Although still unconfirmed by the United Nations, a number of news agencies this morning have picked up on Argentina’s acceptance of an offer of mediation following the country’s protest to the UN on Friday.
Hector Timerman, Argentina’s Foreign Minister lodged the protest about an alleged military build up in the South Atlantic with a press conference and display of what Argentina believes is an increase in the military capability of the United Kingdom in the area of the Falkland Islands. Timerman’s presentation included pictures of radar installations, missiles and the new Type 45 destroyer, HMS Dauntless. This was handed to the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon.
The British Representative to the UN described the allegations as “rubbish”.
Hector Timerman yesterday responded to what he said was an offer by the General Assembly President, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, to mediate, in a letter of acceptance, adding; “Argentina accepts all initiatives and suggestions that may help solve the conflict with great interest and attention, and requests that Argentina’s position on the matter is communicated to the United Kingdom.”
Britain’s position on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, British territory since 1766, is quite clear. Britain has qualified its ability to discuss the matter by requiring the permission of the Islanders beforehand. This qualification is in keeping with the requirements of Article 73 of the UN Charter, and Resolutions 1514 and 2625. This effectively ties Britain’s hands, and Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser is quite aware of this constriction.
While the details of this claimed offer of mediation have yet to be made public, it would seem probable that they are restricted to the allegations made by Argentina on Friday.
The status of the Falklands as a non-self governing territory, under the auspices of the United Nations, is discussed every year at the UN’s Decolonisation Committee meeting, and then at the Fourth Committee. Britain complies fully with its obligations to the South Atlantic archipelago, including responsibility for their defence in the face of an increasingly belligerent Argentina.
HMS Dauntless is merely replacing the frigate that was on station before, and had come to the end of its tour. The other military hardware complained about has been in place since Argentina’s invasion of 1982 and although there have been upgrades, the amount of hardware has actually reduced in the last ten years.
It is hard to see quite what the President of the General Assembly will be able to achieve.