National law against freedom of the seas – maybe your country has something like it?
August 5, 2009 at 12:38 pm #1033
This is regarding a Danish law, but since one country has something like this, there’s a chance others do too.
Lately I have been researching the possibility of starting a venture on a ship in the contiguous zone or EEZ of the Baltic sea with relatively low capital. This lead me to consider recreational and medical drug use as the most promising activity. However, when I had a lawyer analyze the Danish law, he found something that seems it will, at least for now, prevent me from making this business happen.
The criminal law states (my translation):
1. Actions are under Danish penal jurisdiction when they are carried out in an area of foreign jurisdiction by a person who at the time of being charged has a Danish citizenship, lives inside the Danish state or is in other ways permanently living in this country, if…”
The above is not in itself interesting because it only applies under foreign jurisdiction, which there is none of on the high seas. But in another paragraph:
“2. Furthermore, actions are under Danish penal jurisdiction when they are carried out in an area outside of jurisdiction by a person who at the time of being charged has that relationship with this country as specified in paragraph 1, if similar actions can entail a penalty of more than 4 months of prison.”
Thus the state has just claimed its right to punish Danish citizens not just in the middle of the Atlantic, but also on the Moon or Mars(!), if they do stuff that can be punished with more than 4 months in prison. Unfortunately, this includes the recreational and medical drug business I was researching.
Of course, just because the law says so, doesn’t mean the authorities will actually enforce it. After all, the capital of this country has tolerated cannabis being traded in the open by hippies and left-wing anarchists at the heart of the city in freetown Christiania for several decades even though it’s illegal, because Christiania has had the support of the voters. But I doubt the voters will care much for a capitalist profit-venture selling drugs.
The only two ways out of this I can think of are:
1) Perhaps either the UN Convention on the Law Of the Seas or the UN Declaration of Human Rights in some way can deem this section of the Danish criminal law invalid. Do any of you know these documents well?
2) Quit my Danish citizenship and start the venture somewhere else, which is not going to happen until I finish my current studies.
Anyway, I had not thought that a country which had signed and ratified the UNCLOS could have a law like this. Maybe your country has something like it that makes seasteading harder.August 5, 2009 at 3:23 pm #7290
Yeah, that sort of thing sucks. I doubt the UN cares much either way.
Do they not have booze-cruise ships in the baltic, to circumvent the strict alcohol laws? I suppose alcohol ‘abuse’ falls within these 4 months though. Although selling it might not. Finding out how they cope might be useful.August 5, 2009 at 6:01 pm #7293
A lot of governments are doing this:
1. Make pretty much everything illegal or highly regulated.
2. Don’t enforce laws/regulations most of the time.
3. Throw any ideological enemies in jail.
5. ProfitAugust 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm #7321
Quit my Danish citizenship and start the venture somewhere else
This is the only way to go I’m afraid. You could still setup shop within the EEZ of your birth nation…they only have territorial rights out to 12nm as long as you aren’t harvesting any natural resources (wind, waves, minerals, etc). But renouncing your citizenship is the only way to avoid their long arm of the law.August 7, 2009 at 8:22 pm #7326
Can you renounce your citizenship without claiming a new one? If so, what kind of status and rights will a non-citizen (citizen of the world?) still have? If not, maybe it would be a good idea to apply for citizenship in a country that has a very short “long-arm”.August 7, 2009 at 8:41 pm #7328
that’s awful! I hadn’t realized there were laws like that. My understanding of US law is that there are some specific activities prohibited in foreign jurisdictions (purchasing services from underage prostitutes, bribing government officials, joining foreign armies, a few other things), but that generally you are not considered to be under US jurisdiction.
it only applies under foreign jurisdiction, which there is none of on the high seas.
If you are flying a flag, I think you are in the jurisdiction of the flagging country, so you are under a foreign jurisdiction. But you have to ask a lawyer to be sure.
This is the kind of domestic law that TSI & seasteaders will have to try to lobby against, once seasteading gets big. “Enforce your laws in your jurisdictions, let other countries enforce their laws in their jurisdictions.” But it may be difficult.
I wonder how many countries have these laws? You can get citizenship in other countries, but it takes either a bunch of money, connections, and/or residence for several years. The US will not let you relinquish your citizenship unless you have another citizenship already, I dunno about Denmark.August 10, 2009 at 4:59 pm #7352
I would imagine that they all do to a more or less extent. Weather you are a ‘Citizen’ or a ‘Subject’ of this or that country, they all claim you, your property and any tax revenue that you produce as ‘theirs’. NAZI Germany claimed everyone of German decent as ‘Citizens of the Reich’ and threatened to treat Prisoners of War as Traitors if they fit bill. Of course we threatened to shoot all their people if they did, so they didn’t.
DM8954 After WWII there were people who were known as ‘Stateless Persons’. Basically, they were refugees who couldn’t or wouldn’t return ‘home’ for various reasons. They were kept in ‘Concentration Camps’ for lack of a better term. To renounce citizenship is a serious thing…August 10, 2009 at 5:09 pm #7354
Can you renounce your citizenship without claiming a new one?
But you WOULD have a new citizenship….you would be a citizen of DM8954istan…with all the rights and responsibilities that entails.
I’m not advocating renouncing citizenship and floating along forever on an unflagged vessel. I’m for starting a brand new nation, renouncing all the bonds that bind me to my old nation, and becoming a citizen of my new nation.August 11, 2009 at 1:42 am #7368
I’m becoming more and more endeared to the concept of a nation of combined Seasteaders. At first I was very much against the idea, but it would have a helluvalot of perks and not so many drawbacks as far as I can tell.
- NickAugust 11, 2009 at 4:46 am #7371
If you become a citizen of an unrecognized nation, your new citizenship will likewise be unrecognized. That’s part of why I was asking if there is still such a concept as a stateless individual and what rights still remain for them. An unflagged (stateless) ship is automatically considered a pirate vessel and the right of free passage and privacy is apparently lost.
Unless there is an alternative way to gain the right mix of rights and freedoms of citizenship without too many of the restrictions of existing governments, we’ll need to know and understand our options as stateless individuals until new nations can be properly recognized. If you don’t know what rights you’ll have, how can you decide if that route will be worth it?
My guess is that without a citizenship with an existing state we would be unable to enter most existing nations, legally. I’m sure there are lax ports in the world where you can gain access in order to trade. Beyond that, I have no idea what to expect. Except for interacting with ports for trade and encountering military vehicles at sea, maybe the lack of recognized citizenship won’t affect us much… as long as we’re dedicated enough to willingly forego the possibility of ever returning to our former countries for a visit.August 11, 2009 at 4:43 pm #7378
I don’t know…I have my doubts about what an existing nation would do to agents of an unrecognized nation.
I mean, the United States does not recognize South Ossetia or Abkhazia. But do you think an American vessel would fire upon any ship flying the South Ossetian or Abkhazian flag? Do you think they would treat those vessels as pirate, or unflagged, vessels? I don’t think so. It helps that they’re recognized by Russia, so maybe our new nation would need to find at least one sponsor nation that would recognize us.
If your new seastead nation was very public on the global stage, and you announced to the world your intentions to form a new nation, I don’t think any vessel flying your nation’s flag would be treated like a pirate. There might be some confusion in the beginning but that is why you have to get the word out to everyone and anyone.
This area does require additional research though. I don’t know what would happen if I showed up in an American airport with a South Ossetian passport. Would they let me in? But you are right that I’m sure we can find plenty of places in the world that would trade with us…recognized state or not.
EDIT: Speaking of research, anyone heard from Jorge Schmidt in a while? He might have more insight into this stuff, as well as the other discussion in the artificial island thread.October 27, 2009 at 2:00 am #8438
As I have been informed, the UN Law of the Sea Treaty prohibits the recognition of manmade structures and vessels as sovereign territories. Sovereignty over manmade structures and vessels is exercised by the nation that constructed or registered the structure or vessel. In the absence of this, the nearest nation to the structure or vessel that is willing to exercise sovereign authority shall be free to do so. In short, the UN Law of the Sea Treaty, as I understand it, is an anti-free seastead convention. Personally, I don’t care what the UN does as I don’t recognise its authority. However, there are nations that have ratified the treaty who, I believe, will be more than willing to extend their “sovereign” authority over us, especially if we prove a successful and lucrative operation.
Perhaps I’ve been told wrong about the treaty. If there is a lawyer type who cares to read the treaty, and should interpret it different, I would gladly like to hear it. And, I will stand corrected. BTW, the last I heard, the US has failed to ratify the treaty. But if I am right, that will not protect us from predatory nations who have ratified it.
Screw the UN!
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