Opposition welcome UN decolonisation move - and accuse Caruana of 'tantrums'

The Opposition says it welcomes the message by the Secretary General of the United Nations to the Committee of 24 on the need to complete the decolonization of the 16 remaining non-self-governing territories in the world, including Gibraltar.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that all over the world hundreds of people had exercised their right to self-determination and achieved self-government and that this was one of the proudest chapters in the UN?s history.

The examination of the case of Gibraltar in the same way as the other 15 territories shows that our position in International Law is no different to that of all the others. We are all colonies.

The position of the United Kingdom, before the UN, reflected in the letters written at the time by the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, and in the Constitutional dispatch to the Governor, has been that the 1999 White Paper was the starting point of Gibraltar?s Constitutional process. Therefore in the view of the United Kingdom, the status of Gibraltar and the constitutional modernization process that has taken place here is no different to that which has taken, or is taking place in the other UK territories, which are all colonies as well.

The Opposition adds: The changes in terminology from colony to non-self-governing territory, to dependent territory, to Overseas Territory, are not changes in substance or in the International legal status of the territories concerned.

A change of status can only come about as a result of exercising the right to self-determination to bring about decolonization. The definition of what constitutes self-determination and decolonization comes from the UN and it is therefore only the UN yardstick that is valid in measuring whether decolonization has taken place and whether self determination has been exercised.

Moreover, what is clear is that the United Kingdom Government, in its own submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee, in the current enquiry, has drawn no distinction in the status of Gibraltar as compared to the other overseas territories.

Indeed, it describes the constitutional change in Gibraltar and some other territories and the similar constitutional modernizations underway in the remaining ones, as all part of the same process.

It is therefore perfectly valid to pursue the political view that the conduct of the UK is not consistent with the claim that we have now been decolonized and are therefore now different from the other Overseas Territories.

The fact that the Foreign Affairs Committee invited representations from Gibraltar on the same basis as it did from the other overseas territories also shows that in its inquiry, it is not treating Gibraltar as being in a different situation from the rest. The representations received by the Foreign Affairs Committee have not come just from the Governments of these colonies, but from non-government organizations and ordinary members of the public, as well, all of whom, in a system of British democracy, are given an equal right to express their view without being subjected to insults for disagreeing with the Governments of the day, they add.

The same is true of the United Nations. Every year a very large number of organizations and even individuals from different territories on the UN list of non-self governing territories make submissions to the different relevant committees and nobody thinks that if their views conflict with those of the relevant government they are betraying their country and being unpatriotic as a result.

It is clear, says the Opposition, that Mr. Caruana behaves as if he and Gibraltar were synonymous, indistinguishable terms and the whole universe revolved around him. His latest outburst is therefore just another one of his tantrums when he does not get his way and starts throwing his toys out of the pram. However, one needs to be tolerant and understand that his reactions are in all probability something that he cannot help and reflect the typical behaviour of a spoilt brat especially one with delusions of grandeur and a control-freak personality.

"That said, the real issue is that we must continue to peruse the exercise of our self-determination and decolonization, until it is accepted in the same way as it has applied in all the other countries that have been decolonized before us. That is the policy which we have pursued since we joined the Select Committee in 1999, defended in every election campaign and will continue to promote internationally at every opportunity," says the Opposition.