Prosperity Zones & Private Cities Newsletter #9
Dear friends of Free Private Cities,
On this edition, we have news regarding the promotion of the idea. We also have to report interesting developments from the Seasteaders.
The news made the rounds worldwide at the end of May: a loving couple was facing the death penalty due to the establishment of a Seastead-platform off the coast of Thailand. What had happened?
The world’s first offshore Seastead from company OceanBuilders was manned in April 2019 by US bitcoin millionaire Chad Elwartowski and his Thai life partner Nadia Supranee Thepdet and was a success. The local fishermen sold food to the couple and occasionally the two took the boat to the mainland to replenish supplies. As readers of this newsletter know, videos were published by the Seasteading Institute and there were plans to mobilize more volunteers to build a first small settlement and then make a contractual agreement with Thailand. Local Thai agencies had no problem with the project at this time, when asked by interested parties. Then in May, out of the blue, came the Thai Navy, which claimed that the couple was being investigated for treason, for which the death penalty can be imposed under Thai criminal law. The activities supposedly posed a threat to Thailand’s sovereignty and the platform also allegedly hindered shipping. Finally, it was argued that the platform was within Thailand’s territorial waters. Apparently, the couple were warned in advance by an informed party so that they could leave the platform in time.
Subsequently, OceanBuilders published the coordinates of the Seastead. As a result, the platform clearly was located outside the territorial waters of the twelve-mile zone. It was further argued that such a small structure, completely off the shipping lines, cannot pose any threat to shipping and that the company retains all ownership rights to the platform.
The Seasteading Institute announced that Thailand was completely overreacting. At most, the couple may have violated registration regulations, but in no way is the sea outside the territorial waters an area in which Thai law can impose the death penalty. Later, the Thai government back-pedaled on the accusation of treason. To date, no charges at all have been brought.
Now, what are we to think of this? In fact, the legal situation is unclear. The often-heard assumption that one is free of state regulation outside the territorial waters (also called coastal sea or twelve-mile zone) is not true. Both the so-called contiguous zone (12 to 24 nautical miles) and the exclusive economic zone (another 200 nautical miles) give the coastal state certain rights, usually to prevent smuggling or the unauthorized exploitation of resources. The coastal state also has the right to regulate artificial islands within these zones in accordance with the relevant UN Convention. It is not known if and which laws Thailand has enacted in this respect. On the other hand, it is logically difficult to understand how a platform outside Thailand’s territorial waters, which should also remain there and which is also subject to Thai law, at least in some areas, can impair Thailand’s sovereignty. The accusation of obstructing shipping also seems to have been far-fetched.
Nevertheless, the case shows that any attempt to establish new forms of coexistence should not be directed against states, but instead on the basis of contractual agreement with the state. This corresponds to the concept of Free Private Cities, which the Seasteading Institute has in a way adopted with its idea of an autonomous “Seazone”.
In all the excitement, however, the fact that a technological breakthrough has taken place has remained largely unnoticed. This is the first time that ocean-going dwellings have been created which are affordable for private individuals (150k $) and which also offer the possibility of creating low-cost settlements near the coast or commercial underwater restaurants and hotels.
Both OceanBuilders and the Seasteading Institute are currently negotiating new project locations. Things are guaranteed to remain exciting for some time.
Promoting the idea
I am proud to announce that my book is now available in Russian and Portuguese, in both eBook and print versions. Spanish and Italian versions are in the making. In addition, the German version is now available as cheaper paperback version.
Finally, if you wish to show your support for the Free Private Cities idea, this can be done now with T-shirts, mugs, stickers etc. Here is the link to the shop.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. For any questions, proposals, critics, etc. you are welcome to write at [email protected].
Monaco, June 2019