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Self Determination


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If the EU states have (predictably) combined to support the Madrid regime, and much of the British left seems to be mouthing empty statements about the ‘rule of law’ and ‘the need for unity’ – solidarity will have to come from people and civil society groups across Europe, other international bodies have been less silent.

Here’s the statement from the the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order which urges Spanish Government to reverse decision on Catalan autonomy:

GENEVA (25 October 2017) – The UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, is calling on Spanish authorities to enter into negotiations in good faith with leaders in Catalonia following the announcement that the Spanish Government would suspend the region’s autonomy. On 19 October, the Spanish Government announced its intention to impose direct rule on the region after a deadline seeking an end to the Catalan independence campaign was not met. His statement is as follows:

“I deplore the decision of the Spanish Government to suspend Catalan autonomy. This action constitutes retrogression in human rights protection, incompatible with Articles 1, 19, 25 and 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Pursuant to Articles 10(2) and 96 of the Spanish Constitution, international treaties constitute the law of the land and, therefore, Spanish law must be interpreted in conformity with international treaties.

“Denying a people the right to express themselves on the issue of self-determination, denying the legality of a referendum, using force to prevent the holding of a referendum, and cancelling the limited autonomy of a people by way of punishment constitutes a violation of Article 1 of the ICCPR and of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Alternatively, addressing the aspiration of peoples to self-determination in a timely fashion is an important conflict prevention measure, as is evidenced by the countless wars that have occurred since 1945 that found their origin in denial of self-determination. Dialogue and political negotiation should be encouraged to prevent violence.

Denying a people the right to express themselves on the issue of self-determination, denying the legality of a referendum, using force to prevent the holding of a referendum, and cancelling the limited autonomy of a people by way of punishment constitutes a violation of Article 1 of the ICCPR and of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“The Spanish Government appears to invoke the principle of territorial integrity to justify forceful attempts to silence political dissent and aspirations of self-determination. While the principle of territorial integrity is important, as understood in many United Nations Resolutions, including GA Resolutions 2625 and 3314, it is intended to be applied externally, to prohibit foreign threats or incursions into the territorial integrity of sovereign States. This principle cannot be invoked to quench the right of all people, guaranteed under Article 1 of the International Covenants on Human Rights, to express their desire to control their futures. The right of self-determination is a right of peoples and not a prerogative of States to grant or deny. In case of a conflict between the principle of territorial integrity and the human right to self-determination, it is the latter that prevails.”

“Of course, there are many peoples worldwide who aspire to self-determination, whether internal in the form of autonomy or external in the form of independence. And while the realization of self-determination is not automatic or self-executing, it is a fundamental human right that the international community should help implement.

“The international law of self-determination has also progressed far beyond mere decolonization. Applying the 15 criteria contained in my 2014 report (paras 63-77), it is evident that no state can use the principle of territorial integrity to deny the right of self-determination and that arguments about the legality of actions taken by Catalonia’s elected parliament are immaterial. Such arguments do not nullify the ius cogens character of self-determination.

“The only democratic solution to the current impasse is to suspend repressive measures and to organize a referendum so as to determine the true wishes of the population concerned. Such a referendum should be monitored by the EU, OSCE and private observers including the Carter Center.”

Full statement here.

Please share this widely.

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12 Comments

  • Paul Carline 3 weeks ago

    This is brilliant! I had been arguing exactly this – against European colleagues, some of whom do not appear to understand what democracy means, although they claim to be democrats. The predictable reaction of the EU institutions reveals how far out of touch they are with what constitutes real democracy. It also underlines their own lack of legitimacy – and their supine obedience to Washington.

    Reply
  • Graeme McCormick 3 weeks ago

    Time for Glasgow to rename St Enoch Square Place de Catalunya

    Reply
    • paul france 3 weeks ago

      Might aswell its only our money

      Reply
  • Graham 3 weeks ago

    At last, an unequivocal statement of the rights of peoples, which subordinates the rights of states to declare territorial integrity to be paramount. The Scottish Government has already supported the right of Catalonian people to decide for themselves.

    Thanks, Mike. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  • ben madigan 3 weeks ago

    excellent statement by Mr Alfred de Zayas. His words were also cited here which readers might like https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/family-of-nations-in-the-doldrums/

    Reply
  • Clive Scott 3 weeks ago

    Thanks for this posting Mike. It is a pity that the reporting in the MSM is so ignorant (wilfully so?) of the sequence of rights.

    Reply
    • Bella Caledonia Editor 3 weeks ago

      Yeah – its important – please share

      Reply
  • Willie 3 weeks ago

    As someone who was pro EU, my confidence in the EU is now wavering.

    The EU through its stance on Catalonia has shown itself to be centrist and fascist at its heart.

    Reply
    • John Cradden 3 weeks ago

      Here you go again Willie. Fascists everywhere.
      FFS you’re wasting valuable language. The Spanish state is not fascist and neither is the EU. There are important things going on right now and the kind of language you use is not only pointless and self-aggrandising but damaging to democratic argument.

      Reply
  • Bill McDermott 3 weeks ago

    This is fundamental stuff – thank you Mike.

    To make the point Alfred de Zeyas is challenging all governments to remember that the right of self-determination surpasses national constitutions and government manifestos.
    This is the starting point in the way societies are organised. EU please take note and Theresa, remember that you cannot obfuscate. The SNP have a mandate with a timescale that you cannot deny. So when we say it is time for a referendum, it indeed is time.

    Reply
  • Andrew MacDonald Scottish Sovereignty Movement 3 weeks ago

    The SNP fundamentally betrayed its constitution, membership and the Scottish people when it adopted the “policy” of so called “Independence in Europe” It is not in their gift to advocate membership of anything post Independence. The sovereign people and they alone should
    decide. The “chickens are coming home to roost.”

    Reply
  • MBC 3 weeks ago

    Brilliant. This is a really important argument. Thanks Mike

    Reply

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