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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onto any UN list for decolonization, that the official Press Release from the Committee for the first day had to be withdrawn and re-done to Argentina’s specifications.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.


Cristina calls for “holy intervention”

19 Mar

In a lunchtime meeting with the newly elected Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome, Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez, is reported to have asked the Catholic church’s leader for his “holy intervention” in her country’s claim to the Falkland Islands. Pope

In a press release following the meeting, Fernandez confirmed that she had asked the Pope to intervene in the long-standing disagreement with the United Kingdom over ownership of the archipelago, requesting his, “holy intervention in the Falklands case so that Great Britain can understand the resolutions issued by the United Nations calling them to join Argentina in a negotiating table.”

Pope Francis was elected last week following the surprise resignation of his predecessor and is himself an Argentine who has previously referred to the Falkland Islands as belonging to his country. In a public statement, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has already informed the new head of the Catholic church that he believes that the Pope’s views on the sovereignty of the islands are wrong. A comment which has been called “disrespectful” in Argentina.

Britain’s claim to the Falkland Islands goes back to 1765 while Argentina only claims to have inherited the archipelago from Spain in 1816 when they became independent. There are no current United Nations General Assembly Resolutions calling for negotiations.

The last time that Argentina asked a Pope to mediate over a sovereignty dispute, they lost the Beagle Channel to Chile. Even then the Argentine Government initially appealed and then refused to implement the Papal decision until after a referendum of their people asking whether they should obey.


99% say Yes

12 Mar

The final result of the vote in the Falkland Islands’ Referendum reveals 99.8% of the Islanders affirming that they wish to retain their British status.

Of 1,517 votes cast in the two-day referendum, 1,513 (99.8%) were in favour of keeping the current status, and just three (0.2%) were against. There was a 92% turnout from 1,672 British citizens eligible to vote in a population of about 2,900.

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.

David Cameron’s Christmas Message to the Falklands

21 Dec

In his Christmas Message to the people of the Falkland Islands, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, reiterated his Government’s support for the Falkland Islands in the face of increasing aggression from Argentina. cameron

“We want all the peoples of the Overseas Territories to be able to determine their own destiny and realise their aspirations. But, I’m always conscious that you, the people of the Falkland Islands, continue to face a particular and direct challenge both to your economy and to your identity as Falkland Islanders. President Kirchner’s Government appears determined to argue that you should have no say in how you are governed. They continue to misrepresent the history of your Islands and the current realities of life there. I’m pleased to see the Falkland Islanders working hard to correct these misrepresentations. Indeed, it was particularly good to see a delegation of young Islanders travel to the United Nations in June to challenge President Kirchner directly. They were a great credit to you all. It is a pity that Argentina persists in behaving this way.

The UK would like to have a more positive relationship with the Government of Argentina. We are stepping up our engagement with Latin America more generally, and there are so many global issues we could work on together. But, the British Government will not stand by and allow your human rights to be ignored. There is no justification for any country to try and deny you the right to democracy and self-determination. Nor to make attempts to isolate you, block your trade and undermine your legitimate fisheries, hydrocarbons and tourism industries.

Next year the Falkland Islands Government will hold a referendum on the political status of the Islands. I value deeply the UK’s relationship with the Falklands and hope it will long continue. But it is not my decision, nor is it Argentina’s, it is yours and yours alone. This referendum is true democracy in action, an opportunity to show the international community what you want for your future and to show it definitively. I hope all of you seize it.

In the meantime, Samantha and I would like to wish everyone on the Islands a very, very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.”

Clutching at Straws

9 Dec

Mercopress reported this week that the Presidents meeting at the MERCOSUR summit in Brasilia had rejected the anticipated 2013 referendum by the Falkland Islanders on their future. The news report also stated that the United Nations had rejected the concept of self-determination for the people of the Falklands in 1985.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Argentina has made a claim that the right of a people to determine their own future, as enshrined in the UN Charter in 1945, was dismissed in 1985. Which would have been, on the face of it, a flagrant breach of the principles underlying the United Nations Organisation and its founding Treaty.

However the UN General Assembly did, in 1985, issue a Resolution on the Falklands Question –

The General Assembly,

Having considered the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and having received the report of the Secretary-General,

Awareof the interest of the international community in the peaceful and definitive settlement by the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of all their differences, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,

Taking note of the interest repeatedly expressed by both parties in normalising their relations,

Convinced that such purpose would be facilitated by a global negotiation between both Governments that will allow them to rebuild mutual confidence on a solid basis and to resolve the pending problems, including all aspects on the future of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas),

1. Requests the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to initiate negotiations with a view to finding the means to resolve peacefully and definitively the problems pending between both countries, including all aspects on the future of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

2. Requests the Secretary-General to continue his renewed mission of good offices in order to assist the parties in complying with the request made in paragraph 1 above, and to take the necessary measures to that end:

3. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its forty-first session a report on the progress made in the
implementation of the present resolution;

4. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its forty-first session the item entitled “Question of the Falkland Islands

This Resolution (40/21) twice uses the phrase; “in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,” and contains no mention of removing the right to self-determination from the Islanders. So what is Argentina talking about when it makes the bold statement, supported by its neighbours in MERCOSUR, that the UN has taken the Falklander’s right to self-determination away?

Enlightenment appears in the UN Yearbook for 1985, where two failed Amendments, proposed by the UK, are mentioned.

‘The Assembly rejected, by recorded votes requested by Argentina, two amendments proposed by the United Kingdom. By 60 votes to 38, with 43 abstentions, it rejected a proposal to insert a new second preambular paragraph, by which the Assembly would have reaffirmed the right of all peoples to self-determination and “by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Another proposal, to add the phrase “and the right thereunder of peoples to self-determination” at the end of paragraph 1, was rejected by 57 votes to 36, with 47 abstentions.’

Argentina apparently believes that their success in getting these proposals voted down, amounted to a recognition by the General Assembly that the Falkland Islanders had no right to self-determination as stated in the UN Charter. Even though the proposed Amendments did not name the Falklanders and used phrases such as “all peoples,” and “peoples.”

It would seem that the recent interview in which the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, dismissed Argentina’s claims that Britain was in breach of UN Resolutions rattled a few cages in Buenos Aires and so a new strategy is required.

Convoluted interpretations of this nature are really clutching at straws.

Council of Presidents call for the use of Special Mechanisms for Decolonisation

30 Nov

In its Final Communique of the 2012 Session; the Council of Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly (CPGA) called for the use of special mechanisms, including the appointment of an Independent Expert or Special Rapporteur, to accelerate the pace of decolonization for the sixteen remaining non self-governing territories worldwide.

The concern for the lack of movement in the decolonization process in the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism was discussed by the presidents at their two day session on the 7th and 8th of November.

The Chairman of the CPGA opened the meeting; “This (decolonisation) is of special interest because it is one of those issues which has remained on the UN agenda without resolution, and which has effectively resulted in a stalemate; which could not be in the interest of the people of the territories themselves.” He went on to add that it is; “increasingly clear that the UN system is in need of an innovative means to address the self-determination process of the remaining 16 non self-governing territories, as well as the several sovereignty disputes among them.”

After assessing the difficulties in implementing the United Nations unfinished agenda of  decolonisation, the Council of Presidents issued this Final Communique:

1. The CPGA recognizes the historic role of the General Assembly in the self-determination process of dependent territories, and that the successful decolonization of over eighty territories since World War II was in large measure as a result of the political, material and other support provided by the United Nations;

2. The CPGA further recognises that sixteen dependencies remain on the United Nations list on non self-governing territories under Chapter XI of the Charter, but only two have successfully decolonized since the 1990s resulting in the process being effectively stalled; and concerned that the countries which administer the majority of the remaining territories have withdrawn their cooperation from the Special Committee on Decolonization resulting in little progress being made in the implementation of the United Nation decolonization mandate contained in the Charter, General Assembly resolutions and human rights instruments;

3. The CPGA therefore endorses the use of innovative means to give effect to the United Nations decolonization process including the use of special mechanisms such as an Independent Expert/Special Rapporteur, expert groups or other relevant modalities to examine the political situation in each of the remaining territories, and to advise the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General of suitable means to implement the decolonization mandate in these territories.