De Zayas on Catalonia and international law.
Quotation 523

Today the trial of 12 Catalonian politicians who, persuant to their electoral campaigns — they were democratically elected to the Catalan parliament… these 12 politicians did what they had to do: to organize a referendum on the issue of self-determination. Self-determination, as you know, is ius cogens, self-determination is article 1 of the Covenant on civil and political Rights, and article 1 of the Covenant on economic, social and cultural Rights, self-determination is affirmed in the UN Charter and it is one of those pillars of the United Nations Organization. Notwithstanding, Spain says that self-determination means only decolonisation. And as I told some spanish professors and advisors of the then prime minister Mariano Rajoy, “I’m afraid, you guys stayed in the 1960s and never percieved the fact that there is a progressive development of international law. You’ve never felt that the dissolution of the Soviet Union into 15 separate, sovereign entities or the dissolution of Yugoslavia into seven separate entities, or the friendly divorce of the Czech Republic from the Slovak Republic actually created precedents.” And one thing that I reminded them… “please read paragraph 80 of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo.” The serbs asked the question which principle or which norm has priority: territorial integrity or self-determination? And the Court was very candid, the Court said “every time that in a United Nations document, resolution, in the UN Charter itself — article 2 paragraph 4 —, where territorial integrity is invoked is to regulate the relations between states.” Meaning: state A cannot invade state B, state A cannot annex the territory of state B. Never is it used in the internal context, and it cannot be, because self-determination is one of the pillars of United Nations, self-determination is a right of ius cogens. And it says very clearly: every people has the right of self-determination. And article 1 paragraph 3 says [that] every state party has the obligation to promote the realisation of the right of self-determination by all peoples. So, when the advisors of Rajoy say that it does not apply in Spain I say: “There again, you’re wrong. Read your own constitution. Article 10, paragraph 2 and article 96 are very clear that international law takes priority over national law and that national law must be interpreted in the light of international law, in particular in the light of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the other human rights instruments of which Spain is a state party.”

Madrid does not want to negotiate, Madrid doesn’t show any good faith at all. […] It’s not just shocking that you have political prisoners in Spain, meaning within the European Union, not just shocking that persons whose only “crime” is conducting a self-determination referendum, speaking in favour of self-determination, they have been kept in preventive detention under infra-human conditions for 16 months. Now we’re not talking about a banana republic, we’re not talking about an under-developed country, we’re talking about a country member of the European Union, bound by the Treaty of Lisbon, bound by article 2 of the Treaty of Lisbon that obliges every country in the European Union to respect and promote democracy, the rule of law and human rights. So here you have massive violations of human rights by the central government in Madrid and they’re moving ahead with a kangaroo trial based on the supposed crimes of rebellion and sedition.

I mean, it’s clear that they all have the right of the freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, which by the way the Catalans have observed rigorously. It’s amazing what perseverance and what patience the Catalans have shown. And for being a democratically elected parlamentarian, who was elected on a platform to conduct a referendum, to have these people criminalised and to have Brussels saying nothing about it… I mean Brussels has been opening investigations and the article 7 proceeding under the Treaty of Lisbon against Hungary and against Poland, while the situation in Spain is many times worse than that in Hungary and Poland.

Whether Madrid likes it or not, there are at least 3 million Catalans who are committed to self-determination, which does not necessarily mean secession, does not necessarily mean full independence. But at least there is an obligation on the part of the Government to negotiate.

Here we have a situation of institutionalised intransigence, I mean this is just brute force, this is just power.

It is the obligation of the European Commission to defend the right of the Catalans who happen to be european citizens. It’s not like they are interfering in the affairs of some countries in Africa or Asia. We’re talking about Europe, we’re talking about european citizens, and european citizens who are both democratic and peaceful.

Transcription and highlightings:

Alfred De Zayas, former UN Special Rapporteur, interviewed by Geopolitics & Empire (excerpts).

See also:

Democrazia Grundrechte Politik Selbstbestimmung | Good News Zitać | Alfred De Zayas | | Catalunya Europa Kosovo Spanien | EU UNO | English