Talk:British Overseas Territories

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Spain has no maritime borders with any British Overseas Territory[edit]

At the beginning of this article the author mentions a series of countries that on his/her opinion have maritime borders with British Overseas Territories. However, he/she gives no reason or reference why he/she is choosing such countries, and particularly he/she introduces misleading information by including Spain in that list of countries. Spain has no maritime border with any British Overseas Territory. Including Spain in this list is contrary to the spirit of Wikipedia, because it assumes taking a position in an international conflict in favor of one of the two sides. The article X of the Treaty of Utrecht by which Spain gave to "the Crown of Great Britain the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging" says nothing about surrounding waters. By raising a claim over surrounding waters, the UK has started an international conflict that up to now has not been resolved. By taking side with one of the two sides of this conflict, this article is contrary to the declared spirit of Wikipedia. Spain has no internationally recognized maritime borders with any British Overseas Territory. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Flmtnez (talkcontribs) 23:50, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

This position is a bit extreme, but a better question might be whether the "maritime borders" sentence is important enough to belong in the lead of the article. Newyorkbrad (talk) 23:55, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
What Flmtnez says about the Treaty of Utrecht is correct, so there is no question that as a matter of international law Gibraltar is British, although there is some uncertainty about the correct line (on land) between Gibraltar and Spain. However, in 1713 there was little concept of territorial waters, now codified by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The 17th century principle of the freedom of the seas developed by Grotius in Mare Liberum was limited in the 18th century by other principles established by Cornelius van Bynkershoek, Ferdinando Galiani, and others, and the "cannonshot rule" was widely accepted. The concept of maritime boundaries came along after the Treaty of Utrecht, and it would be an utterly crazy idea that Spain intended to grant Gibraltar to Great Britain while retaining control of the sea all around it. It seems to me to follow that there must be a maritime boundary between Gibraltar and Spain, whatever view one takes of where it may lie. Having said that, I see no need for the lead to say "These territories form maritime borders with the United States, Spain, The Bahamas and Cuba, among others." If that were to be included at all, it should not be selective, and what useful information would it give us which is needed in a general page of this kind? Better deleted, in my view. Moonraker (talk) 00:55, 16 June 2013 (UTC)
Thank you Moonraker and Newyorkbrad for your comments. I agree that the best solution is to remove the whole sentence: "These territories form maritime borders with the United States, Spain, The Bahamas and Cuba, among others." It really gives no useful information. The reality is that there is no international recognized border between Spain and the British colony of Gibraltar. In fact, Spain never intended to grant Gibraltar to Great Britain. It was taken by force during the War of Spanish Succession by the UK, and then imposed as a condition by the UK for the recognition of Felipe V as King of Spain in the Peace of Utrecht during the negociation between Great Britain and France. Precisely because at that time there was no concept of territorial waters, it is impossible that Spain would give anything more than what it gave, and which is clearly expressed in the Treaty of Utrecht: "the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging". Notice that the port is mentioned in the Treaty, and Spain recognizes that, but to pretend that the UK got anything more than what is written in the Treaty is to go against the Treaty itself, because Spain did not give the possession of this rock subjected to future modifications of the law of the sea, it gave it only according to the terms expressed in the Treaty that was signed in 1713. In any case, because it is not the mission of wikipedia to take side on international claims of sobereignty, I think that sentence shoud be removed from the article and I ask the editors to do that, because I have tried to do it myself but my changes have been undone. Flmtnez (talk) 20:25, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
It follows that any two territories that share a coastal border have both land and sea borders. But I do not see the significance to the article to list some of the sea borders of the territories. That sort of detail belongs in individual articles. TFD (talk) 22:12, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
Thank you "Four Deuces" for your comment. I appreciate it very much. However, by mentioning the US, Bahamas and Cuba among countries that share maritime borders with British colonies it is clear that the author who introduced this sentence was thinking about maritime borders between territorial waters of British colonies (although he/she does not mention on which territories he/she is thinking) and territorial waters of other countries. And in this sense, there are no maritime borders between Gibraltar and Spain, because the claims of the UK in this regard are not accepted or recognized by the UN or any other international organization, that always refer to the content of the Treaty of Utrech when any conflict arises as a consequence of these sobereignty claims (which by the way, happens quite often, depending on the political interests of the British government and the authorities of the colony). Therefore, I publicly and humbly request that the author removes this sentence from the article, since I am not authorised to do it.Flmtnez (talk) 10:17, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
I have removed the sentence. I was unaware that Spain does not recognize that Gibraltar has territorial waters. The water dispute is described in Disputed status of Gibraltar#Territorial waters. TFD (talk) 16:06, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

FCO ref[edit]

I briefly went through the referenced FCO page (footnote 1), and I don't see where it states that "They do not, however, form part of it". Could someone point it out to me? And if I'm not missing anything, could someone provide the appropriate reference? trackratte (talk) 08:14, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

The FCO is a government department of the U.K. The overseas territories operate as individual Kingdoms. (Less foreign affairs and national defence which is the responsibility of the UK.) If the U.K. overseas territories were a part of FCO, the salaries of the premiers of the UKOTs would be paid by British taxpayers. The Governors (which used to be by the Crown directly) are under the responsibility of FCO. They might receive salary from the local coffers? CaribDigita (talk) 23:00, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

unlike the Commonwealth realms, have voted to remain British territories[edit]

I'm uneasy about the phrase unlike the Commonwealth realms. It seems to imply that each Commonwealth realm was established from a former territory through an independence vote. It doesn't precisely say that, but readers could come away with that mistaken impression. On the other hand I don't know enough about independence votes in British overseas territories to be bold and reword the paragraph without introducing new errors. For the record, as far as I know none of the dominions became a realm through popular vote and the change of title from "colony" to "dominion" to "realm" was in many cases an after-the-fact recognition of pre-existing political/legal realities. Could someone with better knowledge of the British overseas territories please reword the paragraph to make this clearer? Ben Arnold (talk) 02:41, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

I think the point is that some, if not all, have chosen to remain dependencies. But that is controversial, and throwing in jargon like "Commonwealth realms" is confusing. So I have removed it. TFD (talk) 17:54, 5 October 2014 (UTC)
Anguilla become independent as part of Saint Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. It resisted this and reverted to British Overseas Territory status.
Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos, too were on the path of independence having been attached to Jamaica out of convenience of the UK. Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos both sought right to be removed from Jamaica and retained their relationship with the UK. Turks and Caicos was then attached to the Bahamas, but therein also, when The Commonwealth of the Bahamas went for independence they resisted going independent along with The Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The nation of Bermuda has held a number of polls on independence and the support there isn't enough for independence either. Montserrat was looking at the path of independence but the 1995 volcano issue put that to sleep given the conditions scattering all of the people on that island. CaribDigita (talk) 23:03, 5 October 2014 (UTC)
There is no doubt that the inhabitants of each BOT prefer the current arrangement to independence. But that is not the whole story. In some BOTs (Falklands, Gibraltar), it is disputed whether the rightful occupants are allowed entry. Some have no inhabitants (SGSSI). The residents of BIOT were expelled and it is currently uninhabited. We cannot just add selective facts. TFD (talk) 23:26, 5 October 2014 (UTC)
I thought those islands were decided by the courts? I believe the excuse of Sea Level Rise was given for why the residents of Chagos can't go back. All I'll say is "touchy" about the other nation mentioned, 'Gibraltar', who's the rightful occupants there? CaribDigita (talk) 23:38, 5 October 2014 (UTC)
BIOT is not sinking - the UK government decided to use it as a military base and their courts have determined that the government has absolute power to do whatever they want except if parliament prevents them. According to Spain, Spanish people are the rightful inhabitants of Gibraltar and Argentina claims the Falklands and SGSSI. I do not wish to argue any opinion on the merits of these cases. The UK added Gibraltar and the Falklands to the list of non-self-governing overseas territories, which means they are obligated to provide them independence, or offer associate state status or union with the U.K. TFD (talk) 00:44, 6 October 2014 (UTC)
The same documents which Argentina uses to make a claim Falkland Islands are roughly the same age as other Spanish documents claiming other parts of the former British Empire. Venezuela has claims on several islands, Trinidad and Tobago (since dormant-- but could arguably be re-activated if Argentina prevailed), as could Venezuelan claims for Barbados, Guyana (South America, formerly British Guiana), Guatemala's claims on Belize (Central America, formerly British Honduras) as they are all under documents of roughly the same era but considered a long shot due to age.
There might still be some Spanish documents claiming The Commonwealth of the Bahamas around the same time. If all the Spanish claims to the current and former British Empire were re-activated from that era the world will look really different. The Argentina claim for Falkland Islands I believe were long put to bed by referendum, whereby I believe they voted to remain British (no?). The Chagos islanders are an anomaly, but since it is being used for military, I don't believe the U.K. is looking to increase civilian usage there. Hasn't Gibraltar also held referendums on status? I'm not fully sure about BOTS further east. CaribDigita (talk) 17:05, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
I fail to see what relevance your comments have to the subject of this discussion thread. TFD (talk) 04:43, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
(Following my comments above, you expanded your posting.) That the Falklands and Gibraltar (anywhere else?) held referenda to remain as BOTs does not mean we can say that the BOTs (i.e., all of them) have voted to remain BOTs. Also it is a matter of dispute who the actual population are and Gibraltar and Falkland Islands nationality is not recognized. TFD (talk) 00:18, 7 December 2014 (UTC)


I have inserted links to various colonial constitutions; they are helpful for issues like capital punishment, marriage etc. Colonial laws are not the same as the UK.

Names of the Falkland Islands[edit]

Today, I removed the Spanish-language name of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) added on Friday. I was reverted on the basis that it was an "alternative name recommended per WP:NCGN#Falkland Islands".

This does not actually reflect WP:NCGN#Falkland Islands, which recommends the use of forms using Malvinas only in articles "that directly relate to the dispute". This is not credibly such an article. It recommends Spanish-language names on geographical articles, but in this case that would mean Territorios británicos de ultramar, not Islas Malvinas.

The predominant usage in English, including in neutral sources, is Falkland Islands. Most sources only refer to Islas Malvinas in the circumstances that we do, i.e. on the first instance only where there is direct relation to the dispute. They would not do so on an article such as this. Kahastok talk 19:44, 5 April 2015 (UTC)

Former territories post-1978[edit]

Kiribati, New Hebrides, Brunei, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis miss — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kisscool57 (talkcontribs) 11:41, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Why is 1978 even being used as a cut-off date here? It doesn't seem like there was any change in status across all territories at that date. --Jfruh (talk) 21:21, 29 September 2015 (UTC)
Seems like that is as far back as the creator of the section decided to go. Most of the information can be found at Member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, so it would be that difficult to complete. TFD (talk) 21:59, 29 September 2015 (UTC)
Looks like it was added in this edit in November 2014. Some of the key information is already in the prrose above. If there are no objections, we could boldly remove the section? Easy to undo if others disagree or propose an alternative. Whizz40 (talk) 05:31, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
Made some changes to the prose of the History section and removed the table for Former territories post-1978. Whizz40 (talk) 06:09, 30 September 2015 (UTC)