The Fight for
Self -Determination

What to Spanish Said
at the United Nations October 1999

Statement to the 4th committee
for decolonisation

Extract from UN Press Release

SILVIA JOSEFINA CORTES MARTIN (Spain) said that the colonial situation of Gibraltar required the attention of the international community. Her delegation was once more requesting an end to it.

The General Assembly had clearly indicated how the decolonization of Gibraltar should be implemented. In most cases, decolonization had been achieved through self-determination by colonized populations. However, that principle should not be applied in every case. Present inhabitants of Gibraltar were not a colonized people: they were descendants of those brought in by the colonizing people to trade and to work at a military base. That was the sense of General Assembly resolution 2353 (XXII), paragraph 2, which declared the referendum organized at the time by the administering Power in Gibraltar contrary to General Assembly dispositions.

The international community and the General Assembly resolutions had established certain limits to the application of the principle of self- determination, she said. In certain colonized countries, decolonization had been achieved through restoration of territorial integrity of the State in question. That should be the case of Gibraltar. In its specific case, resolution 2353 (XXII) stated in its preamble that any colonial situation, which completely or partially destroyed the national unity and territorial integrity of a country was incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations. Several General Assembly resolutions had reiterated the applicability of the principles of territorial integrity to the decolonization of Gibraltar.

The update of the so-called "constitution" of Gibraltar laid down by the United Kingdom in 1969 had only made matters worse, she said. Spain would oppose any initiative fraudulent to the Treaty of Utrecht, the Spanish-British negotiating process and the doctrine of the United Nations. Although the transfer of authority of Gibraltar under the Treaty of Utrecht had not been a voluntary act, Spain had always respected that Treaty. The Treaty of Utrecht and its clauses, including Article X, were applied. Gibraltar might be British or Spanish, but any other option was excluded. Spain had deep respect for the rights of the population of Gibraltar, but that did not make it a nation with sovereign rights.

Gibraltar was a "parasite" economy that survived thanks to and at the expense of Spain and it was keeping the neighbourly Spanish territory depressed, she said. Spain wished economic prosperity to the inhabitants of Gibraltar, but its economy could not be established on corrupt grounds. Gibraltar should establish a sound and solid economy with full respect for the rules of the European Union. There should be no illicit trafficking or financial opaqueness.

Negotiations between Spain and the United Kingdom were held within the Brussels Process, which had started in 1984. The last proposal dated back to 1997. In spite of the goodwill of successive Spanish Governments, there had been no improvement on that issue. The inhabitants of Gibraltar had nothing to fear from the dialogue. Spain had full intention to ensure due respect for the legitimate interests of the inhabitants of Gibraltar.

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