Chuuk Secession

With the discussion of Chuuk Secession hearing up, I am reposting the following report from Jim Stovall, FSM legal counsel and COFA expert. I respectfully ask that the commission respond to the following Facts, specifically Fact 4, which would require all Chuuk citizens to leave the US once Chuuk secedes:

"Jim Stovall, legal counsel to the FSM Government and foremost expert on the Compact of Free Association (COFA), has issued the following memorandum to President Mori. In it he laid out eight facts to help the average Chuukese voter understand the implications of Chuuk State seceding from the federation with regards to the COFA.
SUBJECT: Compact Implications of Chuuk Secession (Jim Stovall, III)
DATE: January 27, 2015
In the upcoming March elections there will be a proposition on the ballot in the State of Chuuk for voters to indicate yes or no on Chuuk’s secession from the FSM. This Memorandum examines how provisions of the Compact impact this situation.
A State-appointed Commission in Chuuk has worked on this for the last two years. According to the plan, if the referendum proposition passes, the Chuuk Legislature will pass a law forming a Constitutional Convention leading to formal secession sometime in 2017. The Commission has issued a Final Report, along with earlier information papers.

1. FACT: The Compact will terminate automatically for Chuuk at the moment of secession from the FSM.
The Compact is a treaty between the Government of the US and the Government of the FSM. Title Four, Article VI, Section 461, defines the term, “Government of the Federated States of Micronesia” as “including all the political subdivisions and entities comprising that Government.” Were Chuuk to secede from the FSM, it would no longer be one of the entities “comprising that Government,” and no longer a part of the Compact in any way. The Compact is not a separate and divisible agreement with every State and local entity, it is a treaty with the FSMG. Absent that, the new Government of the Republic of Chuuk has no relationship whatever with the United States, subject to what it may wish to, or be able to negotiate.

2. FACT: Compact Funding to former Chuuk State would not Transfer to the Republic of Chuuk.
This would be an automatic consequence of the fact that the Republic of Chuuk is not a party to the Compact. Any changes to the Compact funding structure or amount would require US Congress legislation.

3. FACT: U.S. Federal Programs in Chuuk pursuant to the Compact would be withdrawn.
This, also, is because Federal Programs must be specifically authorized by US law, and these are either specifically provided by the Compact, or otherwise specifically extended to FSM by law. Chuuk would not any longer be included within the definition of “Federated States of Micronesia.” Therefore, all US programs, including those in education (Pell Grant, among others) and health, postal, weather, telecommunications, emergency and disaster assistance, FAA, CAB, and FDIC would disappear.

4. FACT: Compact Immigration status of Chuuk citizens in the U.S. would terminate automatically, upon secession.
The privileges referred to above, which include the right to work, study and reside in the US, are provided by Title One, Article IV of the Compact. Since the Compact would no longer apply to citizens of the new Republic of Chuuk, they would all find themselves without status in the US and be forced to depart. Former Chuukese holding US citizenship (FSM does not recognize dual citizenship) would not be subject to deportation.

5. FACT: Title Three of the Compact, delegation of Security and Defense Rights to the U.S., would no longer apply in the territory of the new Republic of Chuuk.
The delegation of the sovereign responsibility for security and defense made in the Compact by FSM to US and in the standby Mutual Defense Treaty, would no longer apply to the new Republic of Chuuk. It would be up to the new government of the Republic of Chuuk either to provide for its own security or negotiate security relationships with others. The value of such rights for Chuuk alone, in 2015, is not known.

6. FACT: Chuuk’s entitlement, if any, to assets of the Compact Trust Fund would be difficult and time-consuming to quantify.
The Compact Trust Fund Agreement would no longer apply to Chuuk. The Agreement makes no allocation of Trust Fund assets among the States and no provision for partial liquidation. So, if the Republic of Chuuk would have any entitlement at all, it would require complex discussions between the United States, the FSM and the new Republic of Chuuk that would take some significant amount of time. Implementation of any result would require US and FSM legislation.

7. FACT: A variety of benefits extended to FSM not in the Compact but in US Public Law 108-188 (The Amended Compact Act) would no longer be extended to Chuuk.
These would include things like the Investment Development Fund (IDF), EDA, USDA, RUS, Commerce Dept., Small Business Administration, Labor (Job Corps), and various programs in marine resource development.

8. FACT: Negotiations by a new Republic of Chuuk for a separate relationship with the United States and with other countries would be time-consuming, based on past experience.
It took from 1969 through 1982 to negotiate the original Compact, and from 1981 through 1985, to negotiate the various programs and services agreements. All the while, the TT apparatus remained in place and functioning. After TT termination, FSM could rely on Compact income while it pursued its various foreign relations. Similarly, during the four-year period of negotiations for the Amended Compact FSM had assured Compact funding. In light of that, one must ask whether the schedule posited by the Chuuk Commission (2017) is achievable given all the things listed above that will cease to apply on the day of secession. The new Republic of Chuuk will require an unbroken income stream from and after 2017".


  • Sandman, thanks for sharing Mr. Stovall's analysis. He is the most expert on COFA's legal perspective. His analysis not only applies to Chuuk but to any of the FAS since the COFA's are pretty much the same. Just some thoughts on this nice evening.
  • What say you, pro-secessionists?
  • If Chuuk wants it i say give it a chance. Look at Palau ane Marshalls. People didn't think it could've happaned and doubt their ability to survive but look at them now. If they vote yes we should respect their choice if no then respect that too.

    If the vote is yes i highly believe they can negotiate their own cofa. But they have to forget about financial assistance. Thats done with. America will still want to keep out foreign powers out of these waters and thats the key to getting their own cofa. China too would want the same strategic advantage of having alliance with a country in these waters. But chuuk would be in between two hard objects china and america. Overall america would negotiate to keep Chuuk out of chinas sphere.

    Give it a chance.
  • I don't think its my place to say whether or not Chuuk should secede however what needs to be known is the fact that this would set a precedence that would undermine everything the FSM and US has been working on.

    If this should succeed, what would stop Yap, Kosrae, or Pohnpei from seceding from the FSM?

    My opinion on this is that the US would not allow this whatsoever. The COFA agreement is binding and the US would not want any part in allowing Chuuk to secede and therefore open up Chuuk to Chinese influence.

    The other issue that needs to be addressed is whether this Nation as a whole would agree to allow Chuuk to secede from the FSM.
  • Is anyone even bothered by Stovall's briefing on the consequences of Chuuk seceding the FSM?

    Why hasn't the commission shared this?

    I had always thought that Chuukese could remain within the US jurisdictions even after Chuuk's secession. But now that I have read Stovall's brief, I am worried most especially knowing nothing to fall back on as, Chuuk awaits the long process of having a babysitter. I am not only worried, but scared as shit as well.

  • Interesting article below:

    Has there been any opinion coming out of the Chuuk Delegation in Congress? Wouldn't secession basically cause the elimination of all Chuuk members in Congress?
  • So the two major authorities that are being mentioned in connection with the secession are UN and the US. I believe UN does not get involved with secession efforts; which are considered as domestic matters; which are internal matters of sovereign countries. Many domestic groups in Europe are pushing for their own independence but the UN as a group stays away; and does not get involved.

    The US, I believe, would not want to get involved with the internal matters of a sovereign country, whether FSM or other countries. It's the same principal that the US expects of other sovereign countries. US would not accept any foreign country to try to involve itself with any of the states, such as California, from declaring itself as independent of the US. This meddling of domestic affairs could lead to war.

    I think based on these fundamental principles of sovereign countries, the US will not get involved with the issue of Chuuk secession from the FSM. US will take a hands-off position. And will just wait for whatever results of this secession efforts. If the FSM Government would be willing to agree with Chuuk to secede, then, the US will receive official notice from the FSM. And then Chuuk, will be free to negotiate with the US, China or any other countries. Time is off the essence since 2023 is around the corner.
  • Good luck Chuuk State...
  • I don't know about that snowden, America is under a new leadership and a different policy. If chuuk vote yes like RMI and ROP did then will negotiate. The US will honor that vote to breakaway since FSM constitution says if the vote is yes by majority. FSM constitution has a clause for states to breakaway the US does not. America will honor it IF chuukese democratically vote to go their own way.
  • IronYouth, I don't know what America or its president's opinion will be regarding Chuuk's secession however your statement regarding majority vote is true. Only one thing faulty regarding that assumption, will we the People of the FSM as a majority allow Chuuk to secede?
  • IronYouth, where in the Constitution does it allow a State to "breakaway?" I don't think it does, because the Constitution allows States to be added, but does not allow States to secede.
  • IronYouth, if Chuuk had voted to reject the proposed FSM Constitution, it would have been free to negotiate a separate COFA just like the RMI and ROP did. But because Chuuk voters' majority voted "yes" to the FSM Constitution, Chuuk willingly agreed to be part of a new sovereign FSM. In short, Chuukese voters agreed to relinquish their God-given "inherent sovereignty" to the FSM. If all FSM states voted "no" to the FSM Constitution, there would be no FSM today.

  • Sandman, There is no clause on the FSM constitution that forbids states to breakaway like the US constitution. There is however a clause that allow a state to breakaway of the majority vote is YES. People will bring up articles from the constitution to say this is false, i point to the supreme court of the Federated states of micronesia which has never ruled that secession is unconstitutional.

  • Marc, that was then but this is now. Then they wanted to enter now they want out. If Chuuk votes yes by majority then we and everybody including the other states should and must respect their Democratic choice for they willingly voted "yes" to secede. Its a Democratic process and if the vote is no then the secessionists should also abide and respect that vote too.

    If the vote is yes chuuk has a chance to negotiate their own cofa. America will not allow a prime real estate piece of its defense to go into the hand of another foreign power especially china since the secessionists are warming to and drawing close to China.
  • IronYouth, you are missing the point. This is a democracy which has to have a majority of all the States of the FSM agree to Chuuk seceding. Chuuk cannot on its own decide to secede without the other 3 States taking part in the decision making process even though the majority of Chuukese vote yes to secession.
  • About the following opinion on the legality of Secession from the FSM.

    The Legality of Secession From the FSM

    FSM Constitution

    •  The FSM Constitution does not allow for secession.  This argument is based upon:

    · The FSM Constitution.

    1. Preamble.

    2. Article XIII, Section 3.  

    · The framers of the FSM Constitution.

    1. Micronesian Constitutional Convention Journal of 1975.

    2. SCREP No. 40, Committee on General Provisions, October 30, 1975 (Comm. Proposal No. 27) re Secession and Admission of New States.

    •  PREAMBLE (excerpt)

    1. …With this Constitution, we affirm our common wish to live together in peace and harmony, to preserve the heritage of the past, and to protect the promise of the future.

    2. To make one nation of many islands, we respect the diversity of our cultures. Our differences enrich us.  The seas bring us together, they do not separate us. Our islands sustain us, our island nation enlarges us and makes us stronger.

    •  Article XIII, Section 3. 

    1. It is the solemn obligation of the national and state governments to uphold the provisions of this Constitution and to advance the principles of unity upon which this Constitution is founded (emphasis added).

    Micronesian Constitutional Convention Journal of 1975

    •  Volume II, pages 868-869 (or pages 272-279 of PDF version):

    1.     The Committee Proposal is based on the assumption that a State, by sending Delegates to the Convention and by ratifying the final document, has made a firm commitment to join the Federated States of Micronesia.  The Proposal does not allow a later reassessment of this commitment which may be motivated by a change in the economic or political conditions within a State.  To allow a State to secede makes it uncertain whether that State is making a full effort to meet its responsibilities to the new nation or only buying time until the conditions are ripe for secession.  It may be difficult for the central government to operate efficiently when faced with such uncertainties.

    2.     This is especially true when dealing with international affairs.  The central government lacks credibility when it attempts to negotiate as the representative of all States if secession is allowed.  Any foreign government which is aware of the situation is free to deal with the individual States and play them off against each other and the central government.  This will quite possibly result in a loss of overall Micronesian bargaining power.

    3.     The purpose of forming a union is so that all states might work together for the betterment of all.  It is not desirable to allow a State, which may in the future receive additional revenues, to withdraw from the union rather than to share for the good of the union.  The same logic which would allow a rich State to withdraw the expulsion of a poor State.  Such thinking goes against the whole concept of the establishment of national unity for the benefit of all Micronesians.

    4.     Your Committee is of the opinion that unity is necessary if the Federated States of Micronesia is to become a strong and respected member of the international community.  Therefore, we urge that the Micronesian Constitution not allow secession."

    •  Signed by 13 members of the Committee on General Provisions, two of whom did not concur.

    Legal Pathway to Secession

    (if Chuuk referendum to secede is successful)

    If the Chuuk Political Status Commission referendum regarding the question of secession from the FSM passes (50% of the votes cast + one), there is a legal pathway to secession that must be followed in order for the State of Chuuk to actually secede from the FSM.

    •  The CPSC must place the vote to secede before the registered voters of the FSM.  The process is set out in the FSM Constitution and the FSM Code.  The Constitutional process is:


    1.     An amendment to this Constitution may be proposed by a constitutional convention, popular initiative, or Congress in a manner provided by law.  (emphasis added).

    2.     The FSM Code sets forth the "manner provided by law" under Title 1, section 7, subsections 701-706, i.e., by Congress, by popular initiative, or by constitutional convention.

    3.     Manner provided by law:

    · Popular initiative requires, under 1 FSMC 702(1)(b), the following:

    “Initiative petition.  A constitutional amendment may be proposed by a popular initiative petition signed by no less than ten percent of the registered voters in not less than three-fourths of the States.  An initiative petition with the requisite number of signatures shall be transmitted by the election commissioner of each respective State as established in section 703(4) of this chapter, without delay to the President of the Federated States of Micronesia; ….”  (Emphasis added).

    Once the President receives the initiative petition with the requisite number of signatures from each State Election Commissioner, the President will place it on a ballot in a special election, which must occur at least 45 days in advance of the election on the initiative to amend the Constitution.  [See, 1 FSMC 702(2)].

    · Congressional action requires, under article XIV, section 1, FSM Constitution, that a proposed amendment shall become a part of the Constitution when approved by ¾ of the votes cast on the amendment in each of ¾ of the states.

    Congressional Act.  A proposed constitutional amendment by Congress must follow the provisions of article IX, sections 20 through 22 of the Constitution.  [See, 1 FSMC § 702(1)(c)].

    Article IX, sections 20 through 22 of the Constitution address passage of bills by Congress, requiring two readings on separate days, the first reading by a 2/3 vote of all members and the final reading by each state casting one vote and a 2/3 vote of the votes cast being required for passage.

    As in the case of a popular initiative, the President will place the proposed constitutional amendment on a ballot, which must occur at least 45 days in advance of the election on the initiative to amend the Constitution. [See, 1 FSMC 702(2)].

    4.     A proposed amendment shall become a part of the Constitution when approved by 3/4 of the votes cast on that amendment in each of 3/4 of the states.

    5.     The amendment to the FSM Constitution would need to amend Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution – Territory of Micronesia – which states in pertinent part:

    · “The territory of the Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of the Districts of the Micronesian archipelago that ratify this Constitution….”

    · Truk District, succeeded by Truk State (now “Chuuk State”) ratified the FSM Constitution in 1978.  Therefore, in order for Chuuk State to secede from the FSM, Article I, Section 1 would have to be amended removing the territory of Chuuk State from the territory of the FSM.

    Any thoughts.....

    By the way, Jim Stovall, born & raised in Alabama, graduated from law school at the University of Alabama in 1960.He was in the US Army, worked at the Pentagon then became a JAG Corp.

    Was/is he always looking out for the best interests of the FSM or the US?
  • Thank you Anti-Colonialist. My take is that the idea of allowing States to leave the nation was considered, as reflected in the journal. If our founding fathers wanted to allow States to secede, they would have put it into the Constitution. But because seceding is not in the Constitution, it is not allowed, thus, unconstitutional.
  • No where in the constitution has it written specifically that secession is illegal. The FSM supreme court is silent on that because the constitution does not say it is illegal. If it was illegal the supreme court would have said and blocked the movement to vote for Chuuk breakaway. Like last vote and this one the court has remained silent and hasn't asserted the article or constitution clause that prohibits secession. The law and supreme court is silent because i repeat again because the fsm constitution does not say specifically that secession is illegal. If the constitution had it down in writing the supreme court would have blocked this movement by Chuuk secessionists. The Supreme court has not blocked has not deemed it illegal and thus far has remained silent on this issue. Silent is consent.
  • Someone has to make the claim, the Supreme Court cannot raise the issue on its own. When it is raised, not IF it is raised, secession will be struck down as unconstitutional.
  • Sandman- the supreme court of fsm has but one duty and that is to interpret the constitution and the laws. The court has remained silent because the constitution does not prohibits secession. If it was illegal the court would have step in and asserted that this was illegal. The only reason why the court has remained silent on this issue is because its legal. Silent is consent.
  • IronYouth, Sandman is correct. FSM Supreme Court cannot interfere in the secession process unless a case regarding secession of Chuuk is filed in its Court. There should be a clear understanding regarding the separation of powers within government therefore FSM Supreme Court cannot and will not interfere in the process unless a case is filed in Court for or against the secession of Chuuk from the FSM by Chuuk State or a third party.
  • Where's is our lawyer friend, Taxi-womw? We need his legal expertise

    I could be wrong but in my coconut opinion, the secession movement or quest itself is not illegal nor unconstitutional. However, there is a legal process or pathway as provided by law or our Constitution for it to go through in order to make it legal & constitutional. So I guess we can also say that the Secession can be illegal & unconstitutional if it does not follow the proper or legal process as provided by law or our Constitution. But then again, I could be wrong.

    Taxi-womw, where the heck are yu? Are you busy educating the people on the benefits of Chuuk seceding from the FSM?

    I kind of agree with Sandman that perhaps our founding fathers may have intentionally leave out any Secession clause in our Constitution because they only want one thing - Unity, a united Federated States of Micronesia as clearly stated in our Preamble.
  • A preamble is not a statement of allegiance. Its the courts job to interpret laws and the constitution and do interfere in areas where the two are concerned. The preamble also has "wish to live together" so what if that wish to live together is no longer there?
  • IronYouth,

    the post I posted on the legal pathway & the interpretation of the US Constitution in regards to Secession from FSM is the legal opinion of the FSM Dept. of Justice based on our Constitution, which I believe our FSM court will most likely uphold. Of course, there ain't no case yet but for now, that's the legal opinion of our FSM Dept of Justice.
  • President Mori was against the same vote years ago but he didn't use his constitutional powers of the president to stop it as stated by the constitution because its legal. The supreme court is silent on this same issue because its legal. Again the preamble is not a oath of allegiance like the American oath of allegiance. Citing US interpretation on a FSM INTERNAL matter is void since FSM is a sovereign nation and the US does not interfere in internal maters regarding FSM. One can't use the US constitution or interpretation regarding secession because the US went to a civil war to stop secession to uphold the union. That is why the US supreme court decision regarding secession is adamant against secession of any States. FSM constitution has loopholes to secession whereas the US does not. This is why citing US interpretation on this issue void.
  • Sorry IronYouth

    I meant to say - FSM CONSTITUTION ....."the post I posted on the legal pathway & the interpretation of the FSM Constitution in regards to Secession from FSM is the legal opinion of the FSM Dept. of Justice based on our FSM Constitution".

    Again, the Secession movement is not illegal; however, there is a legal pathway or process for Secession from FSM based on our FSM Constitution. The Secession can move forward but must comply with our FSM Constitution. Unless the Secession moves forward without complying with our FSM Constitution, that's when or where our FSM Court will come in provided that there's a case filed or a motion for its interpretation is filed or requested. Until then, that's the legal opinion of our FSM Dept of Justice.
  • So the check and balance put in place by the founding fathers is bust? Is that what you are saying? If so more reason for Chuuk wanting out. If the supreme court does not assert itself on this issue which regards the constitution which its its job to interpret what the hell is it for?

    Im nor for or against chuuk secession. Im just for their rights which if is they vote yes then i will support it because its part of the Democratic process. We may disagree with it but if and when they vote yes and its a Majority then we must abide and honor their decision as they chose it democratically.
  • IronYouth, the FSM Supreme Court cannot "assert itself" without an interested party brining suit. Why don't you file the case?
  • Something that came to mind as I sit and ponder around the idea of having Chuuk separated from the federation is the Social Security System. Will I still be entitled as a benefactor being an FSM contributor to the system? I pay my dues, and when Chuuk secedes, will I still be entitled to my SS benefits?
  • sinbad,

    That is very relevant question and one that should be on the mind of every citizens of Chuuk. If the paying workers will loose all the money they have been, or will be paying into their accounts with the FSM Social Security Retirement Fund, then what will happen to them and the members of their families who are and will be their beneficiaries. The separatists must provide for an alternative to the benefits the people will loose, if this will be the case. If the pro-secessionists cannot guarantee a substitute then their proposal is irresponsible and will be detrimental to the well-being of the people of Chuuk, those who now living and those who are yet to be born.

    Another question that deserves an answer is the attitude of the people in the new independent Chuuk. Will they become positive, honest, hardworking, selfless and willing to stop the current "me-first" mentality that many of the leaders of this great state exercise, something that keep the people of Chuuk from progressing socially, economically, and politically.

    Al the exercises that are taking place to seek for an independent Chuuk will be in futility if there will be repeated the same actions and attitudes of the people entrusted to look after the welfare of the people.

    More money will not necessarily result in good governance by the leaders if they should remain corrupt. As a matter of fact, more money for the government will breed even more greed for the politicians and leaders if they remain dishonest.

    I sincerely hope every adult Chuukese search their hearts and determine for themselves what is good for them.
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