Micronations: Statehood, Sovereign Equality and Subjects of International Law

Posted: 22 Aug 2015

See all articles by Danushka Medawatte

Danushka Medawatte

University of Colombo - Faculty of Law; Harvard Law School

Date Written: August 17, 2015


Micronations is a subject of interest to many as it compels the reconsideration of concepts such as the customary requirement of a territory for establishing a State, sovereign equality and the rights of States to determine their national laws. Tushnet’s opposition to the ‘rights thesis’ remains valid even in the context of international law where the conception of equality has been used as a tool to create a mockery of certain Micronations despite International Court of Justice’s acceptance in the Nottebohm Case (Second Phase) in 1955 that Micronations (in this case, Liechtenstein – which was then a principality) possess the right to determine rules pertaining to the acquisition of nationality similar to other sovereign States.

Since early 2000s, a notable increase of academic interest in Micronations is observable through the publications appearing in international law journals. These highlight the need for reconceptualising accepted criteria of international law applicable to creation, recognition and ‘naturalization’ of States. In the light of these developments, as Alfred Verdross stated in the late 1900s, the distinction between States and other subjects of international law continues to be of paramount importance.

This paper utilises a critical approach to the existing rules of international law. The responses the author received in a survey conducted in June 2015, which was responded to by several rulers of Micronations, have been used in the paper to provide an insight to the challenges faced both by ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ nations due to the attempts of the latter category to establish independence and sovereignty. In the main, the paper seeks responses for the following three questions: (i) Is a territory an absolute requirement for the establishment of a State? (ii) How has sovereign equality been used as a tool to undermine the sovereignty of micro entities? (iii) How to distinguish sovereign States from other subjects of international law?

Keywords: Micronations, Territory, Sovereign Equality, Subjects of International Law

Suggested Citation

Medawatte, Danushka and Medawatte, Danushka, Micronations: Statehood, Sovereign Equality and Subjects of International Law (August 17, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2648802

Danushka Medawatte (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Colombo - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 1490
Colombo, 03
Sri Lanka

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