Seasteading, Sovereignty & Citizenship


Numerous issues for a sovereign seastead, which I’m calling a SovStead until someone comes up with a better handle, one of which is recognition by other countries.

Bob Dohse brought up the idea of “economic citizens” using Estonia as an example. See thread here: Would these sea steads have a military?

It strikes me as pragmatic to consider flying a foreign flag. Perhaps the SovStead could be chartered as a “colony” of a country, similar to Puerto Rico or Guam. Maybe there’s a path to citizenship based on residency, maybe it’s through investment. (FYI, St. Kitt’s is offering a “hurricane special” on citizenship through investment through March 2018.) Maybe there’s a path towards independence, sort of a pre-nup for the SovStead.

Lots to think about, so I started this thread as a placeholder. I’m not sure where this goes but dual citizenship may have benefits for some (although for US citizens we still can’t ignore the IRS) just as being a full-blown ex-pat may be more advantageous for others

Would these sea steads have a military?
(Wilfried Ellmer) #2

In our group the leading work hypothesis is, that floating city states, when they come in existance will in general follow the political handling, the power brokerage strategy, the citizenship strategy, and the economic strategy, of the historic model of Venice.

It is for good reasons that Venice is called “The floating City” for 1500 years…(1) by now.
Venice is based on landfill and "swamp urbanisation" - its developement horizon is therefore limited. The next evolutionary step in city building is "fully floating" with a unlimited global development horizon.
In this context also check (Joshua Comaroff) why century concepts like "the grounded state", "Sovereignty", and "Citizenship" are dissolving rapidly making place for moderner concepts as "cooperation networks", "global mobility", and "planetary citizenship" ...

key concept: liquid real estate - the end of the grounded state (1)


Seasteading will not be the floating replication of old and passed nationalistic state concepts - it will be something new and different.

Historical Fact:

Did you know that passports did not exist until 1914 - when the world entered in a “nationalistic convulsion” that lead to World war 1 and 2 and cold war with guaranteed mutual destruction doctrine at the end… almost ending the human project on the planet for good.

To understand our times better you might consider that we are now in a transition that leaves this "neandertal perception of the world" and its base concepts (Sovereignty & Citizenship) behind, and hopefully transcends to something better... this movement is claiming a leading role in it.


Venice became a member of the United Nations … when?

(Chad Elwartowski) #4

I think going from nothing to full nation is a non-starter. For many of the reasons you presented. Outside of violent revolution, sovereignty does not tend to happen very often.

What I could see happening is gradual sovereignty. Like the phased approach of protected lagoon to 12nm to full international waters it would happen over time.

TSI/Blue Frontiers is getting a huge step in the right direction with the Special Economic Zone/SeaZone. This is akin to dipping our toes in the water. While there will not be full sovereignty there will be some levels of sovereignty when it comes to things like economic policy and things of that nature. This would allow for it to move down that path of dealing with citizenship, currency, dealing with things like SWIFT and international banking, etc.

All while keeping a protective legal structure such as criminal law, military protection, etc.

Once the engineering and those basic things of dealing with the small bit of sovereignty provided then the seastead can move to 12nm from shore which opens up a whole new set of freedoms. There is not much that the host nation has control over past 12nm other than things like natural resources and things like that.

As it moves further out it would likely do like so many colonies and demand sovereignty. It would need to provide enough incentive though for the nation to let them go.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #5

In a earlier thread the hypothesis that the economic size of a seastead drives the size of its politics was coined…

(Wilfried Ellmer) #8

Hypothesis: Seasteading is about interference freedom

@Elwar | Interesting questions : Is the ocean really a patchwork of "mile zones" where different rule sets apply. Or is this only relevant for industrial fishing and oil drilling...


The Montevideo Convention

Article 3

The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states. Even before recognition the state has the right to defend its integrity and independence, to provide for its conservation and prosperity, and consequently to organize itself as it sees fit, to legislate upon its interests, administer its services, and to define the jurisdiction and competence of its courts.The exercise of these rights has no other limitation than the exercise of the rights of other states according to international law.

Therefore, a seastead operating on the high seas can declare statehood at anytime, if it will meet the following conditions:

Article 1

The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:
(a) a permanent population;
(b) a defined territory;
© government; and
(d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.

Also, according to the Principle of Self-determination:

“People, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference”. Therefore, a 100-200-500 people seastead peacefully operating 1200 nm in the middle of the Pacific is legal, according to international law.

All that, of course, given that such seastead WILL respect international and maritime law.

Now, if such seastead will be looking to acquire (lets say) nuclear weapons, then a Tomahawk missile launched from a destroyer 1000 nm away will take care of that problem in exactly 1 hour and 48 minutes…

(Wilfried Ellmer) #12

That is a interesting postulate :

And let me add this postulate:

… and a de facto and de jure independent unit by default…for all practical means that matter (as long as it keeps things “ugly 4 compliant” ).

The reasons why nobody is likley to attack it with missiles are the same why nobody will attack a cruise ship with missiles…it is not something serious people would be concerned about, or talk about…or consider in any way…or see a need to plan for in any way in a serious business plan.

… and it matters very little in practice if the shore distance is 1 mile or 200 miles … the independence status of a floating entity does not depend on “shore distance”.

Nobody tosses the beer over board because the cruise ship is cruising in sight of a coast that has sharia law in its courts… and no armed patrol boat will come out 199 miles to “enforce sharia law on the international cruise ships passing by” that is not the marine business practice…
That simple fact of internatioal marine interaction should be obvious to everybody - the ocean is not a patchwork of legislations and hostile nationalistic enforcements imposed to anybody floating out there (according to zoning). Who postulates this and on what base ?

There is only ONE emergent law that matters “freedom of the ocean” for everybody (as smallest common denominator everybody with economic power can agree to).

No enforcement of national rule sets of any kind for nobody outside of harbors and marinas. That is what works in practice - the rest is "pretentions", "dead lawtext", and weak UN conventions some agree to some not - (who gives a ship about them - for all practical means...)
Postulate: The shore distance you need does not depend on "articles and legal papermousing in UN conventions and dusty 17th century admirality laws" - it depends on how much of a "hostile oceanic bulley" in practice your neighbour is.
In many caribbean countries you will be good with a few hundred meter shore distance to enjoy interference freedom of 9.9 on the interference freedom scale.
Caribbean Nations are born along the liberty ideals of Simon Bolivar. Independence is welcome, normal, and universal, the "out of jurisdiction status" is not seen as a "threat to the founded and grounded national(ist) state" but as a default in the natural come together of multicultural societies of multiple makes, traditions, sizes, ethnics, and world views ...
Nobody in the Caribbean will even waste a thought on "how big government conform" according to which rule set, something that floats over the horizon and out of sight - clear subject to the freedom of the seas - in the end - is - or should be - or is supposed to be ...or which grade of independence it declares to whom at what point of its development...

My educated guess: It will go like cruise ships - they live their life as de facto independent units in all aspects that matter - without declaring anything to anybody - at any shore distance - and any zone - legally they are “in the same class as a canoe” - but their practice of interaction with ports nations, supply lines and international networks is VERY different it is almost a form of economics diplomacy with very strong cards to play. They get the best of many statuses - and leave “unconsented interference” behind - ALLWAYS and at any level…they have no interest in being treated as a city or a state because their actual status is much better … it is about business, interference freedom, global markets, and global networks, not about politics. It is more about “getting rid of politics in all its forms” as Peter Thiel puts it.

(.) #13

I tried to google this, but so far no luck. May be a link?

(Wilfried Ellmer) #14

Apr 13, 2009 - Peter Thiel

the great task for libertarians is to find an escape from politics in all its forms

(.) #15

Thank you. And. Posts must be at least twenty characters.

(.) #16

Well, I think, it is lots of philosophy.

There are some circles, where some practical experience dominate.
They still have some words. For example, I have heard:
“The same mind set cannot solve the problem that it created.”
“Doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.”

Resolving politics with politics is probably not the way.(imho)

I do not want to start a cult, but I have some opinions.

My opinion is that the brain is addicted to the old ways of thinking.

It is like a Games People Play, Eric Berne type of game theory, with an adrenochrome kind of
chemical reward in it. Roles people live. Some people’s life is like a manuscript of a play or
a movie, written ahead, and there is only one way to fulfill.

The brain itself is manufacturing the chemical that the brain is addicted to.
Here I would refer to some of the research of Abram Hoffer, Humphrey Osmond , and the et al.

The limitation of thinking about sovereignty is probably like a drunk thinking about sobriety.
Yet, a desire might be there.

I did not want to say much. Lots of this might have to remain hidden.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #17

I tend to agree on that. In some way words like (politics, disruption, sovereignity, citicenship, freedom, nation state, interference, safety, etc … ) mean different things to different people with different background. So confusion and fight is the normal outcome when communicating about it.
I am not here to fight about politics, i am here to solve the technology bottleneck of seasteading and make New Venice and New Atlantis happen.

Do you still remember when Randy wanted to negotiate a “disruptive freezone” with the Hondurian President ? - suddendly there where protests on the street claiming that the President is selling off parts of Honduras. ( and the President a no show in the meeting )

And this happened before Randy could float out a picknick raft…let allone a floating city in the remote jungle of Fonseca bay.

Or do you remember when Randy asked the FDA about their opinion and their permit to float out a medical seastead ?

… etc… etc…

In our group we have the “Mies van der Rohe principle” for politics and talking about politics " LESS IS MORE"

The cruise ship industry seems to share that thought - i hear little talk about “how the existance of cruise ships undermine the nation state”… and how UNCLOS does regulate, legal frame, and limit, mobile populations of city size on the high seas (it does not)… and this is probably in part strategicly intended by the interested marine industries.

As seasteading movement we should be careful what kind of “discussion and media hype we forment and fuel” - the cruise ship industry is a good model - shut up and do your thing just as they do and leave politics behind.

Peter Thiel said that if he would have asked the banking industry for a permit to disrupt their ways paypal would have never seen a day of birth - the same applies for bitcoin, napster, etc…

At the end it is not about hiding or secrecy it is about “forment what is convenient” and not nurture what is unconvenient…

How much “platform” do we give to people who have an interest in badmouth our thing ?

How much do we have to involve the yellow press who functions on “bad news is rating” base. (Seasteading as tax escape, drug paradise, only criminals can have an interest in freedom, privacy and pushing back on the big brother state pretending to control even the seas )…

(.) #18

I do not want to discuss about meanings for words, and theoretical concepts.
If somebody does not like what I write, I am not offended.

I am going to go to look for kelp.


Yet, if you aren’t presenting it as an escape from government, it doesn’t have those same connotations. When I approached Universities, the USCG and the USACE about developing IMTA for offshore of Oregon there was help and support. I dropped it after Fukushima really became an ongoing source of radioactive poison in the Pacific Ocean.

(.) #20

Harrisburg, Sellafield, Chernobyl.
And Fukushima is quite an misfortune too.


(.) #22

It might be difficult to keep the escape plan a secret.

opening move: to get a boat and a kelp harvest license in California.

second move: harvest kelp, to grind it and to dry it to sell it as animal feed.

third move: to develop a deep water kelp field outside of CA waters (3miles)
within federal waters (12miles).
A deep water kelp field would be kelp growing from underwater buoys.
Anchoring lines for buoys can be made of used tires. Lots of used tires for cheap.

So, when the state of California decides to restrict kelp harvest, just move out of

The deep water kelp field anchoring system could be moved outside of US waters and
later outside of EEZ if necessary.

Dried chopped kelp could be sold as animal feed in more than one country.

And I still think it is unfortunate: that nuclear radiation, that also comes from Fukushima.


True, but a bit idealistic and unrealistic There might be plenty of “nice neighbor” nations, Caribbean or elsewhere, to start with. But it would be idealistic to believe that they will stay like that for ever. Their people and governments are subject to change, in time. And that change, is unpredictable.

It would be unrealistic to reason otherwise.

It would also be unrealistic to reason that if that seastead in their backyard starts making good money and getting bigger, that “good neighbor” won’t be looking for a “chunk of that” in tax revenue.

Most likely. Could be a mobile artificial island that cruises around the World with the “twist” of never entering any territorial waters, therefore never making port:

  • Avoid politics

  • Save $ millions in port-dockage-duty fees.

Just shuttle people in and out. A fast cat could do 12 nm in 20 min or less.

Whoever wants to just visit, can visit. Whoever wants to cruise from point A to B, can cruise. Whoever wants to stay/invest and can afford it, can stay/invest. Whoever wants to work if work is available can work.

And such gig would be much cheaper to put together than dropping the hook in any territorial waters. Less permits, fees, assessments, etc.

Seasteading should have gone straight offshore to start with…

(Rick Van Schoik) #24

While SovStead is a issue of potentially major concern, establishing the first flag in international waters may be easier than proposed. Several seamounts, not in anyones’ backyard (territory), are prime for “colonizing”. The world has too many border disputes to approach solutions from other angles.