Oct 24 discussion - why countries don't sell pieces of themselves like they used to?


Hello aspiring sovereigns! We’ll be meeting this Wednesday, October 23 at 6pm on Sovereignty Lounge, BBB B101 to discuss (among other things) this article on why countries don’t sell pieces of themselves like they used to?

As a matter of fact the last time this happened was in 1916 when the US bought the US Virgin Islands from the Danish (known until then as Danish West Indies). Over 100 years ago! Does a common international law dies when a custom stops? Or could we see a revival of such activity?

In trying to understand what happened, I learned that over the past century, international consensus started coalescing around the principle of self determination, which basically says that the peoples of a land are the ones that should choose on their sovereignty and international status. This does indeed stand in contrast with the scenarios where the parent nation (i.e. the central government) is unilaterally selling a piece of itself, as seems to have been the case on those land and sovereignty deals of the past.

However, does self determination preclude sovereignty sales? Turns out Joseph Blocher, author of our discussion article, published last year a 47 page treatise on the possibility of A Market For Sovereign Control. It is quite informative (and speculative), packed with hundreds of footnotes (in fact I believe most of the text consists of footnotes).

In short, they say that the current international system favours sovereignty changes only when a region is extremely mistreated (leading to violent secessionist movements deemed legitimate by the international community) or when peaceful and democratic secession is an option. But those who are only mildly mistreated, but would be better off under another government or on even their own, are left without recourse. The framework they propose aims to address this mid case, and as they put it:

Such a market would provide a mechanism for welfare enhancing border changes while accommodating both the self determination rights of citizens and the sovereign rights of nations to control their territory. It would permit a mechanism for peaceful secession. And by encouraging cross-border competition among governments, it could improve democratic responsiveness and increase governments’ incentives to treat their citizens well.

Ah! Nothing like free markets to solve all of the worlds problems.


FYI: the author of this article posted a brief follow-up, here: https://concurringopinions.com/archives/2012/06/ethical-limits-on-a-market-for-sovereign-territory.html


Good finding! The comments on this and the original article are also very much worth reading: https://concurringopinions.com/archives/2012/06/the-market-for-sovereign-territory.html


Here are (some of) the topics we mentioned during last discussion (in no particular order):

Migrant Caravan: thousands of central american people are walking into Mexico towards the US

Kuwait is super racist, segregationist and elitist so upon independence they didn’t grant citzenship to a lot of people who are now stateless (called Bidoon) and recently they took up paying the tiny and very corrupt and usntable Comoros island naiton in Africa to give the Bidoon citzenship

It became part of the French colonial empire in the 19th century before becoming independent in 1975. Since declaring independence, the country has experienced more than 20 coups d’état or attempted coups, with various heads of state assassinated.[9] Along with this constant political instability, the population of the Comoros lives with the worst income inequality of any nation, with a Gini coefficient over 60%, while also ranking in the worst quartile on the Human Development Index. As of 2008 about half the population lived below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.

Brazilian trump will become president this Sunday (the market is happy). Now, I don’t usually endorse that program with Jon Oliver, but this episode does Bolsonaro 100% justice, no need to be skeptical