International solidarity with other independence movements

I’ve been looking into independence movements around the world, and wanted to share some thoughts here.

First of all, I think this is an area that has been greatly overlooked in the freedom movement, at least in the United States, where politics tends to be quite nationally focused. This may be somewhat less true in other parts of the world. But I see decentralism as a key libertarian value. When polities are divided into smaller and smaller entities, what lies at the end of this path is self-government. Irrespective of what a particular independence movement stands for, I think it is in the interests of the freedom movement to support their right to secede, on the basis of a majority of the population in a given area favoring secession.

Second, I see a great political opportunity here, especially in an increasingly interconnected world, for these movements to support each other, and for libertarians to play a role in this, at the same time turning them on to libertarian ideas. Many independence advocates are waging small, lonely struggles. I have personally attended and in some cases spoken at rallies and other events for these groups, representing people in places from Tibet to Khalistan to Nicaragua (the indigenous Miskitu population), or sometimes (as in the case of Sudan), groups that while not seeking secession from an existing state, are trying to bring greater freedom and democracy to their homelands, as was the case with Sudan, when Sudanese expatriots demonstrated in this country as part of the popular uprising that led to the downfall of the dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Often these groups are very effective at mobilizing members of their own communities, who care deeply about their cause, but they tend to be very ineffective at spreading their message to and building support among the broader public.

Third, there are far more of these independence movements in the world than most people realize. Possibly even more than there are countries represented in the United Nations (193). At its founding, the UN had only 51 members, so the trend – toward recognition of a growing number of political entities – has been in the right direction, even if the UN itself is a dubious organization to say the least.

I recently discovered there is even a relatively unknown organization representing some of those seeking greater autonomy, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), which has existed since at least 1991 and lists 43 member groups according to Wikipedia – Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization - Wikipedia. And this is by no means an exhaustive list of such movements, which range in autonomy/size from Taiwan at one end of the scale (which is listed as a member) and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, aka Rojava (which is not), to tiny would-be national entities such as Kalahui Hawaii (listed as a former member), and the Hutt River Principality on the continent of Australia (not listed).

Interestingly, per Wikipedia, UNPO has an even longer list of former members than current members, although this may not generally be the result of any controversy with the group itself – the site notes that “Some members of the UNPO have left because of UN recognition, autonomy agreements, or for other reasons.” What I’m reading about the UNPO does not raise any obvious red flags for libertarians, although this bears more investigation. One interesting item of note – Washington D.C. is listed as a member! Presumably those responsible for this are not seeking actual independence, but simply trying to get statehood.

In any case, I think joining UNPO is something the New Hampshire independence movement might want to consider. Their membership policies and how to apply are described here – UNPO: UNPO Membership.

If the UNPO proves unsuitable, or unwilling to admit the New Hampshire independence movement, I think libertarians ought to consider forming a similar group of our own along more libertarian lines. I am personally interested in trying to build bridges between different autonomy movements, help them support each other, and raise awareness of libertarian ideas including in particular the right to secede. Possibly this could be accomplished under the auspices of UNPO, or Liberty International (the libertarian non-profit formerly known as the International Society for Individual Liberty), or some other organization, or it could be a free-standing group.

Thoughts?

NH is only 1 meter away from Quebec but it often seems like neither nation pays much attention to the other. I reach out to the independence folks there with NHexit news sometimes, and they do get back to me. Almost always in French :slight_smile: It would be fun to have some sort of PR stunt on the border like Estonia and Lithuania did in the 80s. I can’t cross the border, since I’ve been unwilling to pay the DC torture chamber govt. for a passport. I’m going to put your post into my audio reader and may have more thoughts later.

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I’m not sure you meant Estonia and Lithuania, as they do not appear to share a common border, but I’d be interested in hearing more about the the incident you mention.

It could be worth sounding the Quebec independence folks out about trying to set up some kind of reciprocal support arrangement. For instance, some NHexit activists travel to Quebec to support some pro-independence event they’re holding up there, and some of them in turn come and support some pro-independence event happening in the Shire. It wouldn’t need to be any kind of formal arrangement, just some members of both groups recognizing a convergence of interests and seeking to cooperate in a mutually beneficial way.

That’s what was so awesome about the publicity stunt. They didn’t have to share a border to pull it off… people held hands forming a human chain across (I think) all of the Baltic republics.

I’m looking closer at UNPO to try and see how we’d go about applying.

Looks like the weak link in our chain might be the fact that they require us to have a “Representative Body.” Unless I’m missing something the only one “we” have that might be an option is the New Hampshire State House. I guess it would be possible to submit a bill through the House, stating that the NH government must apply join UNPO by such-and-such a date…

I wonder if just teaming up with the Quebecois in some way would be easier… On the other hand sometimes it seems like teaming up for mutual benefit is more work than just creating the benefit directly and independently. Really appreciate your interest in these sorts of things Starchild; in this area you almost always remind me of me.

From UNPO:
"A Nation or People, through its Representative Body, may apply to become a Participant in the Organization by submitting the following information to the Secretariat for consideration of Membership to the Organization by the Presidency:

a) a brief history of the Nation or People;

b) the reasons for the desire to become a Participant in the Organization;

c) adequate evidence of the recognition of the Representative Body as an organ of leadership by the people it claims to represent;

d) a formal declaration of adhesion to the present Covenant and the principle of non-violence;

e) evidence of the democratic character of the Representative Body’s leadership structure;

f) the statute of the Representative Body;

g) the latest annual financial and activity report of the Representative Body.

h) payment of the application fee."

Thanks, Dave. Making the New Hampshire State House the “representative body” of the Shire independence movement sounds unwise to me though. Not only does the chance of the House voting to apply for Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization membership seem remote, but if they were accorded such status by the UNPO or others, it could potentially allow the House to speak for the movement under circumstances and in ways where that might not be desirable.

I would suggest instead establishing a democratically elected council with minimal powers for purposes of representing independence supporters, that would automatically dissolve upon the state government declaring independence, with public support for independence being a requirement to sit on the council. Following the example of the NH legislature, making it numerically large seems like a good idea, along with term limits and other sensible provisions.

Besides enabling the NH independence movement to gain some international recognition/standing, creating a representative body could prompt more pro-independence activism and boosterism from its members than they might engage in otherwise. The need to hold elections would also provide a reason for regular movement gatherings which would hopefully generate additional activism, publicity, etc.

I disagree and feel explicit delegation of rights is the only lawful way to use representatives as contrasted to monopoly style representative systems currently in place.
I.e. Representatives and organizations cannot lawfully represent people without explicit consent.
See Shiresociety.com for more info on that legal precept.

“I… feel explicit delegation of rights is the only lawful way to use representatives…”

As a Shire Society declaration signer, I agree – at least in the sense in which I understand your comment. However I don’t think I’d have an issue with establishing elected “representatives” for purposes of networking with other independence groups, visibility on the world stage, etc., if those persons did not have any powers that would violate the declaration.