Liberland is a new republic organized according to libertarian values, on a disputed piece of land about the size of Gibraltar, 2.7 square miles, between Serbia and Croatia. Liberland’s president, Vit Jedlička, was a guest at the quarterly meeting of the Libertarian National Committee on Dec. 1–2. He asked the LNC to approve a resolution in support of the development of the Free Republic of Liberland as a free and independent nation.
The story of how Liberland came to be illustrates how political boundaries can fluctuate over time. The Danube River is the recognized border of Serbia and Croatia. Like many rivers, however, its course has meandered and been altered by hydraulic engineering over the years. Serbia claims that the center-line of the existing river is the correct boundary, and Croatia says the border should be where the Danube flowed back in the 19th century.
This discrepancy means that Croatia claims some disputed areas that are controlled by Serbia, but neither side claims the area that is now Liberland. Jedlička, a member of the libertarian Czech Party of Free Citizens, saw an opportunity. Under the terra nullius doctrine, unclaimed land can be claimed. So he claimed it to found Liberland and establish a political haven for the principles of freedom.
The Libertarian National Committee is proud to recognize Liberland’s independence and commitment to individual liberty. During its quarterly meeting, the committee adopted this resolution:
WHEREAS, The Free Republic of Liberland (Hereinafter “Liberland”) was proclaimed on April 13, 2015 upon Terra Nullius; A parcel of land unclaimed by any other nation or private entity since the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991 and;
WHEREAS, Liberland meets the criteria for statehood as codified in the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States; A treatise which has been ratified by The United States of America and;
WHEREAS, Liberland’s Constitution and systems of governance have been established with significant guidance from the writings of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other founders of The United States of America, and;
WHEREAS, Liberland is committed to be a catalyst for economic development, free trade and investment both within her borders and throughout the Balkan region, and;
WHEREAS, The primary domestic function of Liberland’s government is the preservation of the inherent natural rights and individual liberties of Her citizens, residents, visitors and guests, and;
WHEREAS, Welcoming Liberland into the community of nations will further the vision of The Libertarian National Committee, to secure the freedoms of self-determination to all peoples; now, be it therefore
RESOLVED, That The Libertarian National Committee encourages the further development of Liberland and the efforts of Her government and citizens to establish a new partner in guaranteeing the rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; and be it further
RESOLVED, That The Libertarian National Committee does hereby express regards to The President of The United States, The Secretary of State and the distinguished men and women of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and The House Committee on Foreign Affairs and respectfully request their consideration in the recognition of the Free Republic of Liberland.
This idea for a new libertarian country has standing in international law, an article in the Chicago Journal of International Law argues.
“If the territory that Liberland claims as its own is rightfully Croatia’s under international law, it might now be terra nullius; Croatia’s insistence that Liberland is part of Serbia could constitute a renunciation of Croatia’s legal rights to Liberland,” wrote Gabriel Rossman in the journal, which is published by the University of Chicago. “Conversely, if the territory that Liberland claims as its own is Serbian, the Serbian government’s renunciation of its title to that land could also be a quitclaim that would transform the legal status of the land to terra nullius. In both instances, the territory would belong to the first entity—in this case Liberland—to claim it.”
Some of the most prosperous countries in the world are city-states like Singapore and Hong Kong. Despite restrictive social policies, they built their prosperity on largely free markets and economic liberty. By establishing a zone of human freedom in central Europe, Liberland may join their ranks.
“Liberland aims to become the model of statehood for the 21st century,” Jedlička said in a recent interview. “We are a global nation with well over half a million people who intends to build our own state with the highest respect for personal and economic freedom for its citizens. We are implementing the latest blockchain technologies to ensure that high standards of transparency and decentralization are met. Becoming the first decentralized autonomous government is the very core of Liberland’s vision, mission and existence.”