Group of Gibraltar
 at the
 United Nations

 June 1999

From UN Press Release

WILLIAM SERFATY, on behalf of the non-governmental organization Self-Determination for Gibraltar, said it was hard to believe that, at this stage in the decolonization of the world, he had to be at the present meeting pressing for the rights of self- determination of his people. He likened it to a trial, with the Committee acting as jury. The supporters of his organization were also avid supporters of decolonization and feared the territorial claims of Spain. He was here today for justice. The process of decolonization in Gibraltar today was stagnated because the administering Power had realized that any results with regard to the Territory had to come from the genuinely expressed will of the Territory's people.

The message of his non-governmental organization was that the grass-roots people of the Territory would accept no change other than that which was articulated through the fully and freely expressed democratic will of the people of Gibraltar, who saw themselves as the rightful masters of the Territory they inherited. The Treaty of Utrecht was signed at the height of colonial aggression by Spain and Great Britain. It was an abhorrent document. It included an agreement for Africans to be shipped as slaves to the Americas and prohibited the settlement of Jews or Moslems in certain parts of Europe. How could such a treaty be valid? he asked. It was contrary to every precept of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. He called on the Committee to call to order the unacceptable behaviour of both the administering Power and the neighbouring Power.

He said the administering Power was failing to act on behalf of the dependent territory and was giving excessive attention to its own national interests. In addition, the ethnic and cultural origin of the people of Gibraltar was another issue. Eighty per cent of the indigenous population today was made up people who had emigrated from Genoa and Malta. Small numbers of other people arrived from other neighbouring States, with a small quantity from Britain and other British colonies. Very few, however, came from Spain. The deadline for the eradication of colonialism was less that 29 weeks away. Gibraltar must be decolonized this year.

Gibraltar's culture was not the same as Spain's and it was important for the Committee to be aware of that, he said. That was not possible unless the Committee visited the Territory. Gibraltar's culture was unique and homogenous, and the United Kingdom blocked any visits to the Territory for that reason. He reissued an invitation to the Committee and challenged the United Kingdom not to block that visit. With 29 weeks left to eradicate colonialism, time had run out. If the Committee did not take a stand now, then it was saying decolonization was not possible.

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