Belligerent occupation is the most common form of international armed conflict, abbreviated, "IAC." According to The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights:
... an IAC includes any situation in which one state invades another and occupies it, even if there is no armed resistance at all. This is set down in Article 2 common to the four 1949 Geneva Conventions.
(War Report 2017, p. 20)
That is exactly what took place in the Hawaiian Islands beginning on January 16, 1893, and again on August 12, 1898.
The self-proclaimed "Republic of Hawaiʻi" (ROH) was an insurgent militia and puppet regime installed by the US on January 17, 1893, which US President Grover Cleveland correctly diagnosed as "neither de facto nor de jure." Hence, it was an armed force of the US by way of proxy. Therefore, it was neither a government nor a state. Consequently, it had no ability under customary international law to convey Hawaiian sovereignty and cede Hawaiian territory to the United States.
Even if ROH was a legitimate government, transfer of Hawaiian sovereignty to the USA would require bilateral approval by both the head of state and legislature in each country. However, neither legislature approved it. The US Senate failed to ratify the proposed annexation treaty in 1898, as required by the US Constitution and defined by customary practice: the territories of all 49 US states were acquired through bilateral treaties of cession negotiated by the US President and ratified by the US Senate.
There is no historical precedent where a law enacted by US Congress can be used in lieu of a Senate treaty to acquire the territory of a foreign country, especially after two failed attempts to ratify such an annexation treaty. The power of US Congress to admit states was used prematurely for Texas in 1845, but undisputed annexation of the territory did not occur until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.
Texas was being admitted as a state by US Congress in 1845. Hawaiʻi was not being admitted as a state by US Congress in 1898. Rather, it was purportedly being annexed as an unincorporated territory by unilateral declaration via a joint resolution, using the Spanish-American War as a pretext. Therefore, the premature statehood admission of Texas in 1845 is an invalid precedent for the alleged territorial annexation of Hawaiʻi in 1898.
There is abundant history of opposition to the insurgency in Hawaiʻi nei, both before and after the unlawful seizure of the Hawaiian Kingdom government on January 17, 1893. This includes petitions by Hawaiian Kingdom subjects, submitted during the respective reigns of both Kalākaua and Liliʻuokalani, to replace the unlawful "bayonet constitution." The Queen herself submitted a protest against the illegal overthrow, to the US.
The Hawaiian Patriotic League submitted a formal protest against annexation that became part of the Blount Report, which resulted in US President Grover Cleveland withdrawing the proposed annexation treaty of 1893, submitted by the puppet regime of insurgents to the US Senate.
There were the three armed revolts against the insurgency, led by Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox, in 1888, 1889, and 1895.
There were the two mass signature petitions, submitted respectively by the two largest Hawaiian patriotic societies in 1897. One called for restoration of the monarchy, and the other successfully defeated annexation in 1898.
Consequently, with plenty of examples of protest against illegal takeover of the Hawaiian government, prescription cannot be claimed by the US as a mode for acquisition of the Hawaiian territory. This holds true even after the lapse of 6 decades between the false territorial annexation in 1898 and the pretense of statehood admission in 1959. Both were laws enacted by US Congress, i.e., domestic statutes incapable of acquiring a foreign country.
After 61 years of transferring portions of its military and civilian populations into the occupied territory, an implicit claim could not be made to the Hawaiian territory by the congressional act of statehood admission in 1959. As a domestic statute, it had no ability to annex the Hawaiian territory, nor did it even claim to. Instead, it stated the false premise that the Hawaiian Islands were acquired by the congressional joint resolution of 1898.
Nor could the 1959 statehood admission ballot be considered a valid plebiscite under international law, since it excluded any independence options.
Nor did the 1959 statehood vote carry the weight of a mandate with only 35% of the "eligible" voting population, as defined by the U.S. puppet government, which included US nationals transferred into the occupied territory—a war crime under international humanitarian law—during the prior 61 years.
The turnout for the 1959 statehood vote was 45% of "eligible" voters as defined by the US puppet government. When Americans claim that 97% voted for statehood, this is out of the 45% turnout, which actually equals 35% of the occupier-defined voting population. While the turnout percentage may be overlooked in a domestic election, it cannot be overlooked in an international plebiscite, or one that pretends to be. A turnout of less than 50% is not considered a mandate under customary international practice for sovereignty transfer (territorial acquisition). In any case, the vote did not change the fact that the statehood admission was an act of US Congress, like the joint resolution of 1898, neither of which could reach across US borders--and nearly 2,500 miles of ocean--to acquire the Hawaiian Islands.
In summary, no matter how the legal history of Hawaiian sovereignty is analyzed, there is insufficient evidence to support a claim to Hawaiian sovereignty by the United States, and ample evidence against any such claim.
In conclusion, the question of correctly diagnosing the current legal status of Hawaiʻi belongs to the living descendants of Hawaiian Kingdom subjects alive prior to January 17, 1898. The question cannot be decided for this national body—the Lāhui Hawaiʻi Aloha ʻĀina—by any other country or its nationals. It cannot be decided by an organization outside of the Lāhui.
There are no persons or organizations in the world today more qualified to diagnose the history and legal status of Hawaiʻi nei than its true nationals, the descendants of those alive prior to January 17, 1893. Especially, those of us who embrace Hawaiian nationality, the continued existence of which is presumed in the absence of a bilateral treaty of cession, between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States, necessary to overcome that presumption.
The occupant does not acquire sovereignty over the territory.
Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono
KA PAIO HANOHANO