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Decolonization of Gibraltar can only be settled by UN decision, argues Spain

Tuesday, February 11th 2014 - 08:11 UTC
Full article 64 comments
Garacía-Margallo ministry sets out Spain's Gibraltar position in detailed answer to Basque MP Jon Iñarritu Garacía-Margallo ministry sets out Spain's Gibraltar position in detailed answer to Basque MP Jon Iñarritu

Spain believes negotiation with Britain is the only realistic avenue for a resolution of the claim it makes over Gibraltar and its waters and that only by a decision of the United Nations can decolonization of the Rock be settled.

 The view is expressed in a detailed answer to questions from Basque MP Jon Iñarritu released this last week.

In a four page statement which looks at historic issues since 1704, the Spanish Government sets out that the basic elements of the position at the UN are that Gibraltar is a colony, that ‘self-determination’ has not been recognized by the UN for Gibraltarians, but that instead the “colonial situation of Gibraltar destroys the national unity and territorial integrity of Spain.”

The rehearsal of this largely classic doctrine from Spain comes as talks on Gibraltar are in stalemate and the UN Committee of 24 is about to open its sessions with plans for the annual decolonization seminar.

Spain makes clear in its response that recourse to the courts would be a measure of last resort that in all events requires agreement between the UK and Spain.

“The question of Gibraltar should be resolved by bilateral negotiations between UK and Spain which have been recommended by the UN since 1965. Only the UN can decide when the decolonization process of Gibraltar has been completed and until that moment Gibraltar will continue to be in the UN list of dependent territories,” says the document adding that any such negotiations should take into account the “interests” of the “colony’s population.”

The Madrid government gives particular emphasis to the change of the UN unanimous decision reached last autumn after the Fourth Committee meeting in October 2013.

It highlights that “with the prior agreement of the UK” that where the decision refers to the “aspirations” of the people of Gibraltar it now also states that these must be “consistent with international law”. The PP government reading of this is that the wording “allows us to interpret that the aspirations may or may not be legitimate”. It sees this as a clear advance on the texts that had been approved since 2004 and that this took the position back to the 2004 position

Spain’s position on court action is also detailed. Essentially this is seen as an option of last resort “by both sides” who, it reiterates, have committed at the UN to seek a negotiated solution.

Going to court, be it the International Court of Justice or the International tribunal of the Right of the Sea, would, says the Spanish government require both sides to agree the terms.

Spain defends its ‘controls’ at the frontier saying that these arise from the fact that Gibraltar is outside Schengen and not in the Customs Union. It highlights tobacco smuggling issues adding that it will not give up these responsibilities and that “further strengthening of measures cannot be ruled out in the future.”

The statement also reiterates the statement by Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo that whilst Spain does not rule out any legal challenge over Gibraltar it considers that such a route is very serious and requires close analysis. Equally it points out that García Margallo made clear that prior to any such move the matter would first be taken to the Spanish parliament for discussion and agreement.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • LEPRecon

    What Spain needs to do is respect the right of people to determine their own future.

    The only body in the UN that can make a judgement is the International Court of Justice, which Spain avoids like the plague.

    The UNGA cannot help Spain EVEN if the majority of members voted in Spains favour.

    The UNSC cannot help Spain EVEN if the UK didn't veto any decision.

    Neither body can resolve a sovereignty dispute.

    Oh, and Spain needs to realise that decolonisation is up to the people being decolonised, and their status after decolonisation is totally up to the Gibraltarians NOT Spain.

    And Gibraltar would opt for independence NOT to become a part of Spain.

    Spain needs to realise that it isn't 1704 anymore, it's the 21st century. Since 1946 the rules of international law has changed.

    The Treaty of Utrecht is no longer extant. It hasn't been extant since Spain broke it within 20 years of it being signed. That meant that the British don't have to abide by it either.

    But the ONLY thing that actually matters is the UN Charter. Perhaps the Spanish should actually try reading the Charter to understand just how untenable their position is.

    Feb 11th, 2014 - 08:32 am 0
  • Monkeymagic

    Canary islands


    Feb 11th, 2014 - 09:15 am 0
  • nigelpwsmith

    Spain avoids the International Court like the plague because they know they would lose.

    Even their own legal advisors have told them explicitly that there is no possibility of Spain regaining control of Gibraltar against the wishes of the people of Gibraltar.

    The UN cannot force the people of Gibraltar to join Spain, so the only option for Spain is to try and get Britain to hand it over and make Britain the 'villain' by ignoring the rights of the Gibraltarians to Self Determination.

    As Britain will not do this and as pressure is being applied on the EU to end Spain's politically motivated border delays, it is only a matter of time before Spain has to concede defeat and resume a normal border. If they do not, then the EU could invoke penalties, including fines. If that did not work, then Brussels could even withhold financial support, although this would cause problems for the Euro, as Spain is on the verge of financial collapse.

    The longer that Spain keeps up this behaviour, the more likely that the state will break up when Catalonia has their referendum in November. Rajoy and Margallo will be known as the fools who 'fiddled' whilst Spain broke apart.

    This can only end badly for Spain.

    Feb 11th, 2014 - 09:35 am 0
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