Effects of the Compact of Free Association on sovereignty in the Federated States of Micronesia
Rummel, Ian M.
Barma, Naazneen H.
Piombo, Jessica R.
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The Compact of Free Association (COFA), a 1986 treaty between the United States and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), formalizes a specific type of shared sovereignty: free association between politically independent nations. The COFA intentionally compromises some aspects of Micronesian sovereignty by ceding limited authority to the United States, backed by the FSM's international legal standing. In return, the FSM should gain the political and economic capacity to be more effectively sovereign than it could be without external assistance. Whether free association remains the best avenue for the FSM to pursue its national goals depends on how sovereign authority is maintained. Does the COFA undermine the FSM's political authority in order to support U.S. strategic interests, or does it properly leverage the FSM's international legal standing and greater U.S. capacity in support of mutual interests? A critical look at international legal norms and shared sovereignty regimes, followed by a qualitative cost-benefit analysis with respect to sovereignty, might best answer that question. The results suggest necessary modifications to the U.S.-FSM COFA, as well as a revised understanding of free association and its potential effects on sovereignty.
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