A new micronation founded by Violette Clingersmith aims to become the first to meet all four criteria of the Montevideo Convention, and therefore statehood.
The Convention, which first came into effect in 1934, codifies customary international law amongst a small segment of nation-states insofar as it requires a nation-state to demonstrate a permanent population, a defined territory, government, and a capacity to enter into relations with other such states.
Clingersmith argues that every micronation to date has failed to meet the second and fourth criterion. While her suggestion that permanency requires a micronation’s population to both reside and work within its claim territory may be debatable, her assessment of the fourth criterion is more compelling. No nation-state has recognized the legitimacy of any micronation, despite assertions by some that their micronation’s name, or their government or noble title, quoted on a “we received your correspondence” form letter was tacit recognition by the macronational government.
Cue the micronation of New Providence, which Clingersmith asserts will be the first micronation to overcome the barriers to statehood. But how?
The first step will be to claim and control a number of islands in the Southwestern Indian Ocean. The five island groups sought are generally uninhabited except for seasonal research-related populations. They are controlled by a number of current nation-states: Australia, France and South Africa. Clingersmith hopes to assert control over the islands no later than 2040; however, it is unclear how the islands will be converted to sustainable permanent populations given that this has not occurred in hundreds of years.
If obtaining control of the land is a success, a permanent population will be established, supported largely by citizens gleamed from around the world. Clingersmith aims to have 50 to 100 citizens living around the world in wait by the end of this year. Once there are 50 citizens, a constitutional convention will be undertaken to form a government to administer the micronation virtually until the islands can be settled.
Finally, with its functional government and permanently inhabited islands, New Providence’s attention will turn to gaining recognition. “I do believe that once a settlement is established on our claimed territories, some kind of treaty stopping short of recognition will be signed with the French Republic,” asserted Clingersmith. Such a treaty would involve France abandoning its meteorological station on the Kerguelen Islands for fishing rights within New Providence’s exclusive economic zone. While France yielding control of the islands, its station, and agreeing to give up its control of fishing in the area, seems like a fanciful dream today, it is but one potential avenue that New Province will explore on the path to recognition.
Clingersmith is hopeful that her approach of focusing on achieving each criterion, instead of becoming distracted, will succeed. “From my experience, most micronations focus much of their attention towards developing a unique culture, setting up [a futile] economy, and establishing complex bureaucracies and systems of mobility” she said. “[All of these] mitigate their government’s ultimate effectiveness [in achieving the Montevideo Convention].”
That said, she remains realistic, referring to the success of the New Providence project as catching a unicorn.