Hawaiian land claims "successfully registered" at World Court?

Petro Hoy has a letter in the Maui News starting out with this: "Four months ago the entire Hawaiian Archipelago was successfully registered for the kanaka maoli with the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands."

I'm not sure exactly what "successfully registered" means, but I would like to raise some questions for consideration in this context...

From the online version of the booklet about the operations of the Court from its website:
The Parties

Only States may be parties to cases before the Court

It is the function of the ICJ to decide in accordance with international law disputes of a legal nature that are submitted to it by States. In doing so it is helping to achieve one of the primary aims of the United Nations, which, according to the Charter, is to bring about the settlement of disputes by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law.

An international legal dispute is, as the PCIJ put it, "A disagreement on a question of law or fact, a conflict, a clash of legal views or of interests." Such a dispute between opposing parties may eventually lead to contentious proceedings before an international tribunal. It is conceivable that such proceedings could be between a State on the one hand and an international organization, a collectivity or an individual on the other. Within their respective fields of jurisdiction, institutions such as the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg or the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg would be entitled to hear such disputes. This is not the case, however, with the ICJ, to which no case can be submitted unless both applicant and respondent are States. Despite various proposals and even the existence of a treaty providing for the possibility of proceedings before the Court between an international agency and a State, neither the United Nations nor any of its specialized agencies can be a party in contentious proceedings before the ICJ. As for private interests, these can only form the subject of proceedings in the International Court of Justice if a State, relying on international law, takes up the case of one of its nationals and invokes against another State the wrongs which its national claims to have suffered at the latter's hands, the dispute thus becoming one between States (e.g., Ambatielos, Anglo-Iranian Oil Co., Nottebohm, Interhandel, Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited, Elettronica Sicula S.p.A. (ELSI)). Like any other court, the ICJ can only operate within the constitutional limits that have been laid down for it. Hardly a day passes without the Registry receiving written or oral applications from private persons. However heart-rending, however well founded such applications may be, the ICJ is unable to entertain them and a standard reply is always sent: "Under Article 34 of the Statute, only States may be parties in cases before the Court."

And then this, from the same page:
A case can only be submitted to the Court with the consent of the States concerned

Jurisdiction ratione personae is not, however, in itself enough. A fundamental principle governing the settlement of international disputes is that the jurisdiction of an international tribunal depends in the last resort on the consent of the States concerned. Accordingly, no sovereign State can be made a party in proceedings before the Court unless it has in some manner or other consented thereto. It must have agreed that the dispute or the class of disputes in question should be dealt with by the Court. It is this agreement that determines the jurisdiction of the Court so far as the particular dispute is concerned — the Court's jurisdiction ratione materiae.

These are requirements plainly stated on the website of the Court itself, easily found through a quick search. Has Hoy and the folks he's working with somehow figured out how to submit a case on behalf of the Hawaiian kingdom as a state and receive the consent of the United States to be party to the case, or figured out some other way around these basic requirements? I doubt it. So, as well-meaning as they may be, is the documents being "successfully registered" (whatever that means) anything more than a symbolic act, at best raising some awareness of the issue, but at worst providing false hope to those who might think that filing such papers actually means anything or would ever be acted on by the Court?

Posted: Wed - May 10, 2006 at 03:02 PM    
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Published On: May 10, 2006 03:04 PM
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