9 October 2013

Questions over Whether Gibraltar Achieved Full Measure of Self-Government Central to Debate in Fourth Committee

9 October 2013
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

5th Meeting (PM)

Questions over Whether Gibraltar Achieved Full Measure of Self-Government

Central to Debate in Fourth Committee


‘A Whole Generation of Children Have Never Seen

Their Homeland’, Say Petitioners for Western Sahara

The “deafening silence” of the Special Committee on Decolonization to Gibraltar’s requests as to whether it had achieved a full measure of self-government did nothing to advance that Territory’s progress towards decolonization, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was told today as it grappled with the methodological quandary that keeps the decolonization debate at the forefront of international concerns.

Asking the Committee to consider whether Gibraltar — an area of little over two miles at the mouth of the Mediterranean — had achieved a full measure of self-government short of independence, Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar said that if the answer was yes, then Gibraltar should be de-listed from the United Nations-identified roster of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  If the answer was no, then it was up to the Committee to inform the Territory where the deficiencies lay in its Constitution, so that Gibraltar could engage with the United Kingdom to address those shortcomings.

The Special Committee on Decolonization, he said, continued to refer to a consensus decision between the United Kingdom and Spain.  Its Chair had said that some colonial situations were defined as “special and particular” because they involved sovereign disputes.  Simply because a neighbouring State might stake a claim to a Territory, the principles applying to decolonization could not be allowed to differ from Territory to Territory, Mr. Picardo asserted.

He said that successive Spanish Governments, both dictatorial and democratic, had subjected Gibraltar to a regime of bullying, which had included economic sanctions, physical restrictions at the frontier, and police and military invasions of Gibraltar’s territorial seas.  There had been brief periods of enlightenment, but it was for Spain to move on, to tackle the real problems facing the Spanish people and “to stop chasing quixotic windmills”, he asserted.

The independence of Gibraltar, said Spain’s Permanent Representative, Fernando Arias, was “unviable” without his country’s consent.  The United Kingdom had wrongfully occupied areas under Spanish sovereignty in violation of international law.  The principle of self-determination, he said, did not apply to Gibraltar.  Rather, the principle of territorial integrity applied, and that required negotiation between Spain and the United Kingdom.  Gibraltar could not be party to the dialogue on sovereignty between Spain and the United Kingdom, he stressed.

Spain had maintained for many years that it was necessary to achieve a political solution, and that this should take the form of a bilateral negotiation with the United Kingdom.  Even though the United Kingdom had contravened the mandate of the General Assembly to put an end to the situation in Gibraltar, that country was Spain’s “friend and ally,” and Spain remained willing to re-launch a bilateral dialogue on the subject, he said.

The representative of the United Kingdom, in exercise of the right of reply, said that the United Kingdom would not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar was not content.  The 2006 Gibraltar Constitution provided for “a modern and mature relationship between Gibraltar and the UK”.  As part of the United Kingdom’s long-standing commitment to Gibraltar, it would not enter into any arrangements whereby the Territory would pass into another State’s sovereignty.

Also today, the Committee continued to hear from petitioners on the question of Western Sahara.  One, from the Defence Forum Foundation asserted that resources that should support the economic development of the Saharans were being diverted to the Moroccan military.  Of women and children on both sides of the equation, she said:  “A whole generation of children had never seen their homeland.”

Many speakers painted a bleak picture of the situation of women and children in the camps.  “Child trafficking still took place in Tindouf,” a petitioner from Three Faiths Forum stated.  “Slavery was a real institution, practised daily,” even as military projects were prospering through the embezzlement of humanitarian aid.

A petitioner from the International Center for Conflict Resolution declared that the international community did not take human rights issues there seriously.  Women and children in the Tindouf camps were most exposed to violations of their dignity.  No independent body had been able to determine how many people were even in those camps.  Similarly, another petitioner asked how it was possible that the High Commissioner for Refugees did not know how many refugees there were in Tindouf.  The international community was paralysed by Algeria’s intransigence.

“Without setting Saharan women, men and children free,” said a representative from World Action for Refugees, the international community would not be able to see peace in the region.  Their individual freedom was a fundamental requirement for ridding the Sahara of the conflict.

The Committee also heard from petitioners on the question of New Caledonia, who raised the question of who could vote in the elections in that Territory.  A petitioner from Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste said that there were serious issues with the electoral list to the detriment of the people.  His group would continue its efforts in the case of New Caledonia.

Before the meeting concluded, the representative of Spain spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on 10 October to continue its consideration of decolonization issues.


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of decolonization issues, for which it was scheduled to hear from representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories and petitioners.

Representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories

FERNANDO ARIAS (Spain), congratulating the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (also known as the Special Committee on decolonization or Committee of 24) on its work this year, said that was fundamental to eradicating colonialism. Spain valued greatly the process of decolonization in general and, in particular, the decolonization of Gibraltar.  His country supported the principle of self-determination in those instances where it was applicable. However, that did not imply acceptance of that principle in the specific case of Gibraltar. It was unquestionable that the Treaty of Utrecht was in force, and, as such, Gibraltar’s independence was not viable without his country’s consent.

Remaining instances of decolonization should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, he said, underlining that the case of Gibraltar was very unlike that of other territories subjected to decolonization. As such, the solutions to that case should also be different. With Gibraltar, what applied was the principle of territorial integrity. That must translate into negotiation between Spain and the United Kingdom.  The latter country, however, had wrongfully occupied areas under Spanish sovereignty, in violation of international law. The principle of self-determination did not apply because there existed a conflict of sovereignty.

While the interests of the population of Gibraltar should be taken into account, Gibraltar could not be party to the dialogue on sovereignty between Spain and the United Kingdom, he said. Spain was ready to entertain good relations with the United Kingdom, based on dialogue. However, that could not be without prejudice to the normalization of the situation in accordance with both international law and United Nations established doctrine. Spain took a positive approach to the United Kingdom’s proposal to move to an ad hoc dialogue. He reiterated that his country had maintained for many years that it was necessary to achieve a political solution, and that it should take the form of a bilateral negotiation with the United Kingdom. Noting that the United Kingdom had contravened the mandate of the General Assembly to put an end to the situation in Gibraltar, he nevertheless called upon that country as “our friend and ally” to relaunch a bilateral dialogue on the subject.

FABIAN PICARDO, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, stated that Gibraltar had now achieved a status under its 2006 Constitution, and it was now the duty of the Special Committee and Fourth Committee to advise whether a full measure of self-government short of independence had been achieved. If it had, then Gibraltar should be delisted as having fulfilled the fourth option for decolonization available to the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories as outlined in General Assembly resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970. If it had not, then the delegation of Gibraltar asked the Fourth Committee to inform them where those deficiencies lay in the Territory’s Constitution so that Gibraltar could engage with the United Kingdom to address those shortcomings.

What made no sense, he added, was the “deafening silence” by the Special Committee and a continued reference to a consensus decision between the United Kingdom and Spain, which did nothing to advance Gibraltar’s progress towards decolonization. What made even less sense were statements attributed to the Chair of the Special Committee, Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez, in which he had stated that some colonial situations were defined as “special and particular” because they involved sovereign disputes. That statement was based on the entirely false and unsustainable premise that different principles could apply to the decolonization of the people of a Non-Self-Governing Territory simply because a neighbouring State might stake a claim to the Territory in question.

For the past 50 years, the people of Gibraltar had been subjected to the most terrible regime of bullying by successive Spanish Governments in dictatorship and in democracy. Except for short periods of enlightenment, the face of Spain now was not very different from when it was the face of the notorious dictator Franco. Gibraltar was suffering from “economic sanctions, physical restrictions at the frontier, police and military invasions of Gibraltar’s territorial seas, shots fired at innocent Gibraltarians, arson and damage against the property of Gibraltarians in Spain”.  Nonetheless, the Government of Gibraltar was steadfast in offering to engage in dialogue with Spain on all issues not related to sovereignty. It was time for Spain to move on, to tackle the real problems facing the Spanish people and to “stop chasing quixotic windmills”.

Petitioners on the Question of Gibraltar

DENIS MATTHEWS, Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group, said that the Government of the United Kingdom took a proper and honourable position in respect to Gibraltar’s right to self-determination. Gibraltar delegations had been coming to the United Nations for many years seeking decolonization.  That was blocked by the Spanish Government, which had deliberately caused problems on the frontier with Gibraltar, with economic impacts. Gibraltar was taken 309 years ago, and ceded forever nine years later, he added.

Petitioners on the Question of New Caledonia

MICKAEL FORREST, Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste, said that there were economic development differences between the two provinces in New Caledonia. The region had pursued the creation of public infrastructure, and the economic exploitation of nickel was the main economic resource. However, recurrent delays had led to political tension. The electoral list had been put off indefinitely and there were serious issues with the list to the detriment of the people.  His group would continue its efforts in the case of New Caledonia.

ROCH WAMYTAN stated that since New Caledonia entered the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in 1986, major progress had been made towards emancipation, but a lot remained to be done. The red line of independence was also related to the problem of citizens who could vote in the elections. He was deeply concerned because almost 3,000 people born outside New Caledonia were allowed to vote according to the current list.  In that case, what would be the reliability of the voting process? France must respect its word and draw up the voting list in complete fairness to avoid electoral fraud. There must also be an observation mission for the elections.

Petitioners for Western Sahara

CHARLES LIEBLING, Western Sahara Resource Watch, said that the consequences of taking natural resources from occupied Western Sahara were well known. Those included the direct financial gain by the occupying Power, as well as the perpetuation of that occupation. He recommended, therefore, that the Fourth Committee address, in particular, Western Sahara’s natural resources in its recommendations to the General Assembly, including the establishment of a United Nations Rapporteur for natural resources in Western Sahara.

Suzanne Scholte, Defense Forum Foundation, stated that the failure to hold the referendum meant that hundreds of thousands of Saharans had to live in refugee camps in the desert for 22 years. As a result, a whole generation of children had never seen their homeland. It had also allowed for the occupying State to exploit and steal natural resources from Western Sahara. Resources that should support economic development were diverted to the Moroccan military.  Failure by the United Nations to uphold justice and its promises to the Saharans would send a message to the world that invasion, occupation, extrajudicial execution and violence — methods employed by Morocco — were the way forward.

PIERRE LEGROS, a lawyer from Brussels, said that, in November 2010, a Spanish television programme had broadcasted a story related to the brutal dismantling of a Saharan camp by the Moroccan army. But the photograph that had appeared on Spanish television was from an unrelated event, namely, that of a murder earlier that year in Morocco by a man who suffered from a severe mental instability and who had killed several members of a family.  The photo, which had no relationship to the events in Layoune, had been shown to viewers during prime time. By broadcasting the report without checking sources or its authenticity, Spanish television had engaged in incorrect and journalistically unethical behaviour. The international community should be aware of those who manipulated opinion and tried to impose their views through the media.

JAQUELINE ANDREA HERNANDEZ HERNANDEZ, Centro de Estudios para la Democracia Popular, said that since the 1960s, the United Nations had worked tirelessly to put an end to the conflict in Western Sahara. Democratic self-determination had been implemented in many other areas, she said, noting the ethnic chaos and terrorist activities in the region. The local population there also had a will to manage its own affairs, she said. Self-determination would allow the populations of the region to have the necessary financial means to develop the region in all areas and contribute to the economic and cultural life of the entire country. The best solution was self-determination.  It was significant to note the effort made by Morocco to seek a peaceful solution in accordance with United Nations doctrine.

ROWAIDA MROUE, International Center for Conflict Resolution, stated that the United Nations Security Council had dealt with the conflict in Western Sahara for years, but the international community did not take human rights issues there seriously. The Saharan people were deprived of dignity because of those failures. Women and children in the Tindouf camps were most exposed to violations of their dignity, she said, denouncing those violations and the harassment of women. No independent body had been able to determine how many people were in those camps, she added.

JOSE ALFONSO BOUZAS ORTIZ stated that the great Sahara during the Spanish and French colonial periods, as well as the present, could not be identified as a “no-man’s land”. All actors accepted that Morocco had dominion over Western Sahara; that was the reality of the second half of the last century. Internal autonomy could be the synonym for self-determination; that definitely did not go against the idea of self-determination. Governments must be open to change. Morocco’s proposal must be well–received and improved through the participation of all.

DAVID ERIKKSON stated that drastic changes in one country could affect others in the region. Country after country in the Arab world had devolved into failed States, while Morocco was a shining example of a progressive, market- oriented economy. That country was a blueprint for how to succeed with democracy and economic progress in the Arab world. It was investing tens of billions of dollars into the Saharan regions, which provided much-needed jobs in an area where unemployment was high. The outside world must support that progress by keeping open business and economic connections and by investing in the country.

CHRISTOPHER EDWIN BRAHAM, International Association for Strategic Studies, said that he had travelled to Morocco as part of a delegation to monitor elections in 2009 and 2011. Particularly important was the election process in the four provinces of the Moroccan Western Sahara where he had seen democracy at work – unfettered, free and transparent — as well as an empowered population and the absence of any security concerns.

In contrast, he said, tens of thousand were incarcerated in the refugee camps of Tindouf, with little chance of ever getting out. Those people had no freedom of movement, speech or association, and were denied evaluation of their plight. Algeria had refused to allow organizations into the camps to bring humanitarian aid. Estimates ranged from 90,000 to 150,000 people, and the malnutrition rate was thought to be close to 35 per cent. The international community had an obligation to address that situation, he said.

BRAHIM BALLALI, explaining that he was a citizen of the Moroccan province of the Sahara, said that the international community had sought to find a solution to the situation, however, the position of the Polisario was “fixed and stubborn”,   while the Saharan population was attached to its Moroccan identity. The Moroccan Saharans believed in the sacred value of love for their country.  He called for respect for human rights, adding that human rights abuses in the Tindouf camps were widespread.  He counted on support in bringing pressure to bear in order to ensure that situation was addressed. 

CHEIKH SIDI EL MOKHTAR EL KANTAOUI, Conseil regional d’Oued Eddahab-Lagouira, said that the Committee had heard several allegations and attacks against Morocco, which were all lies. Why did the people pretending to defend the human rights of the Saharan people insist on attacking only Morocco? Nobody embraced them in Algeria, while Morocco had opened its doors for them to live and work in freedom. Those who attacked Morocco should instead talk about the atrocities committed by the Polisario in the Tindouf camps.

SYDNEY ASSOR, Surrey Three Faiths Forum, stated that international humanitarian aid was being diverted through misappropriation and embezzlement in the Tindouf camps, leading to malnutrition and deprivation of the detainees. Military projects were prospering through such aid. The impossibility of the detainees to vote with their feet rendered them powerless. He had personally witnessed the wicked and malevolent performance of the people in charge of the camps who found new ways to taunt the detainees in Tindouf. Child trafficking still took place there, and slavery was a real institution practised daily in the camps. “You may choose to look the other way but you cannot say that you did not know,” he concluded.

AHMED NAFAA, Association Citoyennete et Developpement Humain de Dakhla, said that it should be kept in mind that the Arab Spring had covered all the countries of the region.  Morocco was the only Arab country that, since the beginning, had continued the tradition of democracy.  Reaching that objective had always been a consensus of the Moroccan people, where there was no need to wait for demonstrations.  Rather, the belief of democracy had built a modern and progressive State.  Many development projects had been put in place, and many gains had been achieved.  But, democracy could only be attained by a citizen who was aware of his rights, he added.

JOELLE TOUTAIN, Association des Amis de la Republique Arabe Sahraouie Democratique, said that she had travelled to Western Sahara in 2010, where she had witnessed a large and peaceful protest.  She had also seen unfair trials, in which defendants had had “their very humanity negated”, she said.  Those trials were purely political, she said, adding that the Saharans should be allowed to protest peacefully.  She advocated for an extension of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) mandate.

CHRISTOPHER BOUTIN stated that due to political and economic failure, the Maghreb had the lowest intra-regional trade in the world.  The consequences were clear — the countries in the Maghreb were suffering from weak investment and unemployment; terrorism was on the rise; and there were no prospects for young people.  Morocco had continued to make efforts to improve human rights and was the best guarantee of stability in the region.  It promoted a moderate Islam, which could bring great benefit to the region.  Inter-Maghreb cooperation was crucial and, in order to safeguard the region’s security, the international community must solve the Sahara conflict.

JEANETTE HOORN stated that when the Spanish and French divided former independent Morocco into what was today known as the Kingdom of Morocco and the Western Sahara, they created an identity that had not previously existed.  It was in the European interest to divide and rule, conveniently ignoring the long-standing “oaths of allegiance” between the tribes and the dynasties of the Kingdom of Morocco.  The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco had now proposed that the Territory be awarded a substantial negotiated autonomy statute within its own democratic Government.  That would enable the region to run its own affairs, determine its own culture and select its own local parliament within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty.  That initiative reflected the spirit of compromise and realism in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

ERIK JENSEN said he wished to draw attention to “underlying common concerns” in the region.  There was an increasingly youthful population, which aspired to employment, a voice, and a respected place in society.  Both the Polisario and Morocco had been brought together to interact, but despite their best efforts, including with the help of the Security Council, talks had made no real progress.  Regional autonomy must have credibility.  Confidence-building measures had been insufficient. The leaders must have political courage in exercising self-determination through compromise, and Algeria was “key to the process”.

RIAD FEKHRI stated that as a young Saharan he had believed in democratic transition in Morocco.  One of the most important issues remaining to be resolved was that of the Saharan with respect to Algerian territory.  There was a contradiction, namely, how it was possible for the United Nations to deal with the Sahara issue without having information on the number of people the Polisario said they represented.  Furthermore, how was it possible that the High Commissioner for Refugees did not know how many refugees were in Tindouf?  The international community remained paralysed against the intransigence of Algeria, he said.

M’HAMED ABBA, Association marocaine pour le developpement humain de Boujdour, stated that Spanish justice had opened up an opportunity for the victims of the Tindouf camp.  There were hundreds of victims of Algeria who were crying out, not for vengeance, but for the right to reveal truth.  The Spanish Supreme Court had accepted the case filed by Saharans calling for investigations against several Polisario leaders, who had turned the camps into detention centres without courts or witnesses.  Today, those victims had the hope of justice and dignity because the Spanish court had agreed to try the case.  He hoped that Algerian officials would be brought to the International Court of Justice so that they, too, could be tried for crimes against humanity.

RACHID TAMEK, Association Marocaine du festival d’Assa, noting that he was born in the Maghreb into a democratic society, said the region was entering a new phase.  He appealed to the conscience of his brothers in the region, saying:  “We are one family and we know that its in our interests to live as a family.”  Morocco was extending a hand for reconciliation and moving towards freedom from the past.  It had put forth an opportunity for independence under its protection to allow the Saharans to have their institutions and use their resources.  “History would judge all of us and we would not be allowed to go backwards,” he added.

KHAYAR AHMED stated that Morocco had been subject of a debate that had drawn world attention.  Dangerous events had menaced the Sahel because of the refugee flows.  Morocco had constantly called on the international community to intervene and solve that problem, but nobody had acted.  Indeed, some parties had tried to convince the world that that was false information propagated by Morocco.  Violence in the region had reached the north of Mali, and had the potential to threaten the peace and stability, not only of the region, but of the entire world, which had turned its back on the region.  The countries involved could not respond to that threat on their own, but needed support.

TALEB BOUYA BOSSOULA, Centre de Proximite de Laayoune, said that he was a defender of human rights and dignity.  He wished to bring the Committee’s attention to reforms that had taken place in Morocco.  Initiatives of mediation and dialogue were under way, and, among other things, the country had passed laws, such as the Family Code, which guaranteed women full rights as pillars of society.  Steps in the area of human rights had also been taken, as well as measures to dampen social tensions and bring citizens closer together.  Those initiatives had been welcomed by international bodies, including the United Nations, he added.

DAOUD KHALILI stated that he was a Saharan citizen and had never felt that the authority running the region was an occupation.  The Committee knew more than any one else about the nature of colonization and its history in Morocco, which had been divided by France and Spain.  Morocco had been slowly recovering its Territory.  What had pushed certain parties to give Sahara exceptional status?  What difference was there between Saharans and the other five regions that did not claim self-determination from Morocco?  The geographic position of the Moroccan Sahara had allowed its neighbour to dream to be the only regional Power in North Africa.  Algeria sought to weaken the only competition in the region, Morocco, and wanted to open a window in the Atlantic to facilitate the exploitation of precious resources from the southern region.

ERIC CAMERON, World Action for Refugees, said that without liberating Saharan women, men and children, the international community would not be able to see peace in the region.  Their individual freedom was a fundamental requirement for ridding Sahara of the conflict.  All United Nations Member States should demand that the Tindouf camps be dissolved.  The parties responsible for their continued existence should finally come to their senses and actively participate in the process of repatriating the camps’ population to a meaningful life in freedom.

ROBIN KHAN, United States Citizens for Western Sahara, condemned Morocco for illegally occupying the Saharan Territory and subjecting its people to various deprivations and human right abuses.  She had witnessed daily struggles endured by the Saharan people living in camps and had heard personal stories related to the abuses, forced detention and disappearances.  The international community should respond and enable the people to be self-governing and free from the controlling powers of Morocco.  The time was now to set the date for a referendum to enable Sahrans, finally, to choose their own future, as an independent and self-governing people.

KIRBY GOOKIN, Western Sahara Human Rights Watch, said that the United Nations was responsible for the people of Western Sahara, as it had asked Spain to decolonize the Territory, and since Spain walked away, illegally, from that responsibility in 1975, it was up to the United Nations to fulfil the process of decolonization.  In so doing, the United Nations must asked Morocco, as occupying Power, to hold a free, fair and internationally monitored referendum for self-determination of the Saharan people, to destroy the wall that divided the Territory, as well as to destroy the millions of anti-personnel mines around it.  All Saharan political prisoners must be released, and Spain and Morocco should open a judicial inquiry to determine those responsible for human right abuses and war crimes committed in Western Sahara.

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ANDREA MARGELLETTI, Centre for International Studies, said a shared regional political agenda should be defined, which focused on regional cooperation and critical reflection of ethnic and cultural minorities.  It was also important to ensure that the local people had the means for subsistence and development.  That was not just an economic issue, but closely related to the defence of human dignity.  The events in Mali and the destabilization of the Sahel had taught the international community that there was no “ideal-typical” solution for international crisis, but each must be dealt with through ad hoc solutions.  The real need was to find a balance between realpolitik needs, geographical peculiarities, and local anthropology, in accordance with the Charter.

NADJAT HAMDI said that the Saharan people had been dispersed from a Territory that was stolen from them.  The Territory was now surrounded by a wall of mines and soldiers.  Morocco, the occupying State, was benefiting from that, and it dared to use the resources of the region for its own benefit, as was evidenced by the recently concluded protocol on fishing between Morocco and European Union.  The women in the region had seen their dignity denied; they were tortured psychologically and physically.  Morocco was so bold as to claim a seat in the Human Rights Council after occupying the Sahara through military might and violating the rights of the Saharans through oppressive and violent practices.  The United Nations must protect the rights of the citizens of the Sahara by creating an independent body to monitor the human rights situation in the region.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the United Kingdom, on the issue of Gibraltar, said that as a separate territory recognized by the United Nations and included since 1946 in its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, Gibraltar enjoyed the individual and collective rights accorded by the United Nations Charter.  The 2006 Gibraltar Constitution provided for a “modern and mature relationship” between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.  That description would not apply to any relationship based on colonialism, he added.

The Government of the United Kingdom, he continued, had a long-standing commitment to the people of Gibraltar that it would not enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against their wishes.  Nor would it enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar was not content.  The Trilateral Forum for Dialogue was the most credible, constructive and practical means of strengthening United Kingdom-Gibraltar-Spain relations for the benefit of all parties.  However, the Government of Spain had withdrawn from those talks in 2011.  Following an initial proposal by the United Kingdom and the Government of Gibraltar to Spain in April 2012, there had been a constructive move to ad hoc talks, with the aim of taking forward cooperation on issues of mutual importance through means which fully reflected the interests, rights and responsibilities of the people of Gibraltar.

He said his country also refuted allegations that it illegally occupied the Isthmus and the surrounding waters.  The representative stressed that, under international law, territorial waters flowed from sovereignty over the land.  That had been established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  When land was ceded, as under the Treaty of Utrecht, sovereignty over the corresponding waters normally followed.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative Spain, denounced the United Kingdom’s response to the question of Gibraltar, stating that the occupation of the Territory and its surrounding are by the United Kingdom was illegal and that the United Nations should intervene and decide on the future of the Territory and its people.  Spain supported the decolonization of Gibraltar, but not based on the principle of self-determination, because the issue of Gibraltar was that of territorial integrity, which needed negotiation between Spain and the United Kingdom to iron out key issues.

On the Treaty of Utrecht, he stated that it was unquestionable that the Treaty was in force, and Gibraltar’s independence was not viable without Spain’s consent.  The United Kingdom was illegally occupying the surrounding territorial waters.  Spain, he added, rejected the United Kingdom’s claim that it was doing so within the ambit of the United Nations Law of the Sea provisions.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.