Understanding Referenda and Self-Determination in Europe


12th – 14th October 2017

Currently in their fifth edition, the symposiums at the Garrison Library focus on issues that impact on Gibraltar and other like territories within a European and global framework. The topic this year has certainly been driven by the 2017 commemoration of the 50th anniversary since Gibraltar’s 1967 sovereignty referendum and indeed, the 15th anniversary of the 2002 joint sovereignty ballot.  Referenda has, however, been a topical issue for some years now,  with secession moves initiated in 2014 in Scotland and Catalonia now finding full expression with a second referendum having taken place in Catalonia just over a week ago, and discussions on a second Scottish ballot, on the question of Europe, resurfacing on the back of Brexit. It is the case that the 2016 Brexit vote has generated much debate on the mechanics if not the infectious nature of referenda, which has in turn opened up the possibility for other European states to consider moving  forward with Brexit oriented referendums.  

As such the themes under discussion are very pertinent to the on-going debates taking place in Gibraltar, Great Britain and Europe.  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. 

Programme of Events

Thursday 12th October 2017

9.30am Opening by the Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar the Hon. Dr Joseph Garcia

10.00am – 10.30am  Break for Press and Coffee  

10.30am – 11.10am  Professor Michael Marsh (Trinity College Dublin)

‘Voting Behaviour in Referendums’

11.10am – 11.50am  Professor Stuart Ward (University of Copenhagen)

‘Neverendum: Referenda and plebiscites in the wake of decolonization’

11.50am – 12.10pm  Q&A

12.10pm – 2.30pm  BREAK FOR LUNCH

2.30pm – 3.10pm  Professor Robert Holland, Kings College London

‘Brexit in Historical Perspective’

3.10pm – 3.20pm  Q&A 

3.20pm – 3.40pm  COFFEE BREAK

3.40pm – 4.20pm  Dr. Jesus Verdu (University of Cadíz)

‘A Spanish Perspective in a Post- Brexit Changing Europe’

4.20pm – 5.00pm  Michael Llamas QC (Attorney General of Gibraltar)

‘Gibraltar and Brexit’             

5.00pm – 5.20pm  Q&A  


6.00pm  Reception in the Library Gardens

Friday 13th October 2017

9.30am – 10.10am  Dr Hakeem Yusuf (University of Birmingham)

‘Gibraltar, Brexit and Commonwealth Constitutionalism’

10.10am – 10.50am  Dr Dimitrios Kagiaros (University of Edinburgh)  

‘Scotland, Referenda and Brexit’

10.50am – 11.10am  Q&A 

11.10am – 11.30am  COFFEE BREAK

11.30am – 12.10pm  Dr Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, MEP for Catalonia   

‘Cataluña’s Independence Referendum’

12.10pm – 12.50pm  Dr Maria Mut Bosque (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Research Fellow ICS, University of London)

‘The political, legal and social parallelisms and differences between Catalonia and Gibraltar’

12.50pm – 1.10pm  Q&A

1.10pm – 3.00pm  BREAK FOR LUNCH

3.00pm – 3.40pm  Dr Jennifer Ballantine Perera (Gibraltar Garrison Library and University of Gibraltar

‘Why a ‘sovereignty’ referendum?’: The Gibraltar Referendum of 1967

3.40pm – 4.20pm  Dr Jamie Trinidad, (Wolfson College, University of Cambridge)

‘The UN Reaction to the Gibraltar 1967 Referendum’

4.20pm – 4.40pm  Q&A


Saturday 14th October 2017 

10.00am – 10.40am  Dr Hans Andrias Sølvará (University of the Faroe Islands)

‘The Faroe Islands – from Norwegian Dependency to Self-Determination in the Danish State’

10.40am – 11.20am  Kristianna Winther Poulsen MP for the Faroe Islands

‘Towards a constitution for the Faroe Islands’

11.20am – 11.40am  Q&A

11.40am – 11.50am  COFFEE BREAK (10 minutes)

11.50am – 12.50pm   Dr Ulrik Pram Gad (Aalborg University) and Dr Rasmus Leander Nielsen (University of Greenland)

‘Referendums and Postcoloniality in Greenland’

12.50pm – 1.10pm  Q&A

Closing words