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21 de nov. 2014

The Case for Catalonia's Independence

I welcome this opportunity to discuss with you the main reasons why the independence option has overtaken the classic pro-federal model that for many years had appealed to many Catalans (as a way of indicating their dissatisfaction at the state of affairs). Thank you Dr. Dowling for your invitation, and also Dra. Susana Beltrán for sharing the floor. Playing in a «neutral» venue makes it easier to keep the debate at an academic level and style: back home debates like this one can easily get quite heated!

To read the whole paper, please click below on "Més informació" 

11 de nov. 2014

Denunciation by the Elected Representatives of the Catalan People before the United Nations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe

We the undersigned holders of elected offices, who represent a significant majority of the citizens of Catalonia in the Parliament of Catalonia, in the European Parliament, in the Spanish Parliament, and in the municipal governments of Catalonia, address ourselves to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to denounce the Spanish state for violating the right of the Catalan people to decide their political future by preventing the exercise of democracy through a referendum or internationally recognized vote.

1. For reasons of democratic legitimacy, the people of Catalonia possess political and legal sovereignty, and therefore recognize their own right to decide their political future for the following reasons:

    a) The people of Catalonia, throughout their history, have demonstrated and exercised democratically their will to govern themselves, with the aim of furthering the progress, well-being and equality of opportunity of all citizens, and of reinforcing their own culture and collective identity.

    b) Self-government in Catalonia is also based on the historic rights of the Catalan people, on their centuries-old institutions of government, and on Catalan legal tradition.

    c) In recent years, in the interest of greater democracy, a majority of Catalan political and social forces have undertaken measures to transform the current political and legal framework. The most recent of these measures was the reform of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy approved by the Catalan Parliament in September 2005 and subsequently debated, modified and approved by the Spanish Parliament, and finally approved by the citizens of Catalonia in a referendum held in June 2006. Four years later, the Spanish Constitutional Court altered it substantially, contravening the will of the people. In so doing, the Court made evident its partisanship, acting as though it were a parliamentary body and thus violating one of the fundamental principles of democracy: the separation of powers and the independence of the branches of government.

    d) Since that time, Catalonia has been governed under a Statute of Autonomy that is not the one approved by its citizens. On 10 July 2010, Barcelona was the scene of a demonstration that brought together more than a million citizens protesting the ruling of the Constitutional Court.

2. Since then, the Catalan people, either directly or through their political representatives, have repeatedly expressed their wish to decide their political future:

    a) On September 11 2012, Catalonia’s national day, the central streets of Barcelona saw the largest demonstration in the history of Catalonia. Its theme was “Catalonia: a new European state.” On the same date in the following two years, the citizens of Catalonia continued to demonstrate their capacity for organization and mobilization with the Catalan Way of 2013, an unbroken 400-kilometer human chain the length of the country; and in 2014 by filling the two main arteries of the capital with a human mosaic of the Catalan national flag stretching for 11 kilometers in the shape of a V.

    b) On November 25 2012, elections to the Parliament of Catalonia produced an unequivocal mandate: the exercise of the right to decide Catalonia’s political future. The will of the Parliament of Catalonia is expressed in the “Declaration of Sovereignty and the Right to Decide of the People of Catalonia”, approved in January 2013 with the support of more than two thirds of the members of Parliament. The Spanish government appealed this declaration to the Constitutional Court, which partially annulled it.

    c) During the month of September 2014, 96% of the 974 municipal governments of Catalonia approved, in plenary session, declarations of support for the Parliament and the Government of Catalonia to hold a nonbinding referendum on 9 November 2014.

3. The Catalan Parliament and the Government of Catalonia have followed all necessary steps for fulfilling the democratic mandate that emerged from the elections of November 25 2012, and have assiduously followed, at every stage of the process, the principles of democratic legitimacy, dialogue, negotiation, legality, and social cohesion, as set forth in the Declaration of Sovereignty:

    a) In December 2013, the political forces favorable to the exercise of the right to decide agreed on the date of November 9 to hold a referendum, and on the question to be voted on by citizens.

    b) In April 2014, a delegation of MPs nominated by the Parliament of Catalonia approached the Spanish Parliament with a request for transfer of the authority to hold a referendum on the political future of Catalonia. The Spanish Parliament denied this request.

c) In September 2014, the Parliament of Catalonia approved by a wide margin a law governing nonbinding referenda. Within this legal framework, the President of the Generalitat signed the decree convoking the nonbinding referendum of November 9. The Spanish government appealed both the law and the decree to the Constitutional Court. The Court agreed to both appeals, and suspended both the law and the decree pending deliberation on their constitutionality.

d) Because it was no longer possible to vote on November 9 in accordance with the Law of Nonbinding Referenda, a process of citizen participation was initiated so that citizens may express their opinions. The Spanish government also appealed this process to the Constitutional Court, which again acted in accordance with the government’s dictates and accepted the appeal.

4. The position of the Spanish government contravenes both international practice characteristic of plurinational democratic states and international law, for the following reasons:

    a) First, it is contrary to the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada which, in its ruling of 20 August 1998, indicated that although the Canadian Constitution made no reference to the right to self-determination, the democratic principle that inspires it justified a referendum on this question, with the understanding that both interested parties agreed to peaceful negotiation of the consequences, even if the referendum resulted in a vote in favor of secession. These same principles led to the agreement between Great Britain and Scotland to hold a referendum on Scottish independence in September 2014.

    b) Second, it is contrary to the basic principles of the International Agreement on Political and Civil Rights. In its ruling of 22 July 2010, the International Court of Justice clarified the right of peoples to self-determination, concluding that international law contains no prohibition of this right. This decision has made it possible for peoples and political communities to choose their political future democratically in the 21st century through new practices of self-determination.

For these reasons, we put before the United Nations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe the following:

   1. That Catalan institutions of government, with the support of a majority of the citizens of Catalonia, have pursued all legal avenues in order to hold a referendum, binding or nonbinding, on Catalonia’s political future, including the possibility of independence.

   2. That there is on the part of the Spanish government a demonstrated lack of political will to engage in dialogue and negotiation, and a permanent refusal to make it possible for the Catalan people to exercise their right to decide.

   3. That the accumulation of difficulties imposed by the highest-level political and judicial institutions of the Spanish state, which have consistently rejected all proposals from Catalonia, is indicative of a political and democratic involution clearly intended to weaken Catalan self-government. This involution is clearly expressed in all policy areas: political, jurisdictional, financial, social, cultural, and linguistic.

   4. That we have a legitimate right to undertake all necessary political and legal actions that allow us to ascertain the majority will of the Catalan people regarding their political future and, subsequently, to act in accordance with this democratic mandate.

For all these reasons, in accordance with the democratic principles that inspire the United Nations Charter and subsequent international agreements and treaties guaranteeing the right of peoples to decide their political future, we appeal to the United Nations, to the European Parliament, to the European Commission, and to OSCE to take all necessary actions to guarantee that the citizens of Catalonia are able to decide their future democratically.

Barcelona, 5 November 2014