According to a press release, the Executive Council has agreed that the Referendum would be held over two days, 10-11 March, “giving everyone the maximum opportunity to exercise their right to vote.”
It adds that “..the current political status of the Falkland Islands is that they are an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. The Islands are internally self-governing, with the United Kingdom being responsible for matters including defence and foreign affairs. The people of the islands have the right to self-determination, which they can exercise at any time. Given that Argentina is calling for negotiations over the sovereignty this referendum is being undertaken to consult the people regarding their views on the political status of the Falkland Islands.”
The March referendum will ask islanders: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom? YES or NO.”
The Falkland Islands have been British since being claimed in 1765, although Spain maintained a claim to the eastern of the two main islands until 1863. Argentina was once part of the Spanish colony known as the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata which Argentina believes itself to have inherited on its independence. Whilst the Falkland Islands were never a part of that Spanish colony, the Argentines assert that they were ‘dependent’ upon the Viceroyalty and should therefore have fallen to them when Spain withdrew.
The British Government has never expressed any doubt that the sovereignty of the Falklands archipelago belongs to the United Kingdom. The Islanders’ right to self-determination is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations signed by both the UK and Argentina in 1945. Argentine refuses to recognise this right.