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Symposium will analyse self-determination and referenda

The fifth edition of the Rock’s international academic symposium opens this week with discussions on the highly topical issue of referenda and self-determination.

The event will be opened by the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, at the Gibraltar Garrison Library on Thursday.

The symposiums, which are organised by Dr Jennifer Ballantine Perera of the Garrison Library together with the Office of the Deputy Chief Minister, focus on issues that impact on Gibraltar and other territories within a European and global framework.

As such the themes under discussion are very pertinent to the on-going debates taking place in Gibraltar, the United Kingdom and Europe, the Gibraltar Government said in a statement.

The topic this year has been driven by the 2017 commemoration of the 50th anniversary since Gibraltar’s 1967 sovereignty referendum as well as the 15th anniversary of the 2002 joint sovereignty ballot.

In both these cases, the people of Gibraltar were called upon to make a decision on the sovereignty and status of Gibraltar.
In 1967 they were given the choice of remaining British or becoming part of Spain, and the choice by 12,138 votes to 44 was to remain British.

In 2002, the people of Gibraltar were called upon to accept or reject the principle of sharing sovereignty over the Rock between the UK and Spain.

The principle of shared sovereignty was overwhelmingly rejected.

Referenda have, however, been an important topic outside Gibraltar too for some years now.

There was a vote in 2014 in Scotland.

The Brexit Referendum took place in 2016.

There has been talk of a second Scottish ballot and there are calls in the UK for another referendum on the details of the final agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Indeed, it is the case that the 2016 Brexit vote and the recent referendum in Catalonia have generated much debate on the approach, the mechanics and the almost infectious nature of referenda, which has in turn opened up the possibility for other European states to consider moving forward with referenda on their own place in the European Union.

Their scope will include areas such as self-determination, cultural and national identity, borders and migrations; the mechanics of referenda and voting patterns; colonialism and post-colonialism as indeed, the historical contexts for a Federal State of Europe and the landscape for a post-Brexit Europe.

These will be discussed through a series of sessions over two and a half days.

A panel of fifteen “high-profile international” and local speakers will put their views forward during the symposium.

This will include academics from Cambridge, Kings College London, University of Greenland, Aalborg University, Trinity College Dublin, University of the Faroe Islands, Brussels, University of Edinburgh, University of Cadiz, University of Birmingham, University of Denmark, University of Catalonia and the University of Gibraltar.

The event will be formally opened by Dr Garcia on Thursday 12th at 9.30 am at the Gibraltar Garrison Library and closes on Saturday14th October at 1.00pm.

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