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Legal problem with the whole seasteading concept

Home Forums Research Law and Politics Legal problem with the whole seasteading concept

This topic contains 108 replies, has 30 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of  Anonymous 6 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #479
    Profile photo of

    here’s an explainination regarding the laws governing sea vessels:

    “Second, while it is true that, under a customary rule of international law, “the high seas are open to all states, and no state may validly subject any part of them to its sovereignty”, the high seas are not a no man’s land. The general rule is that ships on the high seas are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction and authority of the state whose flag they fly.”

    “cannot use a ship without a flag because to do so would render the vessel “stateless”. The problem with stateless vessels is that they are generally subject to the jurisdiction of all nations. They enjoy the protection of no state; public ships of every state may approach any private vessel encountered on the high seas to ascertain her identity and nationality. If it is discovered that such vessel is stateless, the public ship may arrest the stateless vessel and place it under the jurisdiction of the public ship’s flag state.”

    what do you think about these laws ?

    Profile photo of

    Any law that condones aggression against people just because they do not fulfil some ridiculous legal technicality is obviously quite insane.

    Having said that here are a couple of possible solutions or workarounds:

    Legal solution: Invent a new state and fly its flag.

    Practical solution: Maintain enough firepower to deter this kind of aggression.

    Profile photo of Patri

    Yeah, this is why we plan to use a flag of convenience, like half of the rest of the world’s ocean tonnage.

    Profile photo of thebastidge

    There is no such thing as “International Law”. When it comes to international relations, treaties are only valid under the law of the state in which they were ratified. So-called “International Law” is a set of traditional conventions loosely designed to avoid large-scale armed conflict. The UN is toothless and unable to take decisivve action; even when it does act, the lack of any bar to or standard of membership means that the lowest common denominator has become the default. The UN is corrupt and composed of thugs and thieves.

    1. Treaties are bilateral or multilateral agreements that can be instantly abrogated unilaterally at any time. The only recourse to a treaty violation is force. ther eis no force on Earth greater than the Nation-state. Not all of which are created equal- obviously.
    2. So if a Seastead is armed heavily enough to defend itself from your average 3rd-world military ship on the high seas, there are a few likely scenarios.
    • A pirate will probably leave it alone. If they are too stupid, they will be repelled, and hurt, or destroyed. They are unlikely to attack again as there is no profit in revenge.
    • A pissant navy will probably leave it alone, but might try the same tactics as a pirate- looking to take whatever is easily portable wealth. In their case though, politics and national pride might take over and cause them to escalate, depending on whether they really think they can take you on and win. They will probably win unless you get someone else to be your 600-pound gorilla.
    • A professional navy will probably leave it alone unless they get prior political direction beforehand to make a point. Then they will wipe you off the surface of the ocean with ease. The only defense against a professional Navy would be an aggressive propaganda/public relations campaign.
    Profile photo of

    Make the ballast out of TNT (of correct size for proper floatation/weight). Then let´s see them try to board us! Muahahaha!!

    Note to nervous nation-states: The above is joke. Hold the cruise missiles please.

    Profile photo of Jesrad

    The only reasonable thing to do as a defence against obliteration by a powerful navy, IMO, is to develop economical interaction and interdependence with the nation controlling this navy. I hate to say this as an anarchist, but early sesteaders might have to go the Costa-Rican way for territorial defence, initially at least, and have an agreement with a first-world country for military operations. I think this will be conflated with the choice of a flag and considerations of possible industries and other economic activites for bootstrapping – we don’t want to fly the US flag if we’re going to have brothels and casinos.

    Profile photo of thebastidge

    … but anyway gambling and prostitution are not illegal in the United States. Merely in some of the individual States. You might have to do some legal arguing that a seastead doens’t break any states’ laws because it is not registered in a US state- it’s an ocean-going vessel, or it is not even a ship, but an off-shoure platform (floating or not).

    • Gambling and prostitution are not sustainable reasons for a society of any size. You need to find a reason for being on a seastead that doesn’t exclusively revolve around avoiding the laws of where you’re at.
    Profile photo of

    What about such a variant? let’s assume our The Seasteading Institute has a Mongolian flag. A genuine link between the state of the flag and the ship is demanded. It can be created by registrating an engineering company in Mongolia.
    The SI is already constructed, it has permanent habitants. They claim to create new state. Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States lays down the following criteria of statehood: 1 – a permanent population, 2 – a defined territory, 3 – government and 4 – capacity to enter into relations with other states. According to the 3rd point goverment should exercise effective control over the territory. In our case SI government for sure will control “territory” much better than Mongolia, which is a sealocked country with no navy. Of course SI doesn’t have territory in the classical meaning, but today boards of military aircrafts and ships are treated as the state’s territory.

    Profile photo of Sundiver

    < exclusively revolve around avoiding the laws of where you’re at.>>

    Very good point I think. Otherwise the objectives are negative instead of positive. Success doesn’t usually come from a negative point of view. How about commerce?

    Profile photo of thebastidge

    See community/general chat/industry thread

    Profile photo of MattM

    Basically you have three classes of threat.

    The first class consists of pirates and small nation states that only have near-shore force projection capability. Honduras and Cuba are in this class. These threats can be detered by simple location (locating beyond 200 nmi from shore) and relatively light arms. A few 0.50 cal machine guns would be fairly strong deterent, while 20mm or heavier could probably sink anything in their navies. Honestly, distance from shore will probably do the trick.

    The second class of threat consists of nations with a blue water navy, but no operational aircraft carriers. These threats range from Mexico and Brazil on one end of the scale to Russia and China on the other. There are really only a couple dozen or so nations in this class and most of them won’t mess with you if you aren’t operating in their backyards. If you want to deter nations in this class guided anti-ship missiles are surprisingly effective. In the Falklands War the only serious damage inflicted on the Royal Navy by Argentina was by anti-ship missile. (reputedly a French-built Exocet). There is NO nation on the planet that wants to mess with with an opponant at sea if that opponant has substantial ASM capability.

    The third class consists of nations with operational aircraft carriers. This very small club consists of France (1 carrier), the United Kingdom (3 carriers), and the USA (12 carriers). China will probably have one in the near future, and Russia could have one if it could scrape together enough funds to get the “Kiev” operational again. The general rule of thumb since WWII has been that the guy with the aircraft carrier always wins. Until a seastead nation has its own air force it doesn’t dare provoke these nations. The flip side of this is that once a seastead nation has an air force consisting of at least 3 – 4 squadrons of fighter/bombers no nation on earth (including the US) is going to initiate aggression against it without a damned good reason.

    Initially, a few hundred thousand dollars or so would buy enough small arms to deter class 1 threats. The class 2 threats can be deterred through location. China isn’t going to send ships to the Atlantic, Brazil isn’t going to mess with you in the Pacific, etc. At the point that the seastead defence budget is in the 10’s of millions of dollars, ASM capability can be acquired that will effectively deter class 2 threats by direct military means. Class 3 threats can only be deterred by an air force costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Dealing with these three nations diplomatically is probably easier than most on this forum think. If the seastead is loaded with families from various nations and seastead leaders are not being overtly beligerent, I seriously doubt the US, UK, or France is going to attack unprovoked. Whatever we as libertarians may think of our governments, remember that these are still civilized, modern democracies. They don’t attack civilians without a very good reason, and they generally signal their intent for many months before hostilities begin.

    Frankly I think the whole issue of seastead defense has been overblown. War is expensive and no nation with significant warmaking ability does it without substantial provocation.

    Profile photo of SPyle

    I agree it has been overblown.

    As you stated, Class 1 threats will be the only ‘real’ threat for a very long time. I use the word ‘real’ very carefully because as has been stated by Patri and Wayne, pirating seasteads is simply not economically viable. What are they going to do? Hold it to ransom? While I won’t completely rule the threat out, significant amount of resources being allocated to defense would be wasteful. A seastead simply being a seastead is already a great defence.

    But there are possible class 2 threats forseeable if this project does become fully realised. For what ever reason some nations might like to throw what little weight they have around, which might include trying to ‘Police’ a seastead for what ever reason. But I can only imagine such problems occuring on larger multi-platform seasteads sitting near such terrestrial nations. But all such problems can be avoided/prevented/negotiated.

    While stocking ASMs does has potential well into the future for large seasteads. I really would not feel comfortable with the idea. It really would not go down well for quasi-independant floating structures to start arming with significant firepower. Countries would be looking for any excuse to lable the seasteads as ‘threats’.

    How could we even acquire them legally?

    In my opinion Seasteads should be entirely pacifist, at least for a long long time. Give terrestrial nations time to get more comfortable to the idea of new floating nations springing up just outside their territorial waters. I’ve only just found this project, but worked with the FNF with theirs, so I’ll have to spend some time looking into this matter more comprehensively.

    Profile photo of Thorizan

    Just as MattM proposed, and just as I have thought, many of the residents of these seasteads will not want to give up their nationality. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind remaining a US citizen if it meant that if anything major happened to me, my home would have some sort of backing of the Coast Guard, or the US Navy. If we got members of our group that remainded citizens of France, China, Russia, the US, etc., there would be less likelihood that any one of those countries (or any country for that matter) would mess with us. “Legal Resident” I think would be a badge of honor for some people. And, like the US, many states have laws that prevent the taxation of profits made overseas, so, it would actually be fiscally beneficial for many people to keep their nationalities.

    Profile photo of thebastidge

    The United States and many nations tax their citizens for income acquired overseas. In the case of the US, there is provision for some tax credits, but after that limit, taxation starts up again. And you have to be physically present outside the US for strictly required periods. It is not a given that you would be able to claim this status withouth being physically present in some OTHER country.

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    Regarding territory as a requirement for statehood, seasteads/platforms/ships are not territory. Under UNCLOS, territory is naturally-occuring dry land capable of sustaining human habitation. So the Mongolia idea would not work. http://www.un.org/Depts/los/ FWIW I agree about the comments about international law and the U.N., but that’s the proposed law/convention, so perhaps at a minimum it’s useful as an arbitrary benchmark.

    Regarding public relations and innocent families as a defense, see the Waco massacre. The democratically-elected government of the peace-loving United States under Bill Clinton and Janet Reno burned about a hundred American men, women and children to death in their church. The Clinton Justice Department invesigated itself and essentially found it did no wrong. Wow. How surprising. I imagine a major power would care even less about wiping out a seastead 200nm off someone’s shore.

    The quick, short-term answer is to fly a flag of convenience. But that is no real, long-term protection.

    Regarding anti-ship missiles, specifically sea-skimming missiles like Harpoon or Exocet, all major navies already have effective defenses such as Phalanx CIWS or newer, short-range, anti-missile missiles. They learned that from the Falklands war 25 years ago. However, an important lesson for warfare is to “not fight the previous war”. The U.S. Navy’s own research and exercises show that they are currently vulnerable to swarming attacks. A defense could be organized along those ideas, at least until effective counter-defenses are devised and deployed. Looks like they’re already working on defenses against swarming fast attack boats: http://www.defense-update.com/newscast/0107/news/110107_fiac.htm

    A major part of the cost of starting a new nation would be paying for the defense of it. So don’t declare nationhood until defense can be paid for. Note that lack of nationhood is not a defense, nor is pacifism.

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