Fabian Picardo and Dr Joseph Garcia at the UN C24 in New York earlier this week. / sur

"We are not going to go away until you delist us," Gibraltar's chief minister tells UN Committee of 24

Fabian Picardo and deputy chief minister Dr Joseph Garcia made a flying visit to New York to reinforce the message once again that Gibraltarians are a people in their own right with the inalienable right to self-determination

DEBBIE BARTLETT Gibraltar

Gibraltar's chief minister Fabian Picardo could not have been clearer in his address to the United Nations Committee of 24, which he attended with deputy chief minister Dr Joseph Garcia on Monday.

Pointing out that the Gibraltar government has been appearing before the committee for 30 consecutive years to demand that the UN takes the British Overseas Territory off its list of non-self-governing territories and recognises its right to self-determination, he said that "for 30 years we have been asking the Committee to visit Gibraltar, but it has not".

And that "for thirty years, Madame Chairperson, we have repeatedly asked the Committee to take us off your list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. But it has not. Over those thirty years, Madame Chairperson, our determination has not been blunted at all by an apparent lack of progress on either of these fronts. And it will not be," he said.

"The Gibraltarians will continue to come here, to fight our corner and defend our homeland for as many years as are necessary. For whilst there is a claim to our land, and whilst there is an attempt to stifle our voices and deny us our inalienable human right to determine the future of our land for ourselves, we will be here. Fighting and stopping any such attempts," he insisted.

"No valid argument"

"We are not going to go away until you delist us. We are going to keep fighting to ensure that you delist us. We are going to keep showing you why there can be no valid argument in international law not to delist us," he stressed.

Despite Gibraltar having its own government, laws, taxes and financial regulation, Spain has always opposed it being taken off the UN list of non-self-governing territories because it believes that would jeopardise its sovereignty claim over the Rock.

Picardo pointed out that his government is "aware of the need to work with those around us in a spirit of maturity and diplomatic and economic cooperation. And going forward, we will work in amity and cooperation with our neighbours, to the north and south. We will work to facilitate the lives and trade of those who want or need or wish to cross our borders as fluidly and securely as possible. But we will do that whilst continuing to defend what is exclusively ours".

"Indeed," he went on to say, "it is in the nature of international diplomacy that we can and must cooperate maturely on matters despite other differences. The very nature of the United Nations is to seek to work on what unites us despite what divides us. And so we are committed to always seeking pragmatic solutions to issues that do not compromise our fundamental positions".

He then explained that Gibraltar is working closely with the UK, the EU and Spain on a Treaty which will determine Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU post-Brexit and that several issues which have caused friction with Spain in the past have now been addressed and resolved, but that sovereignty is a red line which neither his government nor that of the UK will allow to be crossed.

And to finish, the chief minister told the Chair of the Committee of 24: "We are now in the Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. Your Committee needs to engage with Gibraltar. You need to do more to delist us, and soon. Because Gibraltar is OUR land. It is OUR home. And only OUR choices will determine its future. Thank you, Madame Chairperson, for listening," he said.