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UN’s Fourth Committee Consider the Falklands – no action pending

18 Oct

The United Nation’s Fourth Committee opened its annual consideration on the issue of decolonization on October 7th and concluded on the 14th.

As with previous years the Committee had before it the Reports of its sub-Committee, the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples – known informally as the Special Committee or the C24.

Again, in a repetition of the course of business that takes place every year, Argentina and its allies were heard to repeat the mantra that the Falkland Islands were in some way a special case despite the UN’s General Assembly never having said any such thing. Those representatives were also at some pains to include along with the Falklands – South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands, together with the more recently added “surrounding maritime areas.” In fact so much effort was spent in the attempt to include these locations, none of which fall onto any UN list for decolonization, that the official Press Release from the Committee for the first day had to be withdrawn and re-done to Argentina’s specifications.

In particular, the input from Chile had to be largely re-written as, according to the first press report, her representative had failed to mention the Falklands Islands, etc, etc, at all.

The most important statement to come out of the Fourth Committee’s deliberations over the week was the affirmation that the process of decolonization was both “irresistible and irreversible,” although typically Argentina attempted to distance the Falkland Islands, etc., etc., from the decolonization process even though the Fourth Committee, and indeed the UN, has no remit to resolve any sovereignty dispute. Argentina appears to like the decolonization forum while trying to convince the world that the Falklands should not actually be considered a case for decolonization.

It seems that yet again they failed. At the conclusion on Monday the Fourth Committee reaffirmed that there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination before forwarding 11 draft- Resolutions to the General Assembly for adoption, none of which directly concerned the Falkland Islands, although some of the more general expressions may be applied.

Having voted in favour, Argentina, as every year, then attempted to say that its vote did not recognise the Falkland Islanders as having any right to self-determination despite the fact that this is now recognised as a fundamental Human Right. They even referred to the long-dead Resolution 2065 which had been killed off in 1982 – by Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc., etc., etc.

Another year gone.

http://www.un.org/en/decolonization/comm4_2013.shtml

Spain & Argentina to Unite at the UN over the Falklands and Gibraltar

26 Sep

Argentina and Spain agreed on Thursday to team up to pressure the United Kingdom to discuss their separate claims on British territories: the Falklands in the south Atlantic and Gibraltar near the southern tip of Spain

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and his Spanish counterpart, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, reached the agreement in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly. The Argentine Foreign Ministry reported that; “They discussed the common ground regarding sovereignty disputes over the Falklands and Gibraltar; they agreed on joint measures to press Great Britain to comply with the mandate from the United Nations.”

The two countries have a long history of solidarity over Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

In the recent spat between London and Madrid over the rocky Mediterranean outpost that Spain ceded to Britain 300 years ago, London rejected a Spanish proposal for bilateral talks on Gibraltar. Britain says it will respect the wishes of Gibraltar’s 30,000 people, who have repeatedly stated they want to remain British.

Similarly, the British Government has long maintained that it will not discuss sovereignty over the Falklands, first claimed by Britain in 1690, without taking into account the islanders’ wishes. A recent referendum in the archipelago confirmed, by an overwhelming majority, that the Islanders’ wished to remain British. Argentina has previously made two attempts to seize the islands by force – in 1832 and 1982; in both cases British forces ejected the invaders.

Gibraltar and the Falklands are on a UN list of non-self-governing territories that are subject to a process of decolonization; and the UN in its Resolution 1514 of 1960 recognises that all peoples are entitled to the right to determine their own futures. There are currently no ‘relevant’ UN Resolutions on the issue of the Falklands as confirmed by the Secretary-General in an interview last year.

Falklands’ referendum recognised at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference

6 Sep

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association during its conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, accepted a motion recognising the Falkland Islands Referendum as a free and fair expression of the Falkland Islanders wishes and their right to Self-Determination.

“This Association recognises the internationally observed Referendum held in the Falkland Islands over the period 10 and 11 March 2013, which sought the electorate’s views on their Political status, as a free and fair expression of Falkland Islanders wishes and their right to Self-Determination.”

In the debate that followed, the Hon. Dr Barry Elsby said: “the Falkland Islands are being constantly bullied by Argentina, they are attempting to blockade the Islands, destroy fish stocks and obstruct the development of the Islands oil industry.”

He added that he was aware that many Commonwealth States supported the Falkland Islands position, but asked if it was unreasonable to ask that all Commonwealth States supported the Falkland Islanders.

In the Falklands referendum, the islanders overwhelmingly voted to maintain their links to the United Kingdom whose claim to the archipelago can be traced back to 1594.

Princess Anne Threatened over the Falklands

6 Sep

Princess Anne is due to visit Argentina as part of her role as a member of the the International Olympic Committee. A visit that has already drawn the attention of the nationalist socialist protest group Quebracho.

Quebracho, which has a history of violent demonstration in support of Argentina’s claim to the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, has stated to the local press  “Come pirate princess Anne of England, daughter of Elizabeth II, the Queen, who ordered the attack on Falklands in 1982. Come if you believe you can walk through Argentina as usual. If you come you will have to go into hiding. Because you know that you are hated.”

The Falkland Islands were first claimed by England in 1594 when they were visited by Capt. Richard Hawkins. The archipelago was first occupied in 1766 and England and Spain came close to war over their ownership in 1770. Argentina, a colony of Spain which only declared its independence in 1816, has attempted to take the archipelago by force on two occasions – 1832 and 1982. On each occasion, the invading force was expelled by British troops.

Falkland Islanders recently decided in a referendum to remain linked to the United Kingdom, a referendum that argentina refuses to recognise if spite of the fact that the islanders have the right to decide their own future under the United Nations Charter.

The Falklands at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

4 Sep

At the third plenary session of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference being held in Johannesburg, South Africa the members of the organisation discussed ‘Self-Determination, Self-Sufficiency and Self-Government.’

The session included the views of the representative of the Falkland Islands, Roger Edwards who told the conference; ”In March 2013, the current (Falklands) legislature assembly held a referendum in which the question of sovereignty was discussed. 99.8% voted in favor of retaining the current sovereign status. This is a strong and clear message to the outside world on the political views of the Falkland Islands people. By the referendum we have demonstrated to the world our wish to exercise self-determination and be self-governing.”

The CPA is an association of Commonwealth Parliamentarians who are united by community of interest, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms, and by pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy.

Legislative Assembly Members meet with Argentine Human Rights Group

16 May

Press Release 16.5.13:
The Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly recently agreed that two of its members should meet with five representatives of a human rights group from Chaco, Argentina in order to listen to their views on a number of issues resulting from the 1982 war.

Dick Sawle and Mike Summers attended the meeting following a request from the group made directly to the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly.  Three regional Argentine politicians with specific responsibilities for human rights in the Chaco region attended the meeting, along with the Chairman and Secretary of the human rights group.

Following the meeting, MLA Sawle said:

“The Falkland Islands are a modern democracy, and we uphold fundamental values such as freedom of speech and human rights.  On humanitarian grounds, it was only right that we should listen to the views of this group who are actively involved in investigating the cases of abuse of many Argentine veterans who suffered greatly at the hands of their own officers during the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982.   However, whilst we may listen to their views on a variety of issues, on the specific issue of DNA testing we have made it very clear that we can only consider any practical action if and when we receive a request from the International Red Cross which must have the full and unequivocal support of the Families Commission in Argentina.”

MLA Mike Summers said:

“It is notable that an Argentine group such as this recognise the legitimate and democratically elected Government of the Falkland Islands, and should request this meeting.  We made it clear to the group that all peoples, including Falkland Islanders, have human rights, and that the current approach of the Argentine Government is unhelpful in achieving any co-operation.  The wishes of families are important, but the political context will be a determining factor.”

Belgrano sinking legal – said the International Red Cross

3 May

In a display of Argentina’s traditional ‘blindness’ with regard to international law, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, called the sinking of the ARA Belgrano, during the Falklands War in 1982, a “criminal and cowardly action.” 1982 ARA Belgrano sinking

On the 31st anniversary of the sinking, Fernandez attempted to maintain the fiction that being outside the declared ‘excusion zone’ should have spared the aging Argentine cruiser despite ample evidence that her orders were to attack the British Task Force. Such a claim also flys in the face of the opinion given by the vessels Captain, Héctor Bonzo, when he spoke to the newspaper Clarin in 2007 – “  It was an act of war. The acts of those who are at war, like the submarine’s attack, are not a crime … The crime is the war. We were on the front line and suffered the consequences. On April 30, we were authorised to open fire, and if the submarine had surfaced in front of me I would have opened fire with all our 15 guns until it sank.”

In fact the Argentine Government had been given a warning that if any of its warships presented a danger to the  British fleet then they would be attacked. A warning that the Junta did not take seriously until after the Belgrano was torpedoed on May 2nd, 1982 – one month after Argentina had illegally invaded the British archipelago.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who confirmed the Admiralty’s decision to attack, wrote of the incident some years later – “ Admiral Fieldhouse told us that one of our submarines, HMS Conqueror, had been shadowing the Argentine cruiser, General Belgrano. The Belgrano was escorted by two destroyers. The cruiser itself had substantial fire power provided by 6 inch guns with a range of 13 miles and anti-aircraft missiles.

We were advised that she might have been fitted with Exocet anti-ship missiles, and her two destroyer escorts were known to be carrying them. The whole group was sailing on the edge of the Exclusion Zone. We had received intelligence about the aggressive intentions of the Argentine fleet. There had been extensive air attacks on our ships the previous day and Admiral Woodward , in command of the Task Force, had every reason to believe that a full scale attack was developing. …..

Admiral Woodward had to come to a judgment about what to do with the Belgrano in the light of these circumstances. From all the information available, he concluded that the carrier and the Belgrano group were engaged in a classic pincer movement against the Task Force. It was clear to me what must be done to protect our forces, in the light of Admiral Woodward’s concern and Admiral Fieldhouse’s advice. We therefore decided that British forces should be able to attack any Argentine naval vessel on the same basis as agreed previously for the carrier…. The Belgrano was torpedoed and sunk just before 8 o’clock that evening. Our submarine headed away as quickly as possible. Wrongly believing that they would be the next targets, the Belgrano’s escorts seem to have engaged in anti-submarine activities rather than rescuing its crew, some 321 of whom were lost ….. “

On May 7th, 1982, Argentina complained to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva which ruled that the vessel, though outside the TEZ, was within the security zone of British ships in the area;  was fully armed and engaged in operations and that therefore there was no breach of the Geneva Convention. The action was perfectly legal.