At the annual meeting of the United Nations Fourth Committee yesterday a number of issue concerning Decolonization were considered including the Falkland Islands. A number of speakers representing South American countries and Organisation reiterated their support for Argentina’s claim to the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
SÉRGIO RODRIGUES DOS SANTOS ( Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated States asked that the dispute be settled as soon as possible in accordance with United Nations resolutions. Five decades had elapsed without a solution to the dispute, and negotiations should resume between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin-American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed its support for the decolonization process. Along those lines, he reaffirmed the Community’s strong support for the legitimate rights of Argentina, and called upon both parties to resume negotiations and to find a peaceful and definitive solution as soon as possible.
ENRIQUE ROMÁN-MOREY (Peru), speaking in Peru’s capacity as President Pro Tempore of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), stated that the question of the Falkland Islands, a case of special importance to UNASUR, had historic and legal circumstances that excluded the possibility to solve it under the exercise of the principle of self-determination.
MATEO ESTREME ( Argentina) called the persistence of colonial cases in all its manifestations “a crime” and reaffirmed the strong commitment of Argentina to fully achieve the decolonization mandate. However, resolution 1514 made it clear that there existed more than one form of colonialism and it established two principles to address the diversity of cases: self-determination and territorial integrity. The principle of self-determination could not be distorted to such an extent as to force an argument in favour of the continued existence of an “anachronistic colonial sovereignty dispute, which mutilates the territorial integrity of Argentina”. Mr. Estreme stated that there was in fact a “colonial situation”, but not a “colonized people”. To allow the British population on the Islands to become the arbiter of a dispute to which their own country “distorts the right of self-determination of peoples because there is not a people subject to the subjugation, domination or exploitation of a colonial Power”. In that sense, the announced “referendum” was an “illegal, spurious and tautological exercise as it is promoted by the British to ask the British citizens if they want to continue to be British”. Argentina regretted that the British Government distorted historic facts instead of honouring its commitment to resume efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the dispute. The principle of self-determination of peoples was totally and clearly inapplicable to the dispute between the two countries. Further, he said, it was regrettable that the United Kingdom was irresponsibly generating expectations among the inhabitants of the Territory by a referendum. The solution to that sovereignty dispute did not depend on a referendum.
The representative of the United Kingdom stated that her country attached great importance to the principle of self-determination. There could be no negotiation on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands until the inhabitants of the islands wished. The United Kingdom’s relationship with its overseas Territories was a modern one. The democratically elected representatives of the Falklands Islands had asked the Special Committee to respect the principle of self-determination and reiterated the historical fact that the Islands had no indigenous people. They confirmed that the Falklands Islands had been peacefully settled over a century and a half by their ancestors and they had no desire other than to be left to live in peace. She said the representatives had also expressed their disappointment after the President of Argentina had refused their invitation to meet and listen to their views.
The Fourth Committee’s deliberations continue later today.