Disputed status of Gibraltar

Disputed status of Gibraltar

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Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, near the southernmost tip of the Iberian peninsula, which is the subject of a disputed irredentist claim by Spain.

Gibraltar was captured in 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714). Spain formally ceded the territory in perpetuity to the British Crown in 1713, under Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht. This was confirmed in later treaties signed in Paris and Seville. Spain later attempted to recapture the territory militarily by a number of failed sieges, and reclamation of the territory by peaceful means remains its government's policy.[citation needed]

The Gibraltarians themselves reject any such claim and no political party or pressure group in Gibraltar supports union with Spain. In a referendum in 2002 the people of Gibraltar soundly rejected a joint sovereignty proposal on which Spain and Britain were said to have reached "broad agreement".[1][2] The British government has committed itself to respecting the Gibraltarians' wishes.[3]

25,000 people demonstrated in Gibraltar on 18 March 2002.

Despite this, an overwhelming majority of the population holds the view that better relations with Spain are desirable. A mass demonstration held in March 2002, whilst condemning the idea of joint sovereignty, called for good, neighbourly European relations with Spain, based on reasonable dialogue and mutual respect.[citation needed]

The territorial claim was formally reasserted by the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in the 1960s and has been continued by successive Spanish governments.[citation needed] They have insisted that the Gibraltar dispute is a purely bilateral matter and that the current Gibraltarians are mere settlers whose role and will are irrelevant. This principle appears to have been reflected in the United Nations resolutions on the decolonisation of Gibraltar in the 1960s, which focused on the "interests" and not the "wishes" of the Gibraltarians. Speaking to the UN C24 in 2006, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Peter Caruana, stated: "It is well known and documented and accepted by all that, since 1988, Gibraltar has rejected the Bilateral Brussels Process, and will never be content with it."[4] Gibraltarians argue that one cannot claim to be acting in the "interests" of a population, while at the same time ignoring its wishes and democratic rights.

In 2002 an agreement in principle on joint sovereignty over Gibraltar between the governments of United Kingdom and Spain was announced. There was a robust campaign against these proposals by the Gibraltarian government and individuals, culminating in their decisive rejection in a referendum. The British Government now refuses to discuss sovereignty without the consent of the Gibraltarians.[5]

With the election of a moderate left-wing government in Spain (2004), a new Spanish position has been adopted. The result of this new approach was the creation of a Tripartite Forum with equal participation by the Government of Gibraltar. The Spanish government says it is a new way to resolve a 300-year-old problem.[citation needed] On the other hand, such movement was regarded by Spanish right-wing parties as a surrender.[citation needed]

This resulted in a visit by the Spanish foreign minister, in July 2009, Miguel Ángel Moratinos to Gibraltar to discuss a range of mutual issues. This was the first official Spanish visit since Gibraltar was ceded. During the press conference, he said that the claim to sovereignty could not be given up by Spain.[6][dead link]


The capture of Gibraltar and the Treaty of Utrecht

Statue of Admiral Sir George Rooke.

An Anglo-Dutch force led by Admiral Sir George Rooke captured Gibraltar in 1704 on behalf of the Archduke Charles, pretender to the Spanish Throne. The territory was eventually ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht as part of the settlement of the War of the Spanish Succession. In that treaty, Spain ceded to Great Britain:

the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging […] for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever.

Should the British Crown ever wish to relinquish Gibraltar, a reversion clause holds that the territory would first be offered to Spain:

And in case it shall hereafter seem meet to the Crown of Great Britain to grant, sell or by any means to alienate therefrom the propriety of the said town of Gibraltar, it is hereby agreed and concluded that the preference of having the sale shall always be given to the Crown of Spain before any others.

However, the Treaty stipulates "that the above-named propriety be yielded to Great Britain without any territorial jurisdiction" and that no overland trade between Gibraltar and Spain is to take place, except for emergency provisions in the case that Gibraltar is unable to be resupplied by sea. The British Government and the Government of Gibraltar today argue that the membership of both Gibraltar and Spain in the European Union (EU) - Gibraltar was included as a Special Member State territory when the United Kingdom joined the EU in 1973; Spain joined the EU in 1986 - supersedes such restrictions as the EU is committed to free movement of goods and services.

Differing positions

Both the British [7] and Gibraltarian governments assert that Gibraltar has been effectively decolonised.[8][9][10][11] On the other hand, Gibraltar remains on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.[12] Spain opposes any attempt to remove it from this list[13] and Spanish commentators still commonly describe Gibraltar as a colony.[14][15]

Spanish position

Since the capture of Gibraltar in 1704, Spain has tried to recover it by military and diplomatic means. The 18th century saw three unsuccessful sieges (1704, 1727 and the Great Siege, between 1779 and 1783). The Spanish decline and the British world preeminence during the 19th made any recovery attempt unthinkable.[16] The claim was reactivated during the 1950s and especially during the 1960s by the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, as a means of cohesion of public opinion and obtaining support for the dictatorship. However, the quest for Gibraltar is largely a cross-ideology issue[clarification needed] having being supported by politicians and public figures of any political sign[clarification needed] for more than three centuries. In that sense, the president of the Spanish Republic in exile, Claudio Sánchez Albornoz graphically said:[17]

There cannot be a Spaniard worthy of the name, who can write, without blushing, that Gibraltar is not part of Spain. And if there is anyone who can write that without blushing, I take the liberty of blushing for him, as a liberal Spaniard in exile.

Reclaiming the territory by peaceful means remains the policy of successive Spanish governments.

The traditional Spanish position is based on territorial integrity, which according to UN Resolution 1514 (XV) (1960) complements and constrains the right to self-determination:

Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

During the 1960s, the UN General Assembly passed two resolutions on the issue (2231 (XXI), "Question of Gibraltar"[18] and 2353 (XXII), "Question of Gibraltar"[19]). The resolutions on the decolonisation of Gibraltar focused on the "interests" and not the "wishes" of the Gibraltarians. The latter resolution states that:

any colonial situation which partially or completely destroys the national unity and territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and especially with paragraph 6 of Resolution 1514 (XV) of the General Assembly [...] Invites the Governments of Spain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to resume without delay the negotiations provided for in General Assembly Resolutions 2070 (XX) and 2231 (XXI), with a view to putting an end to the colonial situation in Gibraltar and to safeguarding the interests of the population.

From such a point of view, Gibraltarians are seen as mere settlers from the United Kingdom and other countries and only their interests, not their wishes (as the right to self-determination would involve), need be safeguarded. This point of view is supported by the fact that after the Capture of Gibraltar by Anglo-Dutch troops, only 70 out of the original 5,000 Spanish inhabitants remained in Gibraltar.[20] Therefore, Spain has insisted that the Gibraltar dispute is a purely bilateral matter with the United Kingdom and has ignored the role and will of Gibraltarians.

The first formal proposal on how to achieve the return of Gibraltar to Spain was made on 18 May 1966 by the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fernando Castiella. The proposal comprised three clauses:[21][22]

  1. "The cancellation of the Treaty of Utrecht and the subsequent return of Gibraltar to Spain.
  2. "The stay of the British base in Gibraltar, its use being subject to a specific Anglo-Spanish agreement.
  3. "A "Personal Statute" for Gibraltarians, under United Nations guarantee, protecting their cultural, social and economic interest in Gibraltar or anywhere else in Spain, including their British nationality. An "appropriate [..] administrative formula" should be also agreed."

The proposal was rejected by the British Government and by the Gibraltarians, which overwhelmingly voted to remain under British sovereignty in a referendum held in 1967 (12,138 to 44).

No further progress in Spanish claims were achieved for the following 40 years. With the failure of this point of view to achieve progress, the position seems to have been softened and aimed to some sort of temporary or permanent joint sovereignty, which has been proposed by Spain and discussed with the Government of the United Kingdom. A first proposal was tabled by the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fernando Morán, in 1985. The details of the proposal were not made public, but information released showed an offer on a treaty with the United Kingdom in order to "re-integrate" Gibraltar with Spain, while preserving Gibraltarians' way of life. They would keep its British nationality as well as political and labour rights, self-government and institutions. A condominium or leaseback arrangement should be agreed on over a 15- or 20-year period.[23] The proposal was not formally rejected by Douglas Hurd, the then British Foreign Secretary, until 1993.

A second proposal was put in 1997 by the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Abel Matutes, foreseeing a 100-year joint sovereignty period before the definite transfer to Spain.[24] A similar schema was agreed on between the Spanish and British governments in the Spring of 2002, which was eventually shelved after further sustained and united opposition by the Gibraltarians.

British position

In his evidence to the UK Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee in 2008, Jim Murphy MP, Minister of State for Europe stated:[5]

The UK Government will never - "never" is a seldom-used word in politics - enter into an agreement on sovereignty without the agreement of the Government of Gibraltar and their people. In fact, we will never even enter into a process without that agreement. The word "never" sends a substantial and clear commitment and has been used for a purpose. We have delivered that message with confidence to the peoples and the Governments of Gibraltar and Spain. It is a sign of the maturity of our relationship now that that is accepted as the UK's position.

On the other hand, the British Government has ruled out both the independence of Gibraltar and its integration into the United Kingdom. With regard to the independence, it refers to the Treaty of Utrecht as, according to the British view, it would require Spanish consent.[citation needed]

I will note that, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, Gibraltar's right of self determination is not constrained by the Treaty of Utrecht except in so far as Article X gives Spain the right of refusal should Britain ever renounce Sovereignty. Thus independence would only be an option with Spanish consent.

The option of Integration was rejected on 26 June 1976, when the British Government issued the Hattersley Memorandum rejecting the integration in order to:[25]

avoid innovations which might result in prolongation of the frontier restrictions imposed by Spain.

Gibraltarian position

Gibraltarians argue that the Spanish claims are baseless, pointing to the right to self-determination of all peoples, guaranteed and enshrined by the UN, according to the UN Charter.[citation needed] Its article 1 states that:

The Purposes of the United Nations are [...] to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

To the same section 2 of Resolution 1514 (XV) states:

All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Furthermore, resolution 2231 (XXI) itself recalls and demands implementation of Resolution 1514(XV) (guaranteeing Gibraltar's right to self-determination) and therefore the Spanish claim for its territorial integrity (which would not be affected by Gibraltar's decolonisation) cannot displace or extinguish the rights of the people of Gibraltar under resolution 1514(XV) or under the Charter.[citation needed] From this point of view, any additional right that Spain could claim by virtue of the "reversionary" clause contained in the Treaty of Utrecht is overruled and annulled under article 103 of the UN Charter:[citation needed]

In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.

Finally, it is argued that there is in fact no principle in International Law or UN doctrine that can displace the inalienable right to self-determination.[citation needed] In this regard, in 2008, the UN 4th Committee rejected the claim that a dispute over sovereignty affected self-determination, affirming it to be a basic human right.[26]

The Gibraltar Government has also argued that Gibraltar is a British territory and therefore by definition not an integral part of any other state, implying that Spain's territorial integrity cannot be affected by anything that occurs in Gibraltar:

Even if integration of a territory was demanded by an interested State it could not be had without ascertaining the freely expressed will of the people, the very sine qua non of all decolonisation.

[citation needed]

In a referendum held in Gibraltar in September 2002, Gibraltan voters rejected even partial Spanish sovereignty.[27]

Speaking to the UK Parliament Foreign Affairs committee in March 2008 Peter Caruana the Chief Minister of Gibraltar noted:

Spain does not dispute that Gibraltar is properly, in law, British territory. Therefore, this is not disputed land. She has a political claim to the return of Gibraltar sovereignty, but she does not dispute the fact that in proper international law, she ceded sovereignty to Britain in perpetuity and therefore it is undisputed British sovereign territory.[28]

Gibraltarians seem to remain mistrustful of Spain despite improved relations.[29][30][30][31]

The isthmus

The territory of Gibraltar contains an 800-metre (2,625 ft) section of the isthmus that links The Rock[32] with mainland Spain. Although it is argued by Spain that the isthmus was never ceded by Spain; rather, it was gradually occupied de facto by Gibraltar,[33] the fact is that there was a stretch of land labelled as neutral territory separating Spain from Gibraltar.

The growth of Gibraltar onto the isthmus began with the construction of two forts in the northernmost part of the ceded territory. In 1815, Gibraltar suffered a yellow fever epidemic. This led to a Spanish concession so a temporary health camp could be built on the isthmus. After the plague was over, Gibraltar did not remove the camp. In 1854, a new epidemic prompted more health camps, gaining Gibraltar another 800 meters. The occupation of the isthmus culminated in 1938 with the construction of the airport during the Spanish civil war.[citation needed]

The Treaty of Utrecht does not acknowledge British sovereignty over Gibraltar beyond the fortified perimeter of the town as it was in 1704. The United Kingdom claims that its title to the southern part of the isthmus is based on continuous possession over a long period (Prescription (sovereignty transfer)).

Territorial waters

The Treaty of Utrecht did not specify territorial waters.

By the first half of the 18th century the concept of the 3-nautical-mile (5.6 km) wide sovereign territorial sea emerged, this was eventually adopted by most countries as the basis of marine jurisdiction, until the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, which entered into force in 1995, set a new standard of 12 nautical miles (22 km). British claimed territorial waters currently extend up to 3 nautical miles. Spain included a declaration, the content of which was rejected by the UK. The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Peter Caruana noted:

Spain subscribed to that treaty, making no reservation whatsoever in relation to the Gibraltar question. International law makes Spain's denial of territorial waters in Gibraltar completely unsustainable in law.[34]

The Spanish statement upon ratification of the Convention was:

2. In ratifying the Convention, Spain wishes to make it known that this act cannot be construed as recognition of any rights or status regarding the maritime space of Gibraltar that are not included in article 10 of the Treaty of Utrecht of 13 July 1713 concluded between the Crowns of Spain and Great Britain. Furthermore, Spain does not consider that Resolution III of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea is applicable to the colony of Gibraltar, which is subject to a process of decolonization in which only relevant resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly are applicable.[35]

The British statement upon ratification of the Convention was:

With regard to point 2 of the declaration made upon ratification of the Convention by the Government of Spain, the Government of the United Kingdom has no doubt about the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over Gibraltar, including its territorial waters. The Government of the United Kingdom, as the administering authority of Gibraltar, has extended the United Kingdom's accession to the Convention and ratification of the Agreement to Gibraltar. The Government of the United Kingdom, therefore, rejects as unfounded point 2 of the Spanish declaration.[36]

Article 310 of the 1982 Convention specifies that "such statements and declarations cannot exclude or modify the legal effect of the provisions of the Convention" in their application.

The dispute over territorial waters, which was rekindled over the fishing dispute[which?] seems likely to become more important with the discovery of a British treasure ship, HMS Sussex, and the Black Swan Project controversy. Questions about the waters have previously been asked in the House of Commons, and answered as follows:

Under international law, States are entitled, but not required, to extend their territorial sea up to a maximum breadth of 12 nautical miles. Where the coasts of two States are opposite or adjacent, the general rule is that neither is entitled, unless they agree otherwise, to extend its territorial sea beyond the median line. The UK Government considers that a limit of three nautical miles is sufficient in the case of Gibraltar.

The Government of Gibraltar for its part holds that there is no economic or social need for more than three nautical miles of territorial water.

At the end of 2008, the European Commission included most of the territorial waters that surround Gibraltar under a marine conservation area known as the "Estrecho Oriental" that will be maintained by Spain. Spain's actions were seen by most in Gibraltar as the EU being duped by Spain into recognizing Spanish sovereignty over Gibraltar's waters. The UK has initiated legal proceedings with the support of Gibraltar,[37] which were initially rejected by the General Court on procedural grounds but are now subject to appeal...[38]

There have been disputes concerning Spanish patrol boats inside these claimed territorial waters. In May 2009 there were a number of Spanish incursions into British claimed waters around Gibraltar, leading to intervention by the Police and a diplomatic protest by the UK.[39][40]

1953: Rekindling the dispute

In 1954, despite objections by Spain, Queen Elizabeth II visited Gibraltar in May. Spanish dictator Francisco Franco had renewed claims to The Rock. Based on British National Archives files from 1953, Franco claimed that Spain had been promised The Rock in return for not attacking the territory during the Second World War. British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill denied that he promised to give Gibraltar to Spain.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office conducted a full review of their files to see whether Franco's claim had any foundation. A confidential memo called the Spanish communiqué "a flimsy and unconvincing document", and the Government put an end to the dispute by refusing to comment on the claims.[41]


The Spanish government argues[42] that Gibraltar's tax schemes harm the Spanish economy. In January 2005, the European Commissioner for Competition requested the UK (responsible for Gibraltar’s external relations) to abolish Gibraltar’s tax-exempt company regime by the end of 2010 (at the latest) on the basis that it constitutes illegal state aid that could distort competition.[43] Unlike other tax havens like Andorra, Gibraltar has not signed a mutual agreement with Spain to exchange fiscal information.[44] Another concern[who?] is that each day thousands of Spaniards buy goods at cheaper prices in Gibraltar due to exchange rates and lack of VAT, contributing to the Gibraltar economy instead of that of Spain.

The Spanish government wants to increase the exchange of fiscal information [42] in order to prevent Gibraltar banks being used for tax evasion and money laundering. The United Kingdom House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee has directed an inquiry that determined that Gibraltar has always complied with all international and EU requirements to prevent such activity.

We conclude that the series of allegations which Spain makes against Gibraltar appear almost wholly to be without substance. In many cases, it is not just the Government of Gibraltar but the British Government as well which is traduced. It is deeply regrettable that allegations are made that cannot be sustained by a basis in fact. If concrete evidence of wrong-doing were produced, the British Government should act promptly to deal with the problem. But so long as allegations are unsubstantiated, the British Government should continue to rebut them promptly and decisively.[45]

Referred to as an International Finance Centre,[46] Gibraltar was among 35 jurisdictions identified by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a tax haven in June 2000.[47] As a result of having made a commitment in accordance with the OECD's 2001 Progress Report on the OECD's Project on Harmful Tax Practices, Gibraltar was not included in the OECD's list of uncooperative tax havens.[47] However, in its April 2009 progress report, the OCDE listed Gibraltar in the list of jurisdictions which, although committed, had not "substantially implemented" yet the internationally agreed tax standard.[48] Following Gibraltar's signing of 12 additional Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs), as of October 2009, with jurisdictions including the UK, USA and Germany,[49] Gibraltar was listed in the OECD "white list", and is now considered a jurisdiction that has substantially implemented the tax standard. It therefore shares the same status as OECD member states such as the UK, the USA, Spain or Germany.[50]

Along with the Isle of Man and Cyprus, Gibraltar has been used as an international finance centre by the Russian conglomerate Yukos/Menatep.[51]

Some Spaniards[who?] have also mentioned that Gibraltarian motorboats could be engaging in tobacco smuggling. However, since 1996 there has been a law in Gibraltar controlling fast launches licensing their ownership and importation and prohibiting the entry of unlicensed craft into Gibraltar waters.

Military importance

Military control of the Strait of Gibraltar has historically been the most important use of Gibraltar, allowing Britain to defend its trade lanes to the East. The British admiral Lord Fisher stated that Gibraltar was one of the five keys that locked the world, together with Dover, Alexandria, Cape of Good Hope and Singapore, all of which were once controlled by Britain. It has been useful for the UK to maintain its position as world power.[52]

Its military relevance has reduced with the end of the Cold War, but it is still an important position as more than one quarter of the global maritime traffic transits through the strait every year.[53] Controlling the strait is of vital importance to NATO. The task of controlling the strait has been traditionally assigned by NATO to the UK, but the recent advances that Spain has made in its armed forces and the bases Spain has in the zone have made NATO reconsider this.[54] However, the tense relations that Spain had with the American administration under George W. Bush and the special friendship of the US with the UK have caused NATO to take a more favourable position towards the UK and Morocco for control of the strait.[55]

For Spain, the military aspect of Gibraltar is not very important apart from denying advantages to the UK, as it has other more spacious bases in Algeciras, Tarifa, Cadiz or Rota to control the strait. Its importance to Spain derives mostly from claims of national integrity and the economic influence Gibraltar holds as a tax haven.[citation needed]


In a 1967 referendum on sovereignty organised by the British Government, 99.6% of voters voted to remain under British sovereignty.

In a second referendum on sovereignty held in November 2002 by the Government of Gibraltar, 187 voted yes (1%) and 17,900 voted no (99%) on the proposal of sharing sovereignty with Spain.[56][dead link] The question put was:

On the 12th July 2002 the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, in a formal statement in the House of Commons, said that after twelve months of negotiation the British Government and Spain are in broad agreement on many of the principles that should underpin a lasting settlement of Spain's sovereignty claim, which included the principle that Britain and Spain should share sovereignty over Gibraltar.

Do you approve of the principle that Britain and Spain should share sovereignty over Gibraltar?

Spanish reaction varied from questioning the validity of the process, to observing that no Spanish government has done enough to make joint sovereignty or integration with Spain an attractive prospect.[57]

It is reported that Spanish "secret funds" were used to create a favourable opinion in Gibraltar to the Spanish sovereignty claim.[58] How the money was spent remains uncertain.

Recent disputes

2000 - An issue of contention was the repair of the nuclear powered submarine, HMS Tireless. The Government of Spain expressed its concern about the effective safety for the inhabitants of Gibraltar and those living in the Campo de Gibraltar the adjacent area in Spain, some 250,000 people.

The inhabitants of the area saw this repair as a precedent of future repair operations in Gibraltar rather than the one-off emergency the British Government has claimed (no other nuclear submarine has been repaired in Gibraltar since). On the other hand, the Government of Gibraltar accused Spain of using this incident as an excuse to justify its 300 year old sovereignty claim to Gibraltar. Despite many protests, the Government of Gibraltar allowed the work to be done after employing its own experts to confirm it could be undertaken safely. The submarine was in Gibraltar for a year before leaving, during which the repair was completed without incident.

Subsequently Spanish politicians have complained about every nuclear submarine visit to Gibraltar, and have tried unsuccessfully to get a reassurance that this would totally stop. There have been no further protests against nuclear submarines in Gibraltar. Commenting, the Government of Gibraltar said:

Nuclear submarine visits to Gibraltar are a matter for UK and Gibraltar. Visits for operational or recreational purposes are welcome by the Gibraltar Government [...] To our knowledge, it is not the position of the present Spanish Government or any previous Spanish Government, that it is opposed to visits by nuclear submarines.[59]

2002 - In the months that predated the referendum called by the Gibraltar government on the joint sovereignty agreement disagreements could be categorised as:

  • Control of the Military Installations. Spain wished to control the military installations of the territory, even in the event of joint sovereignty. This pretension was considered unacceptable by the British Ministry of Defence.
  • The Referendum itself. Both the Spanish and British governments stated that the referendum had no legal effect, but it clearly indicated the democratically expressed will of the people of Gibraltar to “not be Spanish”. As the British Government is committed to respect those wishes, the idea of a joint sovereignty deal has been abandoned.

2004 - A visit by The Princess Royal in June 2004, the brief return of HMS Tireless in July 2004, together with the Tercentenary Celebrations of the capture of The Rock were subjects of complaint by the Spanish Government.

A new round of talks on a tri-lateral basis were proposed in October 2004 to discuss regional co-operation. In February 2005 the first talks took place at a meeting held in Málaga and subsequently in Portugal and London.

This is the first sign of formal recognition of the Government of Gibraltar, and has been generally welcomed. The main issues of the talks have been a new agreement on the airport, the pensions of the Spanish workers that worked in Gibraltar during the sixties, and the removal of Spanish restrictions on telecommunications.

2006 - Those issues were successfully resolved in September 2006 in the Córdoba Agreement. The process continues.

2007 - A bulk carrier, the MV New Flame, ran aground south of Europa Point in Gibraltar and broke up on the reef in August 2007, generating accusations of pollution in Spain and claims not only against the Government of Gibraltar but also against that of Spain.[60] Its cargo was scrap metal and the vessel's fuel was promptly drained.  The Government of Gibraltar claimed in December 2007 that the operation did not represent a material risk to the environment since the vessel had been defuelled and only small, remnant amounts of fuel remained in the engines themselves.[61] The Spanish branch of Greenpeace claimed that, as late as February 2008, fuel spills from the New Flame had polluted Spanish beaches around the Bay of Gibraltar.[62] Official Spanish sources played this down stating that the fuel reaching the beaches of Algeciras was in "insignificant amounts".[63]

2009 - The dispute over British claimed territorial waters gained prominence with deliberate incursions by Spain, triggering angry headlines in the UK tabloid press.[40] In December 2009, four armed Civil Guard officers were detained after three landed in Gibraltar in pursuit of two suspected smugglers, who were themselves arrested. The Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba personally telephoned Chief Minister Peter Caruana to apologise, stating that that there were "no political intentions" behind the incident. The Chief Minister was prepared to accept it had not been a political act. The Spanish officers were released by the Police the following day, who said that "Enquiries established that the Guardia Civil mistakenly entered Gibraltar Territorial Waters in hot pursuit and have since apologised for their actions" [64][65]

Spanish restrictions

After the Spanish constitution, Spain was still reluctant to re-open the border because of the consequences it might have.[66] However the border was re-opened in 1984, allowing free access between both sides, although Spain didn't open ferry services until later. Further problems have been encountered regarding the airport, as it is placed on disputed neutral land. Under the Lisbon agreement of 1980:

Both Governments have reached agreement on the re-establishment of direct communications in the region. The Spanish Government has decided to suspend the application of the measures at present in force.

This was to include re-instatement of a ferry service between Gibraltar and Algeciras. This was finally reinstated after 40 years, on December 16, 2009, operated by the Spanish company, Transcoma.[67]

At the end of 2006, the restrictions on the airport were removed as a result of the Córdoba Agreement (2006) and direct flights from Madrid by Iberia started operation.[68]

However, On 22 September 2008, Iberia announced that it would cease its flights to Madrid by 28 September due to "economic reasons", namely, lack of demand. This left Gibraltar without any air links with Spain,[69] until May 2009 when Air Andalus opened a service.[70] Air communications with Spain ceased again in August 2010, when Air Andalus lost its licence.

Spanish demonstrated opposition to Gibraltar's membership of Union of European Football Associations.[71]

Political development

The Gibraltarians have sought a more modern status and relationship with the United Kingdom reflecting, and expanding the present level of self-government.

A new constitution order was approved in a referendum in 2006 which moved Gibraltar to a more Crown dependency-like relationship with the UK, rather than the previous colonial status.[72] The new constitution came into effect in January 2007. Gibraltar is classified as a British overseas territory.

In a letter to the UN the British representative, Emyr Jones Parry, writes:

The new constitution provides for a modern relationship between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom. I do not think that this description would apply to any relationship based on colonialism.[73]

Chief Minister Peter Caruana addressed the UN Special Committee on Decolonization regarding the new constitution in 2008. He put forth Gibraltar Government's view that:

As far as we are concerned, the decolonisation of Gibraltar is no longer a pending issue.[74]

Parallel with this, the Government of Gibraltar has engaged in talks with Spain to resolve other disputes, setting aside the issue of sovereignty.


British sources

  • ^ George Hills (1974). Rock of Contention. A History of Gibraltar. London: Robert Hale. ISBN 0-7091-4352-4.  George Hills was a BBC World Service broadcaster, Spanish Historian and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Although listed as a 'British' source, Hills supports the Spanish view of Gibraltar. He died in 2002. His research documents are now available at King's College, UCL as a separate collection.
  • ^ Jackson, William (1990). The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar (2nd ed.). Grendon, Northamptonshire, UK: Gibraltar Books.  General Sir William Jackson was Governor of Gibraltar between 1978 and 1982, a military Historian and former Chairman of the Friends of Gibraltar Heritage.

Spanish sources

  • ^ Sepúlveda, Isidro (2004). Gibraltar. La razón y la fuerza (Gibraltar. The reason and the force). in Spanish. Madrid: Alianza Editorial. ISBN 84-206-4184-7.  Chapter 2, "La lucha por Gibraltar" (The Struggle for Gibraltar) is available online (PDF). Isidro Sepúlveda Muñoz is a Contemporary History Professor in the UNED ("Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia").
  • ^ Cajal, Máximo (2003). Siglo XXI Editores. ed. Ceuta, Melilla, Olivenza y Gibraltar. Donde termina España (Ceuta, Melilla, Olivenza y Gibraltar. Where Spain ends). In Spanish. Madrid: Siglo Veintiuno de España Editores. ISBN 84-323-1138-3.  Máximo Cajal is a Spanish diplomatist, ambassador in different countries and currently the special representant of the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in the Alliance of Civilizations. He was the only survivor of the assault of the Embassy of Spain in Guatemala by the forces of the Guatemalan dictatorship in 1980.


  1. ^ "Regions and territories: Gibraltar". British Broadcasting Corporation. 2007-07-18. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/3851047.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  2. ^ Mark Oliver; Sally Bolton, Jon Dennis, Matthew Tempest (4 August 2004). "Gibraltar". Guardian Unlimited. http://www.guardian.co.uk/gibraltar/story/0,,634007,00.html. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  3. ^ Corrected transcript of evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee; 2008-03-28; Answer to Question 257 by Jim Murphy: [T]he UK Government will never – "never" is a seldom-used word in politics – enter into an agreement on sovereignty without the agreement of the Government of Gibraltar and their people. In fact, we will never even enter into a process without that agreement.
  4. ^ Caruana, Peter (5 October 2006). "Press Release: Chief Minister’s address at the United Nations Fourth Committee on 4 October 2006." (PDF). Government of Gibraltar. http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/latest_news/press_releases/2006/291-2006.pdf. Retrieved 2008-10-17. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b Answer to Q257 at the FAC hearing
  6. ^ http://www.elmundo.es/papel/2009/07/23/espana/17531307.html
  7. ^ "Official Government of Gibraltar London website". http://www.gibraltar.gov.uk/int/Today/chronicle.asp?fld_ID=8595. Retrieved 18 October 2008. [dead link]
  8. ^ Informe sobre la cuestión cisi Gibraltar, Spanish Foreign Ministry (Spanish)
  9. ^ "Address to UN". http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/latest_news/topical_speeches/un_fourth_committee.htm. Retrieved 18 October 2008. [dead link]
  10. ^ Gibraltar.gov.gi, Chief Minister's UN Speech "Mr Chairman, nobody who visits Gibraltar and observes its society and self government can objectively think that Gibraltar, in reality, remains a colony." Speech to the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation 8 October 2009
  11. ^ "Our main political challenges come from Spain's antiquated territorial claim." Government of Gibraltar Information Services, Office of the Chief Minister. http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/office-of-the-chief-minister accessed 15th May 2010
  12. ^ "Non-Self Governing Territories". United Nations. http://www.un.org/Depts/dpi/decolonization/trust3.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  13. ^ UN.org, Special Committee on Decolonisation hears petitioner from Gibraltar as Spain opposes its removal from list of Non-Self-Governing Territories "the representative of Spain opposed any attempt to remove it from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories undergoing decolonisation"
  14. ^ julia martнnez tejados – ciudad real. "Gibraltar, colonia inglesa". Lukor.com. http://www.lukor.com/not-esp/internacional/portada/06040333.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-13. 
  15. ^ "De Cospedal: "Gibraltar es una colonia que no deberĂ­a existir" - PĂşblico.es". Publico.es. http://www.publico.es/espana/276568/cospedal/gibraltar/colonia/deberia/exitir. Retrieved 2011-05-13. 
  16. ^ Trudy Ring, Robert M. Salkin, Sharon La Boda (1995). International Dictionary of Historic Places: Southern Europe. Taylor & Francis. pp. 283. ISBN 1884964028. http://books.google.com/?id=74JI2UlcU8AC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA283#v=onepage&q=gibraltar. 
  17. ^ Gold, Peter (2005). Gibraltar: British or Spanish?. Routledge. pp. 27. ISBN 0415347955. http://books.google.com/?id=b6SgDQvP3zMC&lpg=PA27&dq=albornoz%20gibraltar&pg=PA27#v=onepage&q=claudio%20sanchez%20albornoz. 
  18. ^ UN General Assembly (1966). "Resolution 2231(XXI). Question of Gibraltar" (PDF). Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly during its Twenty-First Session. United Nations. http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/21/ares21.htm. Retrieved 2005-12-16. 
  19. ^ UN General Assembly (1967). "Resolution 2353(XXII). Question of Gibraltar" (PDF). Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly during its Twenty-Second Session. United Nations. http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/22/ares22.htm. Retrieved 2005-12-16. 
  20. ^ Sayer, Frederick (1865) p.116
  21. ^ George Hills (1974). Rock of Contention. A History of Gibraltar. London: Robert Hale. pp. 456. ISBN 0-7091-4352-4. 
  22. ^ United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1966). Gibraltar talks with Spain (May–October 1966). Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs by Command of Her Majesty. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. pp. 36. 
  23. ^ Gold, Peter (2005). Gibraltar: British or Spanish?. Routledge. pp. 66. ISBN 0415347955. http://books.google.com/?id=b6SgDQvP3zMC&lpg=PP1&vq=mor%C3%A1n%201985&dq=label%3A%22gibraltar%22&pg=PA66#v=onepage&q=moran%201985. 
  24. ^ Gold, Peter (2005). Gibraltar: British or Spanish?. Routledge. pp. 180. ISBN 0415347955. http://books.google.com/?id=b6SgDQvP3zMC&lpg=PA334&dq=joint%20sovereignty&pg=PA180#v=onepage&q=%22joint%20sovereignty%22. 
  25. ^ Written answer of Mr. Hattersley to Mrs. Hart, HC Deb 03 August 1976 vol 916 cc726-7W.
  26. ^ "Following intense debate, Fourth Committedd approves amended omnibus text on Non-Self-Governing Territories". United Nations General Assembly. Department of Public Information. 20 October 2008. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/gaspd406.doc.htm. :
    The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) would have the General Assembly reaffirm the inalienable right of the peoples of 11 of the 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination by an “omnibus” draft resolution it approved today
  27. ^ "Q&A: Gibraltar's referendum". BBC News (BBC). 2002-11-08. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2400673.stm. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  28. ^ Answer to Q215 at the FAC hearing
  29. ^ The most idiotic quarrel on earth
  30. ^ a b UEFA makes Gibraltar wait for membership after Spanish intervention
  31. ^ Political Harassment by Spain
  32. ^ Gibraltar is frequently known as The Rock
  33. ^ http://www.abc.es/20090202/opinion-/gibraltar-tratado-utrecht-200902020608.html
  34. ^ Q218 FORAFFCOM evidence 2008
  35. ^ United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: Declarations made upon signature, ratification, accession or succession or anytime thereafter (Spain)
  36. ^ United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: Declarations made upon signature, ratification, accession or succession or anytime thereafter (United Kingdom)
  37. ^ http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091230/wl_uk_afp/spainbritaingibraltarpolice_20091230060132
  38. ^ http://www.elpais.com/articulo/english/EU/Court/dismisses/Gibraltar/waters/case/elpepueng/20110602elpeng_7/Ten
  39. ^ Britain tells Spain violation unacceptable
  40. ^ a b Return of the Armada
  41. ^ Files reveal 1953 Gibraltar row
  42. ^ a b http://www.elpais.com/articulo/economia/Espana/pedira/Gibraltar/vuelva/lista/negra/paraisos/fiscales/elpepueco/20080316elpepieco_1/Tes
  43. ^ http://www.stmfidecs.gi/about-gibraltar/the-tax-system/
  44. ^ http://www.apreblanc.com/noticias/gibraltar-el-agujero-negro-de-la-hacienda-espa-ola.html
  45. ^ [1]
  46. ^ Gibraltar Financial Services Commission - Building a good reputation
  47. ^ a b OECD, March 2002 Gibraltar Commits to Co-operate with OECD to Address Harmful Tax Practices. Retrieved on July 2006
  48. ^ "A progress report on the jurisdictions surveyed by the OECD global forum in implementing the internationally agreed tax standard - Progress made as at 4th October 2009" (PDF). OECD. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2009-04-04. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/38/14/42497950.pdf. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  49. ^ "Gibraltar 'white-listed' by OECD". The Gibraltar Chronicle. 2009-10-22. Archived from the original on 2009-10-22. http://www.webcitation.org/5kiOrhzBk. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  50. ^ "A progress report on the jurisdictions surveyed by the OECD global forum in implementing the internationally agreed tax standard - Progress made as at 20th October 2009" (PDF). OECD. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2009-10-20. Archived from the original on 2009-10-22. http://www.webcitation.org/5kiOHMwjH. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  51. ^ "the TIME guide to the rules of healthy eating". Time. 2003-10-11. http://www.time.com/time/europe/html/031117/yukos.html. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  52. ^ [2], pag 241.
  53. ^ [3], pag 242.
  54. ^ http://www.lafogata.org/003euro/euro5/e07.htm
  55. ^ http://www.abc.es/20090309/nacional-nacional/espana-cede-control-estrecho-20090309.html
  56. ^ Referendum result
  57. ^ Media reaction to the referendum
  58. ^ Secret funds and Spanish spies in Gibraltar today
  59. ^ Government of Gibraltar. "Press release: Trilateral Forum - Submarines". http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/latest_news/press_releases/2005/223-2005.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-17. 
  60. ^ El New Flame ha vertido a la Bahía de Algeciras, 2007 October (Spanish))
  61. ^ Government of Gibraltar Press Release on the New Flame (24 December 2007)
  62. ^ Greenpeace señala la gravedad del último vertido del New Flame, 2008 February 11th (Spanish).
  63. ^ Spanish Environment Minister Cristina Narbona comments
  64. ^ Incident at Harbour Views
  65. ^ Apology avoids major fracas
  66. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VydLsrJg1I&feature=related
  67. ^ New ferry 'repairs 40 year gap' says Spanish Diplomat, Gibraltar Chronicle, December 17, 2009
  68. ^ "First Iberia flight". gibnews.net. 2006. http://www.gibnews.net/cgi-bin/gn_view.pl/?GPIX061216_1.xml. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  69. ^ "Spanish Airline Suspends Flights". Sky News. 22 September 2008. http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Business/Spanish-Airline-Iberia-Suspends-flights-between-Madrid-and-Gibraltar-For-Economic-Reasons/Article/200809415104894?lpos=Business_First_Home_Article_Teaser_Region_1&lid=ARTICLE_15104894_Spanish_Airline_Iberia_Suspends_flights_between_Madrid_and_Gibraltar_For_Economic_Reasons. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  70. ^ Air Andalus flys from Gibraltar
  71. ^ Govan, Fiona (27 December 2006). "Rocky road for Gibraltar's footballers". London: The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/12/27/wgib27.xml. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  72. ^ http://www.chronicle.gi/Features/Gib%20Day/Gib%20Day.htm
  73. ^ Panorama (2007). "New Constitution recognises right to self-determination, Britain tells UN". Gibraltar news from PANORAMA. Panorama. http://www.panorama.gi/localnews/headlines.php?action=view_article&article=1941. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  74. ^ UN General Assembly (2008). "As Special Committee on Decolonization considers question of Gibraltar, territory's chief minister says its decolonization 'no longer pending.'". Special Committee on Decolonization Ninth Meeting. United Nations. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/gacol3179.doc.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 

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