Thursday, June 09, 2005

‘Tripartite process a positive step after Brussels failure'

Dr Julian Hunte C24 chairman speaks to Dominique Searle in New York

Dr Julian Hunte Ambassador for St Lucia and the current Chairman of the C24 speaks to Dominique Searle in New York

The tripartite process that has been agreed between Gibraltar, Spain and Britain could provide scope for the United Nations Committee of 24 to play a more active role in relation to Gibraltar Dr Julian Hunte, Ambassador for St Lucia and the current Chairman of the C24 suggested yesterday. He has pledged that the C24 will do its work diligently.

In an interview with the Chronicle the C24 chairman welcomes the tripartite committee as a positive step given the bid to normalise relations between the parties.

But he was robust on the C24’s central task of securing self-determination and said that the issue of self-determination as against territorial integrity is one the Committee may consider.

Q: What is the C24’s job? What action can it take?

The C24’s job is detailed on our website and you will see that it is mandated to provide all the information that is required with respect to countries that are non-self-governing to achieve self-determination.

This means liaising with the administering authority and making sure the territories are brought to a stage of self-determination in keeping with the Charter – clause 74 b in particular. In 74e they are supposed to report regularly to the General Assembly and the C24 in order to ensure the territories are ‘ready’ for their final step.

Q: You used the expression 'compelling’ about the way in which Gibraltar presented its case and I jus wondered whether there is a sense that quite a few years have passed and, certainly from Gibraltar’s point of view, very little has happened, whether the Committee is a little bit more aware that more decisions and action needs to be taken?

Let me put it differently. The fact that Gibraltar continues to find itself in this situation is not the fault of the Committee. The Committee can only do what is within its mandate.

I think it is true to say, however, that since November 2004, given the new situation which exists, where there is a tripartite forum now established to look into ways and means of normalising relationships between the administering power, Spain and the Gibraltar Government, one does see this as a positive step. A step which the Committee will in fact review to see what room there now is and what role the Committee can now play in light of this new development.

Q: What about a visit to Gibraltar?

We will also give due consideration to that request.

Q: But given you have Gibraltar and the Administering power agreed, and then Spain - Is it possible for any country to block visits?

Well, it has been blocked in the past. What we will do is make a fresh attempt to ensure that we fulfil at least that aspect of our mandate.

Q: So you might consult with the Spanish?

I can’t tell you how we will go about it.

Q: One of the big agruments constantly coming up is the issue of people and territories, self-determination and territorial claims. Is that something the Committee only reports on or can you look at that?

It is something that we report on but I think it will be necessary for us to review this aspect as well. That is why when the Chief Minister in particular and the Leader of the Opposition made their presentation, I did say that the committee would look into this matter and this is one of the issues that we will be looking into.

Q: On the question of referring to the International Court (of Justice) (ICJ) for an opinion, is that something you have ever done or could do?

I have never done it as Chairman of the C24. I have done this when I was president of the General Assembly. The issue involved the war in the Middle East, the Israeli war.

I have in one capacity referred matters to the ICJ but again I cannot pre-empt or pre-judge what the C24 will do. Obviously these things will come out in discussions that we hold. As to whether this Committee can make such a recommendation I am not certain. Advice will have to be sought as to the extent the Committee can go in a matter of this kind.

As I have said, a decision of that kind, if it could be made, would only be as a result of the Committee feeling that it really cannot do anything else. I don’t think we have reached that stage. That is all I will say on it.

Q: Do you think that we could reach a stage when there are only two countries left on the list – Gibraltar and the falklands? The committee is after all moving on some territories.

I hope not. I hope that we will be able (to move) in the remaining period.

We have seen acceleration this year in the case of Bermuda. At our seminar in St Vincent and the Grenadines there were several requests for visiting missions. These came from Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Caymans and we hope to see some movement in Toukoulau with New Zealand towards the end of the year.

So there is a lot of movement within the Committee all designed to ensure that we complete that mandate by the allotted time.

Q: Do you think that at a certain point with Gibraltar specifically the issue could then move from the C24 to a higher level?

I really don’t want to pre-judge that. I think we are into a situation where we are actively involved in this.

In 2004 there was a significant development in that we now have the tripartite committee away from the Brussels process which did not work. It did not have the support of Gibraltar. So we can now look at this whole thing afresh.

Related Articles:

United Nations Special Committee of 24 on Deconolisation (C24)

Full text of the Chief Minister’s address at the United Nations Committee of 24

08 June 2005 - C24 declares intention to look at its duties with fresh eyes

08 June 2005 - Gibraltar’s arguments 'compelling' – C-24 Chairman

08 June 2005 - Spain gestures friendship but clings to traditional stance

06 June 2005 - America expected to support Gib's self-determination

06 June 2005 - Gibraltar politicians leave for New York

27 May 2005 - Announcement imminent of GSD/Labour link, says report

19 May 2005 - Bossano attends Decolonisation Seminar


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