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 FACT: U.S. Federal Programs in Chuuk pursuant to the Compact would be withdrawn.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.