Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, has claimed in an interview this week that the Falkland Islanders are not entitled to the right to determine their own future as claimed by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
In a reference to United Nations Resolution, the Minister asserted that the Islanders were not a ‘people’ as they had been ‘implanted’ by the British Government after 1833. As a result, Timerman said that any negotiations could only involve Great Britain and Argentina, and he was not prepared to listen to the view of the Falklanders’, or meet with the them. No discussions are planned, and the British Government has made it very clear that none will be until the Islanders wish it. This is unlikely.
The Islanders’ rights are founded both in the history of the United Nations and in its founding Charter and Resolutions.
In February, 1945, at the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin declared their resolve to establish; “a general international organization to maintain peace and security”. It was from this simple sentence that the United Nations Organisation grew, and the American President’s dream of general decolonisation was to be achieved.
In June, 1945 a multi-lateral Treaty known as the United Nations Charter was signed by 50 Nations. Argentina had declared war on Germany on March 27th, 1945, in order to be able to sign the Charter.
Article 2 of the Charter states that one of the purposes of the Treaty is: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;”
Article 73 then placed a responsibility of Governing States for those Territories recognised as being ex-colonies, or otherwise Non-self Governing:
” Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end:
1. to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social, and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses;
2. to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each
territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement;
3. to further international peace and security; …
These were the founding principles which still underpin the rights of those peoples who inhabit the old colonies. These are the principles that guarantee the rights of those peoples to determine their own futures, wherever those peoples reside. These are the founding principles that saw a rush to independence in the period after the Charter was signed.
There are not many Territories left on the list that the UN drew up in October 1946. Many of those that are, are just too small to survive on their own, or, like the Falkland Islanders, have chosen to retain their British status. That is their right.
It is disingenuous for a country like Argentina to attempt to evade the principles that it signed back in 1945, by twisting the words, and meaning, of the Charter. There has never been a definition of ‘peoples’, because no restriction was envisaged. As for ‘implanted’, every Nation in South America has an ‘implanted’ population.
Argentina belittles itself with these petty attempts to change reality to suit its spurious historical claims. The UN is bigger than that. The UN guarantees that the ‘peoples’ of the Falkland Islands will, indeed, determine their own future.