The Gibraltar National Archives will be holding an exhibition this month to mark the 60th anniversary of the appearance of petitioners from Gibraltar before the United Nations. The exhibition has been curated by Acting Archivist Gerard Wood assisted by the team at the Archives and by volunteers.
The exhibition will be formally opened by the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia who is the Minister with responsibility for the Archives.
The public will know that the then Chief Minister Sir Joshua Hassan and Opposition Leader Peter Isola first addressed the UN on 19 September 1963. This was the very first time that any elected representative of the people of Gibraltar stated their case before the international organisation. There was a considerable gap until the then Chief Minister Joe Bossano resumed the addresses to the UN in 1992, a practice which was continued by his successors Peter Caruana (who stopped going to the C24 after 2008) and Fabian Picardo.
The exhibition will consist of a selection of 210 curated images ranging from photos, documents and press clippings. The objective is to explain how the United Nations came into being post- World War Two and how Gibraltar came to be a subject for the Committee of 24. The exhibits will show how the visit by Peter Isola and Joshua Hassan to the United Nations in New York on the 19th of September 1963 was formative for the Gibraltarians as a people.
There will be two hundred panels on display divided into four main themes. Those themes are Crime of the Century, We the Peoples, Self-Determination and Moving Forward.
The content also consists of exclusive audio and video footage from 1963, which will be available at the venue. Such content is supported with primary sources belonging to the event in the form of documents and artefacts, which are held at the Gibraltar National Archives.
In a foreword to the exhibition booklet, the Deputy Chief Minister says that Sir Joshua Hassan and Peter Isola “made history” when they addressed the Committee of 24 in September 1963. This was Gibraltar and the Gibraltarians finding their voice on the international stage for the very first time.
“This exhibition is about the collective journey of a small people seeking the recognition and the exercise of their democratic right to choose,” he explained. Dr Garcia added that there will always be a faint glimmer of hope that the United Nations may eventually engage with Gibraltar in order to take forward our eventual decolonisation and delisting. “In the meantime, it is our sacred duty to continue knocking on their door,” he said.
The Government is very grateful to Acting Archivist Gerard Wood and to the team who have prepared this exhibition so diligently and professionally.