Foreign policy and defense
Marshall Islands is a nation in Micronesia. Its capital city is Majuro. Foreign policy is central to the Marshall Islands’ relationship with the United States. Relations between the two states are good, but not straightforward. The relationship is regulated in the 1986 Compact of Free Association agreement.
The agreement states that the Marshall Islands is a fully independent state but that the United States is responsible for the islands’ defense and national security and commits itself to providing substantial financial assistance. The United States has the right to establish military bases on the islands as well as prevent other nations from doing the same. The Marshall Islands can terminate the agreement at any time, provided this is approved in a referendum. The Marshallese also have the right to stay, study and work in the United States without special permission.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Marshall Islands for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
A renegotiation of the free association agreement was finalized in the spring of 2003. It guarantees continued financial support from the United States of America for approximately $ 30 million annually until 2024, as well as $ 7 million in annual contributions to some kind of future fund for use after the cessation of US support.
In exchange for aid, Americans may retain the military base at Kwajalein Atoll until 2066. The atoll is also used as a target for US missile test firing, often fired from California. Large parts of the atoll have been taken over by US defense personnel. The indigenous population has moved to the town of Ebeye, from where many commutes to work on the base.
Compensation for the effects of the nuclear test
Relations with the United States are also marked by the dispute over damages to those affected by the nuclear weapons test blasts over the islands in the 1940s and 1950s (see Modern History). Some compensation was guaranteed in the agreement on free association; a damages fund of $ 150 million was included in the 1986 agreement and a special tribunal was established in 1988 to assess the compensation claims that came in.
The Marshall Islands have subsequently made additional compensation as the extent of the damage became known. In 1994, the United States published documents showing that the residents of the islands were intentionally exposed to radioactive radiation to see if it caused any damage.
In principle, the Tribunal had already paid out the amount it had at its disposal, when in 2000 it decided to pay an additional $ 500 million in damages, money it demanded the United States. In 2001, the country’s government asked the United States to allocate another $ 2.7 billion to a fund to alleviate the consequences of the tests. However, in 2005, the Bush administration urged the US Congress not to pay more in damages to the Marshall Islands.
In 2007, the tribunal ruled that the people of Rongelap Atoll would receive $ 1 billion in damages, a claim that federal courts in the United States rejected. By then, the tribunal had less than $ 1 million left. New claims have been raised since then.
Votes against nine nuclear powers
In April 2014, the Marshall Islands government sued the US state before a US court for violating the non-proliferation agreement. The Marshall Islands wanted to have a court order ordering the US to begin nuclear weapons negotiations within a year. The Marshall Islands filed a similar lawsuit before the International Court of Justice of the International Court of Justice against nine nuclear arrests. In February 2015, the US court rejected the US claim on the grounds that the judiciary cannot order the US government to negotiate with a foreign state. The ICJ also rejected the Marshall Islands’ request in an October 2016 statement.
At the head of the judicial campaign against the nuclear powers was the chief, environmental activist and veteran politician Tony de Brum, who in 2015 received the Alternative Nobel Prize for his efforts together with the people of the Marshall Islands.
Assistance from Taiwan and Japan
Relations with China have long been good and the Chinese announced plans for major investments in the Marshall Islands in the mid-1990s. However, diplomatic relations were interrupted when the Marshall Islands in 1998 recognized Taiwan as an independent state. In recognition of this, Taiwan pledged to provide extensive assistance to the Marshall Islands and make major investments in the islands.
After the US and Taiwan, Japan provides the most assistance to the Marshall Islands. Japan is supported by the Marshall Islands within the International Electoral Commission, where Japan is working to allow ballot hunting for commercial purposes. Japan has previously been accused of bribing the Marshall Islands and other small nations with extensive assistance in exchange for a vote for commercial whaling. The Marshall Islands also support Japan in its quest to gain a permanent place in the UN Security Council.
The Marshall Islands cooperate with the other island nations in Oceania in a variety of areas. Among other things, the Micronesian nations work together to regulate catches of tuna in the area. In the UN context, the countries are working to take powerful measures against climate change.