawai‘i established its authority over 137 islands (“Hawai‘i Facts and Figures” (December 2014), State of Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism), “together with their appurtenant reefs and territorial and archipelagic waters (State of Hawai‘i Constitution, Article XV, section 1.” These islands include the major islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Molokai, Lana‘i, Ni‘ihau, and Kaho‘olawe. It is the effectiveness of the control exercised by the State of Hawai‘i over this territory, as an Armed Force for the United States, which triggers the application of occupation law.

Allegiance to the United States as the Occupying State

The State of Hawai‘i, as an Armed Force, bears its allegiance to the United States where its officials, to include its Governor, take the following oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Hawaii, and that I will faithfully discharge my duties as […] to best of my ability (Id., Article XVI, sec. 4).”

To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates

A Governor who is elected by U.S. citizens in Hawai‘i is head of the State of Hawai‘i. The Governor is responsible for the execution of its laws from its legislature and to carry out the decisions by its courts. The Governor is also the “commander in chief of the armed forces of the State and may call out such forces to execute the laws, suppress or prevent insurrection or lawless violence or repel invasion (Id., Article V, sec. 5).” The Governor’s subordinates include all “executive and administrative offices, departments and instrumentalities of the state government (Id., sec. 6).”

To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance

According to its constitution, “The Hawaiian flag shall be the flag of the State (Id., Article XV, sec. 3).”

To carry arms openly

Law enforcement officers of the State of Hawai‘i, to include the Sheriff’s Division, Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the police of the State’s four Counties (Hawai‘i, Maui, Honolulu, and Kaua‘i), all openly carry arms. Also included are the State of Hawai‘i’s Army National Guard and Air National Guard who openly carry arms while in tactical training.

To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war

As the Governor is the commander in chief of the State’s Armed Forces, and is responsible for the suppression or prevention of insurrection or lawless violence, as well as repelling an invasion, the State of Hawai‘i is capable of conducting operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war during occupation. The State of Hawai‘i Army and Air National Guard are trained in the laws and customs of war.

Continuance of Hawaiian Treaties with Foreign States

Denmark TreatyThe first friendship treaty the Hawaiian Kingdom entered into as a sovereign state was with Denmark on October 19, 1846. Other friendship treaties followed with Hamburg, succeeded by Germany, (January 8, 1848), the United States of America (December 20, 1849), the United Kingdom (July 10, 1851), Bremen, succeeded by Germany, (March 27, 1854), Sweden-Norway, now separate states, (April 5, 1855), France (September 8, 1858), Belgium (October 4, 1862), Netherlands (October 16, 1862), Luxembourg (October 16, 1862), Italy (July 22, 1863), Spain (October 9, 1863), Switzerland (July 20, 1864), Russia (June 19, 1869), Japan (August 19, 1871), Austria-Hungary, now separate states (June 18, 1875), Germany (March 25, 1879), and Portugal (May 5, 1882). Neither the Hawaiian Kingdom nor any of these states expressed any intention to terminate any of the treaties according to the provisions provided in each of the treaties, and therefore remain in full force and effect.

These treaties have the “most favored nation” clause, and secure the equal application of commercial trade in the Hawaiian Islands to all treaty partners. These treaties have all been violated by the United States through the unlawful imposition of the Merchant Marine Act (1920)—also known as the Jones Act—that has secured commercial control over the seas to United States citizens, which has consequently placed the citizens of these foreign states at a commercial disadvantage (46 U.S.C. §883-1). The clause is designed

“to establish the principle of equality of international treatment. The test of whether the principle is violated by the concession of advantages to a particular nation is not the form in which such concession is made, but the condition on which it is granted; whether it is given for a price, or whether this price is in the nature of a substantial equivalent, and not a mere evasion (Black’s Law Dictionary 1013 (6th ed. 1990).”

Treaties “are legally binding, because there exists a customary rule of International Law that treaties are binding. The binding effect of that rule rests in the last resort on the fundamental assumption, which is neither consensual nor necessarily legal, of the objectively binding force of International Law (L. Oppenheim, International Law, vol. 1, 794 (7th ed. 1948),” states Oppenheim. “No distinction should be made between more or less important parts of a treaty as regards its execution. Whatever may be the importance or the insignificance of a part of a treaty, it must be executed in good faith, for the binding force of a treaty covers all its parts and stipulations equally (Id., 829).”

Hawai‘i Never Annexed – Limits of U.S. Congressional Legislation

Sources of international law are, in rank of precedence: international conventions, international custom, general principles of law recognized by civilized nations, and judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations (Statute of the International Court of Justice, Article 38). The legislation of every state, to include the United States of America and its Congress, is not a source of international law, but rather a source of municipal law of the state whose legislature enacted it. In The Lotus, the International Court stated, “Now the first and foremost restriction imposed by international law upon a State is that—failing the existence of a permissive rule to the contrary—it may not exercise its power in any form in the territory of another State (Lotus, PCIJ, ser. A no. 10, 18 (1927).” According to Crawford, derogation of this principle will not be presumed, which he refers to as the Lotus presumption (James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law 34 (2d ed. 2006).

Since Congressional legislation, whether by a statute or a joint resolution, has no extraterritorial effect, it is not a source of international law, which “governs relations between independent States (Lotus, at 18).” The U.S. Supreme Court has always adhered to this principle. The U.S. Supreme Court stated,

“Neither the Constitution nor the laws passed in pursuance of it have any force in foreign territory unless in respect of our own citizens, and operations of the nation in such territory must be governed by treaties, international understandings and compacts, and the principles of international law (United States v. Curtiss Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304, 318 (1936).”

1936 U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court also concluded, “The laws of no nation can justly extend beyond its own territories except so far as regards its own citizens. They can have no force to control the sovereignty or rights of any other nation within its own jurisdiction (The Apollon, 22 U.S. 362, 370 (1824).” Adhering to this principle, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office of Douglas_KmiecLegal Counsel was befuddled by Congress’s annexation of the Hawaiian Islands by a joint resolution. In a 1988 legal opinion, the Office of Legal Counsel addressed the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands by joint resolution. Douglas Kmiec, Acting Assistant Attorney General, authored the memorandum for Abraham D. Sofaer, legal advisor to the U.S. State Department. After covering the limitation of Congressional authority and the objections made by members of the Congress, Kmiec concluded,

“Notwithstanding these constitutional objections, Congress approved the joint resolution and President McKinley signed the measure in 1898. Nevertheless, whether this action demonstrates the constitutional power of Congress to acquire territory is certainly questionable. … It is therefore unclear which constitutional power Congress exercised when it acquired Hawaii by joint resolution. Accordingly, it is doubtful that the acquisition of Hawaii can serve as an appropriate precedent for a congressional assertion of sovereignty over an extended territorial sea (Douglas W. Kmiec, Legal Issues Raised by Proposed Presidential Proclamation To Extend the Territorial Sea, 12 Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel 238, 252 (1988).”

This 1988 opinion clearly undermines the claim of sovereignty over the Hawaiian Islands by the United States. If the Attorney General’s Office of Legal Counsel is “unclear” as to the authority of Congress to annex the Hawaiian Islands, it surely cannot be considered as a valid demonstration of legal title by the United States as the successor to the Hawaiian Kingdom under international law. If the United States is not the successor, then the presumption of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s existence as an independent state is maintained.

Report of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs – Annexation of Hawai‘i


(House Committee on Foreign Affairs Report to accompany H. Res. 259, May 17, 1898 (House Report no. 1355, 55th Congress, 2d session)

May 17, 1898.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union and ordered to be printed.

Mr. Hitt, from the U.S. Congress House Committee on Foreign Affairs, submitted the following


[To accompany H. Res. 259.]

The joint resolution (H. Res. 259) provides for the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States. The proposition is not new either to the Government of the little Commonwealth in the Pacific, to the United States, or to other nations. It has been apparent for more than fifty years that so small and feeble a Government could not maintain its independence, and that it must ultimately be merged into a greater power. It has been repeatedly seized and Honolulu occupied, and has repeatedly made overtures to the United States to be united with us. In 1829 the French commander, Laplace, seized Honolulu and held it for awhile, after forcing upon the government a harsh treaty. In 1843 it was seized by the British commander, Lord Pawlet, but subsequently released by Great Britain upon the remonstrances of other powers. It was again seized by the French in 1849 and held for a considerable time, but was evacuated after diplomatic pressure from England and the United States.

In 1851 the King, pressed by his perplexities with France and England, delivered to our commissioner a deed of cession of the islands to the United States, to be held until a satisfactory adjustment had been reached with France, and failing that, permanently. In 1854 our Secretary of State, Mr. Marcy, authorized the negotiation of an annexation treaty. The King made a draft satisfactory to him and modifying the one proposed, but before the conclusion was reached he died. In 1893 a treaty was negotiated between our government and that of the Hawaiian Islands for the annexation of the islands to the United States. No word of protest was uttered by any other government. This treaty, while pending before the Senate, was withdrawn by the President, a change of administration having taken place. Again, June 16, 1897, a treaty of annexation, similar in provisions to the joint resolution now proposed, was agreed to by the government of Hawaii and duly ratified by their Senate.

There is, therefore, no undue pressure on the part of the United States as a greater power; no surprise of any one; no possibility of objections by other governments. It is simply the obvious result of the natural course of events through a long period of years thus completed with the cordial consent of the sovereign powers of both Governments. The only question involved is whether the proposed possession of the Hawaiian Islands would be advantageous to the United States.


Recent events In the existing war with Spain have called public attention to what has long been discussed by military and naval authorities—the inestimable importance to the United States of possessing the Hawaiian Islands in case of war with any strong naval power. They lie facing our Pacific coast. Their strategic importance is vastly increased by the fact that they are separated by thousands of miles from any other and more distant group in the northern Pacific Ocean and are the only group facing our coast. In the possession of an enemy they would serve as a secure base for attacking any and all of our Pacific coast cities. In our possession they would deprive the enemy s fleet of all facilities for coaling, supplies, or repairs, and speedily paralyze all his naval operations. The first object of an enemy attacking us on that side of the Republic would be to secure these islands, and in their present condition their possession would fall to the stronger naval power.

The leading nations—England, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the United States—have each a Pacific Squadron. Every one of these squadrons is stronger than ours save that of Spain, which is the weakest. Had the war in which we are now engaged been with any of the other powers they might have worsted our fleet and seized the Hawaiian Islands, which are not now defended by any fortification or cannon, thus exactly reversing our recent good fortune at Manila. They would then have had a convenient base for supplies, coal, and repairs, from which to actively harry and devastate our coast. But were we in complete possession of the Hawaiian Islands and they properly prepared for defense (which eminent officers of the Army and Navy stated to the committee could be done at a cost of $500,000), our fleet, even if pressed by a greatly superior sea power, would have an impregnable refuge at Pearl Harbor, backed by a friendly population and militia, with all the resources of the large city of Honolulu and a small but fruitful country. Holding this all important strategic point, the enemy could not remain in that part of the Pacific, thousands of miles from any base, without running out of coal sufficient to get back to their own possessions. The islands would secure both our fleet and our coast.


As General Schofield stated to the committee—

“The most important feature of all is that it economizes the naval force rather than increases it. It is capable of absolute defense by shore batteries, so that a naval fleet, after going there and replenishing its supplies and making what repairs are needed, can go away and leave the harbor perfectly safe to the protection of the army. * * * The Spanish fleet on the Asiatic station was the only one of all the fleets we could have overcome as we did. Of course, that cannot again happen, for we will not be able to pick up so weak a fellow next time. We are liable at any time to get into a war with a nation which has a more powerful fleet than ours, and it is of vital importance, therefore, if we can, to hold the point from which they can conduct operations against our Pacific coast. Especially is that true until the Nicaragua Canal is finished, because we can not send a fleet around from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”

The same eminent and experienced soldier, when asked whether it would be sufficient to have Pearl Harbor without the islands, said we ought to have the islands to hold the harbor; that if left free and neutral complications would arise with foreign nations, who would take advantage of a weak little republic with claims for damages enforced by warships, as is frequently seen. If annexed we would settle any dispute with a foreign nation; that we would be much stronger if we owned the islands as part of our territory, and would then also have the resources of the islands, which are so fertile, for military
supplies; that if we do not have the political control they may become Japanese, and we would be surrounded by a hostile people.

Admiral Walker, who has had long experience in the waters of the Hawaiian Islands, emphatically confirmed the views of General Schofield, especially that it would cost far less to protect the Pacific coast with the Hawaiian Islands than without them; that it would be taking a point of vantage instead of giving it to your enemy.


We must face the future in dealing with this proposed annexation. It is impossible for the Republic of Hawaii to maintain a permanent existence preserving in force the influences which are now in the ascendant there and which are cordial and friendly to the United States. Of its mixed population of 109,000 a powerful element is Japanese—24,407—of whom 19,212 are males, almost all of them grown men, for they are not divided as ordinary populations are in the usual proportions of men, women, and children. They are a far stronger element of physical force than the native race, which has diminished until there are now only thirty-odd thousand, of whom, by the usual proportions of population, there are not over 8,000 grown men. The native Hawaiian race cannot in any contingency control the island. It must fall to some foreign people.

The Japanese are intensely Japanese, retaining their allegiance to their Empire and responding to suggestions from the Japanese officials. Very many of them served in the recent war with China. The Japanese Government not long ago demanded of the Hawaiian Government, under their construction of a treaty made in 1871, that the Japanese in the Hawaiian Islands should have equal privileges with all other persons, which would include voting and holding office. This claim was made when a flood of Japanese subjects, under the supervision of the Government of that country, of from 1,000 to 2,000 per month, were being poured into the Hawaiian Islands, threatening a speedy change of the Government into Japanese hands, and ultimately to a Japanese possession. The demand was resisted by the little Republic and a treaty of annexation with the United States arrested it for a time.

Japan protested earnestly to our government against that treaty, but our Secretary of State refused to consider their protest; yet the Japanese government has not withdrawn its demand on the Hawaiian Government, and is waiting to renew and press it with more energy and success if annexation to the United States s rejected by this Congress. It could then in a few months throw many thousands of Japanese subjects into the Hawaiian Islands, completely overwhelming all other influences.

By a clause in our reciprocity treaty with the Hawaiian Islands we have right to establish and maintain a coaling and repair station in Pearl Harbor, which is about 8 miles from the city of Honolulu, and capable of being made one of the best harbors in the world, easily fortified to make it impregnable from the sea. It is the only harbor of such a character in the whole group. We have thus far done nothing toward taking possession, fortifying, or opening the channel into the harbor, so that it is at present utterly useless, but capable of infinite possibilities.

The grant of this harbor to our Government is a part of a reciprocity treaty. After that treaty had been ratified, but before the ratification had been exchanged, the Hawaiian minister and the Secretary of State of the United States exchanged notes which declared that our rights in Pearl Harbor would cease whenever the reciprocity treaty was terminated. That treaty may be terminated upon one year’s notice by either party. It grants advantages in our markets to Hawaiian trade, and concedes to us not only the use of Pearl Harbor, but excludes any other nation from leasing a port or landing, or having any special privilege in the Hawaiian Islands, without the consent of the United States.

With the Japanese element in the ascendant and the Government under Japanese control the treaty would be promptly terminated, and with it our special rights. This would be the first step taken by that active and powerful Government toward the complete incorporation of the islands into the Japanese Empire, and their possession as a strategic point in the northern Pacific from which her strong and increasing fleet would operate. The Japanese Government is now friendly, but that would be the manifest dictate of enlightened self-interest to a wise Japanese statesman.

Annexation, and that alone, will securely maintain American control in Hawaii. Resolutions of Congress declaring our policy, or even a protectorate, will not secure it. The question of a protectorate has been successively considered by Presidents Pierce, Harrison, and McKinley in 1854, 1893, and 1897, and each time rejected because a protectorate imposes responsibility without control. Annexation imposes responsibility, but will give full power of ownership and absolute control.


The commercial interests of the United States, according to the declarations of our most eminent public men, would be promoted and secured by the union of the two countries. In those islands is an American colony numbering over 3,000 persons, who own practically three-fourths of all the property in the country, and, under the fostering Influence of the reciprocity treaty, trade with the United States has so increased that we now consume almost all Hawaiian exports. The people of the islands purchase from us three-fourths of all their imports, and American ships carry three-fourths of all the foreign trade of the island. American influence is ascendant in the Government, and the character of the American statesmen there in power was forcibly described by Mr. Willis, our minister to Hawaii, who was sent there by Mr. Cleveland in a spirit of hostility to them, but who was a truthful, honorable man, in these words: “They are acknowledged on all sides to be men of the highest integrity and public spirit.”

Hawaiians of American origin are energetic, intelligent, and patriotic, and are holding that outpost of Americanism against Asiatic invasion. If annexation be rejected and foreign influence gets control of the islands, our interests and commerce will fall away. The American in Hawaii looks to the United States to make purchases and there he desires to send what he exports. The Japanese merchant very naturally buys all he can in Japan, and will turn all trade there that is in his power. Our trade with the Hawaiian Islands last year amounted to $18,385,000, and with annexation practically the whole trade with the Hawaiian Islands would come to the United States, and would rapidly increase.

We have now the larger part of the shipping business, 247 American ships being employed in carrying Hawaiian trade in 1896, which would be promoted and increased by annexation. Its past prosperity has depended upon the reciprocity treaty, and if that were abrogated by a party adverse to American interests gaining control this business, like all other American interests, would fall off.


In the struggling interests that have recently come into play in the Pacific the separate existence of the Hawaiian Government is liable at any time to raise complications with foreign governments, as in the case mentioned above of the recent interposition of Japan. An independent feeble government is a constant temptation to powerful nations, in the stress of contending interests, to intermeddle and disturb the peace. Once incorporated into the territory of the United States, all this is done away.


While the character of the comparatively small population of the Hawaiian Commonwealth is a minor consideration as compared with the transcendent importance of the possession of that strategic point in the Pacific, it may be briefly considered. It is a mixed population, 24,407 Japanese and 21,616 Chinese, or together nearly one-half of the entire 109,020 on the island; but after annexation the Asiatic element would be reduced. The contract system would be terminated, and United States restriction laws as to immigration would be applied. The Hawaiian penal code (paragraph 1571) would gradually send back the Chinese laborers. This annexation joint resolution forbids further Chinese immigration, and under it those now in Hawaii can not come to other parts of the United States. Our recent treaty with Japan, to go into effect next year enables the United States to regulate the immigration of Japanese laborers. The supply being cut off, the number of Asiatics remaining in Hawaii would be very rapidly reduced by natural causes, which are plainly shown by the movements of the Asiatic population in past years; for since 1893, though the flood of Japanese coming in has been strong, the departures each year have been half as many as the arrivals. Like the Chinese, when they have accumulated a moderate competence, the craving for home takes them back. The enormous excess of men coming shows on its face that they do not come to Hawaii to establish homes. The Hawaiian laws exclude them from homestead rights.

These constant and powerful causes operating, if annexation were carried out the Asiatic proportion of the population would rapidly diminish. There is a large element of what are called Portuguese—15,191—but of these, who are a quiet, laborious population, over 7,000 have been born there, educated in the public schools, and speak English as readily as the average American child. They are a useful, orderly people, and rapidly assimilate the American ideas and institutions which now prevail on the islands.

The British element, 2,250, the German, 1,432, and others of European origin, probably 1,000, are elements with which we are perfectly familiar in our own country, which readily sympathize and blend with our own people. They will naturally adhere and cooperate as against Asiatic influence. The native Hawaiian race is decreasing from year to year by some mysterious law which has been in operation for a century. It is reasonable to suppose that within ten years after annexation the inconsiderable population of these islands will not differ widely in character from that of many parts of the United States.

Some effort has been made to that our beet-sugar Industry would be retarded by the admission of Hawaii and the free admission of its sugar product. Raw Hawaiian sugar is now admitted free of duty under the reciprocity treaty. There is so little of it, altogether amounting to not one-tenth of our consumption, that it can not affect the general price of sugar one-tenth of a cent a pound. There are but 80,000 acres of natural sugar-cane lands In Hawaii, and they are all under cultivation, unless it be possibly some that might e irrigated by pumping water from 150 to 600 feet.

There would be one difference after annexation as to the restriction upon Hawaiian sugar. At present, under the reciprocity treaty, all unrefined Hawaiian sugar is admitted free of duty, but not refined sugar. After annexation both refined and unrefined would be admitted free and sugar-refining interests in this country may object to annexation.

It has been objected that the constitution does not confer upon Congress the power to admit “territory,” but only “States.” The same objection was raised to the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, because there was nothing in the Constitution expressly authorizing such admission by treaty, and Jefferson himself, who made the purchase, shared the doubt. But we have made eleven such acquisitions of territory, and the courts have sustained such action in all cases. Texas was annexed by a joint resolution of Congress similar to the one proposed now. The island of Navassa, in the Caribbean Sea, and many others have been made territory of the United States under the act of August 18, 1856, authorizing American citizens to take possession of unoccupied guano islands. They are United States territory, subject to our laws. So Midway island in the Pacific, 1,000 miles beyond Hawaii, was occupied, and Congress appropriated $50,000, which was expended trying to create a naval station there. The principle is that the power to acquire territory is an incident of national sovereignty.

The acquisition of these islands does not contravene our national policy or traditions. It carries out the Monroe doctrine, which excludes European powers from interfering in the American continent and outlying islands, but does not limit the United States; and this doctrine has been long applied to these very islands by our Government. As Secretary Blaine said, in 1881—

“The situation of the Hawaiian Islands, giving them strategic control of the north Pacific, brings their possession within range of questions of purely American policy.”

The annexation of these islands does not launch us upon a new policy or depart from our time-honored traditions of caring first and foremost for the safety and prosperity of the United States.

The committee recommend the adoption of the resolutions.

Hawai‘i’s Second Armed Conflict with the United States

Rep. NewlandsOn May 4, 1898, Congressman Francis Newlands submitted a joint resolution for the annexing of the Hawaiian Islands to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs after Commodore Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay, Philippines, on May 1. On May 17, the joint resolution was reported out of the committee without amendment and headed to the floor of the House of Representatives. The joint resolution’s accompanying Report justified the congressional action to seize the Hawaiian Islands as a matter of military interest. The Report stated,

“The leading nations—England, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the United States—have each a Pacific Squadron. Every one of these squadrons is stronger than ours save that of Spain, which is the weakest. Had the war in which we are now engaged been with any of the other powers they might have worsted our fleet and seized the Hawaiian Islands, which are not now defended by any fortification or cannon, thus exactly reversing our recent good fortune at Manila. They would then have had a convenient base for supplies, coal, and repairs, from which to actively harry and devastate our coast. But were we in complete possession of the Hawaiian Islands and they properly prepared for defense (which eminent officers of the Army and Navy stated to the committee could be done at a cost of $500,000), our fleet, even if pressed by a greatly superior sea power, would have an impregnable refuge at Pearl Harbor, backed by a friendly population and militia, with all the resources of the large city of Honolulu and a small but fruitful country. Holding this all important strategic point, the enemy could not remain in that part of the Pacific, thousands of miles from any base, without running out of coal sufficient to get back to their own possessions. The islands would secure both our fleet and our coast (House Committee on Foreign Affairs Report to accompany H. Res. 259, May 17, 1898, 2 (House Report no. 1355, 55th Congress, 2d session).”

Pearl Harbor NASA

William_McKinleyDespite objections by Senators and Representatives that foreign territory can only be acquired by treaty and not through a congressional statute, President McKinley signs the joint resolution into law on July 7, 1898, and the occupation of the Hawaiian Islands began on August 12. The war with Spain did not come to an end until April 11, 1899, after documents of ratifications of the Treaty of Paris were exchanged. Customary international law mandated the United States, as the occupying state, to establish a Military Government in order to provisionally administer the laws of the occupied state, being the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom that stood prior to the regime change on January 17, 1893. Instead of establishing a Military Government, the U.S. authorities allowed the insurgents to maintain control until the Congress could reorganize the so-called Republic of Hawai‘i.

Camp McKinley 1898

By statute, the U.S. Congress changed the name of the Republic of Hawai‘i to the Territory of Hawai‘i on April 30, 1900. The Territorial Act stated,

“The constitution and statute laws of the Republic of Hawaii then in force, set forth in a compilation made by Sidney M. Ballou under the authority of the legislature, and published in two volumes entitled ‘Civil Laws’ and ‘Penal Laws,’ respectively, and in the Session Laws of the Legislature for the session of eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, are referred to in this Act as ‘Civil Laws,’ ‘Penal Laws,’ and ‘Session Laws’ (31 U.S. Stat. 141).”

On March 18, 1959, the U.S. Congress again by statute changed the name of the Territory of Hawai‘i to the State of Hawai‘i. The Statehood Act stated,

“All Territorial laws in force in the Territory of Hawaii at the time of its admission into the Union shall continue in force in the State of Hawaii, except as modified or changed by this Act or by the constitution of the State, and shall be subject to repeal or amendment by the Legislature of the State of Hawaii (73 U.S. Stat. 4).”

Statehood Photo

When the United States created the Territory of Hawai‘i in 1900 it surpassed “its limits under international law through extraterritorial prescriptions emanating from its national institutions: the legislature, government, and courts (Eyal Benvenisti, The International Law of Occupation 19 (1993). The purpose of this extraterritorial prescription was to conceal the occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom and bypass the duty of administering the laws of the occupied state in accordance with the 1899 Hague Convention, II, which the United States had ratified. Article 43, provides:

“The authority of the legitimate power having actually passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all steps in his power to re-establish and insure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.”

The 1899 Hague Convention, II, was superseded by the 1907 Hague Convention, IV, and the text of Article 43 was slightly altered to read,

“The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.”

The United States creation of the State of Hawai‘i in 1959, as the successor of the Territory of Hawai‘i, not only stood in direct violation of Article 43, but also the duty of non-intervention in the internal affairs of another state. This armed conflict has continued to date.

Hawai‘i’s First Armed Conflict with the United States

Peace PalaceIn 2001, the Permanent Court of Arbitration acknowledged that, “in the nineteenth century the Hawaiian Kingdom existed as an independent State recognized as such by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and various other States, including by exchanges of diplomatic or consular representatives and the conclusion of treaties (Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, 119 Int’l L. Rep. 566, 581 (2001).” As an independent state, the Hawaiian Kingdom was a subject of international law, which prohibited intervention in its domestic affairs by other states. According to Brownlie,

“The principal corollaries of the sovereignty and equality of states are: (1) a jurisdiction, prima facie exclusive, over a territory and the permanent population living there; (2) a duty of non-intervention in the area of exclusive jurisdiction of other states; and (3) the dependence of obligations arising from customary law and treaties on the consent of the obligor (Ian Brownlie, Principles of Public International Law 287 (4th ed. 1990).”

Should a state seek to merge into another state, international law only allows it through cession. “Cession of State territory is the transfer of sovereignty over State territory by the owner-State to another State (L. Oppenheim, International Law, vol. 1, 499 (7th ed. 1948),” says Oppenheim. “The only form in which a cession can be effected is an agreement embodied in a treaty between the ceding and the acquiring State. Such treaty may be the outcome of peaceable negotiations or of war (Id., at 500).” Through peaceful negotiations, the United States acquired by treaty, the former territories of the French in Louisiana in 1803 (8 U.S. Stat. 200), the Spanish in Florida in 1819 (8 U.S. Stat. 252), the British in Oregon in 1846 (9 U.S. Stat. 869), the Russian in Alaska in 1867 (15 U.S. Stat. 539), and the Danish in the Virgin Islands in 1916 (39 U.S. Stat. 1706). The United States acquired, through treaties of conquest, the former territories of the British in the Americas in 1783 (8 U.S. Stat. 80), the Mexicans in territory north of the Rio Grande in 1848, which includes Texas (9 U.S. Stat. 922), and the Spanish in the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico in 1898 (30 U.S. Stat. 1754). Hawai‘i is the only territory the United States claims without a treaty.

International law also distinguishes between the state and its government, where the latter is the physical manifestation that exercises the sovereignty of the former. Hoffman emphasizes that a government “is not a State any more than man’s words are the man himself,” but “is simply an expression of the State, an agent for putting into execution the will of the State (Frank Sargent Hoffman, The Sphere of the State or the People as a Body-Politic 19 (1894).” Wright also concluded, “international law distinguishes between a government and the state it governs (Quincy Wright, The Status of Germany and the Peace Proclamation, 46(2) Am. J. Int’l L. 299, 307 (Apr. 1952).” Therefore, a sovereign State would continue to exist despite its government being overthrown by military force. “There is a presumption that the State continues to exist, with its rights and obligations…despite a period in which there is no, or no effective, government,” explains Crawford. “Belligerent occupation does not affect the continuity of the State, even where there exists no government claiming to represent the occupied State (James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law 34 (2d ed. 2006).” Crawford states,

“The occupation of Iraq in 2003 illustrated the difference between ‘government’ and ‘State’; when Members of the Security Council, after adopting SC res. 1511, 16 October 2003, called for the rapid ‘restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty,’ they did not imply that Iraq had ceased to exist as a State but that normal governmental arrangements should be restored (Id.).”

The Hawaiian Kingdom Civil Code provides, “The laws are obligatory upon all persons, whether subjects of this kingdom, or citizens or subjects of any foreign State, while within the limits of this kingdom, except so far as exception is made by the laws of nations in respect to Ambassadors or others. The property of all such persons, while such property is within the territorial jurisdiction of this kingdom, is also subject to the laws (Hawaiian Kingdom Civil Code, §6 (Compiled Laws 1884).” The Hawaiian Kingdom Penal Code defines treason “to be any plotting or attempt to dethrone or destroy the King, or the adhering to the enemies thereof, giving them aid and comfort, the same being done by a person owing allegiance to this kingdom (Hawaiian Kingdom Penal Code, Chapter VI, sec. 1 (1869).” For any person committing the crime of treason “shall suffer the punishment of death; and all his property shall be confiscated to the government (Id., at sec. 9).”


On January 16, 1893, the United States intervened in the internal affairs of the kingdom when its diplomat—Minister John Stevens, ordered the landing of U.S. troops to actively participate in the treasonous take over of the Hawaiian government. The following day, U.S. troops forcibly removed the executive Monarch—Queen Lili’uokalani, and her Cabinet of four ministers, and replaced them with insurgents led by Hawai‘i Supreme Court Judge Sanford Dole. The insurgents’ proclamation of January 17, 1893 stated:

“All officers under the existing Government are hereby requested to continue to exercise their functions and perform the duties of their respective offices, with the exception of the following named person: Queen Liliuokalani, Charles B. Wilson, Marshal, Samuel Parker, Minister of Foreign Affairs, W.H. Cornwell, Minister of Finance, John F. Colburn, Minister of the Interior, Arthur P. Peterson, Attorney-General, who are hereby removed from office. All Hawaiian Laws and Constitutional principles not inconsistent herewith shall continue in force until further order of the Executive and Advisory Councils (Robert C. Lydecker, Roster Legislatures of Hawaii 188 (1918).”


Once the regime change was effected, all government officers and employees were forced to sign oaths of allegiance or face termination or arrest. This being done under the oversight of U.S. troops after Minister Stevens declared Hawai‘i to be an American Protectorate on February 1, 1893. The purpose of the regime change was for the provisional government to cede, by treaty, Hawai‘i’s sovereignty and territory to the United States.

One month after the treaty of annexation was signed in Washington, D.C., on February 14, 1893, under President Benjamin Harrison and submitted to the Senate for ratification, President Grover Cleveland, Harrison’s successor, withdrew the treaty and initiated an investigation into the overthrow of the Hawaiian Government. President Cleveland concluded that the provisional government was neither de facto nor de jure, but self-declared (United States House of Representatives, 53d Cong., Executive Documents on Affairs in Hawai‘i: 1894-95, 453 (Government Printing Office 1895), and the U.S. “military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu was itself an act of war (Id., at 451).” The President then notified the Congress that he began executive mediation with the Queen to reinstate her and her Cabinet of ministers on condition she would grant amnesty to the insurgents. The first of several meetings were held at the U.S. Legation in Honolulu on November 13, 1893 (Id., at 1241-43). An agreement was reached on December 18, 1893 (Id., at 1269-73), but President Cleveland was unable to get Congressional authorization for the use of force in order to redeploy the troops to Hawai‘i. The agreement was not carried out. This executive agreement is recognized under international law as a treaty.


On July 4, 1894, the insurgency declared the Provisional Government to be the Republic of Hawai‘i and continued to have government officers and employees sign oaths of allegiance under threat by American mercenaries who were employed by the insurgency. The proclamation of the insurgents stated,

“it is hereby declared, enacted and proclaimed by the Executive and Advisory Councils of the Provisional Government and by the elected Delegates, constituting said Constitutional Convention, that on and after the Fourth day of July, A.D. 1894, the said Constitution shall be the Constitution of the Republic of Hawaii and the Supreme Law of the Hawaiian Islands (Lydecker, at 225).”

Lili‘uokalani_3On June 17, 1897, the day after a second treaty of annexation was signed in Washington, D.C., under President William McKinley, Cleveland’s successor; Queen Lili‘uokalani submitted a formal protest to the U.S. State Department. Her protest stated,

“I declare such a treaty to be an act of wrong toward the native and part-native people of Hawaii, an invasion of the rights of the ruling chiefs, in violation of international rights both toward my people and toward friendly nations with whom they have made treaties, the perpetuation of the fraud whereby the constitutional government was overthrown, and, finally, an act of gross injustice to me.”

President McKinley ignored the protest and submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification. Additional protests were filed with the Senate from the people, which included a 21,269 signature-petition of members and supporters of the Hawaiian Patriotic League protesting the annexation of Hawai‘i. By March of 1898, the treaty is dead after the Senate was unable to garner enough votes for ratification.

Mauna Kea Protectors Persevere

Over 700 protectors are victorious in preventing the TMT from resuming construction on the summit of Mauna Kea

Hilo, Hawaii (PRWEB) July 01, 2015. At approximately 12:30pm on Wednesday June 24th shouts of joy could be heard two miles away as Goodfellow Bros., Inc. with their escort of Department of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaiʻi County Police gave up their attempt to reach the summit of Mauna Kea to resume construction of the TMT (30 meter telescope). After spending over five hours to move the convoy of trucks and police officers two miles through dozens of Aloha Checkpoints, or lines of people in pule, oli, and hula, the convoy gave up and turned around after large rocks and boulders were discovered blocking the road above the last line of protectors. Pule, oli, and hula mean prayer, spiritual chant, and religious dance respectively.

Mauna Kea Protectors 1

12 protectors were arrested as the Goodfellow Bros., Inc. pushed through the dozens of Aloha Checkpoints adding to the 31 protectors arrested on April 2nd. The number of arrests Wednesday was relatively low given the number of protectors because according to Kahookahi Kanuha, their strategy was to not get arrested at the Aloha Checkpoints.

Kanuha, a protector of Mauna a Wākea who was one of the 31 arrested on April 2, 2015 and one of the 12 arrested June 24th (State of Hawai‘i v. Chase Kahookahi Kanuha, criminal no. 3DCW-15-0001042, Third Circuit Court, State of Hawai‘i), stated, “We will not allow them to further desecrate our mountain. We are not fazed by TMT’s decision and we are not fazed by the presence of law enforcement. We are also not in this for just one day. We are in this for the long haul and will protect our mountain until its safety is ensured no matter how long it takes. We will forever prevent the building of the TMT upon Mauna a Wākea until the very last aloha ʻāina lives.” Aloha ʻĀina in the Hawaiian language is patriot.

Mauna Kea Protectors 2

“The push to build the TMT telescope has also educated the public of Hawai‘i true history as a neutral country that has been under an illegal and prolonged occupation by the United States since the Spanish-American War,” continues Kanuha. “The closest parallel to Hawai‘i occupation as a neutral country would not take place until 16 years later when the Germans occupied the neutral country of Luxemburg in 1914 when World War I broke out. Hawaiʻi is the longest occupation in the history of international law.”

In 2001, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, acknowledged that, “in the nineteenth century the Hawaiian Kingdom existed as an independent State recognized as such by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and various other States, including by exchanges of diplomatic or consular representatives and the conclusion of treaties.” (Larsen/Hawaiian Kingdom Unable to pass a treaty of annexation because of diplomatic protests by the late Queen Lili‘uokalani and by Hawaiian subjects people who signed a signature petition against annexation that numbered 21,269, (over 95% of the voters) the United States passed a congressional law to seize Hawai‘i during the war with Spain so they could establish a naval base at Pearl Harbor and build up the islands as a military outpost (The Kue Petition and the joint resolution of annexation). The Congress justified this action as a military necessity. Today, the U.S. military controls nearly 20% of the islands.

Mauna Kea Protectors 3

“Since the occupation began, our great-grandparents and grandparents have been brainwashed into believing a false history that we are Americans and that Hawai‘i is a part of the United States, but we now know the truth. Our generation is now learning the correct history that is now being taught in preschools, middle schools, high schools, and in the colleges. We now know that Congress cannot pass a law annexing another country, no more than Congress can pass a law today annexing Canada. We now know that we’ve been under an illegal occupation that has been disguised through lies that Hawai‘i is the 50th State of the United States. And we now know that we are protected by international law and that the destruction of our sacred mountain and the arrests of the protectors are war crimes under the Hague and Geneva Conventions,” also states Kanuha.

After Kanuha reported war crimes have been committed by TMT to Canadian authorities in Ottawa on May 13, 2015, Constable Michael Johnson of the RCMP’s Sensitive and International Investigations unit assured Kanuha that they will initiate a preliminary investigation. More information can be found in this KITV report.

“We are ready for this challenge,” Kanuha said. “The more we struggle the stronger we become. TMT has chosen the wrong country, the wrong time and the wrong people. The TMT will not be built upon Mauna a Wākea because the people and international law will not allow it. We will win. We have no other option.”


Photos generously provided with permission by Darren Miller Photography

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Kuʻuipo Freitas


Kahoʻokahi Kanuha