Where and How to Establish Your Own Nation with Blockchain and Cryptoanarchists
International laws have been featuring a term dubbed ‘terra nullius’ for hundreds of years. Even with the minimal level of Latin acquisition one is totally capable of understanding what it means: nobody’s land. Back in colonial times, the term was as popular as YouTube nowadays. There was no better thing in the world for conquerors to proclaim a newly found land their crown’s property, or even stick a flag into it.
However, while it was easy to discover a continent or two some time ago, now the thing simply doesn’t work. Last year’s proclamation of Liberland caused many crypto-enthusiasts to think whether it’s possible to establish a cryptocurrency utopia with complete decentralization somewhere in the world. Liberland has made the news once again recently due to its partnership with Bitnation, a project dedicated to building a borderless online nation.
The good news is that, notwithstanding the fact that the Earth’s surface is well studied, there are still some blanks on the map.
The bad news is that establishing a nation is a pain in the ass.
We recently wrote about Free Republic of Liberland, which was first proclaimed on 13 April 2015. Geographically, it is located in Gornja Siga, an area of around 7 square kilometers between Serbia and Croatia, which is said not to be claimed by either side. The micronation’s official currency will be Bitcoin or some other Bitcoin-based cryptocurrency while official debt is to be constitutionally prohibited. According to Vit Jedlička, the micronation’s president and Czech libertarian politician and activist, as neither Serbia, nor Croatia has claimed the area, so it most definitely is terra nullius, and it has empowered the micronation’s establishment.
Areas like Gornja Siga are scattered along Danube. They are in fact remainders of what had once been Yugoslavia. Liberland’s land plot is just biggest of those. Still, if you’d like to found a decentralized state next to Liberland, you’ve got good chances to do so. Other lands there are still free, and no one has claimed their sovereignty so far.
Another such area, Bi’r Tawīl (meaning ‘tall water well’ in Egyptian Arabic) is possibly the world’s most popular terra nullius. Due to some legal contradictions, a 2,000 sq.km area turned out to be of no need to anyone. It takes nearly a day to get there. In 2014, American citizen Jeremiah Hilton has claimed the territory his own by sticking a flag drawn by his children in the sand. Amazingly enough, nobody took him seriously, so self-proclaimed Kingdom of North Sudan joined the ranks of virtual nations. However, now Mr. Hilton has every right to use nickname ‘His Majesty’ on Facebook, which is pretty awesome.
Many have heard of wonderful resorts of sunlit Antarctica where people fatigued by burdensome civilization routine go to give themselves up to penguin-related musings. According to 1959 Antarctic Treaty, no signing party may claim a territory there as long as the treaty is valid.
However, there are some locations in Antarctica which either had not been ever claimed by anyone, or being subject to the right of claiming revocation. Thus, Queen Maud Land, currently assigned to Norway, has no distinctive southern borders, so a part of the area is in fact terra nullius. De-jure, however, claiming anything there would require one to cause Norway to revoke its claims first.
Volcanic islands pop up the ocean surface every now and then. In most cases, it happens in international waters, so theoretically any such island may be proclaimed a sovereign nation.
Finally, 1967 Space Treaty states that no stellar body cannot be subject to anyone’s sovereignty or be claimed by any state. Sorry, guys, Martian Bitcoin Republic has to be postponed.
According to a Facebook entry by the prime minister of self-proclaimed micronation Atlantis, Joby Weeks, the country has officially made Bitcoin its currency.
The country, formerly known as Pontinha, is a small island off the Portuguese coast occupying 178 square meters of area. According to the country’s self-proclaimed leader ‘Prince’ Renato Barros, 56, who earlier worked as an arts-and-crafts teacher, the population of the country is just four people, including himself.
“I have both a Portuguese passport and a passport for Pontinha (where my passport number is 0001). There are four citizens: me, my wife, my son, and my daughter. I am the police, the gardener, everything. I am whatever I want to be , that’s the dream, isn’t it? If I decide I want to have a national song, I can choose it, and I can change it anytime. The same with my flag – it could be blue today, red tomorrow. Of course, my power is only absolute here, where I am the true sovereign,” he told the Guardian last year.
Such things truly may inspire the concealed aspirations of cryptoanarchists and decentralization fans. However, nations like Liberland and Pontinha are mostly similar to Kingdon of North Sudan. Nobody takes them seriously.
You are unlikely to have heard of the epic and tongue-in-cheek Aerican Empire, which exists only in a Canadian guy’s imagination while occupying quadrants of our galaxy. Similar to that, a group of Italians a few years ago sought to restore the majesty and modesty of good old Roman Republic, and thus proclaimed so-called Roma Nova (‘New Rome’), which features state structure mostly resembling that of pre-Empire Rome. Finally, there’s a famous example of Seeland, which is, in fact, an abandoned WWII platform next to British islands. Seeland issues its own coins and holds world championships for hell knows what. Once the country has nearly burned to the ground.
All those formations exemplify so-called ‘virtual nations’. No real nation will ever think of recognizing or even noticing such countries. United Nations act like there’s no Seeland or New Rome. Even Vanuatu, a nation that may even recognize you Queen Beryl for a couple grand, has no embassies or consulates of grandiose the Aerican Empire.
Earlier claiming a territory was pretty easy: it took a mere discovery. Sure, colonists never heeded opinions of locals, however, there were no nations in European sense there. However, after the colonial system has collapsed, the precedents of terra nullius ceased to be legally justifiable reasons for claiming.
The main problem of virtual nations is that they mimic, and in most cases deliberately, attributes of well-established nations. According to modern-day definition of national building used by the UN, any state, in case it wants to be perceived as such, has to meet several requirements, which are as follows:
1. There shall be resident population
2. There shall be permanent governing authorities
3. It shall be capable of establishing international relations
4. It shall occupy a territory
So, the basic answer to ‘How to establish a new nation’ is that one has to ensure all four requirements are fulfilled at the same time.
Virtual nations, also called micronations, fail to meet all four criteria at once. That is the reason why nobody takes them seriously. The economy of such nations, if any, is based on producing souvenirs like post stamps (while there is no actual post service), money (without any mints to be found), and probably flags and coats of arms featuring impressive mottos, which definitely have to be in Latin.
The Aerican Empire has no resident population. There’s no scientific evidence that there is any population in delta quadrant, even if it’s bacteria-like. Many micronations discard the requirement stating that there are three residents, one of which even owns a cat.
However, as number of residents is small by default, such a states finds itself incapable of establishing permanent governing authorities or engaging in international relations just because it would take much more people to do so. However, micronations are so small that such population would be dense enough to cause the country to collapse beyond its Schwarzschild radius and become a black hole.
Most virtual nations are more of a joke, a manifestation of protest, or purely symbolical. In 1981, drivers at a highway sealed by cops proclaimed an independent republic. In 1973, John Lennon and Yoko Ono devised Nutopia. In 1980, Swedish artist Lars Vilks established Ladonia, a country whose only ideology was to exhibit its creator’s works of art. Finally, in Czech Republic, there is a mind-melting nation called Other World Kingdom, which features matriarchal dictatorship and basic principles of BDSM used as a constitution.
Liberland, for instance, has a nice territory. However, that’s the only nation-building criterion it meets. Its partnership with Bitnation theoretically could help it develop an operational government institution that other nations could recognize.
However, if you really wish to establish your own nation with blockchain and cryptoanarchists, you have to find the area, make sure there are some residents, build an effective public management model, and ensure you are capable of having international relations.
Otherwise, your nation will be as vast and real as the Aerican Empire.
by Jenny Aysgarth
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