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The Catalan right of self-determination in the light of the human rights

Prof. Dr. Axel Schönberger

Dec 24, 2017 — Can Angela Merkel support the human rights violations in Spain and yet again become Chancellor of Germany?

The Catalans have the inalienable right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely can determine their political status and pursue their own economic, social and cultural development. This is corroborated by Articles 1, 55 and Chapter XI of the Charter of the United Nations. Two United Nations social pacts — the «International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights» (ICCPR, signed by Spain on 28 Sep. 1976 and by Germany on 9 Oct. 1968) and the «International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights» (ICESCR, signed by Spain on 28 Sep 1976 and by Germany on 9 Oct 1968 ) — each maintains this right in Article 1. And on 22 July 2010, the International Court of Justice published its advisory opinion on Kosovo's declaration of independence, declaring that «the adoption of the declaration of independence of the 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law because international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence». This was the first case regarding a unilateral declaration of independence to be brought before the International Court of Justice and was a clear precedent to the unilateral proclamation of the independent, democratic Catalan Republic on 27 October 2017. The Spanish Constitution does not matter in this context. The proclamation of Catalan Independence from October 27 is already valid.

Both social pacts have been incorporated into German and Spanish law. In the case of Catalonia, the sole holder of this right is the Catalan people, not the entire population of Spain. Only the Catalans have to decide whether they realize any autonomy within Spain or their independence from Spain. According to compulsory international law (ius cogens), to which Spain has submitted in its constitution (Article 10 (2) and 96), Spain has no right to refuse this to the Catalans. Spain should also have allowed them to hold a referendum on the issue of their independence. Under international law, it does not depend on Spain's attitude or on the recognition by other states or the EU. The principle of territorial integrity of states applies only in the case of external attacks, but is always subordinate to the human right of self-determination of a people. In addition, Spain has violated human rights massively — in many thousands of cases — in recent time (e. g. the right to Freedom of Expression, Art. 19 ICCPR, including the right to hold a referendum, the right of peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association, Art. 21-22 ICCPR, the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives, Art. 25 ICCPR). That can no longer be tolerated by the civilized world community!

German politicians are obliged by their oath of office to comply with German law and thus human rights. They are not allowed to support the human rights violations committed by the Rajoy government in Spain. Whoever does this will not be able to hold a permanent post in the new Federal Government of Germany. This also applies to the office of Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. A human rights case against Spain is already pending in Strasbourg. The grave violations of human rights by the Spanish government are a case for the United Nations and are among the most serious human rights violations of recent decades in Europe. The US, the European Union, and the world are called to defend the Catalan's human rights against Spain!

Anyone who thinks — like some leaders of the European Union — that they should be allowed to dictate to the Catalan people how to realize the human rights they are entitled to is wronged and makes common cause with human rights violators all over the world.

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