Yoko Ono and John Lennon Declaration of Nutopia, April 1, 1973 © Yoko Ono
Should Nowhereisland have a national flag? There may be some citizens who think not. Afterall Nowhereisland has avoided establishing any officially sanctioned symbols of nationhood such as coins, stamps, national anthem or passports.
When declaring the nation, the Norwegian flag flown by the Noorderlicht sailing vessel was exchanged for a white flag bearing the wide initial ‘N’ as we entered International Waters on 20th September 2011. The white flag could be seen to represent the vast openness of the Arctic and the ice and snow that, until recently, concealed and protected the island of Nyskjaeret from which Nowhereisland was formed. Or is it a ‘blank canvas’? A symbol of the inclusive aims of Nowhereisland and an invitation to each citizen to imagine their own design on its surface.
There are a few other examples of nations using white flags, for example Nutopia, the conceptual nation declared by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1973. You can read Nutopia’s declaration in Yoko Ono’s Resident Thinker article here. The Nutopia flag is also white and in Lennon and Ono’s case the use of a white flag is likely to be a reference to a peace flag, but it could also be seen as an erasing of all nationalities or starting from scratch. At the time of declaring Nutopia, Lennon was unsuccessful in being granted US Citizenship and his Nutopian International Anthem took a similar approach to the flag - it consisted of a few seconds of silence.
A white flag, or any white cloth, has a long history and is still recognised in battles as a symbol of truce, calling for negotiations and an end to hostilities; sometimes a sign of surrender. This connection could be seen to relate to Nowhereisland’s origins in the Kingdom of Norway, long recognised as a state dedicated to international cooperation and for the settlement of disputes amicably and peacefully. For example, Norway was successfully involved with the peace process in Guatemala and in the Middle East.