Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has been hired to represent the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands for the purpose of launching an education campaign in Washington focused on the island nation’s sacrifices for the United States during the Second World War, as well as to petition an increase in the funding that country currently receives from the U.S. government.
The Micronesian nation, which is comprised of five islands and nearly 30 atolls in the Pacific just north of the equator between Hawaii and Australia, was occupied by the U.S. during World War II. During the Cold War era that followed, the islands became a nuclear testing site, and hosted the infamous Bikini Atoll program, where the first U.S. hydrogen bomb was tested. Those tests subjected residents to radiation fallout and rendered parts of the islands uninhabitable, and resulted in the disbursement of ongoing compensation from the U.S. government.
One of many abandoned U.S. aircraft that have dotted the Marshall Islands’ waters since WWII.
The Marshall Islands are also known as an “airplane graveyard” due to the number of planes, ships, tanks and trucks dumped there by U.S. Forces after leaving the area at the end of World War II.
To date, the RMI, which gained independence in 1986 and whose entire economy is supported mainly by craft items, tuna processing and tourism, relies heavily on annual U.S. grant assistance. The Marshall Islands’ economic agreement with the U.S., titled the Compact of Free Association, supplies approximately $70 million in annual financial assistance. It is set to expire in 2023.
According to documents filed with the Justice Department, Akin Gump will represent RMI’s embassy in Washington for the purpose of conducting outreach to U.S. government officials regarding the need for enhanced federal funding to pay for the clean-up of World War II-era shipwrecks and downed planes in RMI waters, which continues to present environmental and safety risks due to oil spills and corrosion.
The firm will also petition government officials regarding $20 million in federal funding that was allegedly authorized by Congress but never allocated, while also building a case for renegotiations of a new economic agreement with the United States after 2023.
Akin Gump will also advocate for an amendment to the REAL ID Act in order to ensure that drivers’ licenses and personal identification cards remain available for the citizens of the RMI who live in the U.S.
The pact runs for a year and fetches the international law and lobbying firm $20,000 per month.