Office of the International Supervisor of Catalonia - proposal for initial support

Office of the International Supervisor of Catalonia – proposal for initial support

There is a real perception of danger that Catalonia is on the precipice of civil conflict. Because the European Union and the United Nations have not so far acted to establish a presence in Catalonia to mediate between the parties in dispute, an independent and impartial mediation service offering shuttle diplomacy has become an inevitable necessity.

 Suggested Reading Conflict Background GCCT

By Matthew Parish

Catalonia is in political crisis and there is a serious risk of civil conflict. Catalonia needs international oversight, to monitor the political crisis and to act as a shuttle diplomat between the parties in conflict. Negotiation and diplomacy is always better than civil conflict.

This is a proposal to create an Office of the International Supervisor of Catalonia, which it is anticipated will have the structure of a Swiss Foundation or a similar international legal model.

It is anticipated that the Office will have premises in Barcelona and, as soon as is practicable, a second office in Madrid. Both offices are needed, to pursue the needs of shuttle diplomacy. In due course a third office might be established in Brussels or other relevant international locations.

There is no evidence of any sensible political dialogue between Catalan nationalist and pro-Madrid interests relating to Catalonia at the current time. An international office will seek to initiate such a dialogue.

The Office will be independent and impartial. The legal documents establishing the Office will contain legal guarantees of these standards, and those documents will restrict who the Office accepts funding from so that its independence can be guaranteed. The Office will publish its accounts, so that donors know how their money is being spent. Donors will be provided with legal assurances of anonymity. The Office will publish reports upon its work. The Office will be supervised by an independent international board of trustees.

The work of the Office will be devoted to securing peaceful resolution of the Catalan crisis. It is difficult to predict at the current time how long this office might need to exist: at least until the current crisis is defused. But the Office will not stay one day longer than in the opinion of its trustees it is necessary for it to do so. The main goal of the Office will be to promote dialogue and discussion so that Catalonia ceases to persist in crisis. In other words, the purpose of the Office is to ensure its own closure. This is the most admirable goal of any peacekeeping mission.

The Office will work in full compliance with all relevant Spanish, regional, international and European laws and legislation, and all persons working under its purview will be required to sign an undertaking that they accept this and that they will not pursue any violent activities.

The Office will work on a strictly “not-for-profit” basis. In the event that funds are not spent upon closure of the Office, funds will be returned to donors (if donors want this and are prepared then to waive their anonymity) on a pro rata basis. If any donor has a complaint about how their funds are being spent, a dispute resolution mechanism will be provided for.

Legal details of the office

  1. The Office of the International Supervisor of Catalonia (“the Office”) shall be established as an international legal entity funded by donations. The current intention is that it will be structured as a Swiss Foundation, although that intention may change depending upon any relevant legal and political factors.
  2. The Office shall be established by the Swiss company (“the Firm”) Gentium Law Group Sàrl, and all donations made towards the Office shall be paid to the client account of Gentium Law Group Sàrl to be used in accordance with the terms of this document, until further notice.
  3. The client account of Gentium Law Group Sàrl is a bank account based in Switzerland that the Firm is not entitled to use for general purposes and donations to which under his document may only be used for the purposes set out in this document.
  4. The purposes of the Office shall be: (a) negotiating and/or mediating with any and all relevant national and international parties a peaceful solution to the current Catalan crisis; (b) establishing such offices and employing such persons, and engaging in such expenditures, for the purposes as set out herein, as the Office and/or the Firm may consider appropriate; (c) engaging in such associated and/or related tasks and/or projects as the Office may consider appropriate; and (d) hiring such third party expertise as may be appropriate in connection with the foregoing objectives. in all cases all activities of the Office shall be undertaken strictly in accordance with applicable Spanish, regional, international and European laws.
  5. The mandate of the Office shall not be to take a formal position upon whether Catalonia has, should have, should or will become de facto or de jure independent from the Kingdom of Spain. The position of the Office shall always be that these matters are to be determined by legal, constitutional and democratic principles, while remaining neutral as to what the relevant legal, constitutional and democratic principles may be. The principal focus of the Office shall be the. need for dialogue, engagement and interaction.
  6. The Office shall publish annual accounts, whether or not this is required by the law of the place of incorporation and/or establishment of the Office.
  7. The Office undertakes to preserve the anonymity of all donors, to the extent permissible by law, save for the fact that if and to the extent that donations are made by way of public funds (coming from any country or from any international organisation), the origins of those donations will be publicised and no anonymity can be guaranteed. That is because where public funds are used, it is correct that the public knows what their funds are being spent upon.
  8. The Office will not accept funds from any government organisation based in Spain. That is because to do so might risk appearing compromised in the context of a political dispute.
  9. The Office reserves the right to refuse or return any (spent or unspent) donation at any time, without stating a reason.
  10. Upon closure of the Office, all remaining funds will be returned to donors pro rata in proportion to contributions (after expenses), save to the extent that this proves impracticable (and the measure of what is impracticable shall be determined by a series of rules to be established by the Office for this purpose.
  11. Unless and until the Office is established as a separate legal entity, the legal entity responsible for the rights and obligations of the Office pursuant to this document shall be the Firm. Upon establishment of the Office, all of those rights and obligations shall be deemed automatically notated to the Office as so established as an independent legal entity.
  12. The Office may prepare further rules and regulations pertinent to its operation, and in that event shall publish those rules that will thereupon become binding. In general terms, the finances of the Office shall be operated in accordance with the highest reasonable principles of international transparency.
  13. It must be emphasised that the Office will be operated upon the following principles: (1) independence and impartiality; (2) any person working for or with the Office will be expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity, impartiality and confidentiality, the latter meaning that persons who communicate with the Office will be assumed to be speaking “off the record” (i.e. their words can be used but they cannot be attributed to the speaker, unless this is reasonably required for the protection or pursuit of legal rights or obligations); (3) corruption or misuse of funds on the part of any person working for or with the Office will not be tolerated; (4) any actions on the behalf of any person working for or with the Office that breach the strict standards of impartiality and independence set out herein will not be tolerated.
  14. Swiss law, Geneva courts (exclusively), govern all rights and obligations that may arise out of this document save as may otherwise be prescribed or superseded in rules and regulations.

How to Donate

We welcome donations from every source, irrespective of the donor’s political or other opinions, provided that:

  1. the donor is making their donation with the best good faith intention to resolve the Catalan crisis without recourse to violence, and the funds are not the proceeds of crime;
  2. the donor is not making a “hidden” donation on behalf of another person with an intention inconsistent with the terms of this document;
  3. the donor accepts the terms of this document;
  4. the donor declares if their funds have a public (i.e. government) source, and if so then what public source;
  5. the donor is not an organ of the government of the Kingdom of Spain or any subsidiary thereof, including any organ or subsidiary of the Catalan regional government.
  6. We are extremely grateful to donors of any and every size.
  7. If you want to make a donation with maximum anonymity, then you should send a money transfer in accordance with the instructions below.
  8. If you would like an acknowledgment of receipt of your donation, then please send an email to stating the date and amount of your donation and your contact details.
  9. It is our intention that every donor who advises us of their donation by email, no matter how great or small, will receive a personally signed letter thanking them for their contribution once it has been received. They will thereafter receive email updates on the activity of the Office, unless they have asked that they do not wish to receive this.
  10. If a donor does not send us an email advising us of their donation, then we will not contact them personally and we will not retain records of donations received save insofar as our bank requires us to do so and we are required to do so in accordance with applicable regulatory rules.
  11. The account details for donations are the following:
    • Account holder – Gentium Law Group Sàrl
    • Bank – Banque Cantonale de Fribourg, Bd de Pérolles 1, 1701 Fribourg, Switzerland
    • IBAN – CH53 0076 8300 1364 3960 0
    • SWIFT – BEFRCH22
    • Reference – OISC/00001 – Donation
  1. You are welcome to send funds in any convertible currency. Although this is a Swiss Franc account, the bank will automatically convert a donation in another currency into Swiss Francs.

Conclusions and statement of gratitude

There is a real perception of danger that Catalonia is on the precipice of civil conflict. Because the European Union and the United Nations have not so far acted to establish a presence in Catalonia to mediate between the parties in dispute, an independent and impartial mediation service offering shuttle diplomacy has become an inevitable necessity.

To preserve its independence, the Office will need to be funded by private or international public sources. Therefore in the first instance we are seeking contributions from members of the public, interested citizens, and concerned private enterprises.

Every reasonable person must accept that the solution to the Catalan crisis lies in negotiation, dialogue and discourse. In this context, the Catalan crisis is like every other civil crisis. There are two solutions to such a crisis: violence, or discussion. The Office of the International Supervisor of Catalonia will exist to do everything possible to encourage dialogue and discourage violence, while complying strictly with all relevant laws. The aim of the Office will be to bring an international perspective, and international thinking, to the Catalan crisis. It will encourage dialogue between the opposing groups and the international community in Europe, the United States and beyond. If you believe that this is a good cause, then we encourage you to donate to this project of mediation and diplomacy in the interests both of Catalonia and of the Kingdom of Spain as a whole.

Catalonia is a peaceful, beautiful place. Let us keep it that way.

Further details available by clicking here. 

Matthew Parish is an international lawyer based in Geneva, Switzerland and a former UN peacekeeper. He is a scholar of ethnic conflict and civil war, and he has published two books and over two hundred articles. He is an Honorary Professor of Civil Law and Litigation at the University of Leicester and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. Bilan magazine named him as one of the three hundred most influential people in Switzerland.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of TransConflict.

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1 Response

  1. SAG

    There is no need of international observation, mediation or similar. What it is really needed is respect to the independence of the Spanish justice and less support to nationalists trying to subvert the democratically established status quo, by breaking the law and silencing non-nationalist Catalans. And remember, you can repeat and repeat “political prisoners”, but nobody in Spain is sent to jail because of their ideas. Nationalism is legal, being independentist is legal ( you can even check it), but you can be sent to jail due to criminal activities like changing laws outside the reglaments without guarantees for the opposition. Is that really so unusual?

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