GUM rejects Sandum observer application

In a controversial move, the Grand Unified Micronational’s (GUM) Quorum of Delegates has narrowly rejected the State of Sandus’s application for observer membership by a margin of 6-8 with 3 delegations abstaining. News of the vote and its outcome was conveyed to the State of Sandus through official channels by the GUM Chair, King Adam of Überstadt, and by the GUM Vice-Chair, Emperor Thomas Merrell of Zenrax. The news was then conveyed by the Sôgmô to the Council directly, the direct democratic body which had approved the application. The Sôgmô has asked for an audience and meeting with Diplomatic Affairs minister Jacob Barnet Σαρκαστικός in response to the news ahead of þess trip to Reykjavík, Iceland.

Sandum Government responds to Accusations:

The Sandum application became surprisingly controversial quickly following news that the Council had approved Sandus’s move toward reconciliation with the GUM. Two member-states, Wyvern and Austenasia, are known opponents to the Sandum application, based on the controversial Denton Protocol of which Sandus is no longer a signatory. Both members hastily began levelling unsubstantiated accusations against the State of Sandus, including such things as blackmail and the release of private information.

When pressed to provide evidence for their claims, neither Wyvernian delegate Bradley of Dullahan nor Austenasian delegate Jonathan Augustus could provide any, the Sandum government has said. A few delegations approached the Sôgmô for information and to inquire about the veracity of some of the claims, at which point það responded. Vice-Chair Merrell was the most receptive, inquiring about specific points of Sandum policy and asking for assurances about Sandus’s use of the controversial provisions of the Denton Protocol—to which Sandus is no longer signatory. At several times, the Sôgmô reasserted Sandus’s unwillingness to use the controversial “last resort” policy which was designed to protect the privacy and security of transgender micronationalists. Despite assurances that the policy would be overridden by the GUM Charter, which already has provisions which meet the guidelines of the policy, the Austenasian and Wyvernian delegations still peddled accusations which proved convincing to members of the GUM in their 14 January vote.

In the case any party should not respect the preferred names, gender pronouns, and other communicated elements of LGBTQ+ identities and peoples, a signatory to this protocol may refuse to recognise the preferred name, style of address, or pronoun of the violating official in a way synonymous with the violation of respect dealt by the other party as envisioned by this protocol. In other words, should any no-signatory to this protocol refuse to respect the gender identity of another official whose government is a signatory to this protocol, the signatory government may refuse to use and communicate preferred names, styles of address, and titles of the violating official.

Article 3 of the Denton Protocol, the controversial provision in question

Much of the background over the controversy dates from summer 2014 and a particular international accord intended to protect LGBTQ+ micronationalists. Sandus and Zealandia signed the Denton Protocol on 27 July 2014 in order to seek cooperation in protecting LGBTQ+ micronationalists from unprecedented attacks and breaches of diplomatic decorum. The Protocol’s infamous Article 3 explains that, “should any no-signatory to this protocol refuse to respect the gender identity of another official whose government is a signatory to this protocol, the signatory government may refuse to use and communicate preferred names, styles of address, and titles of the violating official.”

Under this provision, Sandus notified only two micronational leaders—Bradley of Dullahan of Wyvern and Yaroslav Mar of Lostisland—of being in violation of the protocol, which was designed to protect transgender micronationalists and to have their names, styles, and offices be respectfully used by those who refused to use them. These two micronationalists had previously requested to be addressed by certain names and styles, such as not using the traditional Sandum honorific of “Monsieur” in favour of the English “Mister.” As a result of the protocol, Veritum Sandus published of Dullahan’s macronational name and categorically refused to address either Mar or of Dullahan as “Mr.” until they should abide by the protocol and traditional diplomatic conventions to respect an official’s name, style, and address. The move was intended to apply diplomatic pressure on the targeted officials to address Zealandians Charlotte Lindström and Dylan Grönsson by their official names, titles, and styles, though it was envisioned for future use beyond the two Zealandian leaders.

On 5 August 2014, Sandus and Ashukovo concluded high-level diplomatic talks whereby Sandus would discontinue its use of the controversial provision of the Denton Protocol and Veritum Sandus would amend its articles to reflect the desires of Mar and of Dullahan, while the intended targets would acknowledge and use Lindström’s and Grönsson’s official names, titles, and styles. The policy was used by Sandus for only 10 days and was ended through negotiations, and yet is still used as justification by some micronations to alienate Sandus from the intermicronational community.

Sandus’s opponents claim that the State violated common intermicronational conventions on decorum by using the controversial provision, while the Central People’s Government argues that it was defending the same conventions by respecting the privacy and security of transgender micronationalists. Many of the recent accusations range from accusations of blackmail to leaking private information of micronationalists in general, a claim which the Sandum Central People’s Government has vehemently refused.

Here is a list of some of the accusations with editorial from Veritum Sandus:

  • Sandus releases private information to blackmail and to coerce its opponents.
    This is a stretch and is not specific, but we assume the accusation refers to the Denton Protocol and its infamous Article 3. The key statement here appears to be in relation to Bradley of Dullahan, who was targeted by the Sandum government and refused to honour his requests to be addressed by his micronational pseudonym and requested honorific. The Sandum government has called this particular accusation “laughable,” stating that anyone could verify of Dullahan’s identity by searching for him on Google or on any other social media.
    If one reads the text of the provision, furthermore, it does not authorise the release of “private information,” but authorises the signatories to respond in kind and to refuse to address one with a lofty micronational title (like “Duke Bradley of Dullahan”) until one complies with the other provisions of the protocol.
  • Sandus is willing to blackmail and leak information.
    Jonathan Augustus claimed that Sandus was willing to blackmail and leak information, but was not clear in how that was or in what way Sandum policy does so. This accusation appears hyperbolic and takes one of the Sôgmô’s comments in a private and confidential conversation (which was shared to the GUM Quorum) out of context. The Sôgmô’s comment was that Sandus still retained the policy provisions of Article 3 of the Denton Protocol on the books because they might hypothetically need to be invoked for use outside the GUM, since the GUM Charter already has provisions which make the article redundant. The Sôgmô clarified that the policy was a last resort and has not been used or invoked since 5 August 2014. Since the Austenasian Emperor claimed that Sandus was “willing to use it on non-members,” the Sôgmô has ardently asserted that the State of Sandus is not “willing” to use the policy and would prefer not to appeal to it, given its controversy.
  • Sandus still abides by the Denton Protocol.
    This is partially true, but not technically. After controversy over Sandus’s application in July 2016, the State of Sandus announced that it would no longer be a signatory of the Denton Protocol, but would exercise similar provisions if ever needed. This does not mean, however, that Sandus still actively uses the protocol or its provisions. The provisions of Article 3 have not been used by any Sandum organ since 5 August 2014 and the Sôgmô has repeated stated that it is a “last resort,” noting how controversial the policy is.
  • Sandus would have contributed to the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the GUM.
    This is a concern which was raised by multiple people, and which did not reflect Sandus’s rationale for applying to the GUM once more. Sandus applied to become an observer member in the GUM, not a full member, so its role in the organisation would have already have been minor. Furthermore, it was explained to the GUM Vice-Chair that neither the Sôgmô nor the Diplomatic Affairs minister intended to serve as Sandus’s primary delegate, instead hoping to fill that role by another citizen from the Council of the State of Sandus. Both Sandum leaders publicly acknowledged their time constraints which would keep them from activity in the GUM, hoping that a more junior Sandum delegate would be found to fill the role.
  • People are still wary of Sandus because of the Denton Protocol.
    While this is obviously true of delegates of the GUM, the Denton Protocol is not a contentious issue outside of the organisation. Apart from being invoked by certain members of the GUM for its usefulness as a tactic against Sandus’s involvement in the organisation, the protocol has been hardly discussed since August 2014. The only times it has been officially discussed in the past two and a half years are in July 2016 and now in January 2017.
  • Sandus should have been rejected as a matter of principle.
    Some have claimed that Sandus should be rejected as a matter of principle, but the Sôgmô’s open letter to the GUM delegates questions what sort of principle that would be. The rationale for rejecting Sandus has been because its rarely used policy seeks to coerce people into addressing certain micronationalists by their appropriate names, titles, styles, and pronouns: an issue which has already been resolved by intermicronational conventions on diplomatic decorum, including the GUM’s own charter. In other words, Sandus’s policy follows the principles of the GUM Charter.
    The Sôgmô has also questioned the principle for rejecting Sandus, both because of Sandus’s national philosophy and because of the GUM’s own principles. Þess open letter to the organisation, first of all, delved into some of the sincere beliefs of the State of Sandus and its national philosophy, while also explaining the rationale for Sandus’s involvement in the organisation. There were no indications of some of the nefarious worries voiced by delegates. Second, the GUM Quorum of Delegates has voted in violation of their organisation’s own self-reported principles. The GUM Charter states that the organisation “may not involve itself in the domestic policy of its member states without their consent,” yet the Quorum of Delegates has voted to do the same for a senior applicant which has a long history of involvement in the GUM. The GUM vote is a violation of the principles of the organisation and has necessarily involved itself in the policy of an individual nation—a breach of the spirit of the principle, if not its specific language.
  • Sandus’s policy is no longer needed, since transgender micronationalists are now respected.
    While this is true of the GUM, which already has similar provisions to protect transgender micronationalists, this is not necessarily true outside of the GUM. Some still continue to refuse to use transgender micronationalists’ names and pronouns, and their styles and official titles. Others begrudgingly use them. Many transgender micronationalists have voiced to the Sandum government private concerns about coming out as an LGBTQ+ micronationalist based on the social climate of the MicroWiki and other intermicronational communities. The State of Sandus, moreover, has long been a supporter of LGBTQ+ causes. This particular Sandum policy is kept on the books in order to be used in extremely grave and rare circumstances—indeed, it has never been used since August 2014, because it has never been needed to be used.
    In view of these provisions, Sandus supports conventions on diplomatic decorum which include respecting micronationalists’ titles and names, but acknowledges the policy as a necessary tool to ensure that the convention is used appropriately and fairly for all. Sandus also respects standard informal practices on keeping micronationalist’s private information private, but argues that Sandus includes transgender micronationalists as targets of those practices by not sharing information that they are transgender and other information of their “macronational” person.
  • Sandus should be kept from the GUM since it leaks information.
    Sandus has never leaked information it has held from the GUM. Sandus has received leaked information from other parties and delegations within the GUM, but it has never been the source of a leak. Furthermore, Veritum Sandus has only ever published leaked material from the GUM when it has judged that grave and serious violations of proper protocol and due process have been committed.

The Sôgmô had requested that the originators of these accusations should contact það and that all delegates should raise their concerns directly with the Sandum government, rather than rely on unsubstantiated accusations at their face value. Only a handful of GUM delegates did so, yet none of the accusers contacted það.

The détente between Sandus and the GUM has now stalled:

The move was expected by the State of Sandus to be a further move of compromise and of reconciliation after last year’s rejection. On Christmas day, the Sôgmô received a personal letter from Austenasian Emperor Jonathan, sent by means of the official Austenasian email, seeking forgiveness and hoping for a personal reconciliation between the two leaders. Though the letter was modest in its tone, it was seen as a show of good faith to which the Sôgmô immediately responded, also hoping for a rapprochement between Sandus and Austenasia. Austenasia’s recent diplomatic overture follows negotiations held in October 2016. Sandus was also engaged in earlier high-level but secretive talks with Wyvern in the late summer. Though those talks eventually stalled, they were seen as a first step done in good faith toward resolving the pernicious diplomatic discord between Sandus and Wyvern. Zealandia also announced a change of diplomatic policy on 10 January 2017 with respect to Sandum-Zealandian relations under their new Nymoria government. The Zealandian letter represented a change to which the Sôgmô expressed hope towards in improving bilateral relations between the two countries. Before Saturday’s decision, Sandus had hoped to start Sandum observership in the GUM as a first means toward a hopeful détente with the three nations—a détente which has now been cast into uncertainty.

Following these Austenasian and Zealandian overtures of reconciliation and forgiveness in the new administrative year, the Sandum government was hopeful that Sandum membership in the organisation, albeit in a liminal and largely inactive role, would encourage such a détente between Sandus and its foreign adversaries to strengthen and grow with increased diplomatic exchanges and communication. Instead, the application—approved almost unanimously by the democratic assembly of the State of Sandus—ignited a new controversy. Both the Austenasian and Wyvernian delegations abruptly changed their states’ seemingly evident policies of peaceful coexistence and went on the offensive, seeking to disrupt any chances of Sandus’s observance of the GUM and hope for establishing strategic partnerships. Their efforts have proven convincing to a faction of GUM members, reported by some to be comprised of younger members of the organisation. While a narrow majority did not vote for Sandus’s application to be rejected, with six members voting in favour and three voting in abstention, the opposing member-states won the vote.

Sandus sought observer membership, rather than full membership, as a means to extend the olive branch with its hostile enemies and to signal that Sandus was not interested in hostility with the nations which had previously opposed its membership. The decision to apply, though, was intended to develop peaceful friendships and strategic partnerships with more micronations in the new Gregorian year, according to a public letter issued by the Sôgmô on 12 January. The application was supported by majority of the active population of the State of Sandus, representing a sincere democratic will to make significant yet limited diplomatic headway in resolving Sandus’s conflicts. Instead, the Central People’s Government of Sandus has claimed that the State has been provoked by unsubstantiated claims (see above) and by the resumption of an unwarranted and misled controversy.

In the past half year since the news of our failed Grand Unified Micronational application, we have had time to reflect on Sandum foreign policy and our goals for our policy. After our rejected application, in July 2016, the Council decided not to apply to become observers in the GUM. After speaking to Diplomatic Affairs Minister Jacob Barnet and since Adam Oberstadt has recently been elected Chairman of the GUM, I believe it is time that we consider to apply for observership once more.
I motion that we apply to join the Grand Unified Micronational as an observer.

C. Soergel P., on motioning to the Council to join the GUM as an observer

Adam Oberstadt recused himself from voting because he is also king of Überstadt, a citizen of Austenasia, and chairman of the GUM. This constitutional arrangement was established in response to his foreign roles and his roles in Sandus as a social citizen and as Secretary of the Citizens’ Party of Sandus.

Furthermore, the Central People’s Government publicly announced that neither the Sôgmô nor the Diplomatic Affairs minister were intended to be the primary delegate of the State of Sandus to the organisation. Both cited their busy work schedules and preparation for post-graduate programs. An alternative delegate was meant to be found, if the Sandum application was to be approved by the Quorum. The Sôgmô had even assured the GUM Vice-Chair that the State was intending a limited yet strategic partnership with the GUM and between Sandus and certain GUM member states. Það had even specifically informed him of the possibility of the Sandum delegate not being a high-ranking member of the Sandum government.

Micronationalists, Sandus React:

The Sôgmô has been relatively quiet on this new wave of anti-Sandum sentiment in the GUM. Þess lone statement has been to the Council of the State of Sandus, where það said that “[það regrets] to inform you [the Sandum people] that for a second time in the past year our application for membership in the Grand Unified Micronational has been rejected.”

The Royal Mother, too, has taken an unprecedented stance in expressing her disappointment at the Quorum’s decision—the first time she has ever spoken publicly in Sandus. She stated that it is “unfortunate” that Wyvern and Austenasia are not living up to the good faith constructed by negotiations conducted in August 2014 and October 2016. She concluded by saying that “we thought these issues were done and over in August 2014,” but that clearly they are “stuck in the past.”

Sandus will continue to abide by the results of both negotiations in addressing micronational leaders by their proper titles and pseudonyms in exchange for their doing the same with regard to transgender micronationalists, though the Royal Mother noted that Sandus should still not be reprimanded for acting in good faith and in accordance with the terms of historic negotiations from 2014 and 2016.

King Adam of Überstadt, who is also Chairman of the GUM, issued this brief statement on behalf of his kingdom following the news: “We are disappointed in the Quorum’s decision to reject the Sandum application, and will continue to support our allies.”

Bee Rodgers Albina, a former Sandum citizen and former head of state of the Republic of Roseland, expressed her surprise at the result.

I can’t see any reason why Sandus must still be excluded from the Grand Unified Micronational, considering they’re one of the oldest and most well-developed state (sic) in the MicroWiki community. It seems to me that it’s a political play by the more conservative of the community, while the younger nations seem to just not know what they’re talking about but just hear bad things through the grape vine.

Bee Rodgers Albina

The Mercian Lord Spiritual, Richard Hytholoday, has expressed his support for the Sandum cause, noting this despite the political divide between the two countries. He noted that “personal differences should not come between the diplomatic process,” and expressed his intention for a show of solidarity and good faith ahead of the two leaders’ meeting on Monday in Reykjavík.

Kossian Anax Lucas Campos stated that it was a shame that “some delegations decided to campaign against a nation which would have greatly benefited the GUM and helped further develop micronationalism.”

Emperor Thomas Merrell of Zenrax, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the GUM, stated that he regretted being unable to gather enough support for the Sandum application. He welcomed Sandus to apply again in the future, when many delegates will likely view the State of Sandus differently.

Kit McCarthy, President of the Republic of Mcarthia, expressed his nation’s disappointment in the rejection of Sandus, which he called a “highly respected, well established community member.” He added that, “while concerns were raised, these were in my opinion soundly dismissed.”

Zealandian Foreign Minister Charlotte Lindström explained that Zealandia did not oppose Sandus’s membership and that “it was a disappointment following our overtures of rapprochement.”

Wyvernian delegate and prime minister, Bradley of Dullahan, refused to provide a comment when asked by Veritum Sandus. Other micronationalists were asked for comment by Veritum Sandus but have not responded to the request.

Sôgmô, D.A. Minister to consider policy response:

The Sôgmô and Diplomatic Affairs minister Jacob Barnet will meet in the next week to consider changes to Sandum foreign policy as a result of the rejection of Sandus’s application to the GUM. The Sôgmô has implied that Sandus will seek to “walk away” from the GUM and its long history with the organisation, while still forming strategic partnerships with certain member-states of the organisation. More significant still is Sandus’s foreign policy stance towards the MicroWiki community in general, which the Sôgmô considers to be increasingly distant. Það previously spoke of reasserting Sandus’s cooperation with the Francophone organisation l’Organisation de la MicroFrancophonie (OMF), of which Sandus has been a proud member, and will likely reiterate that policy after the most recent controversial rejection at the hands of the GUM. The two Sandum leaders will determine what exactly this shall entail in terms of diplomatic policy, but it will likely mean developing more bilateral relationships, seeking specific policy developments in the OMF and in the Systema Socialis based on common ground, and working to develop diplomatic friendships across political and cultural divisions.

It is expected that the policy of rapprochement with key members of the GUM’s opposition to the Sandum application will be complicated by this upset, though the Central People’s Government has reiterated its hopes for reconciliation with Sandus’s historic partners and allies, including the Commonwealth of Zealandia.