New Sovereign State Emerges: URD Claims Uninhabited Island Territory

Zimbabwe Academic Jokonya Leads Unprecedented Nation-Building Effort

by Adenike Adeodun

In a bold move that has captured global attention, Zimbabwe-born academic Webiston Jokonya announced the establishment of the United Republic of Delvin (URD), a new sovereign state located in the heart of the world’s waters, on September 5 last year. This declaration turned the uninhabited Howland Island, nestled in the Central Pacific Ocean, into the center of an unprecedented geopolitical initiative.

Howland Island, until recently known as an unclaimed territory approximately 1,700 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu and halfway between Hawaii and Australia, spans 160 hectares. Its equatorial climate, characterized by minimal rainfall, constant wind, and intense sunshine, frames a landscape that is both challenging and inviting for the fledgling nation. Despite being reportedly under the jurisdiction of the United States, Jokonya disputes such claims, arguing that the US has remained silent on the issue, possibly acknowledging the legitimacy of URD’s claim.

The journey to establish URD as a fully functioning state has seen significant progress, with Jokonya, now based in Lusaka, Zambia, assembling an 18-member cabinet, 11 of whom have already been appointed. These ministerial positions cover a range of portfolios including Defence, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and Education, among others. This development is a critical step towards mobilizing resources and registering citizens, with plans to physically occupy the island by the end of March.

URD’s call for citizens has resonated worldwide, drawing interest and pledges of support from diverse corners of the globe. The vision for URD is not just to create a new country but to establish a community that reflects the aspirations of its people, offering a unique blend of governance, sustainability, and innovation. Jokonya’s plans include the symbolic act of hoisting the national flag during an upcoming executive visit, marking a significant milestone in URD’s journey towards recognition and development.

Critics and skeptics have voiced concerns, labeling the endeavor unrealistic or a financial scheme. However, Jokonya and his supporters remain undeterred, emphasizing the strategic planning and international negotiations underway to secure URD’s place on the world stage. The nation claims recognition from several entities, including the government of India and the southern Cameroon government, suggesting a growing acceptance of the URD’s sovereignty.

Jokonya, with a distinguished academic background holding multiple PhDs, discovered the potential of the uninhabited territory during his research travels. Naming the nation after his last-born son, Delvin, he envisions URD as a testament to perseverance, innovation, and the pursuit of new beginnings. Despite the challenges and controversies surrounding its establishment, URD had registered 36 members by the end of last year, indicating a budding community ready to embark on this ambitious journey.

The Montevideo Convention outlines four criteria for statehood: a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. URD’s efforts to meet these criteria underscore a serious attempt to carve out a new nation in an unconventional setting. Whether URD will achieve full international recognition remains to be seen, but its foundation represents a fascinating exploration of sovereignty, identity, and the possibilities of new beginnings in the 21st century.

Jokonya’s initiative raises profound questions about the nature of statehood, the right to claim unoccupied territories, and the mechanisms of international recognition. As URD continues to develop its governmental infrastructure and solidify its claim, the world watches with a mixture of curiosity, skepticism, and, for some, a sense of hopeful anticipation. The United Republic of Delvin stands as a bold experiment in nation-building, challenging conventional notions of sovereignty and community in a rapidly changing world.


Source: Newsday

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