What the Spanish delegate told the committee

JUAN ANTONIO YA?EZ-BARNUEVO ( Spain) highlighted Spain?s actions to fulfil the General Assembly?s mandate on the issue of Gibraltar, advance the agenda of the Second International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism, and clarify issues on Gibraltar?s recent constitutional reform.

In the spirit of cooperation, the 16 December 2004 Joint Declaration of the Governments of Spain, the United Kingdom and Gibraltar had created the three-way Forum of Dialogue on Gibraltar. The Forum aimed to improve Gibraltar?s economic and social welfare. Unilateral changes to the status quo would impede progress.

He then turned to discussions to reform the constitutional order in effect since 1969 that had ended last March between representatives of the Foreign Office and representatives of various political parties and the Government of Gibraltar. The constitutional text that had resulted from such discussions was an internal redistribution of powers between the United Kingdom and Gibraltar to improve the Government?s efficiency in the Territory. Such reform could not have any kind of repercussion in the decolonization process begun in 1946.

Both the United Kingdom?s White Book on ? British Overseas Territories? and the 28 March 2006 letter from Jack Straw, Secretary of State from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, addressed to the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation recognized the limits of the principles of self-determination as applied to Gibraltar, he said. Both texts stated that the principle of self-determination should be promoted in conformity with ?the other principles and rights of the United Nations Charter? and to ?Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht? that gave Spain the right of return in the event that the United Kingdom renounced its sovereignty.

Further, Mr. Straw?s letter affirmed that such limitations would also be reflected in the dispatch letter from the Secretary of State to the British Government of Gibraltar, which supplemented the constitutional text, he continued. The constitutional reform based on the 1999 White Book did not have decolonization as a goal for Gibraltar. Mr. Straw?s statement in the 28 March 2006 letter, in which he affirmed that the next text ?does not diminish British sovereignty over Gibraltar?, that ?Gibraltar will remain a non-self governing territory of the United Kingdom?, and that ?the United Kingdom will withhold its entire international responsibility in regards to Gibraltar? were clear examples that the revised constitutional text could not affect the decolonization process.

Gibraltar would undoubtedly remain a Non-Self-Governing Territory in practice and from a legal perspective as deduced from the text proposed by the Gibraltar Parliament at the start of the constitutional reform, he said. In that regard, the draft established that Gibraltar remained under laws enacted by the Westminster Parliament without any participation of any elected representatives of Gibraltar; that its higher judicial authority or Privy Council would continue to be an institution of the United Kingdom comprised of judges that were not Gibraltarean; and that the Crown would reserve its right to directly legislate in Gibraltar.

If a party attempted to assert that with the new constitutional text Gibraltar was no longer a Non-Self-Governing Territory, it would obviate the entire United Nations doctrine on the question and would infringe on the historical rights of Spain over Gibraltar, as recognized in the Treaty of Utrecht, he said. In resolutions 2231 (1966) and 2429 (1968), the General Assembly had established a solid doctrine of the full applicability of the principle of territorial integrity. Contrary to criticism that it was not defending the supposed rights of the people of Gibraltar, the Special Committee had acted decisively and effectively. Spain had never maintained a contradictory position. On the contrary, Spain was firmly committed to the United Nations decisions and resolutions. Spain wished to continue working with the Special Committee on the decolonization of Gibraltar and hoped that the Forum?s discussions would result in a satisfactory outcome. While the constitutional reform of Gibraltar was a good text for governing the Territory, such reform was irrelevant to the decolonization of Gibraltar.