Post Mortem

A Naga country: The need for a separate ISO 3166- country code

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 11/20/2020 12:08:08 PM IST

 A compact and contiguous territorial homeland of the Nagas measuring approximately 1,20,000 km2 that lies between India, Myanmar and China is the much historical claim of the undivided country of all the Nagas. This God given, natural and ancestral land of the Nagas with beautiful hills & valleys, mountains, flora and fauna and incredible natural resources are still inhabited by the Nagas themselves along with their other kindred tribes. 

It was the British colonial authority and its illegal successors who had arbitrarily divided the Nagas and their country into different administrative setups under alien rule. Recognition of the Naga country as a single political entity by the international community especially India & Myanmar has been the essence of the popular Naga aspiration, a powerful political locomotion of the Naga national struggle. 

The dark conspiracy and repressive policies against such collective aspiration of the Nagas have time and again reconsolidated the national struggle and the spirit of oneness in Christ among the Nagas. Who can undo the will of God in repeopling the Nagas as a new nation? Who can force us to do what is against the will of God? Who really can stop the working of the Holy Spirit of God for bringing a just and lasting peace in this part of the Naga world? India, the largest democratic nation in the world whom Nagas as of late have put their credence will help in bringing genuine peace and comprehensive progress in consonance with the genius of the Naga people.

It is high time for the Nagas to critically understand about a country that they have been fighting for with more than 2.5 lakhs precious lives of the Nagas being sacrificed. The modern concept of a country began in the 17th century. The Peace Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 was considered a turning point in international relations between different territorial entities. The American revolution (1775) and French revolution (1789) that articulated popular sovereignty further contributed towards the growth of the country-based nationhood. 

There is no universal definition of the term “country” till date. A country according to Webster dictionary means a land or territory of a nation or state that includes the peoples themselves. Oxford (Lexico) gives the meaning of a country as a nation having its own government occupying a particular territory with separate citizenship rights. 

The Montevideo Convention (Treaty) of 1933 threw some light for the first time on the creation of statehood with obligatory rights and duties. Article 1 of the treaty says, a state is a person of international law which must possess (a) a defined territory (b) permanent population (c) Government and (d) the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Here, ‘state’ is a legal term for a country. Articles 3 further declares that statehood is independent of recognition of other states. 

A country is meant to still exist even in the absence of recognition by other countries. This legal premise is based upon the principle of declarative theory of statehood. The constitutive theory of statehood on the other hand defines a state or country as a person of international law if, and only if it is recognized as sovereign by other sovereign states. Recognition by sovereign countries is a prerequisite to become a country under this theory. Meaning, in both the theories the state/country must be a person of international law having the capacity to enter relations with other countries. 

The formation of the United Nations Organization (UNO) in1945 initially with 51 nation-states and the subsequent emergence of many other sovereign nation-states have brought a new dimension in international law and structure of relations. Self-determination means the legal and political rights of people to decide their own destiny in international order. It is the core principle of international law and such national right is protected under the new international order of UN regime. Various provisions under the UN Charter (1945), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR (1966), Universal Declarations on Human Rights,UDHR,(1948)and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UNDRIP(2007) give cognizance of right to self-determination. In the given perspective, self-determination without its own flag and constitution is no self-determination at all either internally or externally or both. 

In the new international scheme of countries , there are currently altogether249 countries having separate ISO – Country Codes- 3166 out of which only 193 are sovereign independent UN member-countries whereas the remaining 56 are Non- UN member but sovereign and independent and semi-independent countries having their own ISO country codes under UN jurisdiction.ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. 

The changing dynamics of international laws and practices that efficaciously accommodated separate ISO-country codes to many new countries of different political status and varied geo- political size including many indigenous nations by blending the noted two theories is indeed greatly ushering the building of comprehensive & meaningful world peace. 

Categories of states entitled to get separate ISO- Country Codes are; UN member-countries, UN observer states, sovereign but Non- UN member states, self-governing associate states (unincorporated), and dependent territories (unincorporated) having international personality. All these categories of states are sovereign & independent and/or semi-independent states with their own flags and constitutions as separate nations or sub-nations having expressive right to hold future referendum. 

The point is that in order to get a separate country code, the state in question must be an international person subject to international law either wholly or partly. Meaning, the only technical requirement to become a new country and obtain her separate country name & country code into ISO 3166 -1 under the guidelines of ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency (UN) is to get registered in one of these two sources i.e. (i) United Nations Terminology Bulletin on country names; or (ii) Country and Region Codes for statistical use of UN statistics Division. Again to be enlisted in the above noted (i) UN Terminology Bulletin on country names, that applicant-country must be at least; a member state of the United Nations; or a member of one of the United Nations’ fifteen (15) Specialized Agencies ; or party to the statute of the International Court of Justice . Country name will be added to ISO 3166-1 once it appears in either of the said two sources.

When and how will the Nagas get a separate country code? The present Nagaland which is the 16th state of India governed by the constitution of India is not a country at all. Article 371A neither provides real internal autonomy nor a clause for future referendums as it does not possess even a characteristic of a quasi-country like sub-nation. However, Article 371A provides to the Nagas some constitutional safeguards pertaining to land and natural resources, customary laws, social, and religious matters almost resembling the protective rights given to many Scheduled Tribes and other minorities. 

Like any other Indian state, Nagaland cannot secede from India and accordingly cannot become a country unless it is critically transformed and restructured along with other outside Naga territories that equally constituted the undivided Naga country. 

The correct remedial approach will be a logical and honorable conclusion of the ongoing Indo-Naga negotiation which has made India duly recognize the legitimacy of the pending Naga national movement based on Nagas’ unique history and their right to self-determination as a separate entity. The Indo- Naga Framework Agreement (FA) 2015 signed under the most dynamic, visionary, strong and principled leadership of (L) Isak Chishi Swu, His Excellency, the then Yaruiwo of NSCN/GPRN and Th. Muivah, Hon’ble Ato Kilonser and present Chief negotiator have made the most pragmatic and middle path win-win agreement to resolve the pending oldest Indo- Naga political conflict. 

The FA provides some significant attributes: (1) Recognition of the unique history and position of the Nagas (It means recognition of the historical fact that Nagas have not been a part of India either by consent or by conquest and hence the legitimacy of their national struggle. It further means taking cognizance of the Naga issue as an external matter of India and thereby treating them as separate entity), (2) Nagas’ appreciation of the intricacies of Indian system (It means that as an act of reciprocity to the above recognition, Nagas appreciate the difficult situation of the Indian system of governance that primarily involves their security concerns having direct geo-political and strategic proximity with the Nagas in the eastern frontier. This further signifies the mutual agreement for joint venture on security issues identical to both sides. (3) Recognition of the universal principle that in a democracy, sovereignty lies with the people (It predominantly means India’s recognition of the system and structure of Naga democracy & governance and recognition of the right to use universal principle of conducting referendum to democratically determine any issue relating to the territorial integrity & sovereignty of the Nagas), (4) Agreement to share sovereign powers between India and the Nagas as defined in the competencies to bring enduring and inclusive new relationship for peaceful co-existence of the two entities (It means a mutual agreement for sharing sovereign powers: defense, external affairs, currency, etc. as two separate entities in terms of extra-territorial relations).

No political Agreement has ever been made by India with any one of the existing states for sharing sovereign powers except the FA signed with the Nagas on the basis of Nagas’ unique history.(5) Agreed to abjure all forms of violent confrontation once for all(It means the interpretation as well as the implementation of the detail workout of the FA must be carried out lawfully and peacefully without any coercive act to bring permanent solution once for all. Forcibly putting Naga issue at par with post-independent intra-territorial problems of other ethnic minorities/peoples within India will clearly contradict the already agreed principles. 

The interpretation of FA should necessarily be made in tune with the relevant legal principles of interpretation and as well as in corroboration with all the Naga historical facts and circumstantial materials leading to the signing of the Framework Agreement and the objective thereof. Meaning, the legal version of the agreed principles and recognitions made in Framework Agreement itself embodies a Naga country having her own flag & yezabo (Constitution) outside the Union of India. 

(To be concluded...)

1. Y L. Ramgui, Convenor, 
Naga Indigenous Peoples Alliance, NIPA                                                                                                                                             2. P. Vanmi, Co-Convenor, 
Naga Indigenous Peoples Alliance, NIPA    
Note: This humble write-up is made without any prejudice to any person or group purely for the purpose of public discourse in the interest of peace.

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