Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bossano tells UN committee 'Spain is stuck in a time warp' on Gibraltar

Last week, at the United Nations Special Committee of 24 on Decolonisation hearing, the Special Committee took up the question of Gibraltar once again.

As usual, the representative of Spain opposed any attempt to remove Gibraltar from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories undergoing decolonization, and reiterated the Spanish Government’s wish to renew "conversations" with the United Kingdom on the future of Gibraltar.

Reiterating Spain’s full commitment to the decolonization process, he stressed the particular prominence of the question of Gibraltar, which concerned two member States of the European Union and allies within the North Atlantic Treaty. The situation of Gibraltar undermined Spain’s "national unity and territorial integrity".

In reply, the Committee also heard from Joe Bossano, the leader of Gibraltar's GSLP/Liberals Opposition parties who was a Petitioner for Gibraltar.

Now... I don't often agree with Mr Bossano... in fact, very rarely... but I have to say, in the speech he gave to the UN Committee hearing, he is spot on and I couldn't agree more with everything he says! In particular, I agree with him on the anachronistic 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which to my mind should long ago have been consigned to the dustbin of history... and about Gibraltar's already established (the UK Government agreed this in 2007) de facto decolonisation of Gibraltar. Well done Joe... you old Walrus!

Mr Bossano, who turns 70 this month, said his hoped for ruling by the UN Committee of 24, accepting Gibraltar's decolonisation and removing it from the list of the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, would be the best birthday present he would have ever received. I do wish they would grant him his wish... and Gibraltar its own aspirations!

The Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano, said that in terms of the Territory’s decolonisation, Spain was "stuck in a time warp", expecting Gibraltarians to accept that their rights as a people should be measured by the yardstick of the Europe that had existed in 1713 rather than by the human rights values of 2009. Spain had used the spurious claim that a territorial dispute doctrine invented by the Special Committee overrode the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, covenants on political and social rights and long-established international jurisprudence on decolonization and self-determination.

This year, instead of demonstrating respect and support, Spain had challenged the sovereignty of Gibraltar’s territorial waters, he said. Spain’s position that Gibraltar could not have territorial waters, which were not provided for under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, was wrong under international law. In the past, Spain had respected Gibraltar’s territorial waters on the median line in the Bay of Gibraltar and the three miles off the coast, including the zone adjacent to the isthmus not covered by the Treaty. It had not attempted to apply Spanish law to vessels anchored in those areas.

Spain had previously demarcated the flight paths over Gibraltar’s waters to and from the local airport, which were followed by aircraft not permitted to use Spanish airspace, he noted. This year, however, Spain had claimed responsibility for the environmental protection of Gibraltar’s waters, which it had been unable to deliver. Spain had also made a number of incursions into Gibraltar’s territorial jurisdiction, forcing the United Kingdom, as the administering Power, to take action to protect the sovereignty of Gibraltar’s waters, as required by the Territory’s Constitution.

He said that, having accepted that Gibraltarians were a separate people from those of the administering Power, as required by resolution 1541 (XV) principle (IV), it was not for the Special Committee to arbitrate, mandate or establish a doctrine as to the appropriate relevant monarch for Gibraltar. The monarch’s identity was irrelevant for the purpose of eradicating colonialism. Decolonization could only happen when the peoples of the Territories’ exercised self-determination. Without the Gibraltarians, there would be no colonial relationship to correct, but only an uninhabited piece of land subject to a territorial dispute.

He said Spain had used false arguments to pursue its case, relying on the natural special relationship it enjoyed with some of its former colonies for support. The Special Committee’s Spanish-speaking members should acknowledge and accept that they had more in common with Gibraltar than with Spain in terms of commitment to decolonization and the right to self-determination, regardless of Hispanic cultural affinity. The Special Committee should conduct an assessment of the constitutional changes in Gibraltar, in line with its duty to monitor progress in the Territories towards self-government. The United Kingdom had claimed that Gibraltar’s new Constitution made for a non-colonial relationship with the United Kingdom; the Special Committee’s report to the Fourth Committee should comment on that change instead of once again deferring the matter for another year.

Noting Spain’s position that Gibraltar should revert to Spanish rule while retaining all the privileges it currently enjoyed as a Non-Self-Governing Territory under British rule, he said that flew in the face of the Special Committee’s decolonization mandate. Gibraltar would not cede to or share with Spain one inch of land, one drop of territorial water or any airspace whatsoever. The Special Committee should consider the question of Gibraltar as it would any other Non-Self-Governing Territory and not allow itself to be led astray by the misguided, self-serving arguments of Spain, whose sole objective was to replace the United Kingdom as administering Power.

You can hear the two speeches in full on this video:

Excellent... well said Joe!!

Frankly... whether the UN do the right thing or not... I really don't care. In my opinion, this Committee long ago lost any credibility on their genuine search for fairness and justice... but it would be nice if they did finally accept Gibraltar has been decolonised and removes us from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories!!