NLG International Committee Announces New Hawaiian Kingdom Subcommittee

By Steve Laudig, Dr. Keanu Sai, Martha Schmidt, NLG Hawaiian Kingdom Subcommittee Co-Chairs

The Hawaiian Kingdom Subcommittee was established by the NLG International Committee in San Francisco during its annual retreat on March 3, 2019.

The Subcommittee has two projects for 2019. The first is to educate Committee and Guild members on the Hawaiian Kingdom’s status as an independent and sovereign State and the application of international humanitarian law and human rights law to the situation in the Hawaiian Islands. The second project is to plan and sponsor a Guild investigative delegation to the Hawaiian Islands to conduct fact-finding and report to the International Committee.

There is a common misconception that the Hawaiian Islands is U.S. territory as its political subdivision, the State of Hawai‘i. The Hawaiian Islands is actually the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

In Larsen, 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.” The lack of any US congressional constitutional authority to non-treaty annexation of another country was noted in a 1988 memorandum by the Office of Legal Counsel 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.”

On February 25, 2018, Dr. Alfred M. deZayas, a United Nations Independent Expert, communicated 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 US, 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 US violations of international law and the rights of Hawaiian nationals and other Protected Persons.

A historical and legal overview of the Hawaiian Kingdom situation appears in the following: the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration case review; a communication to State of Hawai‘i judges from United Nations Independent Expert, Dr. Alfred deZayas; Dr. Sai’s three articles on the Hawaiian Kingdom published by the National Education Association; and, Professor Matthew Craven’s legal brief on Hawaiian Kingdom continuity under international law cited by Judge James Crawford in his The Creation of States in International Law (2d ed.). Read more at

Contact the co-chairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom Subcommittee of the NLG International Committee at ■