Is this what a modern European revolution looks like? There are reports that Catalonia is poised to declare independence from Spain unilaterally. Catalan trade unions have launched a general strike in protest against alleged police brutality during the independence referendum. Demonstrators have taken to the streets and are blocking roads in a display of civil disobedience, and the government of Catalonia seems to be openly disobeying demands from the Spanish government.

What happens next? Are the government of Catalonia’s action legal? If not according to Spanish constitutional law, then at least according to international law? Does the right to self-determination apply, or does it primarily concern peoples living under colonialism?

We had a comment from Íngrid arguing that the “Spanish Constitution is subordinated under international law, and international law says that the right to self-determination should always be ensured.”

Is she correct? To get a response, we spoke to José Luis Martí, Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Law at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, whose research focus includes questions of the philosophy of international law and democratic legitimacy. What would he say?

Well, I’m not an international lawyer, but what I can say about the specific international legal argument is that most international lawyers – almost all of them, in fact – would say that the right of self-determination doesn’t apply to cases like Catalonia. The right to self-determination was born and evolved basically to be applied to former colonies, and that’s not the case with Catalonia…

Having said this, I think that many Catalan secessionists – probably most of them, and particularly the government of Catalonia – are not trying to say that their moves are legal. They certainly concede that they’re not legal according to the Spanish constitution and legal system. So, they accept that these moves are illegal. But, the thing is, we’re at a point now – and this week in particular – we are at a point in which legality is probably not the most important thing.

So, the independence movement is aware that they are launching a sort of rebellion. They are aware of that. They don’t try to masquerade or try to deceive the people about this. They are launching a rebellion, and the most important thing about rebellions is not whether they are legal because, by definition, they are not. The most important thing is whether this rebellion is legitimate.

My personal view was that up to last week, it was not legitimate. To begin with, because we didn’t know whether there was a majority of Catalans who gave support to this rebellion… Actually, all the data we had until last week is that there is no such majority, and if there is not, then the rebellion, I would say, is not legitimate.

I would go even further. I would say that to justify and legitimise a rebellion you need more than just 50 + 1% of the people. You need a vast majority of people wanting it. And all the data we had is that there was no such majority. So, again, up until last week I think that the rebellion was neither legal nor legitimate. However, things might be changing now, because on Sunday, as you may know, the police were very harsh in beating the people who were peacefully turning out and queuing to cast their votes, etc. Things are moving very quickly this week.

I think now, today on 3 October, there is a majority – a vast majority – of Catalans who feel disgust and are very angry about what happened on Sunday. They felt that it was a humiliation, that it was an unjustified act of violence, and so things might rapidly change. Who knows? Maybe the secessionist movement is gaining popular support and therefore is gaining also democratic legitimacy. So, I think we should evaluate what is happening now not in terms of the legality of the issue, because even the secessionists are not trying very hard to make this argument about international law, and they concede that it is totally unconstitutional and illegal according to Spanish law. But that’s not the question. The question is whether this is legitimate. And rebellion and revolution may be legitimate, even if it is happening in a democratic state.

So, I don’t think – as many others might think – that rebellions are totally unjustified when you have a democratic system in front of you. I think they might be justified, but what they require is vast popular support. So far, I haven’t seen this popular support obtained in Catalonia. Things might be changing very quickly, and we’ll see what happens at the end of this week. I think we will see many developments over the next couple of days.

Can Catalonia declare independence under international law? What happens if Catalonia declares independence unilaterally? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Ariet

201 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • Dionìs KC

      If the blood threats thing is true or possible, then that would be not less than the main reason Catalans can’t keep living with Spain – I say if, and I hardly believe it to be possible to have bloodshed among Catalonia and rest of Spain (hoping I’m right on this last part).

    • Denis J. Buckley

      There should be a constitutional convention followed by a referendum , giving more power to all the regions, that should be a first step. People have been comparing the Scottish Referendum, fact is UK has no written constitution and sovereignty is vested parliament not people. If UK had a written constitution with all the built in safeguards for all citiens, there would be no Brexit now. It is for all the people of Spain to agree for Catalonia to leave. Everyone agreed democratically in 1978 to their constitution as did the Irish in 1937 and Americans in 1789. If the kingdom of Kerry wants to leave the Irish Republic, then all the people will have to agree to this in a referendum. Should ever Catalonia ever leave Spain by constitutional means,then they will be leaving the EU and its single market. Investment and jobs would flow out from region and it would be again be more affordable to live in Barcelona.But I have to finish with note that the national police over-reacted and set back the democratic building process by 30 years….

    • Harry Bell

      Denis J. Buckley
      You’re wrong about there being ‘no written constitution’ there are dozens of documents pertaining to the rights of British subjects dating back to Magna Carta, I’ve personally read the one about ‘sovereignty’ belonging to each and every British subject, parliamentary sovereignty is something we loan to our elected representatives though the twisted political class have turned tis on its head to suit themselves. The declaration of HR is based upon the HR afforded the subjects of the realm and as for there being no ‘brexit’ now if those ‘safeguards’ as you call them were in a ‘written constitution’ we’d not have needed to vote on the matter if the treasonous pedophile Heath’s integrity hadn’t been compromised as he signed us up for membership in the first place. We were supposedly joining a trading bloc, which is how it was sold to the people in the 1975 referendum on staying in, we never would have joined had we known we would be slowly taken over, stripped of our industries to suit Germany while our farmers were given subsidies so we could buy exclusively foreign produce to suit French farmers or others on the continent. Don’t be selling out this country to your foreign chums on here, we’ve enough traitors with the likes of Blair and the rest of the remainiacs.

    • Jane Tse

      There would only blood shed when separation movement is provided by US military support. When Spain is a member of the West, the US would not dare to do anything, which is, we shall see no blood.

    • Jane Tse

      Why should Catalonia people want to shed blood when Catalonia is already a self-autonomy region? Generally speaking, separation movement would only be internationally recognized/approved when survive of a nation is under threat. When Catalonia is under the government of Spain, it flourish and becomes the richest region of the whole country. What justification do the Catalonia people have for their separation movement? What I can see is that the current referendum serves more interest of the politicians who promoted it rather than the collective interest of Catalonia people.

  1. José Bessa da Silva

    It sure can under portuguese law. Since Portugal is part of the “international community” the answer is obviously yes.

    Visca Catalunya Lliure…

    • Manuel Alonso

      Portugal’s law never mention catalonia…

    • José Bessa da Silva

      It does not mention Spain either. Should Portugal not recognise Spain’s independence?

      Man, please, don’t be silly. Obviously it does not mention any region, country or people in particular because it sets a principle, not a pre-determined case.

    • Tobias Weihmann

      That doesn’t exactly help, because to my knowledge Portuguese law is not commonly accepted as being valid in this region, and Portugal doesn’t plan to enforce it (ie. by sending an army). So, unless you are advocating for a war between Portugal and Spain, which I personally think would be a stupid idea, that’s more likely to remain a thought experiment.

    • José Bessa da Silva

      Portugal should indeed, if catalans so decide, help them with military force if necessary. The dissolution of spain is a case of european security…

    • Donald Radinovic

      Da ste imali muda ko Španjolci ..nebi ostali bez kosova.. … To vam vaš peder vučič zapečatio … A vi opet za njega glasajte

    • Paul Vincent

      If you read the last paragraph, it gives an opt out to setting a precedent for other separatist movements…so not clear cut..

  2. Besart Kovaci

    have not voted more than 50% of the population, so they can not span independently,
    another referendum should be made

    • Alcindo Ribeiro

      Com a sua ideia nuca mais acabaria o processo. Haja bom senso e firmeza. Deixem os catalães decidir e depois se verá.

    • Ricard Sala

      Spanish police and Civil Guards were sent to avoid people voting (brutally beating them in many cases), steal ballot boxes and close election places. The circumstances were very hard for the voters, and people knew there would be trouble so many of them decided to stay home. In normal circumstances, participation would have exceed 80%, according to previous polls.

    • jorge do Carmo

      Nazi minority, what are you spoking about?

      If they are a minority then let’s them have the referendum and then we can see what’s really is going on.

    • jeddaz81

      while no one believes 90% of catalans were in favour of independence, what is clear is that the threat of police violence and a boycott by the opponents suppressed turnout. I don’t think Catalonia can declare independence and gain international recognition under these circumstances, a proper referendum must take place free of intimidation from police and full participation

    • tulip

      90% voted = Yes, why is it still disputable? Amend the constitution! Where is democracy? Violence is not solution, Democracy and human rights are!!!

    • Jorge Martinho

      Why not? Any question can be open for debate. If everyone can answer the question in a well thought and logic way, understanding everything that is at stake… Thats another question. But under democracy anyone has the right to voice their opinion (good or bad).

    • Oliana Demiri

      Kosovo has nothing to do with Catalunya! Way to different from each other!

    • Paschalis Anastasiou

      I didn’t say they are the same…I just referred to them as examples of unilateral independence

    • Angelo Calabria

      The future is : many little republic( one time :contea ,marchesato ,ducati…).Super for elite (Molok!) Capital- Comunist :DIVIDI ET IMPERA!!!

    • Oliana Demiri

      Paschalis Anastasiou well it doesn’t make sense you’re saying.

  3. Terry Tovey

    If not for the help from the German dive bombers during the civil war, it would already be independent.

    • José Bessa da Silva

      No one like spaniards lad. No need for russian propaganda. The best anti-spanish propaganda is made by themselves…

    • Henrikas Kublickas

      Rusams toli Katalonija, bet jie, katalonai, panašūs į mus… ir mes taip kovojom ir pasiekėm savo tikslą

    • Manuel Alonso

      We can give you so much freedom and independence that you will say: please no more!

  4. Javi Er

    No, without any doubt. They are just fascists addicted to flags, we have seen this shit already in Europe.

    • Ricard Sala

      If Catalan are fascists, then how would you call those we are avoiding them to vote? Democrats?

    • Melie

      Manuel Alonso October 3rd, 2017
      We can give you so much freedom and independence that you will say: please no more!

      Manuel… there is never too much FREEDOM…!! And ‘freedom’ should not have to be ‘given’ but just something we ALL have!! :)

    • Ricard Sala

      Why “hope”?

    • Rémi Martin

      If only it would be once respected…

    • Tobias Weihmann

      Experts will tell you that “self determination” doesn’t necessarily mean nation state, it can also be realized in an autonomous region, for example.

    • Baptiste Lonlon

      Agree. But i can t see why we could refuse a vote. If it is an autonomous region, the right to hold a vote should be respected. I ve studied international law, and for me «experts» in that field have only found ways to never respect the actual texts

  5. Joaquim M Pinto

    El Tribunal Internacional de Justicia de la Haya, principal órgano judicial de las Naciones Unidas, tiene establecido al respecto, mediante Sentencia de 22 de julio de 2010: “Declaramos que no existe en derecho internacional ninguna norma que prohíba las DECLARACIONES UNILATERALES DE INDEPENDENCIA. Declaramos que cuando hay una contradicción entre la legalidad constitucional de un Estado, y la voluntad democrática, prevalece esta segunda, y declaramos que, en una sociedad democrática, a diferencia de una dictadura, no es la Ley la que determina la voluntad de los ciudadanos, sino que ésta es la que crea y modifica cuando sea necesario la legalidad vigente”. Declaración sobre la guerra de 1999 en la antigua Yugoslavia por la que se obliga a Serbia a abandonar Kosovo.

    • Joaquim M Pinto

      Arab lol mas a tua lingua nao falas tu deves ser celta

    • José Bessa da Silva

      Joaquim M Pinto , falo várias línguas europeias, ao contrário dos pastores de camelos lá na meseta.

    • Joaquim M Pinto

      Os pastores da meseta so falam uma lingua a da opressao. Tiveram foi azar com os lusitanos

    • Marta

      Hello? Jose bessa da silva you are portrating yourself saying those stupid things. I will not add anything :D Don’t worry the catalan nationalists have already said more racist, xenofobic things about spanish and specially castillian people. The international community is comiting a mistake if they are considering this rebellion legal having less that the half of the facts.

  6. Bobbi Suzic

    Well if Kosovo could with no referendum and against constitution become second Albanian state so why Catalans cannot have one country?

    • Mathieu Coquelet Ruiz

      Kosovo independence is actually not recognised by many players – beside the US. The ICJ gave a negative opinion.

    • Bobbi Suzic

      True, they are not UN member, but currently it’s recognized by 2/3 of all states in world and they have representation towards EU. Merkel has now vetoed Serbia’s entrance in EU until they recognize Kosovo as state. My point is that we at least EU, need to have clear intentional principles when a state is recognised or not.

    • Marta

      The catalans voted yes to the Spanish constitution in 1978. And that is the law they are fighting now. It was also a referendum. That is only one of the differences.

    • George Boletsis

      Greek referendum was not really a success was it ? As for the brexit they try to take it back as they were misinformed …Catalonian was a disaster as only 42% showed up and they already know that they won’t survive without e.un. They will need new currency and they will be isolated politically and economically ..

    • Harry Bell

      As for ‘Brexit’ nobody was ‘misinformed’, the public were threatened with financial armageddon, WW3 and punitive measures by the establishment, one thing you don’t do to the Brits is threaten them, we kick back. There’d have been a lot more support for leaving the EU without the threats and as for the ‘negotiations’ we’re putting up with under article 50 a growing majority wish for some testicles on those we vote into power to leave the table without any dealings whatsoever, we don’t agree with dictatorships and the EU parliament appears to be full of dictators presently issuing threat after threat. There are people here would pull the heads off the likes of gerhoftwat, barnier and junker but our political class are too polite and accommodating. Keep your EU WE’VE HAD ENOUGH.

    • George Boletsis

      Exactly my point . They will be politically and economically isolated .

  7. Craig Willy

    International law seems to be quite empty on this. Apparently, you just need to be a de facto State and have other States recognize you. So if Catalonia plays hardball and can gradually convince other countries to recognize it.. sure.

  8. Leonardo Monteiro

    I think this touches a very good point – we don’t know just how many people support independence, and even if its a majority – how big a majority should be? Its not exactly a small decision we are taking. perhaps 2/3 majority for such an important thing would be needed.

  9. Yanni Sfyrides

    What is this joke lately,with every village to be asking for independence?Let ‘s see the reason why,behind the Katalanian efforts to this direction. Are they been tortured by the Central Government?? Are they face a war and bombing by the C.G.? Are their houses been burned by the C.G? OR, the motives are so low as, ”we are superior from all Spanish people”? / ” we are reacher ,we hold a big stake of the local industry and we want it all,we don t want to split it with other people”?? Then Toskany will do the same,Bawaria will do the same and so on.Is it a logic way/path for the EU people and their children to be reacher and have a better life? Is it nowdays a clever thing to do, to divide /split and to destroy Europe as a unity and be by ourselves alone in this competitive world of today with the Far East Economic monsters to grow day by day?? Can Germany,or Spain or Italy stand alone in the future?? The EU as a unity in the world is a very competitive and strong entity and through political and proper social pressure it could improve itself , and through better Institutions,create a value forEuropean society.This is the only way. We should not take the opposite direction!!!

    • José Bessa da Silva

      Europe was never a unite and will never be. Spain, just like the EU, will eventually fall due to their endemic corruption and fascist atittude.

  10. Arsalan Mizory

    In Kurdistan region of Iraq we voted Yes for independence from racist undemocratic government in Baghdad instead of getting independence after 92%of voters voted for independence Baghdad called the action illegal and besieged the region economically and blocked all peaceful channels with the region, rather they urged the regional countries Turkey and Iran to close their borders and take all possible measures to hurt the region even military measures, my question is as a free world and the UN keep talking about democracy and human rights, so where we are about nowadays! Catalan may have a case under international law and the whole world must respect their voice for freedom but as the so called free world neglected our voice in Kurdistan they will do it with Catalan…

  11. Arsalan Mizory

    In Kurdistan region of Iraq we voted Yes for independence from racist undemocratic government in Baghdad instead of getting independence after 92%of voters voted for independence Baghdad called the action illegal and besieged the region economically and blocked all peaceful channels with the region, rather they urged the regional countries Turkey and Iran to close their borders and take all possible measures to hurt the region even military measures, my question is as a free world and the UN keep talking about democracy and human rights, so where we are about nowadays! Catalan may have a case under international law and the whole world must respect their voice for freedom but as the so called free world neglected our voice in Kurdistan they will do it in Catalan and defend the territorial integrity of Spain…

  12. Alex N Bu

    no, NO !! Spain is a democracy by constitution … but it is also a sovereign state !! the decision should be taken as a whole !! and the referendum, wich is a vote for what should be a political matter, THE INDEPENDACE OF CATALONIA, should reprezent the will of all the citizens

    • Y a r i

      So you ask your local council to vote and decide if you can or cannot buy your house? Like, you don’t ask your own family and decide all together on how to procede, you ignore your family and you go to the local council and ask them to decide if you’re free or not to buy the house you live in. So three streets ahead there’s a person who does not know a bit of who you are, and they can decide if you can buy your own house or keep paying the rent, because they are part of the same local council. Mmmh… sonething’s not right here.

    • Alex N Bu

      Catalonia belongs to Spain, thus to all the spanish citizens by constitution of a sovereign state… the house is yours !!!

      I wouldn”t like a part of my country to be taken form me and restrict me from having acces to it or to it”s services …

    • Alex N Bu

      :) you say that because you think you are better !! see, that is the real problem …

    • Alex N Bu

      I personally think Catalonia wouldn`t be better off alone, but if a LEGAL referendum decides that it should be so … that seems OK to me !!

      but not in ilegality … the referendum should take place in the whole country

  13. Lorenzo

    Well, it can’t, because the principle of self-determination can be invoked only under a limited set of conditions (which do not stand in Spain), and even if it could invoke it, there would still be a conflict to deal with between that principle and the principle of the original country’s (Spain) territorial integrity, which is somehow reflected in the Spanish legal order by the constitutional clause that forbids secession.

  14. Cormac Begley

    Yes, the right to self-determination is inalienable

  15. catherine benning

    Can Catalonia declare independence under international law?

    Well, here is how the US did it in 1700 and something and that was considered legal.

    And the right to self determination under UN law says….

    However, how did Catalonia become part of Spain? Were they colonised against the wishes of the Catalonian people? Or, did they sign some kind of Treaty or have some kind of binding negotiation with Spain that handed their sovereignty over to the rulers of that country?

    The answer lies in their history. Were they a breakaway province? Did they vote to give up their independence? How was this situation formed? How did they become part of the EU?

    Regardless of the history, the present shows these people no longer wish to be part of Spain. And as a result of that push, they must be given a hearing, allowing them the ‘right’ to secede should they vote to do so.

  16. Peré Kox

    No, the right to selfdetermination while being a importent part selfdetermination law only becomes a right when certain conditions have been met. And does not exist when a peoples internal right for selfdetermination has been respected, namely respect for culture language etc. Which is the case in Catalonia. As shown in the Quebec case.

  17. Ion Clavero

    Nobody who has ever read the first page of an introductory volume to International Law would read that question without laughing. Or crying, when seeing so many people take it as a serious question. What a sad joke.

  18. Alex Sekkpfb

    The question is ridiculous as a whole BUT we do have the face the fact that at least several thousand people have a problem that is not being adressed – they are not being given the tools to express that problem and solve it. Independence is not the issue here, but rather the tools used to dissuade the people who want it.

    • Tobias Weihmann

      That’s mentioned in the article. But most experts agree that this doesn’t necessarily mean a right for seperatism. “Self determination” for example could also guaranteed by the autonomous status of a region.

  19. Jaime Fma

    Pues qué articulito más descafeinado sin mencionar NO y refiriendo a la carta UN, la resolución 1415 y 2425 y a la Convención de Viena sobre el Derecho de los tratados.

  20. José Bessa da Silva

    Look how europhiles love freedom and democracy. Good God! Let’s take Portugal out of this hell hole as fast as possible… Portugaleave now!

  21. Diogo

    The illegality is basically on the use of public premises to conduct an illegal activity. The violence applied was totally disproportionate because of some illegally occupied rooms, papers and boxes and I am certain any court of human rights would say the same. But is the same valid for police charges at football matches for example? So yes it was illegal what was done, but the action was disproportionate, however there is no formal remedy for this disproportionality. Author is right also to say that there is no proven legitimacy of this movement, however there is an undoubtably portion of the population with whom a political dialogue must be had. This dialogue was denied and therefore there are no legitimacy considerations to be had, only action to be taken and afterwards be repressed with no possible measurable consequences. This is the pickle.

  22. Gabriel Orentas

    No, they cannot. Stop placing questions like that. It only serves to keep the public opinion going in circles. You know the answers, put them on the table, inform the people. Then let´s debate around answers, not questions

    • Tobias Weihmann

      Generally it can, of course. The question is how, and if this way is seen as legit. Kosovo became independent not merely through a referendum but through a war, which resulted in a long negotiation process based on a UN Security Council Resolution, with the final declaration confirmed by the International Court of Justice.

    • Jane Tse

      Kosovo is a legacy of the Cold War.

  23. Bahadır Mileri

    If discrimination and human rights abuses become systematic why not?? Pyschological barriers were pull down on sunday! Notion of “Cataluña and freedom”, reach to hearts and minds in all over the world either in direct or subconscious way!!!

  24. Dino Boy Mican

    The West -which includes Spain- encouraged (even forced) sessessions all over Eastern Europe meddling in internal affairs of states belonging to that part of the world. There were no serious considerations made back then on whether the sossessions were legal or that they had the support of the majority. Yet the West pushed for them.

    • Jane Tse

      The difference is the intervention was against the Ex-Soviet Union. Now it is about Spain, the West is not going to do anything against member of the West! If Catalonia people do not see the difference, their politicians ought to see it. If politicians do not see it, which means they should not be qualified to be political leaders.

    • Jane Tse

      If politicians are ignorant of the global political economy, how can they rule a independent country? As such, Catalonia better withdraw their independence claim because it is ridiculous to put oneself under the rule of leaders who do not even know how the world is operating.

  25. EU Reform- Proactive

    No, I don’t think so. Rather negotiate with central government for a better deal! Step by step- like the EU! Patiently!

    Remember, in the 1978 “Spanish Constitutional Referendum”- Catalonia accepted the “Spanish Constitution” and its own autonomy etc” with a 95% yes vote & 68% participation.

    Today, they seem to have regrets & want a divorce? Don’t declare, rather negotiate!

    Not to forget- once free of Spain, the EU supranational hungry princess will take most competences & liberties away- once more! Trapped in modernity!

    Beware of the EU conundrum- “hide” in the belly of Iberia!

    • Ricard Sala

      Catalan government has asked Spanish government 17 times for a dialogue on the subject. Always the same answer: “NO!”. Which options are left for the Catalan people?

    • EU Reform- Proactive

      Sorry Ricard, but Catalonia’s “demand” for sovereignty- unfortunately- remains a “1978 delayed dream” or rather a nightmare for all. As opposed to similar wishes within the rigid & none-reform able supranational EU.

      The “Spanish Constitutional Court” spelled it out- “illegal”! Self-government of the Spanish nationalities and regions is guaranteed. Probably even central government contravened the Constitution, trying to suppress the referendum by force. A shame!

      It may be disappointing for many, regardless of how many times someone “asked” or what “local” % (“90%”) is achieved.

      Simple: The Spanish Constitution, its law & its 1978 “acceptance referendum” applies to the whole of Spain. Please refresh. It was accepted by all in 1978- including Catalonia. Two important features in that Constitution:

      * The” indissoluble” unity of the Spanish Nation” (No “withdraw clause” like Article 50 of The Treaty on EU)
      * The “Cortes Generales” are “inviolable”- never to be broken (peacefully).

      Any Constitutional Amendment has to comply & follow “Part X”- Clauses 166-169. In the end- to be considered very carefully- by ALL once more.

      Q: Is it really worth & economically advantageous- long term- to risk so much instability? How much is it overzealous, unrealistic & irrelevant hype? Good sense & calm considerations should prevail. Good luck!

  26. Karolina

    One for legal experts to answer. I don’t understand how it can be subject of popular debate.

  27. Karolina

    The EU has set a very bad precedent in the case of Kosovo. However, my understanding is that in that case people were actually oppressed: prevented from education, kept in poverty, discriminated against etc.

  28. Karolina

    We were thinking about booking a few days away in Barcelona but after the scenes on Sunday we are going to leave this now. Why was that necessary?

    • Ricard Sala

      Well, it was not. But it shows the Spanish government frame of mind: if you don’t obey me, I beat you up. Have you seen what is happening in Murcia these days?

    • Jane Tse

      No one is suggesting that Catalonia is not a nation but it is not a state. Nowadays, there is no nation-state as it once was in 1648, when the Westphalia Treaty is signed. Nation is no longer a justification to separate from a modern state.

  29. Yanis Sarto

    No it can´t . If it is to become indepedent , a whole different process than the one seen these days is needed

  30. Yannick Cornet

    Even if it’s stupid (like Brexit) there should always be mechanisms for exit. Thats fundamental to democracy and any union. Divorce cannot be ilegal. What is truly the problem here is Spain, Rajoy, and the King’s undemocratic and un-European answer to this. Sending police against a vote is simply not acceptable and should be condemned by the EU in the strongest terms.

    • Jane Tse

      First, this is sending police against an illegal referendum. Second, fundamental to democracy is how democracy leading to goods of the people not to support politician. As a matter of fact, the referendum has torn the Spanish country apart, putting nationals in confrontation with each other, for what? For some politicians want to access to power when they do not have any idea to improve the economic situation of the country or Catalonia, so they bewitch people!

    • Jane Tse

      Your concept is wrong Yannick Cornet. International organization of modern states is based on the Westphalia Treaty signed in 1948 among European nation-states. It is a peace settlement treaty to end the 30-year war in Europe. International society of states is still organizing under principles of the treaty i.e. respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of nation-states (as of the time, states are not multi-ethnic in character) within the demarcated territorial boundary. Post World War II international society of states has been largely following the same principle and reflected upon the UN Charters till today. As Spain is a member state of the UN, whether Spain has a king or not, its territorial boundary, its Central Government, its sovereignty over the whole Spain have all their international and national legitimacy, including the King and the Central Government’s Constitutional powers and that Catalonia is only an autonomous region of the country, which is, Catalonia has all the autonomy to government but it has no sovereignty over the territory of Catalonia. The sovereignty of the region belongs to Spain not Catalonia people. If Catalonia wants an independence, it has to request for a referendum of the whole country not playing its own game to separate a Spanish territory.

    • Jane Tse

      Divorce is only made legal by law. Besides, do not use democracy to justify everything. Europe does not equal to democracy. It is nonsense to suggest that the King’s undemocratic is un-European answer. There is no European answer. By submitting oneself as a national and establishing itself as an autonomous region of Spain, one has to abide by the law and its constitution. There is nothing to concern with democratic or not! What is democratic? As democracy is an evolving concept and it is different according to time and space, there is no definition for democratic or not, only it involves some elements. Judging one as undemocratic is subjective.

  31. Rui Correia

    All laws are made by men/women… so I question: what should happen to laws when they stop serving men/women, and their will????

    • Jane Tse

      Laws are not made to serve men/women’s will. Laws are made to serve collective will/goodness of the society. This is why a society is formed.

    • Jane Tse

      Individuals have different interests. There is no law that can satisfy interests of all individuals. There are laws that can satisfy majority interests. Isn’t this the principle of democracy modern societies are seeking to establish? Within Spain, Catalonia is only a region, hence its independence should be decided by people of the whole Spain.

  32. Enric Mestres Girbal

    Catalonia is in the hands of a group of hooligans that control ALL media and through lies have convinced good international people. Four years ago the catalan police acted with as much energy against people seating on Catalunya sq. and nobody protested.

  33. Manuela Moura

    BRAZIL was the product of a “Declaracao UNILATERAL DE Independencia” from Portugal…” Also known as the !Ipiranga Scream/Grito”

  34. Jane Tse

    The “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” declared that “Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”. This has clearly stated that national unity and territorial integrity of a country is not supported by the UN. Spain is a member state of the UN and its national boundary and sovereignty has been admitted as it is including that over Catalonia. As such, Catalonia should not be entitled self-determination and independent from Spain.

  35. Jane Tse

    Although Catalonia people’s rights should be respect, that of the whole Spain ought to be respect too. An independent referendum of the Catalonia ought to be carried out in the whole country. If we emotionally agree with the self-determination of Catalonia people, how about those Chinese, French, Jews and Muslims? Do they have the right to use a referendum to get independent from Catalonia region?

  36. Jane Tse

    We are in a global era today, in which concepts such as state boundary ,nationality are largely ignored. It is not uncommon that people have multiple identities, travelling, living everywhere all over the world. In the morning we can be in the US and in the evening, we are in other part of the world, say China and we are speaking Putonghua instead of English, an African can be in Cambodia working for a French company, etc. How far can one nation survive without support of others?

  37. Alves Henriques

    the marxist star is not in the catalan flag. this process is run by marxists thats why their is a star on the cataln flag.

  38. Jane Tse

    Why Catalonia people cannot learn from the British mistake? One thing different is British referendum was nation-wide, while that of the Catalonia was only a regional one. Already lacking a national recognition and support, with what the Catalonia people negotiate with Spain, not to say with the international society of states!

  39. robert dunford


    • robert dunford


    • Jane Tse

      The British referendum was a legal one with all eligible voters of the country participated. The referendum of Catalonia was carried out by the Catalonia region which is not representing the majority will of Spain. The Spanish government now objects to Catalonia independence is clearly with the Spanish people, not that of the Catalonia region.

  40. robert dunford


    • tulip

      90 % , we talk 90 % of votes = Yes, why is it still disputable? Amend the constitution! It is funny to watch Spain’s gestures of impose fear on region they force to keep. It is horrible to watch the scenes ( in 21the century) of human rights abuse, force on pieceful Catalan demostrations Spanish violence

  41. Luis

    Yes! Catalonia should become independent

  42. Phoinikes

    Dear fellow EU citizens,
    I agree with Professor Martí in his opening statement that the point is not about the legality of an independence declaration according to Spanish constitutional law or to international law, or even about whether Catalonia right to self-determination does apply or doesn’t, but about legitimation. And, let me say, a strong legitimation (not, as Prof. Martí says, just 50%+1 people support) because such a transcendental change has no easy reversal.
    But let me point out that, in my opinion, Catalonians should ask themselves (as well as the rest of the Spaniards and the EU citizens) if such step is sensible, to what extent an eventual independence will tackle Catalonians’ real problems or even increase them.
    First, EU will not grant EU membership to Catalonia. Mr Junckers said a few days ago ( that he doesn’t want an EU “in 15 years that will be 100 different states. It is difficult enough with 17 states. With many more states, it will be impossible.” Moreover, many EU national leaders don’t want to encourage the separatism on his own countries (for sure, French President won’t), as granting automatic membership to Catalonia will do. So Catalonia, if she’s to become independent, will stand in queue for some years (maybe a decade?) to regain EU membership.
    Second, an independent Catalonia will face not only economic distress (which has yet started) but political instability. In the event that Catalonia becomes independent, a lot of people in Catalonia with links on the rest of Spain, as well as people in Spain with links to Catalonia (kins, business, properties or whatever), will find themselves divided by an extra-EU frontier and that broken links will cause distress both in Catalonia and the rest of Spain. Additionally, the four parties that pushed for independence, agree that the Catalonian sphere it’s not limited to Catalonia itself, but to the “Paisos Catalas”, i.e. Valencia, Balearic Islands and part of Aragon (and the addition, for the separatist hardliners, of Andorra and the French Catalan Country). This pan-Catalonian view, encouraged by a recent independence from Spain, can develop itself as a sort of natural way of self-assertion and, together with the broken links among citizens on both sides, become a disgusting problem in the future relations among an independent Catalonia, Spain and the EU.
    Third, I think that separatist political elite hasn’t proved that an independent Catalonian State will lead their citizens to better welfare and social and economic development despite having to pay the price of becoming independent (that is, economic distress and uncertainty during at least some time after the independence, loss of EU membership and others to come). The overall plan for a separate State has not evolved farther than becoming “a social and democratic republic under the rule of law”, which is quite similar to “a social and democratic State under the rule of law” of article 1 of Spanish Constitutional Law.
    About legitimation, maybe the days to come (or weeks, months or years) will settle the question. Catalonia people is not an oppressed nation, at least no more ‘oppressed’ than any Spaniard or EU citizen by law, the limits of democracy or economic forces. In fact, many Catalonians whose mother-tongue is Spanish (and there are a good lot of them) are feeling oppressed by the Regional education system that has banned the Spanish tongue from education.
    Becoming an independent state has a price, and this price will be paid in suffering by Catalonians citizens and the rest of Spanish citizens alike (and maybe an additional price in the form of an EU political crisis). Does independence worth the price?

  43. robert dunford

    first international law is united nations law.comes with supranational law.which came out in 1946 united nations international keep peace in each country allowing referendums .to leave that the high commissioner has warned spain.jean claude juncker is very worried about human rights cannot take them away if catalonia breaks away from spain many more eu countries will do they same using united nations international laws of human rights and democracy. all those attacks on innocent voters then sending in the military army only makes it worse .making catalan people fight more.then if united nations find they have no human rights or democracy ,goodbye

    • Jane Tse

      UN respect human rights but UN is formed for a more important reason, which is to prevent the recurrence of a third devastating world war by collective effort, which is the collective security principle. I suppose that self-determination without justification is against all UN charters. In international law, there are serious discussions on justifications of self-determination. Self-determination cannot be justified with a vague term “Human Right” without real substance.

  44. Shane Theis

    Yes, definitely. A civil war would most likely start, and Spain would almost never recognize Catalonia.

  45. Raul

    Since democracy was set in Spain in the ’78 the so-called Autonomous Communities were created, 17 of them. Each of them has been given an own parliament, through which they have been absorbing power from the Central Government. Catalonia nowadays has full control (or close to) of Environment, Education (being its language the mandatory one either in private and public schools) and even they do have their own police.
    Rather ” an oppressed nation” it is among the top 3 of the 17 Autonomous Communities in wealthy, both in Gdp and gdp per capita.
    Even if the UN mentions the right for self determination (in some cases pretty ambiguously) this does not seem to justify a potencial secesion from Catalonia, since Catalonia is not a colony nor an oppressed nation (Rohingya or Bosnian people in Yugoslavia truly were). Plus, the right for self determination does not only mean secesion, it also includes autonomy options, which Catalonia, as you can see, already has.

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