Hawaiian Royal Commission of Inquiry

In response to over a century of the United States’ violations of international humanitarian law and the commission of war crimes with impunity that have occurred within the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the acting Council of Regency established the Royal Commission of Inquiry (Commission), by proclamation, on April 17, 2019. The Commission was established by “virtue of the prerogative of the Crown provisionally vested in [the Council of Regency] in accordance with Article 33 of the 1864 Constitution, and to ensure a full and thorough investigation into the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hawaiian Kingdom.”

The Commission’s mandate “shall be to investigate the consequences of the United States’ belligerent occupation, including with regard to international law, humanitarian law and human rights, and the allegations of war crimes committed in that context”—Article 1(2).  To accomplish this mandate, Dr. David Keanu Sai”—Article 1(1), who currently serves as Minister of the Interior and Minister of Foreign Affairs ad interim, shall head the Commission and has been authorized to seek “recognized experts in various fields”—Article 3, whose opinions shall form the basis of the Commission’s reports.

The Commission shall first come out with a preliminary report that will provide the “geographical scope and time span of the investigation”—Article 1(2), and the identification of the specific war crimes to be investigated as well as a list of human rights recognized during belligerent occupations. The preliminary report will be followed by periodic reports that will identify the perpetrators of these war crimes and human rights violations. These periodic reports will have the evidential basis of mens rea and actus reus that have a direct nexus to the elements that constitute a particular war crime(s) as provided in the legal opinion of Professor William Schabas. War crimes have no statute of limitations, and, for those war crimes that are recognized under customary international law, States are obligated to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes under its universal jurisdiction. 

These reports “will be presented to the Council of Regency, the Contracting Powers of the 1907 Hague Convention, IV, respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, the Contracting Powers of the 1949 Geneva Convention, IV, relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, the Contracting Powers of the 2002 Rome Statute, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the National Lawyers Guild”—Article 1(3).

The Commission has been convened with experts in international law in the fields of State continuity, humanitarian law, human rights law and self-determination of a people of an existing State under belligerent occupation. These experts authored legal opinions for the Commission, which include: Professor Matthew Craven, University of London SOAS, School of Law; Professor William Schabas, Middlesex University London, School of Law; and Professor Federico Lenzerini, University of Siena (Italy), Department of Political and International Sciences. Dr. Sai, who is also from the University of Hawai‘i, will also provide his expertise in the legal and political history of Hawai‘i.

Dr. David Keanu Sai, Memorandum—Hawaiian Constitutional Governance (2019).

Dr. David Keanu Sai, Memorandum—United States Belligerent Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom (2019).

Professor Matthew Craven, Legal Opinion—Continuity of the Hawaiian Kingdom under international law (2002).

Professor William Schabas, Legal Opinion—War crimes related to the United States occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom since 17 January 1893 (2019).

Professor Federico Lenzerini, Legal Opinion—International Human Rights Law and Self-Determination of Peoples Related to the United States Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom since 17 January 1893 (2019)

Middlesex University London to Host Dr. Keanu Sai’s Presentation on Hawai‘i’s Occupation and War Crimes

The United States’ Prolonged Occupation of Hawai‘i: War Crimes and Human Rights Violations

Date and Time: Tuesday, 15 October 2019 17:30-19:00 BST

Location: Middlesex University The College Building, 2nd Floor, C219-220 The Burroughs London NW4 4BT United Kingdom

Registration: The event is free and open to the public as well as faculty, staff and students of Middlesex University London. Click here to Register

About this Event: From a British Protectorate in 1794 to an Independent State in 1843, the Hawaiian Kingdom’s government was illegally overthrown by U.S. forces in 1893. U.S. President Cleveland, after conducting a presidential investigation into the overthrow, notified the Congress that the Hawaiian government was overthrown by an “act of war” and that the U.S. was responsible. Annexationists in the Congress thwarted Cleveland’s commitment, by exchange of notes with Queen Lili‘uokalani, to restore the Hawaiian government and Hawai‘i was unilaterally annexed in 1898 during the Spanish-American War after Cleveland left office in order to secure the islands as a military outpost. Today there are 118 U.S. military sites in the islands, headquarters for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Unified Military Command, and is currently targeted for nuclear strike by North Korea, China, and Russia.

This legal and political history of Hawai‘i has been kept from the international community until the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitral proceedings were initiated in 1999 at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague, Netherlands. At the core of the dispute were the unlawful imposition of U.S. laws, which led to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention by the U.S. against Lance Larsen, a Hawaiian subject, and whether the Hawaiian Kingdom, by its Council of Regency, was liable for the unlawful imposition of U.S. laws in the territory of an occupied State.

This talk by Dr. Keanu Sai, who served as Agent for the Hawaiian Kingdom in the Larsen case, will provide a historical and legal context of the current situation in Hawai‘i and the mandate of the Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes and human rights violations taking place in Hawai‘i. Dr. Sai encourages attendees to view beforehand “The acting Council of Regency: Exposing the American Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom” at: