Falklands Referendum – what next?

12 Mar

With the polls closed and counting underway, the effect of the Falkland Islands’ Referendum continues to reverberate around South America and many other parts of the world.

Condemned by Argentina’s Government as “illegal,” and criticised by many other South American Governments, including Uruguay, Venezuela and Ecuador, the plebiscite to determine the Islanders’ wishes regarding their future is sure to keep the issue of sovereignty in the press for some weeks to come while its importance is debated. Referendum 2

Argentina’s view is that the vote can in no way affect their claim to the South Atlantic archipelago; which, as they see it, is a bone of contention between themselves and Great Britain, unaffected by any third party. An argument in which the Islanders have no place and no say. Argentina’s position remains that they inherited the islands on their independence from Spain, and that the Falklands were taken from them by force in 1833 in an act of colonialism that remains to be addressed today.

The British view is that the Falkland Islanders, like any people living in a non-self governing territory, have the right to determine their own future. A right enshrined in the United Nations’ Charter – a multilateral treaty signed by both Argentina and the UK. Britain’s claim goes back to 1765 and the British Government in 1829, clearly warned Buenos Aires to stay away from British property. Britain has also had to eject two armed forces sent by Argentina to seize this British territory – in 1833 and 1982.

The United Nation’s position remains ambiguous. A supporter of both decolonization, and the human right of ‘self-determination,’ the UN has not issued any Resolution on the issue of the Falklands since 1988. The UN condemned Argentina’s invasion in 1982, and has appeared reluctant to deal with the issue following the renewal of diplomatic relations in 1989. One sub-sub-Committee of the UN’s General Assembly, the Decolonization Committee, supports Argentina but is seen as outdated and heavily biased against the UK.

In reality, the Referendum cannot be seen as illegitimate, as there is no law which bans it and it has been conducted within the normally accepted rules concerning such events. Rules observed by an international team of lawmakers put together by the Canadians and which includes observers from Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile; all of whom support Argentina’s supposedly “legitimate” rights. Therefore these two days have seen a perfectly legal event in which the Falklanders’ have been able to express their desires. There is little doubt about the result however, as the Islanders’ remain staunchly British.

What is in doubt is the effect that this event will have. Some say that it’ll make no difference to either Argentina’s aggressive demands or UN indifference. Others say that it has already made a difference as the world has been reminded that the Falklands are not just an empty group of windswept rocks but a land with a people.

A people with the right to speak.


9 Responses to “Falklands Referendum – what next?”

  1. Don Alberto March 12, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    A population which has been on the islands for more than 180 years should somehow be illegal?

    Vernet’s settlement was an implanted population if ever there was one, implanted by the implanted population of the province of Buenos Ayres, which itself was implanted by Spain.

  2. Nico March 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Interesting historical reconstruction, but unfortunately incomplete, as the city of Buenos Aires was invaded by the United Kingdom in 1806 and again 1807, both times unsuccessfully.

    I believe that to get in the role of victims will not help the social rapprochement between the two cultures (Falklands and Argentine).


    • Don Alberto March 12, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

      In 1806 and 1807 Britain were at war with Spain.

      The Buenos Aires Britain invaded was a Spanish colony, not Argentine.

      You are quite right in pointing out, that victimhood prevents social rapprochement.

      • Nico March 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

        It is not relevant whether in Buenos Aires 1806 and 1807 was a Spanish colony or not, the armies tried to invade with United Kingdom banner against the self-determination of the Spanish colonists.

        If historical reconstruction being done on the news commented, citing historical events of 1765 and 1833, are not faithful to the truth omitting events of 1806 and 1807.

        Moreover, with the criteria that you raise is justified war of 1982 “a colony is invaded.” But war is repudiated in international treaties that make up the ius cogens.


      • Junius March 14, 2013 at 12:27 am #

        England was at war with Spain in 1806/07 and a force attacked a Spanish colony. Perfectly normal in times of war. Not that the colonists in Buenos Aires knew anything about self determination at that time. There was a fledgling movement seeking independence from Spain but it had little chance. Indeed, if the British had supported their aspirations the attacks would probably have had a successful outcome.

        1806/07 are irrelevant in relation to the Falkland islands.

      • Nico March 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

        irrelevant if the attack on the city of Buenos Aires in 1806 and 1807, You ought to also consider irrelevant the 1982 conflict which was conducted by a de facto government, unelected sovereign self-determination for the people of Argentina.

        Let’s not “beating a dead horse”


      • Don Alberto March 16, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

        250,000 people crowded into the Plaza de Mayo on April 6, waving flags in support of the occupation; prisoners of the March 30 labor demonstrations volunteered to help fight for a regime they had previously denounced. Even exiled guerilla fighters volunteered to come back to Argentina and fight for this cause, in spite of the fact that repatriation would subject them to the death penalty for their prior actions.

        “In Argentina, it is not a military dictatorship that is fighting. It is the whole people, her women, her children, her old people, regardless of their political persuasion. Opponents to the regime like myself are fighting for our dignity, fighting to extricate the last vestiges of colonialism. Don’t be mistaken, Europe, it is not a dictatorship that is fighting for the Malvinas, it is the whole nation.”
        Ernesto Sabato, La Nacion, (April 29, 1982)

      • Nico March 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

        Dude, Sabato was a renowned novelist, not a political scientist.

      • Don Alberto March 19, 2013 at 12:07 am #

        Are you suggesting that only political scientists have eyes?
        that the crowd on the Plaza de Mayo wasn’t there?

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