The UN General Assembly’s Fourth Committee has adopted the annual consensus decision on Gibraltar, which this year highlights efforts to reach agreement on practical cross-border issues against the backdrop of Brexit.
The text was adopted last Friday but was agreed early in November, well before the recent developments on Brexit and the Withdrawal Agreement reached by the EU and the UK.
In that sense, its’ content is somewhat dated, although it reflects the sentiment that underpinned the discussion between the UK, Gibraltar and Spain on Brexit matters relating to the Rock.
The General Assembly “…welcomes the efforts made by all to resolve problems and advance in a spirit of trust and solidarity, in order to find common solutions and move forward in areas of mutual interest towards a relationship based on dialogue and cooperation,” the text states.
The consensus decision was reached by the UK – in consultation with the Gibraltar Government – and Spain after last October’s meeting of the UN Fourth Committee on decolonisation, and was adopted without a vote by the General Assembly at its meeting last Friday.
It reflects the usual positions adopted annually at the UN, including a line urging the UK and Spain to reach “a definitive solution on the question of Gibraltar” in accordance with UN resolutions.
The text also notes the UK’s desire to return to the trilateral process and Spain’s position that the trilateral forum “…does not exist any longer and should be replaced with a new mechanism for local cooperation in which the people of the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar are represented.”
But whereas recent decisions have included mention of Spain’s co-sovereignty proposal and, as a counterbalance, the UK double-lock commitment to Gibraltar, this year’s text omits both.
The Gibraltar Government reacted last night to the UN decision.
“The position of the Government of Gibraltar has always been that the annual UN Consensus decision is contradictory and unacceptable,” No.6 Convent Place said.
“We have never supported it.”
“It does not make sense for the United Kingdom to agree a Consensus wording that makes a reference to the 1984 Brussels Agreement, on the one hand, and then be committed at the same time to no discussion or negotiation of our sovereignty.”
“We have never supported, and do not support, any discussions on Gibraltar under the 1984 Brussels agreement.”
“The Government maintains that whatever the United Nations Consensus may say, the future of Gibraltar can only be freely and democratically decided by the people of Gibraltar in exercise of our right to self-determination.”
“It is nonetheless important to recall that the guarantees in the Preamble to the Constitution remain in the Preamble itself and that the double-lock mechanism has been constantly reinforced by the United Kingdom in statements made by UK Ministers from the Prime Minister downwards.”
“The right of the people of Gibraltar to self-determination was restated only last week at the Joint Ministerial Council between all the Overseas Territories and the United Kingdom Government, where it was also made clear that the UK Government will support the removal of any territory from the United Nations list that wished to be so removed.”