Gibraltarians campaign for sovereignty, 2002-2004


To remain a sovereign British territory

Time period

February, 2002 to August, 2004


Jump to case narrative

Methods in 6th segment

Segment Length

5 months

Notes on Methods

If more news articles can be found, it is quite possible that many methods were used in segments 2-5


Gibraltar labor opposition leader Joe Bassardo; Chief Minister Peter Caruana; Council of Representative Bodies (a coalition of interest groups in Gibraltar)


Not known

External allies

British sympathizers, including a group from Plymouth, England, called The Plymouth Party

Involvement of social elites

Not known


Spanish Government

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Not known

Campaigner violence

Not known

Repressive Violence

Not known


National-Ethnic Identity



Group characterization


Groups in 1st Segment

Peter Caruana
British sympathizers

Segment Length

5 months

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

6 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


1 out of 3 points

Total points

8 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

Gibraltar retains its sovereign status as a British territory and is now recognized as such by Spain.

Database Narrative

Gibraltar is a small piece of land on the southwestern tip of Spain, yet has been the territory of Britain since the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Spain has been attempting to get Gibraltar back since then, causing tension between the two countries.  Gibraltar wished to remain British.

On February 4, 2002, Gibraltar labor leader Joe Bassardo called a protest at the Spanish Gibraltar border fence. The assembled demonstration coincided with a meeting between the British foreign secretary and the Spanish foreign minister near the border. Protesters chanted and held banners with slogans such as “Spanish Gibraltar- never.”

At the Barcelona summit on March 16, 2002, Britain and Spain pledged to reconcile their differences by the summer. They offered Gibraltar money to help smooth over the process.

On March 18, 2002, Gibraltarians lined the Piazza on the main street in protest against sovereignty talks between Britain and Spain. The Gibraltar government called for the protest, which was supported by all political, trade union, and business organizations. They feared that Britain would sign an agreement with Spain for joint sovereignty before ceding Gibraltar to Spain, even if the colony refuted the idea in referendum. Protesters supported the declaration made by Chief Minister Peter Caruana that they would resist the signing of any such agreement. The demonstration was organized by the Council of Representative Bodies, a coalition of interest groups, which made sure that as many people as possible could attend the protest. Schools, offices and government departments closed early so that people could join the demonstration. Only essential workers and the Ministry of Defense were not given a half day. The Council also hired buses to bring people from retirement homes and made special provisions for the disabled. 24,000 of the 30,000-person population participated. Flags of Britain and Gibraltar were carried by many protesters and draped across buildings. Participants carried banners with slogans such as “no in principle to concessions against our wishes. Yes to reasonable dialogue” and “Blair, stuff your bribe.”

In 2002, Gibraltar held an unofficial referendum in which 99% of the population opposed joint rule between Britain and Spain.

In May 2002, British sympathizers held a protest rally at Casemates. They gathered over 15,000 signatures and 30,000 petitions supporting Gibraltar’s desire to remain British. Fifty protesters bussed to London to meet the cross party delegation and a Gibraltar government official. Similarly, the British Plymouth Delegation held a demonstration outside of the Spanish Embassy and distributed leaflets.

On August 4, 2004, twelve thousand Gibraltar residents formed a human chain around the Rock of Gibraltar. They feared a secret deal between the British and Spanish governments, and that Gibraltarians would not be involved in deciding their own future.

Gibraltar remains a British territory and has finally been recognized as a separate entity by Spain and invited to join the table for discussions regarding sovereignty.


Corrigan, Damian. "The Gibraltar Question - Gibraltar's Sovereignty- Gibraltarian Independence - Spain, United Kingdom and Gibraltar." Spain Travel. 02 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Hoon in Gibraltar Despite Protest." BBC News. 4 Aug. 2004. 02 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Mass Protest Over Gibraltar Sovereignty." BBC News. 18 Mar. 2002. 02 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Protest Rally on Friday at Casemates at 5.00pm." Panorama: Gibraltar's Online Daily. May 2002. 02 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Thousands Join Gibraltar Protest." CNN. 18 Mar. 2002. 02 Apr. 2011. <>.

Wilkinson, Isambard. "Gibraltar Halted by Anti-Spain Protest." 19 Mar. 2002. 02 Apr. 2011. <>.

Additional Notes

Edited by Max Rennebohm (21/06/2011)

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Rebecca Contreras, 02/04/2011