Press Release: WPLC, IADL, and NLG file joint Amicus Brief Supporting the Hawaiian Kingdom’s Complaint Against the US Requesting a Declaratory Judgment and Effective End of U.S. Occupation

July 30, 2021


Natali Segovia, Staff Attorney, WPLC:

NLG International Committee:

Download the amicus brief here.

Honolulu—The Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC), alongside the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and National Lawyers Guild (NLG), filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief today in support of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s complaint against the United States government, President Joe Biden, and other defendants, due to the unlawful occupation of Hawai‘i by the United States since January 17, 1893. The complaint and the amicus brief request Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, namely for the US to end the occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom. 

Hawai‘i has been illegally occupied by the US since 1893, when businessmen and politicians helped John Stevens overthrow Queen Lili‘uokalani and the Hawaiian government. One-hundred years later, President Clinton would apologize and the US would acknowledge that Hawaiian Kingdom never relinquished their land. That is not enough. The people of the Hawaiian Kingdom have remained continuously opposed to the illegal occupation of the US and its effects, including de-nationalization, the exploitation of natural resources, legacy of racial unrest sown by colonialism, and over-tourism at the expense of Native Hawaiians. 

Mr. Dexter Ke`eaumoku Ka`iama, Acting Attorney General for the Hawaiian Kingdom who filed the original complaint, described the amicus brief filed by the three legal organizations: “The amicus transcends over 128 years of the illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the violations of international law and international humanitarian law and political pressures and trappings brought to maintain this illegality.  Instead, the amicus rightly directs our attention to the undisputed history of the Hawaiian Kingdom and proper application of international law, US Constitutional law and compacts (treaties) between the sovereign States of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States.” 

While relief in this matter would seemingly be barred by the political question doctrine, the amicus brief states the federal and state courts of Hawai’i are de facto Article II courts since 1893 because the US occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom has never ended or been resolved through an operative peace treaty. Experts in international law and human rights have determined that without some type of transfer of sovereignty, the Hawaiian Kingdom and its people have the sole right to that land. There is judicial precedent of at least 12 Article II executive “occupation” courts in U.S. legal and political history since the Mexican War in 1846, provisional courts during the Civil War, and through 1971 when the United States returned Okinawa and Ryukyu Islands to Japan after WWII. 

“At its core,” says WPLC Staff Attorney Natali Segovia, “this case is about the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the right of self-determination of an entire Nation. I don’t mean luke-warm self-determination within the boundaries of a settler state; I mean the self-determination that is at the heart of international law: the right of nations to self-govern to freely determine their political status, their economic, social, and cultural development within their own territory. Standing Rock, Line 3, and the #Landback movement share this in common. WPLC began at Standing Rock, where the fight for the water and for future generations was a manifestation and exercise of self-determination of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate and Indigenous Peoples and allies around the world that answered their call. WPLC is committed to supporting those struggles for sovereignty and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and Original Nations wherever we can.” 

“As an organization that values human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests, the NLG supports all Native peoples’ right to self-determination and resistance against settler-colonial oppression—whether it be in Palestine, Standing Rock, or Hawai’i. The US is no exception to standards set by international and humanitarian law, and must end its occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom,” said NLG President Elena Cohen.

IADL President Jeanne Mirer said, “As an international organization of human rights lawyers dedicated to the furtherance of peace, justice, and the rule of law, the IADL reiterates its support for the Hawaiian Kingdom and the people of Hawai‘i in their ongoing struggle for sovereignty, and self-determination. The United States has an obligation to comply with international humanitarian law and the law of occupation.”

Mr. Ka`iama concluded, “Filing of the amicus coincides with the formal restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom from the British Government on July 31, 1843.  A day that is remembered and celebrated as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea (“Restoration Day”).  So too, this amicus will be forever marked and fondly remembered in the annals of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Aloha ‘Āina.” 

“Aloha ‘Āina” is Hawaiian for “love of the land.” As legal organizations committed to human rights, international law, and the rule of law, we stand — for the land, for the water, and for future generations.

Counsel for Amici Curiae NLG, IADL, and WPLC are Natali Segovia, Joseph (Joey) Chase, and Charles Heaukulani.

#Landback #HawaiianKingdom #AlohaAina

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (“IADL”) is an international organization of human rights lawyers and jurists founded in 1946, with member associations and individual members in over 90 countries and with consultative status in ECOSOC. IADL is dedicated to upholding international law and promoting the tenets of the UN Charter in furtherance of peace and justice. 

The National Lawyers Guild (“NLG”) was formed in 1937 as the first national racially integrated bar association in the U.S. to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human, and civil rights.

The Water Protector Legal Collective (“WPLC”) is an Indigenous-led legal non-profit organization that began in 2016 as the on-the-ground legal team at Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock in defense of Water Protectors in frontline resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. WPLC continues to provide legal support and advocacy to Indigenous Peoples and Original Nations, the Earth, and climate justice movements.

Support the Hawaiian Kingdom. To learn more, visit: 

30 thoughts on “Press Release: WPLC, IADL, and NLG file joint Amicus Brief Supporting the Hawaiian Kingdom’s Complaint Against the US Requesting a Declaratory Judgment and Effective End of U.S. Occupation

  1. MAHALO NUI….Dr. Keanu Sai & OTHERS who have gathered the “TRUTH” of our Hawaiian History, for us to get educated and be educated, if, we don’t understand, ask questions, don’t be ashame….listen well, and be humble and steadfast…. “UA MAU KE EA O KA `AINA I KA PONO”! …….HAU`OLI LA HO`IHO`I EA!

    Aloha– the KUPAU’s, the NG’s, the EHARIS, the KANANA’s, the KAHAKAUWILA’s, and
    the KALEHUAWEHE’s,

  2. Excellent Amicus Brief. This creates the moment of truth for Magistrate Rom S. Trader. Will he honor his Oath of Office and comply with Article VI, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution which he is obligated to do or will he NOT comply with said Article and dishonor his Oath of Office and subject the Plaintiff to an unfair trial and become a War Criminal like all the other Judges in Hawaii.

      • Kaulana, This is what he is obligated to do under U.S Consitution
        Article VI
        Clause 2
        This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

        He must act as an Article 2 court in order to have proper jurisdiction to provide Plaintiff with a fair trial. In doing so he cannot use the political question doctrine to dismiss this case and has to provide Plaintiff Declaratory Judgement.
        If he acts as an Article 3 court without proper jurisdiction and uses the political doctrine question to dismiss the case he violates his oath to uphold the U.S. constitution and subjects Plaintiff to an unfair trial. A war crime.

  3. i agree, excellent brief. it’s good to see private entities…(3) enter on the record in support of Hawaii’s occupation. IMUA!

  4. The political status of the Hawaiian Kingdom is that of an Independent Sovereign State but under a prolong occupation. Why are we still talking about self determination for Hawaiians? Am I misunderstanding something here?

    • Aloha Kaulana, I’ll try to give you my manao regarding self determination used by the 3 organizations in this brief. It is clear in this brief they know that the Hawaiians in 1843 exercised their right to self determination in the form of an Independent nation state on Nov.28,1843. They know that since Jan.17,1893 this nation state has been under a prolong belligerent occupation. Their use of self determination is not that Hawaii has to go through a process to determine it’s political status but that they already went through that process and has a political status but the U.S. occupation prevents them from exercising their right to self determination in the form that they chose as a Sovereign nation state. To self-govern, to determine their economic, social and cultural development in their own territory and to determine their own political status. The U.S. occupation prevents all of these things because the U.S. is purporting to have extinguished Hawaii as a nation state and incorporated it into their nation state whereby Hawaii is subject to U.S. sovereignty.
      Hope this helps.

      • If what you are saying is true. Then there should be some documentation of how the US acquired Hawaii! Don’t use “Joint Resolution” that surely has no ground to stand on. Please do tell.

        • Aloha Naki, apparently you misread my post. I did not say the U.S. extinguished the Hawaiian Kingdom (HK), far from it. I said the U.S. purports to have extinguished the HK and incorporated it into the nation state of the United States by way of Joint Resolution. You, me, the U.S. and the rest of the world know it’s impossible to achieve that by Joint Resolution because it can only be done by a Treaty. In lieu of the fact they havre No Treat, U.S. courts always play the political doctrine question in order to not have to produce a Treaty.

          • Ka Wā Ma Mua, Ka Wā Ma Hope (Using the Past to Inform the Present and Future)

            I believe Keanu is setting the foundation for the future!
            Knowing that this won’t happen overnight!

      • So what was their use of self determination for Native Americans In paragraph 5? Indigenous peoples around the world?

        Appreciate your manao kekoa. I too am aware that they know the history and status of the HK actually its a belief since i dont know them personally. But its not the point, when you say self determination for a people… Its easy for people who are not educated about Hawaii’s history to misunderstand. People will assume Natives want too be independent. Self determination can benefit those who wish to remain part of the US and can be detrimental to the HK. #backfired

        • Kaulana, in your last sentence you said “self determination can benefit those who wish to remain part of the US and can be detrimental to the HK. #backfired” For one thing the HK was never a part of the United States so it can’t remain part of something it was never legally a part of to begin with. Now after the occupation ends the HK as a nation state can if they so choose, exercise the right of self determination to stop being an independent nation state and be something else. I don’t see why it would and I don’t see that happening but as a nation they have that right to determine for themselves what they want. I’m not promoting that but it’s a fact. As far as self determination for Native Americans and indigenous peoples around the world. The attorney for the WPLC draws the distinction of self determination between them and the Hawaiian Kingdom where it said “…this case is about the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the right of self-determination of an entire Nation. I don’t mean luke-warm self-determination within the boundaries of a settler state; I mean the self-determination that is at the heart of international law:…” Do you see that right there, that is the distinction when applying the use of self determination between parties with different political status. MHO

          • Self determination is a right for people to determine their country’s political status and I made it clear the political status of the HK is that of an Independent Sovereign State. NO SELF DETERMINATION needed.

            Self determination is a double edged sword. You may look at it in a narrow one sided view but the fact is it allows the right for Americans in the HK to determine the country’s political status as well. Especially given the fact its the HK and not the union state we were all mislead to believe. Mind you they make up the majority population.

            How do yo think self determination can be asserted? Will people protest? Will they start a revolution? Will a referendum be presented to the people? Can the occupying government propose this idea? Produce the legal paperwork? Will they? Should the HK promote self determination?

            Its Crimea and the Statehood Act all over again but with all the legalities. Americans can make strong arguments for themselves, which is not good for Aloha Aina.

          • I believe what Kaulana is saying (& please correct me if Im wrong Kaulana), is that we have already fulfilled the process of “self determination” when we became an internationally recognized independent nation state in 1843. We determined we wanted to gain recognition and become a sovereign independent country and we never relinquished that, therefore we do not need to “self determine” again.
            I think the obvious and understandable fear here, is that we did reaffirm our decision to remain an independent nation state through the ku’e petitions which were IGNORED. And later still we once again reaffirmed our choice to remain an independent nation state during the statehood vote, and that too was ignored when the US allowed their citizens to be the majority vote on the affairs of a foreign country. The obvious assumption would be that if there were yet another act of “self determination” it would once again be manipulated or ignored to benefit the US and its illegal immigrant citizens living in our Kingdom. And even beyond that, theres the pretty realistic chance that IF it were brought to a vote for Hawaiians only, some Hawaiians might still be afraid to leave the perceived safety of the US and regain our independence and therefore vote “no”, we HAVE faced over a century of brainwashing wherein it was drilled into our heads that we were “saved by the US” and “owe our safety to the US” and “other worse countries would takeover if the US left” and its safe to assume many of us still are brainwashed into thinking that, or are simply afraid of change and not confident in our abilities to run a country successfully now, as we didnt have access to the same education that our people had prior to the occupation, which was college prep, and was transitioned into labor and military service prep by the US.
            Theres a lot of reasons to not trust yet another act of “self determination”, especially so when we have ALREADY determined for ourselves that we wanted to be an independent nation state and never relinquished that.

    • Self determination for Hawaiians and others. Paragraph 5 & 7 speaks about self determination for sovereignty etc. It mentions the HK but what is the HK? Is it an independent sovereign State?. It is not clear on the political status of the HK which is the core issue of the the matter which is the HK. We’re trying to convince the world about the HK’s political status. I made I clear in my original comment, these lawyers imo didn’t.

  5. Kaulana, I’m not promoting Hawaiians change their political status but you cannot unilaterally say their right to self determination ended once Hawaii became an Independent nation state. Hawaiians will always have the right to self determination and determine for themselves if they want to keep their present status or change it. Individually you have no control over that. Why worry about Americans or foreigners, they have no control over it neither. The only ones with the right to vote will be Hawaiian subjects.

    • Not ended just not needed since Hawaii already are independent, why raise the question for? No matter how you use the word regarding past events etc, self determination can be exercised today. So why even play with the idea?

      Fine I won’t worry just don’t forget about the overthrow, the attempt to cede sovereignty and the statehood act vote. This is real history and it happened in the past. We learn from the past right?

    • What youre failing to take into account, is Hawaiians have tried to reaffirm our choice to remain an independent nation state TWICE since the illegal overthrow, once through the ku’e petitions which were ignored and again during the fraudulent statehood vote where the vast majority of Hawaiians voted against joining the US, yet the US allowed THEIR US citizens to be the majority vote in the affairs of a foreign country. Also to be noted, the statehood vote in and of itself was fraudulent as in accordance to international law an occupying country (in this case the US) is not allowed to hold elections or votes in a country it is occupying (in this case The Hawaiian Kingdom), and on top of that to allow their citizens to vote was a huge violation of international law.
      We have fulfilled the act of self determination, not only through seeking international recognition and becoming an independent nation state, but also twice since then that has been ignored. The issue is not that we have failed to determine for ourselves, its that our choice is being ignored for the benefit of the country and people occupying us.

  6. In any debate on ‘voting’ and ‘joining the American Union of States’ remember that United States government policy and United States government officials, employees, and agents have enforced and continue to enforce a denationalization propaganda program on Hawaiian Nationals [among others]. One of the intended effects was to persuade both Hawaiian Nationals [and others] into loyalty to the American state, i.e. the United States and away from the Hawaiian State. Before any ‘voting’ on this ‘issue’ can be done the fact of the propaganda and denationalization needs ‘official’ recognition and remedy. Few Hawaiian National voters have not been influenced, deeply influenced, by the lying propaganda [is there any other accurate description?] So when the effects of 128 years of propaganda and denationalization on the Nation and the voters are measured AND reversed then perhaps a discussion may begin on the wisdom of any ‘voting’. If the effects are not acknowledged and reversed any vote would be as illegitimate as the 1959 faux plebiscite. Austrians shortly after the Germans invaded in 1938 had a vote. Hawaiians are in a similar position. The US presence and the US effects must be negated. that takes time and education. The wrongdoer cannot benefit from its wrongdoing. If the US left today, then maybe, just maybe, in the year 2149 [2021 plus 128] a conversation about whether lawfully joining the American Union of States might reasonably begin.

        • I got them and will read. Also I don’t question the historical part of your comment if you are wondering but rather I questioned the voting parts of your comment. It sounds rational but irrational at the same time. Anyway Mahalo.

          • Kaulana, To better clarify the application of self determination of an already established state check out page 23 of Dr. Sai’s article “Setting the Record Straight on Hawaiian Indigeneity”. It explains how the right of self determination works for a people that are under the belligerent occupation of another state. You can also check this blog’s article the “Hawaiian Journal of Law and politics” vol.3 (Spring 2021). Both articles clarifies how the principal of self determination applies differently over the national population of an existing State, the indigenous population within a State, and the population of a people residing in a non-self-governing territory, a colonial situation. I’m sure this will help everyone understand the different applications of self determination. Aloha

    • Aloha Steve, I totally agree, deprograming of Americanization has to happen. It must be replaced with Hawaiian nationalism. I’m in no way advocating for anything other than Hawaii being an independent nation state. I’m of the position that however long the occupation lasts that should be length of time needed to cure the poisonous effects of Americanization. No voting for changing of political status until that time if at all.

    • Amen,that is why I notified the state of Hawaii and the us. government that I wanted my so called us. citizenship voided. Because they made us all us citizens against our will, cause under their own constitution 14 amendment, it states that you have to be born in America or naturalized to be subject to their jurisdiction.My grandparents are kingdom subjects, born before the overthrow, and by their laws US, and kingdom laws and international laws that is my birthright.

  7. Aloha Hawaiian Subjects:
    So, STOP manipulating and politicizing us, BS gets NO-WHERE!
    It goes around in CIRCLE, like wild fire to twist our minds and to cover-up the TRUTH! OUR SOVEREIGN and INDEPENDENT NATION, THE Hawaiian Kingdom still LIVES ON!
    Mahalo, ke Ohana KUPAU – birthright from the east side of Pukuilua, Hana-Maui.
    E ALA E! E ALA E! E ALA E!

  8. I have a question about “self determination”…
    Are we expected to take a vote? I thought the point was to get a court ruling (such as the Hague) and take a vote out of the equation? I fear that there are too many of us who are still brainwashed and Americanized into being afraid to break free from the “safety” of the US, and would therefore choose to remain under the oppressive thumb of the US. People fear change, and this would be a huge change, one our people havent experienced first hand for well over a hundred years. I also question WHO will get a vote, clearly only Hawaiians should, but we saw how the US allowed their citizens to be the majority vote on statehood, how will self determination be any different? Will there be strict guidelines, vetting and a process to PROVE only Hawaiians are allowed a vote? Because if not, I fear this will backfire big time.
    Im not sure if Dr. Sai reads or replies to these comments, but I would love to hear from you if you do. Mahalo.

Leave a Reply