Understanding Concepts of Self-Determination in a Post-World War Europe


22nd – 23rd October 2015

This year’s symposium at the Garrison Library sets out to engage with questions that relate to the Second World War and the impact this was to have on the redistribution of power and on subsequent global policies pertaining to human rights, self determination and decolonisation.  These are topical issues given that 2015 has marked not only 70 years since VE Day signalled the end of the war in Europe, but also the 75th anniversary of the evacuation of the Gibraltar’s civilian population during the War.

The end of the 1939-1945 war was certainly to mark a new era. For the repatriated Gibraltarian evacuees this meant the return to their homeland with the start of new lives informed by their experiences abroad and by the constitutional steps being taken locally in the development of educational and governmental institutions. On a global scale, the hard lessons learned during the war led to the setting up of structures and international policies to prevent another world war ever occurring again.  The United Nations, established on October 24th 1945, took over from the ineffective League of Nations, setting the benchmark for peace, international cooperation and diplomacy.  The initiatives established by the UN have clearly had a lasting legacy.   The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10th December 1948, arose directly from the experience of the Second World War. The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (United Nations Resolution 1514),  passed by the UN General Assembly in 1960, was a significant move towards cementing the rights of  individuals and nations stating that “all people have a right to self-determination”.

These core themes will be explored during the two day symposium. Historical contexts of the war and the immediate post-war years will be discussed during the first day’s session with presentations including an analysis of the post-war decline of the British Empire; the evacuation of the civilian population, Gibraltar as a wartime fortress; and the moves being made towards political agency and self determination by the returning Gibraltarians. Day two shall be dedicated to the post-war years with the establishment of the UN. Presentation will include discussions on the declaration of human rights and on policies of decolonisation and self determination across a number of examples and territories.  A panel from different countries composed of academics, jurists and other parties relevant to the discussions will elaborate on the themes of the conference. 

Programme of Events

Thursday 22nd October 2015

Morning Session

10.00 Opening by the Deputy Chief Minister the Hon. Dr Joseph Garcia

10.30 Prof. Stephen Constantine, University of Lancaster

‘Putting Gibraltar in Context: Ending the British Empire after 1945’

11.15 Q&A

11.30 – 11.50 Coffee Break

11.50 Dr Jennifer Ballantine Perera, Director Gibraltar Garrison Library, Director of Institute for Gibraltar and Mediterranean Studies, University of Gibraltar

‘Expressions of Self – Determination in Post- War Gibraltar’

12.30 Q&A


Afternoon Session  

2.30 Dr. Alfonso Escuadra, Instituto de Estudios Campogibraltareños, Sección Primera, la Consejería de Educación de la Junta de Andalucía.

‘Unternehmen Felix, La Operación Militar y Sus Consecuencias Diplomáticas’

3.15 Dr Kevin Lane, University of Cambridge; Institute for Gibraltar and Mediterranean Studies, University of Gibraltar

‘Finding Felix: Understanding Gibraltar’s World War II Defences’

4.00 Q&A


4.35 Thomas Finlayson MBE, historian and author, Former Archivist of the Gibraltar National Archives

‘The Evacuation: A Life Changing Event’

5.20 Q&A

5.40 End of Session


Friday 23rd October 2015

9.30 Sir Graham Watson, HM Government of Gibraltar Representative to the European Union in Brussels, President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party

‘Declaration of Human Rights and its Impact on Current Policies’

10.15 Q&A


10.50 Minister for Economic Development, Telecommunications & the GSB – The Hon J J Bossano MP  

‘Gibraltarian Self-Determination in Post-War Europe’

11.30 Dr. James Irving, London School of Economics

‘The Theory of Colonial Enclaves in International Law’

12.10 Q&A


Afternoon Session    

2.30 Professor Jesús Verdú Baeza (Professor of Public International Law and International Relations, Director, Faculty of Law, Algeciras Campus, University of Cadiz (UCA)

‘El Proceso Descolonizador de los Territorios Españoles en África: el Caso del Sáhara Occidental’

(Translation) ‘The End of World War II and Spain: Franco’s Dictatorship and the Decolonization Process of Spanish Territories in Africa’

3.10 Dr. Jamie Trinidad (Wolfson College, University of Cambridge)

‘Territorial Integrity and the Limits of Self – Determination’

3.50 Q&A

4.10 Coffee Break

4.30 Professor Marc Weller, Professor of International Law and International Constitutional Studies in the University of Cambridge and Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law

‘Self-Determination in the Post-Colonial Era’

5.10 Q&A