This chapter provides an in-depth analysis of three major components of international law—occupation/deoccupation, colonization/decolonization, and indigenization/indigenous rights—that are potentially available to redress the harm inflicted by the United States upon the formerly independent Kingdom of Hawai‘i. The chapter describes the applicable legal principles of the three components and maintains that all of them, in their distinctive ways, can be used as arguments for Hawaiian independence.
Occupation/deoccupation posits that because the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and its subsequent occupation were illegal under international law, the consequences are likewise illegal. Colonization/decolonization posits that Hawai‘i was wrongly removed from the United Nations’ list of colonies because the 1959 statehood referendum failed to comply with international standards for decolonization, which required that independence be a legitimate option for non-self-governing peoples. Indigenization/indigenous rights posits that the 2007 U.N. Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples extends a wide array of rights to Native Hawaiians as the original inhabitants of Hawai‘i, including the crucial right of self-determination.
The chapter explores a wealth of international doctrines, charters, covenants, declarations, conventions, resolutions, judicial decisions, and scholarly works pertaining to this controversial issue. It also cites numerous historical precedents in support of its contention that Hawaiian independence is not only legal and normatively plausible, but indeed overdue.
“Native Hawaiians and International Law” is Chapter 6 of Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, a volume that updates and expands on the seminal work of the 1991 Native Hawaiian Rights Handbook. The publication is a collaborative effort of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law – University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and Kamehameha Publishing