Hawaiian Kingdom Treaties and International Law

The Hawaiian Kingdom is a member State of the Universal Postal Union since January 1, 1882, has forty-six (46) State treaty partners, and, to a limited degree, one hundred twenty-seven (127) successor State quasi-treaty partners. In the Hawaiian Kingdom’s Protest and Demand filed with the President of the United Nations General Assembly on August 10, 2012, the Hawaiian Kingdom’s identification of successor States collectively included former colonial, mandate and trust territories. This identification was made without any prejudice to the particular rights of each successor States in relation to the mode of exercising self-determination when they achieved their independence.

According to Professor Oppenheim, “there is room for the view that in case of separation resulting in the emergence of a new State the latter is bound by—or at least entitled to accede to—general treaties of a ‘law-making’ nature, especially those of a humanitarian character.”Beato explains, “contrary to conventional law’s clean slate doctrine, relatively few newly independent states renounce all of their predecessor state’s treaties. Instead, new states tend to adopt a pragmatic approach which balances issues of self-determination and sovereignty in foreign affairs against the need to foster stability in international relations.” Professor Hershey states that it “is generally agreed that the purely local or personal rights and obligations of the [predecessor State]…remain with the [successor State].” Treaty obligations to private individuals survive the succession and bind the successor State.

Provisions of these treaties not only protect the private rights and obligations of the citizenry of the predecessor States and their successor States while within the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom, but also protect the private rights and obligations of the citizenry of the Hawaiian Kingdom while within the territories of the predecessor States and their successor States. This rule stems from the principle of international law that change in sovereignty does not affect the private rights of individuals.

An example of successorship is Australia. Under the Hawaiian-British Treaty of 1851, British territory included Australia, which at the time was a Crown colony. On January 1, 1901, Australia was granted independence by Great Britain and was no longer a part of British territory. Australia became a successor State of Great Britain, who is now the predecessor State to Australia. The private rights which British subjects held under the 1851 Hawaiian-British Treaty while within Hawaiian territory would now apply to Australian citizens, and the private rights of Hawaiian subjects held under the Hawaiian-British Treaty would apply when Hawaiian subjects are in Australian territory.

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