Hunger in GibraltarFor centuries, the territory of Gibraltar has been stuck in the middle of a fierce custody battle between Spain and Great Britain. Hunger in Gibraltar, while not currently a problem, has historically been an issue during its ubiquitous territorial disputes.

Gibraltar’s location on the southern end of Spain between Europe and Morocco is a strategic location. It’s a small territory, consisting of roughly 32,000 people, and has been part of Great Britain for 300 years since its capture from Spain during the War of Spanish Succession in 1704. It officially became a British territory with the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.

During World War II, most of Gibraltar was evacuated. Even during the fierce fighting of the war, Gibraltar was an object of contention between Great Britain and Spain. This is largely due to Gibraltar’s position as a port to the Mediterranean Sea. The years following the war saw increased border restrictions by Spain which continued well into the 1960s. During this time, food shortages began to make their mark throughout Gibraltar. Hunger in Gibraltar was a natural byproduct of the closed border to Spain and the complexity of importing food to the country.

In 1967 Gibraltar held a referendum regarding its sovereignty and overwhelmingly voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. Despite the votes from the Gibraltar people, Britain and Spain have maintained their spat over the territory.

This national dispute has seen Spain further change its border restrictions and has attempted negotiations for shared territorial rights with Great Britain. However, their stance regarding Gibraltar has recently become more intimidating. Proposals have been introduced to tax vehicles entering and leaving Gibraltar. Property owners surrounding Spanish territories are facing investigations for irregularities and is considering closing its airspace for flights heading to Gibraltar.

Territorial disputes have had a lasting impact on the territory. Gibraltar has experienced 300 years of being in the middle and its economy and culture have been stretched thin as a result. At the moment, hunger in Gibraltar is not a major issue but may become more problematic if Spain continues its spirit of intimidation.

It is up to Spain to respect the referendum vote and the Treaty of Utrecht so as not to have further negative ramifications for the citizens of Gibraltar. 

Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr

violence in azerbaijan
As the world’s eyes turn to the ongoing struggle and possible ceasefire in Ukraine, another simmering conflict in Russia’s backyard seems to be flaring up. The long contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies in Azerbaijan but which is a self-declared independent nation and comprised of ethnic Armenians, has seen an increase in violence in 2014 and 2015.

The region devolved into a bloody war immediately preceding the fall of the Soviet Union that killed almost 30,000 people and displaced millions more. A ceasefire brokered by the Russians in 1994 left Karabakh and surrounding territories in the hands of Armenians but legally enveloped by Azerbaijan, which lost 14 percent of its territory in the deal.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Azerbaijan has made great strides in socio-economic indicators including hunger, malnourishment, poverty, GDP per capita and the under-five mortality rate. While improvements can still be made, the country is squarely in the Upper-Middle Income country group and has met or is on its way to meeting all of its Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs. Without diversification, however, the economy, which has seen a lot of growth since the early 2000s, may become unstable and create additional social problems.

In its relative state of peace since the turn of the century, Azerbaijan’s poverty rate has dropped from 46.7 percent in 2002 to 8.4 percent in 2011. The economy grew as people felt safe to invest in the country. Hunger very nearly has disappeared from most regions and other indicators are well on their way to the same status. But a rise in violence around the Nagorno-Karabakh region could reverse this progress.

Azerbaijan, claiming a double standard in the West’s handling of Crimea in Ukraine compared to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, has increased its annual defense budget from $177 million in 2003 to $3.4 billion in 2013. It has purchased weapons from Israel, Turkey and Russia. Extra dollars mean not only a militarization in conflict areas, but also an economic focus shift from development to power.

The increased militarization of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, coupled with a penchant for violence on both sides, creates “the risk of a war by accident” according to the director of the Regional Studies Center, Richard Giragosian. War in the region could prove to be just as disastrous as last time, forcing millions to flee their homes without promise of return and killing thousands more.

The humanitarian crisis created by war between the two countries could be devastating. Rampant hunger, poverty, displacement and violence among neighboring ethnic groups could reverse the progress made by Azerbaijan in the last two decades. While the threat of open war is relatively low, any increase in violence stokes tensions anew, pushing the region further from peace.

Caitlin Huber

Sources: Economist,  BBC,  UNDP,  Knoema
Photo: The Guardian

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nation’s highest court, recently ruled in favor of Peru in a territorial dispute over contested maritime boundaries between Peru and Chile. 14,670 square miles of ocean worth around $200 million in marine resources were at stake in the ruling.

Peru first brought the case against Chile to the ICJ in 2008. This case marks the precipitation of uncertainty produced by the Santiago Declaration of 1952, wherein Ecuador, Chile and Peru agreed to mark their maritime boundaries at 200 miles west of their land borders. This agreement allowed Chile to have more territory than Peru, which juts to the northwest.

The ICJ was careful to give consideration to both parties. Chile argued that the Santiago Declaration did indeed constitute an agreement on land boundaries, which the Court accepted in part. The ICJ agreed with Chile that the Santiago Declaration constituted an agreement on territories, but only for the first 80 nautical miles. Beyond 80 nautical miles, the Court drew a new equidistant boundary in favor of Peru.

Peru won roughly 8,100 square miles in the dispute, while Chile kept its prime fishing grounds. Chile and Peru are currently tussling over a 3.7-hectare swathe of land that the ICJ declined to rule on. Long-standing territorial tensions between Peru and Chile are again simmering, arising to the forefront of national debate.

It is unlikely tensions between the two countries will reach a boiling point, however. Peru and Chile have close economic relations and are members of the Pacific Alliance free trade agreement, consisting also of Mexico and Colombia. Further, Peru is the fourth-largest recipient of Chilean investment, and Chile has $13.6 billion invested in Peru’s retail and service industries. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled $3 billion last year.

– Jeff Meyer

Sources: Reuters, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist
Photo: The Nation