Marcelo Kohen, an Argentine lawyer based at the Hague has told Telam, Argentina’s official news agency, that he believes it to be; “a scandal that the United Kingdom dares to invoke the principle of self-determination”, in the case of the Falkland Islanders.
The lecturer added; “.. they try to present themselves as victims and insist that a country of 40 million inhabitants is harassing 3,000 Falkland Islanders.”
During the telephone interview, Kohen argued that his country’s claim is based on more than mere proximity; ” The Islands were Spanish at the time of independence and following a rule universally accepted as is that of the succession of States, what was a Spanish dependent territory of Buenos Aires and became Argentine territory. The Argentine Government took possession of the Islands in 1820 and the United Kingdom of Great Britain did not protest”.
Kohen appears to have chosen his words carefully. The principle of inheritance to a revolting State, uti possidetis juris, is widely accepted across South America which relies heavily on the political tenet to justify the borders within that continent, but it is not accepted as a principle of international law. It is a little like saying that Sean Penn is widely recognised, although few would believe his views to state legal principles.
The law lecturer’s knowledge of history appears flawed too. Argentina claims independence from 1810, although this is itself arguable, but to say that the Islands formed part of the territory of Buenos Aires at that point is in error. The Spanish authority, the Viceroyalty, moved to Montevideo in 1810 and the Spanish garrison on East Falkland stayed loyal. Professor Kohen’s argument would therefore appear to give Uruguay a better claim than Argentina.
Typically he argues that the British expelled an Argentine settlement in 1833. This is also untrue as the British force that arrived, following complaints from the USA that the Falklands were being used by ‘pirates’, only ejected a trespassing garrison. The settlers, of mixed nationality, remained; happy with British ownership.
They still are.