Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

News and Information from Gibraltar on Equality, Human, Gay and Social Rights

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Usual State Sovereignty red herring!

Equality Rights group GGR has reacted to news coming out of the last Constitutional Reform negotiation meetings in London last week by saying the outcome “comes as no surprise whatsoever since everything stays exactly as it was before! In other countries a new Constitution is an occasion for inspiration and a fresh start for the ordinary citizen. Here in Gibraltar the new Constitution was always to be just more of the same. This comes as no surprise as there was never much appetite for self-determination provisions right from the start. For that to have happened, Gibraltar needed to be coherent on that score - it would have had to recognise that self-determination is built on self-determination for the individual and not just rights for the machinery of the State. In that respect the proposed Constitution text was and is the usual State Sovereignty red herring. In effect, the talks have vindicated what GGR has said all along: the new Constitution was and is gravely deficient and it should now be roundly rejected by Gibraltarians because it provides no self-determination at any meaningful constitutional level. And it certainly provides no new non-colonial status!”

Chairman Felix Alvarez explained the organisation’s views saying “Mr Caruana has negotiated the unnegotiable and in so doing he has made sure we remain at exactly the same historical standstill as before: nothing has changed! Whilst we fully support working towards a better European future along with the UK, Spain and the rest of EU States, this can only happen on the basis of internal as well as external change on many fronts. In the first instance, you cannot build a new Gibraltar based on old injustices and the proposed text was always short-sighted and exclusively concerned with the idea of State Sovereignty. It failed to address fundamental issues of Gibraltarian democracy by committing exactly the same mistake as in 1969: that is, by viewing the Constitution as only a State Sovereignty text and not what all Constitutions really are: a basic higher law laying down the democratic principles which govern the quality of life and freedom of all citizens. This preoccupation with seeing only one part of the total picture in great measure contributes to the social state of affairs we find ourselves in currently on the Rock. State Sovereignty can only be one of several important parallel tracks that Gibraltar politics must be concerned with and cannot be used to justify abandonment or backwardness with regard to other areas of concern to Gibraltarians. The same argument applies in reverse – we cannot be so concerned about social issues that we abandon the important issue of State Sovereignty!”

Furthermore, Alvarez added that “it was always apparent to us and we made our views clear from the start that there could be no self-determination or indeed any reform where the self-determination of individuals was ignored in favour of the self-determination of the State. Fifty years ago it might have been possible to put the State before the citizen, but today that is no longer a feasible way to look at things since the life of the individual determines the life of the entity we call the State. What Gibraltar needs is a fundamental, principled Constitutional text which not only deals with the self-determination of the State in all its aspects (and not just the limited aspects reflected in the proposed new text) but one in which the State’s rights are built on the solid foundation of modern democracy - something which the new text bypasses. GGR has opposed acceptance of these inadequate proposals from day one and we continue opposing them now the outcome is known. We will continue to work for a modern Gibraltar with or without a new Constitution so that we can have the kind of open 21st Century European democracy we deserve on the Rock and not a status dictated by the terms of a 300 year old legally questionable Treaty between undemocratic Monarchs.”