Happy Anniversary

3 Jan

Today is the 3rd January 2014 – 181 years since a small, outnumbered, British force in HMS Clio ejected a trespassing garrison and its accompanying ship-of-war from the British Falkland Islands.

For a relatively minor event the circumstances are well-known. Buenos Aires had revealed its pretensions to the Falkland Islands in its gazetted Decree of 1829 which promptly set off an exchange of letters between Britain’s representative, Woodbine Parish, and the Foreign Office in London. As a result, Parish presented a diplomatic protest to the Government in Buenos Aires pointing out that the archipelago was claimed by Britain and that Buenos Aires would not be permitted to act upon their pretension.

Buenos Aires did not listen however and, in late 1832, sent an armed garrison to Port Louis in an attempt to impose their control over the Falklands. Before that garrison had sailed however, Britain lodged a further protest reminding the Buenos Airean Government of the warning from 1829 but Buenos Aires remained deaf.

Once on the Falklands the garrison raised the Argentine flag and its officer asserted his authority before being promptly murdered by his own troops. Order was restored just in time for the arrival of HMS Clio on January 2nd, 1833. Commander Onslow politely requested that the garrison remove both its flag and itself, but seeing some reluctance to obey the instruction, Onslow ordered that the Argentine flag be lowered, folded with due ceremony and returned to the commander of Argentina’s ship-of-war. With the flag went a polite message to say that it had been “.. found in the territory of His Majesty.”

Argentina’s forces left without further protest and no fight. Nothing more than small police action to remove a group of trespassers from the Falkland Islands. Certainly not the last time that such action would be necessary.

Surprising then that every year Argentina writes to the United Nations and issues a press release complaining of another; “.. anniversary of the illegal occupation of the Malvinas Islands by the United Kingdom.” Surprising that they place such emphasis on such a minor event. No mention of 1829 however, and no mention of the British claim which can be traced back to 1593 – a mere 223 years before what is now Argentina declared itself independent of Spain – and fully 270 years before Argentina became fully recognised as a country in its own right. Yet the anniversary is now marked every year without fail.

Perhaps they are right, perhaps we too should place more emphasis on the action of Commander Onslow in ejecting a superior force from the Falklands without even a single shot being fired. Perhaps we should mark, clearly, the first time that Argentina attempted to take by force something that it had never owned.

So, with that in mind, Happy Anniversary.


Happy New Year

2 Jan

I would like to wish all the readers of Falklands News a very Happy New Year and hope that 2014 brings them all they hope for.

News here has been a little slow following my decision not to report on minor items of news that are of little real relevance to the political progress of the Falkland Islanders and to concentrate instead on the news that really matters – particularly that coming out of the United Nations.

Looking back over 2013, there is little doubt that the March Referendum was a resounding success. Not only for those who promoted the desire to remain linked with the United Kingdom, but also as a political/diplomatic strategy. While dismissed by Argentina as being either irrelevant, or indeed illegal, there has been a notable dropping off of rhetoric coming out of Buenos Aires since the plebiscite.

Even better, there has also been some low-level diplomatic interest emanating from Panama and Brazil which suggests that the Falkland Islands Government’s policy of sending ambassadors to other nations to explain the referendum has been met with some success.

Yet again, Argentina failed to get a United Nations Resolution on the issue of the Falklands and their support within the UN seems to be waning. One exception to this is the Decolonization Committee which continues to be dominated by Argentina’s neighbours and defiant in the face of general UN disdain.

Perhaps in recognition of this Argentina has now formed a special Secretariat within its Foreign Ministry to oversee its pursuit of this ancient, and spurious, claim. Daniel Filmus, who had recently lost his senator’s seat, became the head of the new Department in December. Some may say that it was compensation for failing to get elected – jobs for the boys ?

So what can we look forward to in 2014? Without doubt Argentina will issue its standard form letters to the UN on January 3rd and May 10th. They will also object to further oil exploration around the archipelago and continue to maintain that the UK is ‘militarizing’ the South Atlantic. Buenos Aires will also ship in at least 2 petitioners to the Decolonization Committee hearings, one with the surname of Vernet (there are 2 0r 3 to choose from) and one Betts. These will reassert the twisted view of history that Argentina has a real claim – despite all the evidence to the contrary. Argentina will speak to both the Decolonization Committee and the Fourth Committee at the UN demanding that the UK be brought to account and forced to sit at a negotiating table. What else? Oh yes, the Fourth Committee will ignore both Argentina and its own Decolonization Committee and do nothing.

So, the big question – Will Argentina achieve anything in 2014?             No.

Happy New Year

UN’s Fourth Committee Consider the Falklands – no action pending

18 Oct

The United Nation’s Fourth Committee opened its annual consideration on the issue of decolonization on October 7th and concluded on the 14th.

As with previous years the Committee had before it the Reports of its sub-Committee, the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples – known informally as the Special Committee or the C24.

Again, in a repetition of the course of business that takes place every year, Argentina and its allies were heard to repeat the mantra that the Falkland Islands were in some way a special case despite the UN’s General Assembly never having said any such thing. Those representatives were also at some pains to include along with the Falklands – South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands, together with the more recently added “surrounding maritime areas.” In fact so much effort was spent in the attempt to include these locations, none of which fall onto any UN list for decolonization, that the official Press Release from the Committee for the first day had to be withdrawn and re-done to Argentina’s specifications.

In particular, the input from Chile had to be largely re-written as, according to the first press report, her representative had failed to mention the Falklands Islands, etc, etc, at all.

The most important statement to come out of the Fourth Committee’s deliberations over the week was the affirmation that the process of decolonization was both “irresistible and irreversible,” although typically Argentina attempted to distance the Falkland Islands, etc., etc., from the decolonization process even though the Fourth Committee, and indeed the UN, has no remit to resolve any sovereignty dispute. Argentina appears to like the decolonization forum while trying to convince the world that the Falklands should not actually be considered a case for decolonization.

It seems that yet again they failed. At the conclusion on Monday the Fourth Committee reaffirmed that there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination before forwarding 11 draft- Resolutions to the General Assembly for adoption, none of which directly concerned the Falkland Islands, although some of the more general expressions may be applied.

Having voted in favour, Argentina, as every year, then attempted to say that its vote did not recognise the Falkland Islanders as having any right to self-determination despite the fact that this is now recognised as a fundamental Human Right. They even referred to the long-dead Resolution 2065 which had been killed off in 1982 – by Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc., etc., etc.

Another year gone.


Spain & Argentina to Unite at the UN over the Falklands and Gibraltar

26 Sep

Argentina and Spain agreed on Thursday to team up to pressure the United Kingdom to discuss their separate claims on British territories: the Falklands in the south Atlantic and Gibraltar near the southern tip of Spain

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and his Spanish counterpart, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, reached the agreement in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly. The Argentine Foreign Ministry reported that; “They discussed the common ground regarding sovereignty disputes over the Falklands and Gibraltar; they agreed on joint measures to press Great Britain to comply with the mandate from the United Nations.”

The two countries have a long history of solidarity over Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

In the recent spat between London and Madrid over the rocky Mediterranean outpost that Spain ceded to Britain 300 years ago, London rejected a Spanish proposal for bilateral talks on Gibraltar. Britain says it will respect the wishes of Gibraltar’s 30,000 people, who have repeatedly stated they want to remain British.

Similarly, the British Government has long maintained that it will not discuss sovereignty over the Falklands, first claimed by Britain in 1690, without taking into account the islanders’ wishes. A recent referendum in the archipelago confirmed, by an overwhelming majority, that the Islanders’ wished to remain British. Argentina has previously made two attempts to seize the islands by force – in 1832 and 1982; in both cases British forces ejected the invaders.

Gibraltar and the Falklands are on a UN list of non-self-governing territories that are subject to a process of decolonization; and the UN in its Resolution 1514 of 1960 recognises that all peoples are entitled to the right to determine their own futures. There are currently no ‘relevant’ UN Resolutions on the issue of the Falklands as confirmed by the Secretary-General in an interview last year.

Falklands’ referendum recognised at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference

6 Sep

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association during its conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, accepted a motion recognising the Falkland Islands Referendum as a free and fair expression of the Falkland Islanders wishes and their right to Self-Determination.

“This Association recognises the internationally observed Referendum held in the Falkland Islands over the period 10 and 11 March 2013, which sought the electorate’s views on their Political status, as a free and fair expression of Falkland Islanders wishes and their right to Self-Determination.”

In the debate that followed, the Hon. Dr Barry Elsby said: “the Falkland Islands are being constantly bullied by Argentina, they are attempting to blockade the Islands, destroy fish stocks and obstruct the development of the Islands oil industry.”

He added that he was aware that many Commonwealth States supported the Falkland Islands position, but asked if it was unreasonable to ask that all Commonwealth States supported the Falkland Islanders.

In the Falklands referendum, the islanders overwhelmingly voted to maintain their links to the United Kingdom whose claim to the archipelago can be traced back to 1594.

Princess Anne Threatened over the Falklands

6 Sep

Princess Anne is due to visit Argentina as part of her role as a member of the the International Olympic Committee. A visit that has already drawn the attention of the nationalist socialist protest group Quebracho.

Quebracho, which has a history of violent demonstration in support of Argentina’s claim to the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, has stated to the local press  “Come pirate princess Anne of England, daughter of Elizabeth II, the Queen, who ordered the attack on Falklands in 1982. Come if you believe you can walk through Argentina as usual. If you come you will have to go into hiding. Because you know that you are hated.”

The Falkland Islands were first claimed by England in 1594 when they were visited by Capt. Richard Hawkins. The archipelago was first occupied in 1766 and England and Spain came close to war over their ownership in 1770. Argentina, a colony of Spain which only declared its independence in 1816, has attempted to take the archipelago by force on two occasions – 1832 and 1982. On each occasion, the invading force was expelled by British troops.

Falkland Islanders recently decided in a referendum to remain linked to the United Kingdom, a referendum that argentina refuses to recognise if spite of the fact that the islanders have the right to decide their own future under the United Nations Charter.

The Falklands at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

4 Sep

At the third plenary session of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference being held in Johannesburg, South Africa the members of the organisation discussed ‘Self-Determination, Self-Sufficiency and Self-Government.’

The session included the views of the representative of the Falkland Islands, Roger Edwards who told the conference; ”In March 2013, the current (Falklands) legislature assembly held a referendum in which the question of sovereignty was discussed. 99.8% voted in favor of retaining the current sovereign status. This is a strong and clear message to the outside world on the political views of the Falkland Islands people. By the referendum we have demonstrated to the world our wish to exercise self-determination and be self-governing.”

The CPA is an association of Commonwealth Parliamentarians who are united by community of interest, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms, and by pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy.