When the Compact of Free Association first entered into force, in 1986, it marked the beginning of a new relationship between the RMI and US. No longer were the Marshall Islands a "United Nation's Strategic Trust Territory" for the Compact granted the RMI sovereignty in domestic and foreign affairs in return for granting the United States defense rights in the islands.
The RMI and US recently renegotiated certain sections of the Compact, as described in the documents and press releases below.
Official Compact Documents
Compact Negotiation Communiques
Miscellaneous Compact Issue Papers
Recent Compact News
May 4, 2004. COMPACT, AS AMENDED NOW IMPLEMENTED
Majuro —Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerald M. Zackios and Mr. Randall Schriver, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, exchanged notes to memorialize the full implementation of the Compact of Free Association, as Amended on Saturday May 1, 2004.
“The full bilateral approval of the Compact, as Amended in the U.S. Congress during the fall and the signing of the Compact by President Bush in early December clearly defines this relationship,” said Minister Zackios. “With the exchanging of notes and the implementation of the Compact, as Amended, today, the two countries have reaffirmed the special and unique relationship of ‘free association’ as embodied in the Compact,” said Zackios.
With the implementation of the Compact, as Amended all agreed amendments to the Compact are now in full force and effect, such as:
• Marshallese traveling to the U.S. require a valid passport.
• Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be replaced by a valid passport duly stamped to indicate that employment is authorized.
• Continued access to essential FEMA programs through the next term of the Compact including essential public infrastructure rehabilitation programs.
• Continued access and eligibility for Pell Grants and Special Education programs through 2023. In lieu of other federal education programs, an annual supplemental education grant in the amount of $6.1 million starting in 2005 through 2023, adjusted for inflation. This amount is in addition to the amounts described in Section 211, and would replace several current federal programs such as Head Start and the Workforce Investment Act programs.
• Continuation of food and agricultural programs for Bikini and Enewetak including an annual appropriation of not less than $1.3 million adjusted by inflation until 2023 for the planting and agricultural program on Enewetak.
• Provision for supplementing the Rongelap Resettlement Fund with an additional $5.3 million to be paid over the next 3 years starting in FY 2005.
• Provision for supplemental judicial training funds for judges and officials of the RMI judiciary.
• Continued access to federal program availability under the Compensatory Adjustments provisions in the Compact Act (Small Business Administration, Economic Development Administration, Rural Utilities Services, Job Corps, and the Department of Commerce programs relating to tourism and marine resource development.
• The establishment of the Compact Trust Fund with the RMI and U.S. Governments making their initial contributions.
• The establishment of an escrow account in the name of the RMI Government for additional Kwajalein payments to be made under the amended MUORA.
Although the Compact, as Amended is now implemented, it will take some time for different agencies and departments within the two governments to fully act on it. “We will have to be patient as steps are put in place to ensure full implementation by different agencies and departments,” said Zackios. “Although it is no longer required, Marshallese working in the U.S. should continue to obtain an EAD to ensure that there’s no confusion between their employers and different departments and agencies in the governments.”
Witnessing the exchanging of notes were, President Kessai H. Note, First Lady Note, RMI Cabinet Ministers, Ambassador Banny deBrum, Ambassador Greta N. Morris, Deputy Assistant Secretary David Cohen, Brigadier General James L. Kennon, RMI Government staff, U.S. Embassy staff and members of the press.
19-11 Passage of the Compact Resolution
Majuro October 1, 2003—On Monday, September 29, 2003, the Marshall Islands’ Nitijela adopted and passed Nitijela Resolution #123 and Nitijela Bill #160 by a vote of 19 in favor and 11 opposed.
Nitijela Resolution #123 calls for the approval of the Compact of Free Association, as Amended, its subsidiary agreements, and other related agreements. The resolution provides for the final approval of the Compact, as Amended and authorizes the Cabinet to take measures to implement it.
Nitijela Bill #160 calls for the implementation of the Compact of Free Association, as Amended, by giving it the force and effect of law in the Marshall Islands.
The Nitijela took this action prior to its dissolution on September 30, 2003, in advance of general elections scheduled for November 17, 2003. A new Nitijela will return during the first week of January 2004. The actions taken by Nitijela before its dissolution will allow the Cabinet to agree on an effective date and implement the Compact, as Amended after passage by the U.S. Congress.
The U.S. Congress recently passed a continuing resolution that will remain in effect for the next 4-6 weeks and will allow Compact funding to continue to the RMI pending passage of the Compact, as Amended by the U.S. Congress. After passage of the Compact as Amended, by the U.S. Government, both governments will need to take steps to implement the Compact, as Amended including is economic assistance provisions.
“I want to thank the President, my colleagues in the Cabinet, and members of the Nitijela who voted in favor of this most important legislation. It was the right thing to do for the people of the Marshall Islands and will allow for a smooth transition into a new phase of our special and unique relationship of ‘free association’ with the Government of the United States. I would also like to take this opportunity to urge the U.S. Congress to move forward and approve the Compact, as Amended in a timely manner. We have been most encouraged by recent amendments made to the Compact, as Amended during the Congressional hearing process and hope that these and other important provisions will be included in the final Compact package.” said Foreign Minister Gerald M. Zackios.