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:

Mauna Kea: Maui County Official Says UH Lease to TMT “Invalid”

WAILUKU, Hawaii – In her second letter to University of Hawaii President David Lassner, Maui County Councilmember Tamara Paltin has reiterated her concern over what appears to be the invalidity of General Lease S-4191, originally granted to University of Hawaii by the Board of Land and Natural Resources in 1968 and now subleased to TMT.

President Lassner assured Paltin in his July 18th response to her July 12th letter that “the project has all approvals required by law.” However, his brief correspondence did not address the concerns for native tenant rights and the war crime of destruction of property presented in Paltin’s original letter.

Councilmember Paltin reminded President Lassner that the general public’s understanding of Hawaii’s legal and political history has evolved significantly since the lease was originally granted to the University of Hawaii. In her latest letter, Paltin has suggested that the information that has come to light since 1968, including that found in the Apology Resolution of 1993, sets the general lease in a new context.

Referencing this new understanding of Hawaii’s legal history, Paltin wrote, “The United States Congress, in its Apology Resolution in 1993 (107 Stat. 1512), admitted…the so-called transfer of Hawaiian government and crown lands, which included the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ohe, to the United States in 1898, was done ‘without the consent of or compensation to the Native Hawaiian people of Hawai‘i or their sovereign [Hawaiian Kingdom] government.’” Therefore, because the transfer of property occurred without consent, Paltin continued, the sublease to TMT is invalid.

Councilmember Paltin once again requested that President Lassner have the University’s legal counsel review the assessment of the situation presented in her original letter and defend the validity of the general and sublease.

A full copy of Councilmember Tamara Paltin’s 07/26/19 letter to UH President Lassner can be located at mauicounty.us/paltin/.

War Crime: State of Hawai‘i Supreme Court Admits Mauna Kea Summit has been Destroyed

The following is one of the topics covered by Dr. Sai in his letter of July 9, 2019. Maui County Council member Tamara Paltin requested of Dr. Sai his insights into the proposed construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope. Dr. Sai’s letter is an attachment to Council member Paltin’s letter to University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner on July 12, 2019.


War Crime of Destruction of Property on the Summit of Mauna Kea

According to Article 55 of the 1907 Hague Convention, IV, “The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the [occupied] State, and situated in the occupied territory. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.” As the title to Ka‘ohe remains vested in the Hawaiian government as public land there is a duty that anything done on public property must be in accordance with the rules of usufruct, which, by definition, is the “right of using and enjoying and receiving the profits of property that belongs to another.”[1]

NOTE: The international laws of occupation apply to hostile States at war with each other or occupied States that have not engaged in the war but are neutral. Belligerent occupation is a term used to apply where the territory of a foreign country is occupied without the consent of the occupied State. Neutral States, such as the Hawaiian Kingdom, can be belligerently occupied and the laws of occupation still applies.

Article 147 of the Geneva Convention, IV, lists as a grave breach the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.” This grave breach is expanded under Article 53, any “destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State [Hawaiian Kingdom], or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.” The Commentary to the Geneva Convention, IV, states:

In the very wide sense in which the Article must be understood, the prohibition covers the destruction of all property (real or personal), whether it is the private property of protected persons (owned individually or collectively), State property, that of the public authorities (districts, municipalities, provinces, etc.) or of co-operative organizations. The extension of protection to public property and to goods owned collectively, reinforces the rule already laid down in the Hague Regulations, Articles 46 and 56 according to which private property and the property of municipalities and of institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences must be respected.[2]

Section 402 of the United States Army Field Manual 27-10 provides:

Real property of the [occupied] State which is essentially of a non-military nature, such as public buildings and offices, land, forests, parks, farms, and mines, may not be damaged or destroyed unless such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations … The occupant does not have the right of sale or unqualified use of such property. As administrator, usufructuary, he should not exercise his rights in such a wasteful and negligent manner as seriously to impair its value.

In international criminal law, the actus reus present on Mauna Kea are the acts of destruction of property belonging to the Hawaiian Kingdom as the Occupied State. The mens rea requires that the perpetrator act with intent to destroy the property and with knowledge that the owner of the property is the Hawaiian Kingdom government. The actus reus and mens rea are met as evidenced in the State of Hawai‘i Supreme Court decisions In the Matter of Contested Case Hearing Re Conservation District Use Application (CDUA) HA-3568 for the Thirty Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, Ka‘ohe Mauka, Hamakua, Hawai‘i, TMK (3) 404015:009.

On October 30, 2018, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court affirmed a decision of the Board of Land and Natural Resources which issued a conservation district use permit for TMT near the summit of Mauna Kea.[3] In its decision, the majority of the court did not, because it could not, refute the claim that “the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ohe in the District of Hamakua are lands still held by the Hawaiian Kingdom.”[4] Somewhat amazing was its open acknowledgement that eleven observatories built since 1970[5] on the summit of Mauna Kea did destroy the property.

The majority stated:

Construction of these observatories and roads has had significant cumulative adverse impacts on cultural, archaeological, and historic resources in the MKSR [Mauna Kea Science Reserve]. The observatories have also had significant cumulative adverse impacts on geology, soils, and slope stability in the MKSR because they significantly modified the preexisting terrain, the tops of certain pu‘u were flattened to accommodate observatory foundations, and some materials removed from the pu‘u were pushed over their sides, creating steeper slopes more susceptible to disturbance.[6]

Associate Justice Michael Wilson dissented from the majority of the court and filed his dissent on November 9, 2018. At the heart of Justice Wilson’s dissent was the destruction of the summit of Mauna Kea. He acknowledged that

the party responsible for the substantial adverse impact to this protected resource is the State of Hawai‘i (State). It is uncontested that the State authorized previous construction within the Astronomy Precinct of the MKSR that created a substantial adverse impact. Thus, the party that caused the substantial adverse impact is empowered by the degradation principle to increase the damage. Now the most extensive construction project yet proposed for the Astronomy Precinct—a 180-foot building 600 feet below the summit ridge of Mauna Kea—is deemed to have no substantial adverse impact due to extensive degradation from prior development of telescopes in the summit area.[7]

He concluded that the “substantial adverse impacts to cultural resources presently existing in the Astronomy Precinct of Mauna Kea combined with the impacts from TMT—a proposed land use that eclipses all other telescopes in magnitude—would constitute an impact on existing cultural resources that is substantial and adverse.”[8]


[1] Black’s Law, p. 1544.

[2] Oscar M. Uhler, Henri Coursier, Frédéric Siordet, Claude Pilloud, Roger Boppe, René-Jean Wilhelm and Jean Pierre Schoenholzer, Commentary IV, Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1958, p. 301.

[3] In Re Conservation District Use Application for TMT, SCOT-17-0000777, Opinion, State of Hawai‘i Supreme Court (Oct. 30, 2018), available at: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SCOT-17-0000777.pdf.

[4] Id., p. 45.

[5] The University 2.2-meter Telescope (1970), the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (“UKIRT”)(1979)(now owned by the University), the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (operated by the University)(1979), the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope (1979); (5) the California Institute of Technology (“Caltech”) Submillimeter Observatory (“CSO”)(1986), the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (“JCMT”)(1986)(now owned by the University), the Very Long Baseline Array (1992), the W. M. Keck Observatory, first phase (1992) and second phase (1996), the Subaru Observatory (“Subaru”)(1999), the Gemini North Observatory (1999), and the Submillimeter Array (2002).

[6] In Re Conservation District Use Application for TMT, SCOT-17-0000777, Opinion, State of Hawai‘i Supreme Court (Oct. 30, 2018), p. 5-6.

[7] In Re Conservation District Use Application for TMT, SCOT-17-0000777, Dissenting Opinion, Wilson, J. (Nov. 9, 2018), p. 5, available at: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/…/11/SCOT-17-0000777dis.pdf.

[8] Id., p. 36.

UH’s Lease from State of Hawai‘i for the Summit of Mauna Kea is Invalid

The following is one of the topics covered by Dr. Sai in his letter of July 9, 2019. Maui County Council member Tamara Paltin requested of Dr. Sai his insights into the proposed construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope. Dr. Sai’s letter is an attachment to Council member Paltin’s letter to University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner on July 12, 2019.

Invalidity of General Lease No. S-4191

Under General Lease No. S-4191 dated June 21, 1968, the Board of Land and Natural Resources of the State of Hawai‘i, as lessor, issued a 65-year lease to the University of Hawai‘i with a commencement date of January 1, 1968 and a termination date of December 31, 2033. The lease is comprised of 11,215.554 acres, more or less, being a portion of Government lands of the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ohe situated at Hamakua, Island of Hawai‘i identified under Tax May Key: 3rd/4.4.15:09.

The State of Hawai‘i claims to have acquired title under Section 5(b) of the 1959 Hawai‘i Admissions Act, Public Law 86-3 (73 Stat. 4), whereby “the United States grants to the State of Hawaii, effective upon its admission into the Union, the United States’ title to all public lands and other public property within the boundaries of the State of Hawaii, title to which is held by the United States immediately prior to its admission into the Union.” The United States derives its title from the 1898 Joint Resolution of Annexation (30 Stat. 750), which states “Whereas the Government of the Republic of Hawaii having, in due form, signified its consent, in the manner provided by its constitution…to cede and transfer to the United States the absolute fee and ownership of all public, Government, or Crown lands.”

The Republic of Hawai‘i proclaimed itself on July 3, 1894, by a convention comprised of appointed members of the Provisional Government and eighteen “elected” delegates. The Provisional Government proclaimed itself on January 17, 1893 and claimed to be the successor of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The Hawaiian Kingdom’s title derives from the 1848 Act Relating to the Lands of His Majesty The King and of the Government, whereby the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ohe is “Made over to the Chiefs and People, by our Sovereign Lord the King, and we do hereby declare those lands to be set apart as the lands of the Hawaiian Government, subject always to the rights of tenants.”

According to President Grover Cleveland, in his message to the Congress after investigating the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom government that took place on January 17, 1893, the Provisional Government “was neither a government de facto nor de jure.”[1] He did not consider it a government. The President also concluded that “the provisional government owes its existence to an armed invasion by the United States.”[2] Being a creature, or creation, of the US, it could not claim to be the lawful successor of the Hawaiian Kingdom government with vested title to the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ohe. As the successor to the Provisional Government, the Republic of Hawai‘i, as it self-declared successor, could not take any better title than the Provisional Government and hence did not have title to Ka‘ohe. The U.S. Congress in the 1993 Apology Resolution noted that the Republic of Hawai‘i was “self-declared.”[3]

The United States claims to have acquired title to Ka‘ohe, by cession, from the Republic of Hawai‘i under the 1898 Joint Resolution of Annexation. International law recognizes that the “only form in which a cession can be effected is an agreement embodied in a treaty between the ceding and the acquiring State.”[4] The Joint Resolution of Annexation is not “an agreement embodied in a treaty.” It is a U.S. municipal law from the Congress merely asserting that cession took place. The situation is not unlike a neighbor holding a family meeting and claiming that they have agreed that your house is now their house.

In a debate on the Senate floor on July 4, 1898, Senator William Allen stated:

The Constitution and the statutes are territorial in their operation; that is, they can not have any binding force or operation beyond the territorial limits of the government in which they are promulgated. In other words, the Constitution and statutes can not reach across the territorial boundaries of the United States into the territorial domain of another government and affect that government or persons or property therein.[5]

The joint resolution is ipso facto null and void.[6]

In 1988, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) issued a legal opinion on the lawfulness of the annexation of Hawai‘i by a joint resolution.[7] In its opinion, it cited constitutional scholar Westel Willoughby:

The constitutionality of the annexation of Hawaii, by a simple legislative act, was strenuously contested at the time both in Congress and by the press. The right to annex by treaty was denied, but it was denied that this might be done by a simple legislative act … Only by means of treaties, it was asserted, can the relations between States be governed, for a legislative act is necessarily without extraterritorial force—confined in its operation to the territory of the State by whose legislature it is enacted.[8]

The OLC concluded, “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.”[9] The United States cannot produce any evidence of a conveyance of the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ohe from a grantor, vested with the title. All it can produce is a joint resolution of Congress. This is not a conveyance from a foreign State ceding territory.

Instead of providing evidence of a conveyance of territory, i.e. treaty of cession, the State of Hawai‘i Supreme Court in its October 30, 2018 majority decision In Re Conservation District Use Application for TMT, SCOT-17-0000777, quoted from a book titled Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawai‘i written by Professor Jon Van Dyke.

The U.S. Supreme Court gave tacit recognition to the legitimacy of the annexations of Texas and Hawaiʻi by joint resolution, when it said in De Lima v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 1, 196 (1901), that “territory thus acquired [by conquest or treaty] is acquired as absolutely as if the annexation were made, as in the case of Texas and Hawaii, by an act of Congress.” See also Texas v. White, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 700 (1868), stating that Texas had been properly admitted as a state in the United States.[10]

It is unclear what Professor Van Dyke meant when he stated that the U.S. Supreme Court “gave tacit recognition to the legitimacy of the annexation of Texas and Hawai‘i by joint resolution,” because tacit, by definition, is to be “understood without being openly expressed or stated.”[11] Furthermore, this statement is twice irrelevant: first, the Court as a third party to any cession of foreign territory has no standing to make such a conclusion as to what occurred between the ceding and receiving States; and, second, its opinion is a fabrication or what American jurisprudence calls a legal fiction. Legal fictions treat “as true a factual assertion that plainly was false, generally as a means to avoid changing a legal rule that required a particular factual predicate for its application.”[12]

According to Professor Smith, a “judge deploys a new legal fiction when he relies in crafting a legal rule on a factual premise that is false or inaccurate.”[13] These “new legal fictions often serve a legitimating function, and judges may preserve them—even in the face of evidence that they are false—if their abandonment would have delegitimating consequences.”[14]

The proposition that Texas and Hawai‘i were both annexed by joint resolutions of Congress is clearly false. In the case of Texas, Congress consented to the admission of Texas as a State by joint resolution on March 1, 1845 with the following proviso, “Said State to be formed, subject to the adjustment by this government of all questions of boundary that may arise with other governments.” This condition was referring to Mexico because as Texas was comprised of insurgents who were fighting for their independence, Mexico still retained sovereignty and title to the land. In its follow up joint resolution on December 29, 1845 that admitted Texas as a State of the Union, it did state that the Congress consented “that the territory properly included within, and rightfully belonging to, the Republic of Texas.” These actions taken by the Congress is what sparked the Mexican-American War in 1846.

Congress’ statement of “rightfully belonging” is an opinion and the resolution mentions no boundaries. The transfer of title to the territory, which included the territory comprising Texas, came three years later on February 2, 1848 in a treaty of peace that ended the Mexican-American War.

Under Article V of the treaty, the new boundary line between the United States and Mexico was to be drawn. “The boundary line between the two republics shall commence in the Gulf of Mexico, three leagues from land, opposite the mouth of the Rio Grande, otherwise called Rio Bravo del Norte.”[15] Rio Brava del Norte is the southern tip of Texas. If Texas was indeed annexed in 1845 by a joint resolution with its territory intact, there was no reason for the treaty to specifically include the territory of Texas. If it were true that Texas territory was ceded in 1845, Article V of the treaty would have started the boundary line just west of the Texas city of El Paso, which is its western border, and not from the Gulf of Mexico at its southern border. The truth is that the territory of Texas was not annexed by Congress in 1845 but was ceded by Mexico in 1848. The Rio Grande river is the southern border for the State of Texas.

With regard to the so-called annexation of Hawai‘i in 1898 by Congress, there is no treaty ceding Hawaiian territory as in the case of Texas. Like the Texas resolution, Congress stated,

Whereas the Government of the Republic of Hawaii having, in due form, signified its consent, in the manner provided by its constitution to ceded absolutely and without reserve to the United States of America all rights of sovereignty of whatsoever kind in and over the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies, and also to cede and transfer to the United States the absolute fee and ownership of all public, Government, or Crown lands, public buildings or edifices, ports, harbors, military equipment, and all other public property of every kind and description belonging to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands, together with every right and appurtenance thereunto appertaining…

The reference to consent by its constitution is specifically referring to Article 32, which states, the “President, with the approval of the Cabinet, is hereby expressly authorized and empowered to make a Treaty of Political or Commercial Union between the Republic of Hawaii and the United States of America, subject to the ratification of the Senate.”[16] There is no treaty between the so-called Republic of Hawai‘i and the United States. Furthermore, a constitutional provision is not an instrument of conveyance as a treaty would be. So without a treaty from the Hawaiian Kingdom government as the ceding State vested with the sovereignty and title to government lands, which includes the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ohe, there was no change in the ownership of the government lands.

Furthermore, Hawaiians of the day knew there was no treaty as evidenced in the Maui News newspaper published October 20, 1900. The Editor wrote,

Thomas Clark, a candidate for Territorial senator from Maui holds that it was an unconstitutional proceeding on the part of the United States to annex the Islands without a treaty, and that as a matter of fact, the Island[s] are not annexed, and cannot be, and that if the democrats come into power they will show the thing up in its true light and demonstrate that that the Islands are de facto independent at the present time.

The legal fiction that Texas and Hawai‘i were annexed by a joint resolution of the Congress is just a patently false when measured “against the results of existing empirical research.”[17] For the State of Hawai‘i Supreme Court to restate, and embrace, this falsifiable legal fiction is simply a trick that allows it to fabricate its own false and falsifiable fiction regarding the State of Hawai‘i. In its TMT decision the Court, in conflict with overwhelming evidence, stated, “[W]e reaffirm that ‘[w]hatever may be said regarding the lawfulness’ of its origins, ‘the State of Hawai‘i…is now a lawful government.’”[18] For the State of Hawai‘i to be a “lawful government” it must be vested with lawful authority absent of which it is not lawful. The State of Hawai‘i Supreme Court, being a branch of the State of Hawai‘i itself, cannot declare it “is now a lawful government” without making reference to some intervening factor that vested the State of Hawai‘i with lawful authority.

When addressing the lawful authority and sovereignty of the United States of America, the United States Supreme Court specifically referred to a particular and significant intervening factor. It stated that as “a result of the separation from Great Britain by the Colonies, acting as a unit, the powers of external sovereignty passed from the Crown not to the Colonies severally, but to the Colonies in their collective and corporate capacity as the United States of America.” The Court was referring to “the Treaty of Paris of September 3, 1783, by which Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States.”[19]

It has been erroneously assumed that the US Congress vested the State of Hawai‘i with lawful authority in the 1959 Statehood Act[20] in an exercise of the constitutional authority of Congress to admit new States into the Federal union under Article IV, section 3, clause 1. There is no provision in the US constitution for the admission of a state to the union that is on territory not owned by the US. So before the US Congress can admit a new State to the US the US must “own” the territory. According to the United States Supreme Court:

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.[21]

Since the Hawaiian Islands were never annexed by the United States via treaty, Congressional acts, which are municipal laws, may only operate on the territory of the United States. The United States Supreme Court is relatively clear on this point and has stated that the “municipal laws of one nation do not extend in their operation beyond its own territory except as regards its own citizens.”[22] In another decision, the United States Supreme Court reiterated, that “our Constitution, laws and policies have no extraterritorial operation unless in respect of our own citizens.”[23]

Under international law, the United States is an occupying power in the Hawaiian Islands and as such the occupying Power is obligated, under Article 43 of the 1907 Hague Convention, IV, and Article 64 of the 1949 Geneva Convention, IV, to administer Hawaiian Kingdom laws. In his communication to the members of the Judiciary of the State of Hawai‘i of February 25, 2018, the United Nations Independent Expert, Dr. Alfred deZayas, reiterated this obligation under international law.

I have come to understand that the lawful political status of the Hawaiian Islands is that of a sovereign nation-state in continuity; but a nation-state that is under a strange form of occupation by the United States resulting from an illegal military occupation and fraudulent annexation. As such, international laws (the Hague and Geneva Conventions) require that governance and legal matters within the occupied territory of the Hawaiian Islands must be administered by the application of the laws of the occupied state (in this case, the Hawaiian Kingdom), not the domestic laws of the occupier (the United States) (Enclosure “6”).

The United States never acquired any kind of title to Ka‘ohe and, since one can only convey what one has, it could not convey what it did not have to the State of Hawai‘i under Section 5(b) of the 1959 Admissions Act. Thus the State of Hawai‘i was never lawfully vested with any title to the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ohe, and therefore its so-called general lease no. S-4191 to the University of Hawai‘i dated June 21, 1968 is defective. Under Hawaiian Kingdom law, the ahupua‘a of Ka‘ohe is government land under the management of the Ministry of  the Interior and not the State of Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources. Consequently, all 10 subleases from the University of Hawai‘i that extend to December 31, 2033 are defective as well, which include:

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration dated November 29, 1974;
  • Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope Corporation dated December 18, 1975;
  • Science Research Council dated January 21, 1976;
  • California Institute of Technology dated December 20, 1983;
  • Science and Engineering Research Council dated February 10, 1984;
  • California Institute of Technology dated December 30, 1985;
  • Associated Universities, Inc., dated September 28, 1990;
  • National Astronomical Observatory of Japan dated June 5, 1992;
  • National Science Foundation dated September 26, 1994; and
  • Smithsonian Institution dated September 28, 1995.

 As such, the University of Hawai‘i’s sublease to TMT International Observatory, LLC, is also defective. Therefore, the University of Hawai‘i cannot sublease what it does not have to TMT International Observatory LLC.


[1] President Cleveland’s Message to the Congress (Dec. 18, 1893), p. 453, available online at https://hawaiiankingdom.org/pdf/Cleveland’s_Message_(12.18.1893).pdf.

[2] Id., p. 454.

[3] 107 Stat. 1510.

[4] L. Oppenheim, International Law, vol. 1, second edition, 286 (1912).

[5] 31 Cong. Rec. 6635 (1898).

[6] 33 Cong. Rec. 2391 (1900).

[7] Douglas Kmiec, Department of Justice, “Legal Issues Raised by Proposed Presidential Proclamation to Extend the Territorial Sea,” 12 Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel 238 (1988).

[8] Id., p. 252.

[9] Id.

[10] In Re Conservation District Use Application for TMT, SCOT-17-0000777, Opinion, State of Hawai‘i Supreme Court (Oct. 30, 2018), p. 46.

[11] Black’s Law, 6th ed. (1990), p. 1452.

[12] Peter J. Smith, “New Legal Fictions,” 95 The Georgetown Law Journal 1435, 1437 (2007).

[13] Id.

[14] Id., p. 1440.

[15] Treaty of Guadalup Hidalgo, 9 Stat. 926 (1848).

[16] Constitution of the Republic of Hawai‘i, Roster Legislatures of Hawaii, 1841-1918 (1918) p. 198.

[17] Smith, “New Legal Fictions,” p. 1439.

[18] In Re Conservation District Use Application for TMT, SCOT-17-0000777, Opinion, State of Hawai‘i Supreme Court (Oct. 30, 2018), p. 46.

[19] United States v. Louisiana et al., 363 U.S. 1, 68 (1960).

[20] 73 Stat. 4.

[21] United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304, 318 (1936).

[22] The Appollon, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 362 (1824).

[23] United States v. Belmont, 301 U.S. 324, 332 (1936).

Maui County Council member Tamara Paltin Sought Dr. Keanu Sai’s Expertise and Calls upon UH President Lassner to halt TMT Construction Due to Invalidity of General Lease and War Crimes

WAILUKU, Hawaii – In an urgent plea, Maui County Council member Tamara Paltin announced that she has asked University of Hawaii President David Lassner to put a hold on moving forward with the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (“TMT”) planned for the summit of Mauna Kea. 

Paltin issued a letter of inquiry to President Lassner on Friday, July 12th in response to Governor Ige’s news conference last week announcing that construction would begin next week on July 15th.  In her letter Paltin expressed “grave concerns for the safety of Maui County’s residents and all individuals mobilizing to access and assemble atop Mauna Kea.”    

It is anticipated that kupuna to keiki and all ages in betweenfrom all islands will be present to exercise traditional Native Hawaiian cultural and religious access, as well as protest the construction of the TMT.  With emotions high, extreme weather conditions, law enforcement presence and talk of the potential deployment of LRAD (Long-Range Acoustic Hailing Devices) for crowd control, Councilmember Paltin fears for the safety and protection of all who will be present on the summit.     

Councilmember Paltin sought out insight from Dr. Keanu Sai who has served as a resource for and provided training presentations to the Council’s Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee, of which Paltin chairs, concerning the proposed construction of the TMT on the summit of Mauna Kea, in light of the ahupua`a of Ka`ohe being so-called ceded lands.  

Paltin’s letter reiterates Dr. Sai’s focus on three topics underlying the proposed TMT construction: the invalidity of General Lease No. S-4191 between the State of Hawai`i Board of Land and Natural Resources, as the lessor, and the University of Hawai`i, as the lessee; the war crime of destruction of property on the summit of Mauna Kea by the previous telescopes; and the third topic of native tenant rights within the  ahupua`a of Ka`ohe, and describes Dr. Sai’s response as “quite illuminating to say the least.”

Councilmember Paltin requested that President Lassner have the University’s legal counsel review Dr. Sai’s assessment of the situation, and stated that, “this is not a political issue, but an issue of the rule of law, which is foundational, and for our communities throughout the islands to have confidence that the State of Hawai`i officials, to include the Counties, believe in and abide by.”

A full copy of Councilmember Tamara Paltin’s letter to UH President Lassner can be located at mauicounty.us/paltin/.

For more information, please contact Councilmember Paltin’s office.

Video of Dr. Keanu Sai’s Presentation to the Maui County Council on the status of the Hawaiian Kingdom under International Law

Dr. Keanu Sai’s May 15, 2019 presentation to the State of Hawai‘i Maui County Council’s Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee, chaired by Council member Tamara Paltin.
Questions and answers by Maui County Council members of Dr. Sai’s presentation on the legal status of the Hawaiian Kingdom under international law.

National Lawyers Guild Acknowledges Hawai‘i is Illegally Occupied

At the International Committee weekend retreat in the Bay Area in March 2019, the IC launched a new subcommittee, the Hawaiian Kingdom Subcommittee. Read on to learn more about the subcommittee’s work. To reach out or join the subcommittee, contact co-chairs Martha Schmidt, Keanu Sai and Steve Laudig.

There is a common misconception that the Hawaiian Islands comprise United States territory as its political subdivision, the State of Hawai‘i. The Hawaiian Islands is the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom. In Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, the Permanent Court of Arbitration recognized “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 (Award, para. 7.4).” By 1893, the Hawaiian Kingdom maintained over 90 embassies and consulates throughout the world and entered into treaty relations with other countries to include the United States.

The lack of any US congressional constitutional authority to annex a foreign country without a treaty was noted in a 1988 memorandum by the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice, which questioned whether Congress was empowered to enact a domestic law annexing the Hawaiian State in 1898. Its author, Douglas Kmiec, cited constitutional scholar Westel Willoughby who had written: “The constitutionality of the annexation of Hawaii, by a simple legislative act, was strenuously contested at the time both in Congress and by the press. The right to annex by treaty was not denied, but it was denied that this might be done by a simple legislative act. … Only by means of treaties, it was asserted, can the relations between States be governed, for a legislative act is necessarily without extraterritorial force—confined in its operation to the territory of the State by whose legislature it is enacted.” Since 1898, the United States have been imposing American municipal laws over the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom in violation of international humanitarian law.

On February 25, 2018, Dr. Alfred M. deZayas, a United Nations Independent Expert, sent a communication to State of Hawai‘i judges stating: “I have come to understand that the lawful political status of the Hawaiian Islands is that of a sovereign nation-state in continuity; but a nation-state that is under a strange form of occupation by the United States resulting from an illegal military occupation and a fraudulent annexation. As such, international laws (the Hague and Geneva Conventions) require that governance and legal matters within the occupied territory of the Hawaiian Islands must be administered by the application of the laws of the occupied state (in this case, the Hawaiian Kingdom), not the domestic laws of the occupier (the United States).”

The Hawaiian Kingdom Subcommittee provides legal support to the movement demanding that the U.S., as the occupier, comply with international humanitarian and human rights law within Hawaiian Kingdom territory, the occupied. This support includes organizing delegations and working with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and NGOs addressing U.S. violations of international law and the rights of Hawaiian nationals and other Protected Persons.

For a historical and legal overview of the Hawaiian Kingdom situation see: Dr. Keanu Sai’s three articles on the Hawaiian Kingdom published by the National Education Association; and, Professor Matthew Craven’s legal brief on Hawaiian Kingdom’s continuity as a State under international law cited by Judge James Crawford in his The Creation of States in International Law (2d ed.).

The National Lawyers Guild was established in 1937 as an association equal in standing to the American Bar Association.

New Documentary: Speaking Truth to Power

Investigating the Illegal U.S. Military Occupation of the Hawaiian Islands

From Integrative Media Co-operative (IMC):

IMC would like to continue documenting up and coming events and actions regarding the U.S. military occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom. IMC relies on public donations. To donate visit IMC’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign: Speaking Truth to Power – Documentary. Or contact IMC directly at integrative.media.coop@gmail.com.

Please subscribe to IMC’s YouTube channel, Integrative Media Co-operative, to stay updated on future projects. There are many short videos coming soon regarding this topic.

Most importantly, sharing this video with friends and family brings a greater awareness to this ongoing and evolving situation.