Washington International Law Journal


Peter Ruffatto


U.S. relations with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands resulted in a status of free association for these two Micronesian nations in 1986. Meanwhile, 18 trust and non-self-governing territories still lack a status of self-determination, including U.S.-administered Guam. U.S. action in Micronesia and U.N. approval of such action creates a norm of customary international law, which mandates all administering authorities of trust and non-self-governing territories to bring to fruition these territories' right to self-determination. Although non-self-governing territories are generally categorized under a separate legal regime from that which governed U.S. action in Micronesia, the more appropriate view is that the U.N. instruments under which Micronesia achieved self-determination apply equally to non-self-governing territories such as Guam. The Guam Commonwealth Act, currently under consideration by the U.S. Congress, presents the United States with an opportunity to meet its international legal obligation to effectuate Guamanian self-determination. Passage would move Guam significantly closer to a status of self-determination.

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