Policy PaperCataloniaU.

N Membership aplication For: Rt Hon Winston Peters Minister of ForeignAffairs and Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand  Issue 1.    Cataloniahas applied to the United Nations (U.N) Security Council to become a member ofthe UN citing article 4 of the UN charter. NewZealand in its current role as a member of the Security Council will make arecommendation to the General Assembly with regards to the aforementionedapplication.  This policy document willhighlight the key considerations surrounding this issue and makerecommendations to the Minister for their deliberation. Context Historical 1.

    Cataloniais an autonomous community in the North Eastern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Thisregion which claims a language and cultural heritage distinct from the rest of CastilianSpain is seeking independence. Under the terms of the 1978 Spanish Constitutionthe local legislature (Generalitat) holds exclusive jurisdiction in matterspertaining to culture, local government, commerce and public safety while it sharesjurisdiction with the Spanish government in education health and justice. Whilethis is not considered sufficient by supporters of independence it is notablethat this level of self-government is considered greater than most othercomparable regions in Europe.  2.    A keygrievance raised by the pro-independence side include the higher contributionin taxes the region makes relative to remittances received from the Central government.

The figures quoted are disputed by the National Government and it is alsoadvised that the region benefits from development funds from the EU. 3.    57% ofthe Catalan population support independence while the Spanish government argue bothsides have more commonalities than differences and that if shared language andculture were sufficient to determine statehood then Europe would havesignificantly more states.   Political context. This matter is sitting with the Security Council dueto the procedure for the recognition of members as outlined below.1 Itis important for New Zealand to be viewed as a good global citizen.

Thisextends to respecting human rights while also balancing the political, economic,and cultural interests of New Zealand. While images of Catalan voters beingforcibly removed from illegal polling booths is confronting, it is important toconsider the wider implications of an independent Catalonia. Legal context: 1.    With the advent of the UnitedNations, it has been determined that the charter of the UN supersedes all otherinternational treaties. The UN by its own admission does not have the right togrant statehood, this right can only be conferred by member states. Therefore Cataloniacan only become a State with the recognition of other States.

This ‘constitutivetheory of recognition’ norm becomes significant as it could provide the legalbasis for Catalonia to become an independent State.2.     The civil Jurisdiction ofthe Kingdom of Spain falls outside the remit of International Law.

2This matter can be demonstrably shown to be an internal matter covered byprovisions of the 1978 Spanish constitution. Notably that same constitutionasserts that the territorial integrity of Spain cannot be divided. 3.

     New Zealand being asovereign state does have a legal right to recognise another state as meetingthe definitions and responsibilities of statehood. However, the legal analysissuggests that current norms in both international relations and law show thisattempt for recognition is an illegal act by the Catalonian regionalgovernment.  Objectives 1.    New Zealand seeks to adhere to extant norms in international law.

By adhering to these norms, New Zealand seeks to further its own credibility inthe international system.2.    New Zealand wishes to develop friendly relations with Statespartially to further its own key strategic trade interests. New Zealand is anexport led economy and therefore a peaceful international regime where statescan engage in bilateral and multilateral trade agreements is crucial to itseconomic survival.

New Zealand is seeking to sign Free Trade agreements withboth The European Union Economic Zone and the United Kingdom. These would bringsignificant benefits to the NZ economy.3.    New Zealand wishes to have its own sovereignty andterritorial integrity respected within the international system.

 Options Option 1: Vote against Catalan application for membershipto U.N and make that recommendation to the General Assembly  Giventhe inherent risks in undermining another States territorial integrity thisoption calls for a rejection of the Catalan attempt to use the UN to vie forindependence. The region already hasa large degree of autonomy and there is very little to benefit New Zealand byvoting in favour of this proposal.  Invoting no, NZ will ensure its strategic aims are met, international norms are upheldand key allies are assured of our support. Furthermore, NZ will ensure its own sovereigntyand won’t set a dangerous precedent whereby iwi or other parties could seek to secedeusing similar criteria of a shared language and cultural identity.

 Thisvote will send a strong message to other separatist movements that this method isnot a workable solution to matters that should be handled in the domestic legalsystem. Arecognition on the other hand would likely result in a trade sanction from akey ally (Spain) and condemnation from close allies the UK and the EU. As NZlooks to negotiate terms for an FTA with the EU and UK this movecould be incredibly harmful to our interests.  Option 2: Recognise Catalonia’sindependence by voting in favour at the security council Recognisingthe Catalan region as an independent State will have far reaching implications.It will assert New Zealand’s commitment that recognises the democratic right ofa peoples to self-determination. Economicallya policy of engagement with Catalonia could be beneficial to New Zealand.

NewZealand could extract trade concessions from Catalonia for endorsing theirmembership. Concretely this could be exclusive export rights for Zespri andFonterra. The trade benefits however, are likely to be offset by the inevitablesevering of economic relations with the Kingdom of Spain. Recognisinga “breakaway” region we could also damage relations with key partners such asthe UK and China. As a P5 member, China will be watching the situation closelygiven similar movements in their State3.

China’slong standing policy of non-interference in other states domestic affairs theywill likely veto any attempts from Catalonia to join the UN. In supporting anysuch measure we risk signalling to a key trade partner that we may not supporttheir view of the international system and it could result in a reduction of tradewhich would be disastrous for NZ.  Byencouraging this secession in another state we could undermine the integrity ofour own.Testedagainst New Zeeland’s core interests and objectives this option poses too manyrisks and the opportunities cannot outweigh any potential costs. Option3 Abstention New Zealand abstains in the vote of the Security Council TheNew Zealand government could abstain from voting on the issue.

Politically thiscould be useful as NZ could state that we do not wish to condone the actions ofeither the Spanish government nor the Catalan regional government. This optionwould ensure that New Zealand still maintains credibility as a liberaldemocracy supporting human rights. It also fails to achieve a key objective tomaintain NZ sovereignty and could expose us to abstentions if a similar votewas held regarding NZ.

Thisoption could also open the way for Catalonia approaching the issue in a similarway as the Palestinian state by applying for Non-Member observer status.  Therefore this option is not aligned with NZpolicy objectives.   Itis recommended that the New Zealand Government: a.

    Voteagainst Catalonia being recognised as a member of the United Nations underarticle 4 of the UN charter. Recognising Catalonia goes against New Zealand’score interests of a rules based international order, economic stability  and would harm relations with key allies.b.    Issuea statement advising that “New Zealand respects the territorial integrity andsovereignty of the Kingdom of Spain and its internationally recognised borders.It is with regret we note the recent conflict arising from this matter and urgeall sides to settle this issue in a timely and peaceful manner in accordance with the constitution and internal laws ofSpain.” 1.      1 UN Charter article 4: The State submits an application to the Secretary-General and aletter formally stating that it accepts the obligations under the Charter.2.

      TheSecurity Council considers the application. Any recommendation for admissionmust receive the affirmative votes of 9 of the 15 members of the Council,provided that none of its five permanent members — China, France, the RussianFederation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and theUnited States of America — have voted against the application.3.      If the Council recommends admission, the recommendation ispresented to the General Assembly for consideration. A two-thirds majority voteis necessary in the Assembly for admission of a new State.4.      Membershipbecomes effective the date the resolution for admission is adopted.

 2 The 1932 MontevideoConvention set out the definition, rights and duties of states in Internationallaw. ” sovereign units consisting of a permanent population, defined territorialboundaries, a government, and an ability to enter into agreements with otherstates” Catalonia asan autonomous community meets some but not all of the criteria for Statehoodoutlined in the convention. this particular clause points to thenorm of respecting the territorial and domestic affairs of another State. “signatorieswould not intervene in the domestic or foreign affairs of another state, thatthey would not recognize territorial gains made by force, and that all disputesshould be settled peacefully.

” By this definition it does not provide adequatelegal means for New Zealand to recognise the Catalan region as beingindependent.  3 China has several secessionist movementsoutside of the dispute around Taiwan namely, Xinjiang’s East Turkmenistanmovement and Tibet. China’s existing foreign policy is to not interfere in thedomestic issues of other states and views any attempts by other statesnegatively


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