An international symposium looking at the historical backdrop underpinning the concepts of self-determination, devolution, and independence on self-determination will take place next Thursday and Friday in Gibraltar. The aim of this conference is to look at these concepts and to explore them across a number of different examples.
These examples will cover British Overseas Territories to include Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Turks and Caicos; Scottish devolution, Catalan independence and political aspirations in the Basque Country.
Each case is very different. The British Overseas Territories are on the United Nations list of non self governing territories and there are clear legal principles relating to the exercise of self-determination in this context. The others are part of existing nation states.
A statement from the Gibraltar Government said: “The recent referendum in Scotland and the forthcoming Catalan bid for independence (without forgetting Basque separatism) are realities that present dilemmas to resolve as these moves challenge the traditional yet relatively modern concept of the nation state.”
“An in-depth academic and legal discussion of these issues is therefore very topical and relevant at this moment in time,” the Government statement added.
The conference has been organized by Dr Jennifer Ballantine Perera, the Director of the Garrison Library together with the Office of Gibraltar’s Deputy Chief Minister.
Dr Ballantine Perera said: “We are looking at generating a scholarly forum where these issues can be considered across a range of perspectives and areas of expertise. We have to this end invited a number of guest speakers, amongst which are historians, academics and legal figures from Europe and the USA, and their contributions to the proceedings will serve to situate Gibraltar related research within a much wider context.”
Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia said: “Despite it being an established legal principle of the international order, the actual politics of self-determination can nonetheless be a matter which provokes serious debate.”
“Gibraltar for example, has, as is well documented, defended the right to self-determination of the Gibraltarians over very many years. Indeed, the Chief Minister and I were doing precisely this at the United Nations only last week.”
“The Falkland Islanders with which Gibraltarians share a colonial heritage as a British Overseas Territory, are also staunch defenders of that right.”