FSM Department of Justice: The Legality of Secession From the FSM

FSM Constitution

  The FSM Constitution does not allow for secession.  This argument is based upon:

  • The FSM Constitution.

  1. Preamble.

  2. Article XIII, Section 3.  

  • The framers of the FSM Constitution.

  1. Micronesian Constitutional Convention Journal of 1975.

  2. SCREP No. 40, Committee on General Provisions, October 30, 1975 (Comm. Proposal No. 27) re Secession and Admission of New States.

  PREAMBLE (excerpt)

  1. …With this Constitution, we affirm our common wish to live together in peace and harmony, to preserve the heritage of the past, and to protect the promise of the future.

  2. To make one nation of many islands, we respect the diversity of our cultures. Our differences enrich us.  The seas bring us together, they do not separate us. Our islands sustain us, our island nation enlarges us and makes us stronger.

  Article XIII, Section 3. 

  1. It is the solemn obligation of the national and state governments to uphold the provisions of this Constitution and to advance the principles of unity upon which this Constitution is founded (emphasis added).

Micronesian Constitutional Convention Journal of 1975

  Volume II, pages 868-869 (or pages 272-279 of PDF version):

  1.     The Committee Proposal is based on the assumption that a State, by sending Delegates to the Convention and by ratifying the final document, has made a firm commitment to join the Federated States of Micronesia.  The Proposal does not allow a later reassessment of this commitment which may be motivated by a change in the economic or political conditions within a State.  To allow a State to secede makes it uncertain whether that State is making a full effort to meet its responsibilities to the new nation or only buying time until the conditions are ripe for secession.  It may be difficult for the central government to operate efficiently when faced with such uncertainties.

  2.     This is especially true when dealing with international affairs.  The central government lacks credibility when it attempts to negotiate as the representative of all States if secession is allowed.  Any foreign government which is aware of the situation is free to deal with the individual States and play them off against each other and the central government.  This will quite possibly result in a loss of overall Micronesian bargaining power.

  3.     The purpose of forming a union is so that all states might work together for the betterment of all.  It is not desirable to allow a State, which may in the future receive additional revenues, to withdraw from the union rather than to share for the good of the union.  The same logic which would allow a rich State to withdraw the expulsion of a poor State.  Such thinking goes against the whole concept of the establishment of national unity for the benefit of all Micronesians.

  4.     Your Committee is of the opinion that unity is necessary if the Federated States of Micronesia is to become a strong and respected member of the international community.  Therefore, we urge that the Micronesian Constitution not allow secession."

  Signed by 13 members of the Committee on General Provisions, two of whom did not concur.

Legal Pathway to Secession

(if Chuuk referendum to secede is successful)

If the Chuuk Political Status Commission referendum regarding the question of secession from the FSM passes (50% of the votes cast + one), there is a legal pathway to secession that must be followed in order for the State of Chuuk to actually secede from the FSM.

  The CPSC must place the vote to secede before the registered voters of the FSM.  The process is set out in the FSM Constitution and the FSM Code.  The Constitutional process is:


1.     An amendment to this Constitution may be proposed by a constitutional convention, popular initiative, or Congress in a manner provided by law.  (emphasis added).

2.     The FSM Code sets forth the "manner provided by law" under Title 1, section 7, subsections 701-706, i.e., by Congress, by popular initiative, or by constitutional convention.

3.     Manner provided by law:

  • Popular initiative requires, under 1 FSMC 702(1)(b), the following:

    “Initiative petition.  A constitutional amendment may be proposed by a popular initiative petition signed by no less than ten percent of the registered voters in not less than three-fourths of the States.  An initiative petition with the requisite number of signatures shall be transmitted by the election commissioner of each respective State as established in section 703(4) of this chapter, without delay to the President of the Federated States of Micronesia; ….”  (Emphasis added).

    Once the President receives the initiative petition with the requisite number of signatures from each State Election Commissioner, the President will place it on a ballot in a special election, which must occur at least 45 days in advance of the election on the initiative to amend the Constitution.  [See, 1 FSMC 702(2)].
  • Congressional action requires, under article XIV, section 1, FSM Constitution, that a proposed amendment shall become a part of the Constitution when approved by ¾ of the votes cast on the amendment in each of ¾ of the states.

    Congressional Act.  A proposed constitutional amendment by Congress must follow the provisions of article IX, sections 20 through 22 of the Constitution.  [See, 1 FSMC § 702(1)(c)].

    Article IX, sections 20 through 22 of the Constitution address passage of bills by Congress, requiring two readings on separate days, the first reading by a 2/3 vote of all members and the final reading by each state casting one vote and a 2/3 vote of the votes cast being required for passage.

    As in the case of a popular initiative, the President will place the proposed constitutional amendment on a ballot, which must occur at least 45 days in advance of the election on the initiative to amend the Constitution. [See, 1 FSMC 702(2)].

4.     A proposed amendment shall become a part of the Constitution when approved by 3/4 of the votes cast on that amendment in each of 3/4 of the states.

5.     The amendment to the FSM Constitution would need to amend Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution – Territory of Micronesia – which states in pertinent part:

  • “The territory of the Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of the Districts of the Micronesian archipelago that ratify this Constitution….”
  • Truk District, succeeded by Truk State (now “Chuuk State”) ratified the FSM Constitution in 1978.  Therefore, in order for Chuuk State to secede from the FSM, Article I, Section 1 would have to be amended removing the territory of Chuuk State from the territory of the FSM.