The people of the non-self governing territories on the United Nations list, like Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, have to be decolonised in accordance with the wishes of those people in exercise of the right of self determination, said Gibraltar Deputy Chief minister Dr. Joseph Garcia during the opening of the academic symposium on “Self-determination, devolution and independence in the 21st century”
The right to self determination is specifically provided for such cases in the UN Charter and associated Resolutions of the General Assembly, and this has been the practice of the Committee of 24 and of the 4th Committee when dealing with decolonisation added Dr. Garcia who underlined that the primacy of the wishes of people is what democracy is all about.
Dr. Garcia said that the symposium will debate the issues in the context of Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as against the background of British colonial rule in general.
”The United Nations points to independence, free association and integration as the three ways in which Territories have emerged from colonial rule. There is, in addition to this, resolution 2625(XV) which provides for a tailor made solution freely chosen by the people of a Territory.
The Deputy Chief minister recalled that in 1963, more than fifty years ago, the then Chief Minister of Gibraltar Sir Joshua Hassan told the United Nations: It is a clear sign of the enlightened times in which we live that small communities are not the less important because of their size and that their wishes must play a deciding factor in determining their future.
He said that Gibraltar has continued to defend this position before the United Nations ever since anther former Chief Minister Joe Bossano took up the challenge over 25 years later. It was carried on by his successor Peter Caruana and by my friend and colleague the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo only last week.
We need look no further than the program for this symposium to see that even when sharing British colonial heritage with the Falkland Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and even though we are all British Overseas Territories, we are also different, our experiences of colonialism and our degree of self-government are not the same.
According to the program the afternoon session of the last of the two-day meeting will be dedicated to the Falklands with the participation of Professor Heriberto Cairo Carou, Dean of the Department of Political Sciences and Administration at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid who will talk about “The Kelpers and relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.”
The next paper will be presented by Professor Marcelo Kohen of the Graduate Institute in Geneva who will speak on “The Falkland Islands and the right of people to self-determination.
The final contribution on the Falkland Islands will come from Washington in the person of Luke Coffey who is a Margaret Thatcher Fellow of the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy of the Heritage Foundation. He will pose the question “Why the United States should back the inalienable right to self-determination of the Falkland Islanders.”
Finally the symposium is to be closed by Christopher Gardner QC, who is the Chief Justice of the Falklands, S Sandwich and S Georgia, British Antarctic Territory and British Indian Ocean Territory, and who will sum up the proceedings.