Right, enough messing about. Time to get seriously serious in this book. We’ve talked about how to deal with legal problems you might face or how to use the law to get out of an embarrassing (and potentially costly) situation. But what if you want to get out of all of the laws? Like, forever?
What if, you power hungry little devil, you want to make all the laws and enforce them with an iron fist?
Good news, you can!
All you have to do is start your own country. This is very much one of those ‘if you are going to do a job, do it properly’ things.
Ironically, the only way you can start your own country and make your own laws is to follow strict international laws that are accepted by almost every country. Yes, to avoid the law, you must follow the law. Stupid law and its catch-22-edness.
Like the law of the seas and the law of aircraft, we have another international convention to deal with: the ‘Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States.’ Or, as we will refer to it here, the Rulebook.
The Rulebook describes how you, and your mates if they are bored and want to help, can pick an area of land and declare it to be a new country, with you as its ultimate ruler and commander. However, the Rulebook also makes it very clear that starting your own country is not something that you can do on a whim, or on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Starting your own country is hard. Like, really hard. Legally, politically, financially and spiritually, it is going to be super hard. Oh boy, is it hard! Harder than [juvenile penis joke removed at my editor’s request]. Yes, it is that hard.
The Rulebook is short in length, but it does not mess around. The very first rule in the Rulebook says that if you want to start your own country, you are going to show that you have all of the following:
1. A permanent population – Your country is going to need people. This can be one person or a billion, but they all need to be permanently based in the same area.
2. A defined territory – Your country needs some land. It could be a room, an island, a football field, or your parents’ backyard. It does not matter so long as you can clearly define its boundaries. These boundaries do not need to be anything as serious as an ocean, or a great big wall that Mexico will pay for. It could a river along one edge of your country, or a mountain range, or a literal line in the sand, so long as you can show some sort of line or marker that sets the limits of your new country. Your country also cannot be in an area that someone else has already declared as a nation. So no claiming Tasmania for your new country.
3. Some type of government – You, or you and some close friends, are going to have to lead your new country in some sort of official capacity. You could make it a monarchy and declare yourself king, a dictatorship, a Communist stronghold (damn Commies) or a democracy. No matter which way your political persuasions lie, there has to be some sort of centralised decision-making body that is responsible for the operations of your country.
4. The capacity to enter into relations with the other States – No, sexual relations do not count (at least, for these purposes). Rather, if you want to have your own country, you have to make sure you and your people have the ability to trade and communicate with other countries in some way. This could be two cans and a long piece of string for all the Rulebook cares, so long as you can make contact with other countries.
For now, let us ignore the practical issues of you obtaining formal, international recognition, and focus on the good stuff that comes with having your own country. Importantly, your new country will have equal standing amongst all other countries. There is no hierarchy of countries, at least under the Rulebook, so you have the same legal status as the US or China in terms of being a country. Also, you have the right to protect your borders, and not to be influenced or controlled by any other country (unless you want to be).
You can call your country anything you want, create a new language, create new laws, or just do what most new countries do and copy the bits you like from other countries for use in your new nation.
However, all dreams must come to an end. To get legal recognition for your country, you have to find a bit of land that no other nation has already claimed for itself. And, no surprises here, there is not really all that much unclaimed land left.
There are other options, though.
You could attempt to take over an existing country by force, even if that is just by moving into a country and telling its inhabitants ‘mine now.’ If it is a tiny country, and you have enough big strong mates, its people might just go ‘yeah, cool’ and you suddenly have yourself a country of your own. You are more likely to encounter some pretty stiff resistance to your little invasion, though, so be ready.
You could buy a nation if you are super rich. Maybe a small island somewhere. Trouble is, islands tend to be expensive, and even crappy ones fetch a pretty penny on the open market, presuming you could convince the nation that owns that island to sell it to you outright.
Alternatively, if these two options sound too hard or impossible, you can follow the fine example of the Peoples’ Republic of China and dump dirt in the middle of the ocean somewhere, to create an island of your own. Yep, you can technically create a country where there was no country before. It would be like giving birth to a beautiful dirt baby.
Even if you find and claim a bit of land on which to create your country, and even after you comply with everything else the Rulebook tells you to do, you are still not done. Before your bit of dirt is a ‘country’ in the true sense of the law, the rest of the world must nod their collective heads and say ‘yes, Dirt-tonia is a country and we recognise it as one.’
Existing countries tend not to recognise new countries unless they absolutely have to do so. I mean, just look at Taiwan, which has been asking for recognition as its own country for many, many years. Despite Taiwan’s strong arguments, no nation is prepared to go against China’s view on the subject, and hence Taiwan has never been recognised by the world community as its own independent country. Palestine also seems to meet all the Rulebook’s requirements for being a country but is not legally recognised as such by such world minnows as Israel and the United States. If Taiwan and Palestine cannot get formal, legal recognition as a country, what do you think the chances of your dirt island being recognised as its own nation might be?
So, in summary: it is possible to legally establish and run your own country, with your own flag, national anthem, currency, laws, form of government, sporting teams, and so on. But it is not easy, my friend. Maybe, for now, just be content with being master or mistress of your own home.