Scientific article
Open access

Catalonia independence claim: An analysis from the standpoint of international law

Published inSpanish yearbook of international law, vol. 25, p. 4-38
Publication date2021
First online date2021-12-31

The article offers a systematic analysis of the independence claim of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia (hereinafter “Catalonia”) from the standpoint of international law and includes a concise discussion of the key concepts of statehood, territorial integrity and recognition. It then examines the right of peoples to self-determination, which remains the crux of the matter, and defines its content in the colonial context and beyond it. It demonstrates that outside the colonial context and with the possible exception of remedial secession (which can be excluded in the case of Catalonia), there is no legal entitlement to secede. The right to self-determination must be implemented within the jurisdiction of Spain. It thus becomes essentially a matter of autonomy and powers distribution. It is within the current legal framework, based primarily on the Spanish Constitution and the Catalan Statute of Autonomy that the parties must hammer out a political solution, which must follow the road map designed by the Constitutional Court in a series of decisions rendered throughout the crisis. The Court has consistently upheld the unity and territorial integrity of Spain, the full enjoyment by Catalonia of all the powers contained in the Statute of Autonomy, and the right to Catalonia to project, within the constitutional and statutory limits, its activities at the international level. The article concludes that the current legal framework is sufficiently clear and flexible to accommodate the rights and responsibilities of the central government to preserve the unity of Spain as well as the legitimate ambitions of Catalonia to develop and pursue its policies in accordance with the Constitution and the Statute.

Citation (ISO format)
KOLB, Robert, GAZZINI, Tarcisio. Catalonia independence claim: An analysis from the standpoint of international law. In: Spanish yearbook of international law, 2021, vol. 25, p. 4–38. doi: 10.17103/sybil.25.1
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0928-0634

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