Territorial disputes: Gibraltar (Part 1) [Post 31]

Territorial disputes: Gibraltar

A long-standing TERRITORIAL DISPUTE is the case of Gibraltar. Different from the previous cases considered by this blog series, Gibraltar has already taken the first steps for what may be a future joint solution. In today’s post, a very brief introduction of the history behind the dispute.

As with the previously reviewed TERRITORIAL DISPUTES, the following posts will introduce: different academic and non-academic views; the current situation; the views of the inhabitants (because in any case they are the ones who will live the consequences of any decision); coverage by the media including all parties in the dispute; the ideal methodology to solve the difference (what I call Egalitarian Shared Sovereignty); its application to some controversial elements; and some conclusive remarks.

Gibraltar, prior to modernity, was occupied by the Spaniards, Arab and Muslim Kingdoms and some other cultures. It is in 1713, after a war between Britain and Spain, that Spain ceded Gibraltar in perpetuity to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Utrecht. However, after this agreement the dispute about the peninsula has continued, with Spain claiming sovereign rights. 

The Gibraltarians rejected Spanish sovereignty in referendums twice (1967 and 2002). In the last referendum, the Gibraltarians rejected shared sovereignty between the United Kingdom and Spain. However, shared sovereignty in this case did not consider the Gibraltarians in the negotiations. Currently, and under the Gibraltar Constitution Order (2006), Gibraltar remains part of the United Kingdom’s dominions. It is important to make clear the British government cannot enter into arrangements with other States in relation to the sovereignty of Gibraltar against the Gibraltarians’ wishes. The Constitution recognizes the right to self-determination. Although Gibraltar is in charge of its internal affairs, the United Kingdom deals with foreign affairs and defense. In relation to Spain, a trilateral process of dialogue started in 2004 allowing finally the principle of “two flags, three voices.”

To the reader, following two of our previous posts of this series about TERRITORIAL DISPUTES:

  • What are the issues at stakes in this a territorial dispute?
  • Which remedy could be used to solve this particular territorial dispute?

For reference to these questions see:

POST 9: Territorial disputes: issues at stake

POST 10: Territorial disputes: remedies

NOTE: This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020 (forthcoming)Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.

NEXT POST: Gibraltar and the many views.
Monday 04th November 2019 

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @London1701

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