Monday, March 31, 2008

How to Start Your Own Country in Four Easy Steps - Foreign Policy Magazine

"The United States has no official policy on what is required for recognition, according to its State Department. Instead, the decision to recognize a state is made by the president. Then the president decides whether to establish diplomatic relations with the state based on U.S. national interests. There’s no cookie-cutter approach, so when you ask for recognition, be sure to explain how your independence will be good for America. In the old days, proving your anti-communist cred was usually good enough. Today, U.S. strategic priorities are a bit more complex, though as Kosovo proves, ticking off the Russians still helps."
With Kosovo unilaterally declaring independence and a host of wannabe states looking to follow its lead, you might be thinking it’s about time to set up your own country.

You’ve picked out a flag, written a national anthem, even printed up money with your face on it. But what’s the next step?

Creating a new country isn’t as easy as you think.

Step 1: Make sure you are eligible

As tempting as it might be to declare your cubicle a sovereign state, customary international law actually does specify minimum standards for statehood.

  1. You must have a defined territory.

  2. You must have a permanent population.

  3. You must have a government.

  4. Your government must be capable of interacting with other states. (This one is somewhat controversial. It was included as a qualification in the 1933 Montevideo Convention, which established the United States’ “good neighbor” policy of nonintervention in Latin America, but is generally not recognized as international law.)

Step 2: Declare independence

Congratulations on joining the ranks of Transnistria, Somaliland, and a host of other countries that won’t be marching at the Olympics anytime soon. Just because you’ve met the qualifications and declared yourself independent doesn’t mean that you’re going to be taken seriously. Even the Principality of Sealand—located on a 10,000-square-foot platform in the North Sea—has tried with mixed success to claim sovereignty under these qualifications.

However, now that your state is established, there are certain benefits you can expect, even if you’re not recognized by anyone. “Once an entity has established itself as a de facto state, it will benefit from territorial integrity and certain guarantees of sovereignty,” says Stefan Talmon, professor of public international law at Oxford University and author of Recognition in International Law. “For instance, now that Kosovo is established as a state, Serbia can no longer freely attack it...

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