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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.

Timerman to stake Argentina’s claim to the Falklands in London

30 Jan

Argentina’s Foreign Minister is coming to London next month in an attempt to forward his country’s claim to the Falkland Islands and diminish the importance of the Islands’ referendum due to be held in March. Timerman Clouder

Claiming that his ‘conference’ will be attended by 80 ‘leading figures’ from Europe who have, according to Argentina’s Foreign Ministry, been calling for Britain to negotiate over the archipelago, Hector Timerman is expected to explain why the right of self-determination does not apply to the Falkland Islanders.

The event, planned for February the 6th and 7th is private, and hosted by Argentina’s Ambassador to London, Alicia Castro, at her home. Counter arguments, showing that Argentina has never had a claim to the Falklands, are not expected to be allowed.

Argentina’s Government is claiming ‘unprecedented’ international support for its claims although apparently unwilling to back that up with any evidence.

The right to self-determination is granted to ALL peoples under the United Nation’s Charter signed in 1945. The UN itself recommends that the best way to determine what a people want is for a plebiscite or referendum to he held. The Falkland Islands Government is planning just such a referendum in March 2013 to ask the people there whether they wish to remain British.

Argentina claims that 2013 is the 180th year since its fledgling colony was removed by force in 1833. There is no mention that 2013 is also the 184th year since Britain warned Buenos Aires to stay away from the British Territory, or that 2013 is the 248th anniversary of Britain claiming the South Atlantic archipelago.

The Islanders’ Reply

4 Jan

A message from the Honourable Dick Sawle, Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands.

Reported in the Telegraph

“It is disappointing that today the Government of Argentina is once again ignoring the rights and wishes of the Falkland Islands people. The open letter sent by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to David Cameron is not only historically inaccurate, but fails to mention the most significant aspect of our recent history – the attempt by the Argentine Government to take away our home by military force when they invaded thirty years ago. The people of the Falkland Islands, who for nine generations have lived and worked these lands, would like to take the opportunity to clarify some points raised by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. 420646_10150543993900878_319396170877_9166711_1140361154_n

The Falkland Islands had no indigenous population prior to their settlement by our ancestors – the Islands were unoccupied. Argentina claims the Falkland Islands form part of the province of Tierra del Fuego – an area that was not claimed as a part of the Republic of Argentina until after two generations of Falkland Islanders had been born and raised in our Islands.

There is no truth to Argentine claims that a civilian population was expelled by Britain in 1833. The people who were returned to Argentina were an illegal Argentine military garrison, who had arrived three months earlier. The civilian population in the Islands, who had sought permission from Britain to live there, were invited to stay. All but two of them, with their partners, did so.

We are not an implanted population. Our community has been formed through voluntary immigration and settlement over the course of nearly two hundred years. We are a diverse society, with people from around the world having made the Islands their home.

The UN Charter enshrines the right of all people to determine their own future, a principle known as self-determination. It is in exercising this right that we have chosen to retain our links with the UK. It is this fundamental right that is being ignored by the Argentine Government, who are denying our right to exist as a people, and denying our right to live in our home.

As a modern, self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, we enjoy a relationship based on the shared ideals of democracy, freedom and self-reliance. We are not a colony of the United Kingdom; we are a British Overseas Territory by choice, which is something entirely different. We are not governed by Britain: we are entirely self-governing, except for defence and foreign affairs. We democratically elect our Legislative Assembly Members; they are chosen by the people of the Falkland Islands to represent them and to determine and administer our own policies and legislation. In March we will be holding a referendum on our political status, so that as a people we can make our views heard in a clear, democratic and incontestable way.”

Falkland Islands Status

3 Oct

From the Jamaica Observer:

STANLEY, Falkland Islands — The pending referendum to decide the political future of the Falkland Islands will be done under the scrutiny of a “whole series of international observers” come early 2013, Legislative Assembly member Dr Barry Elsby has said.

Dr Elsby, who has responsibility for oil, the environment, historical buildings, mining and demining, told a group of Caribbean journalists yesterday that “the referendum is to try to send a signal to the world about the wishes of the Falkland Islanders as to what they want and how they wish to determine their own future”.

The question of the status of the self-governed British overseas territory has occupied centrestage since the British and Argentine war in 1982 after the Argentines invaded the islands originally claimed by the British. Since then, Argentina, even though it had retreated and surrendered, has argued that the islands were rightly theirs. However, Britain has held that the Falklanders have a right to determine their status.
 
Yesterday, Dr Elsby said that the all-important question to be put to the voters has not yet been set due to the delicate nature of the issue.
 
“…That is because we want the referendum to be seen as totally fair, totally above board and not in any way biased. And so it might seem that the question is very easy to ask but what we don’t want is for someone to come back and say that question was leading… so we are asking organisations that are experts at setting questions to ….phrase the question. These are going to be world-respected groups,” Dr Elsby explained.
 
“…It’s taking a little longer than we thought but we are determined to have this referendum in a totally free and fair way and be validated so that we can stand up in the international forum and say, look this is the wish of the Falkland Islanders, if you believe in a people having the right to determine their own future the Falklands had spoken and that’s all we are trying to say to counter the whole barrage of misinformation from the Argentines,” he added.
 
He said the intention is to send a signal to the democratic world of what the islanders want.
 
“We are not looking for independence at this time. That’s an option but I don’t think there is any move at the moment to be independent. We are very certain as to who we are now which is a self-governing British Overseas territory. We are absolutely not a colony; we are absolutely self-governing,”” he said.
 
The Falkland Islands were first claimed by Britain in 1765. Argentina’s claim is from 1833.

Argentina to complain to UN about act of petty vandalism

1 Aug

In an act of petty vandalism, a glass case containing a statue of Argentina’s patron saint, has been damaged at a cemetery at Darwin on the Falkland Islands.

The thick glass case appears to have been hit by a sharp implement creating a number of holes. The saint inside, the Virgin of Lujan, appears undamaged and police on the Falklands are investigating the matter following a complaint by an Island resident.

Argentina’s Government in Buenos Aires however are announcing that they will take this police matter to the United Nations and the International Red Cross.

There is speculation that the damage was caused as a response to the recent film of an Argentine athlete running and exercising on British monuments in the Falklands. Argentina has not apologised for that similar act of disrespect; although on this occasion the Falkland Islands Government was quick to issue a statement of their concern. “Clearly we condemn any action of this sort and very much regret that it happened,” said Dick Sawle, a legislator with the Government.

Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, said; “We believe that this act reflects escalating hostility by certain British sectors who are influential locally.”

2012 has been a difficult years for Falkland/Argentine relations commemorating as it does, the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s invasion of the Islands in 1982. The cemetery pays homage to the young Argentines who died as a result of that act of aggression. Tensions are naturally high, not helped by Argentina’s continual bickering over anything that will gain a press headline. Last week it was routine missile tests that gave the Falklands’ neighbour cause for complaint.

The Falkland Islands have been British since 1765. Argentina’s first attempt to claim sovereignty over the archipelago was in 1829, to which Britain protested. Buenos Aires sent an armed force to take control of the Islands in 1832 and the trespassers were peacefully ejected by the Royal Navy a few months later. During the short-lived Falklands War over 900 young men lost their lives following Argentina’s second attempt to take the islands by force.

The damage caused to the cemetery’s icon was an act of mindless vandalism and it is to be hoped that the offender will be caught and punished.

Brainwashing in Argentina

31 Jul

On the back of reports yesterday that the Falkland Islands’ Government is seeking international observers to oversee the referendum process in 2013 that will determine once and for all the wishes of the Falkland Islanders; many Argentine press reports are maintaining the lie that the right to self-determination does not apply to the Falklands.

As an illustration of this, the political section in Clarin, said; ‘The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, anticipated that the United Kingdom will respect any choice by the Islanders and called upon the Argentina and their allies to do the same. “Britain will respect and defend your choice.” We hope that all members of the United Nations accept the decision of the Islanders on how they want to live,” he said. However, for the UN, the Islands are a disputed territory and it does not recognize the right to self-determination that they claim for its inhabitants.’

It is rather surprising that the Argentine press continues to spread this spurious version of the real situation. In fact the UN’s Charter makes it quite clear that all peoples have the right to determine their own future; and this recognised human right has never been subject to any condition or restriction. The word ‘indiginous’ does not appear anywhere in the Charter, nor is the right restricted in any way to peoples who are not subject to a territorial dispute. Independence, for example, has previously been recognised even where such a situation did exist and the occasional attempts by Argentine diplomats to secure a condition via the back door, have always been suppressed by the United Nations Organisation itself.

The people of the Falkland Islands clearly have the right to determine their own future, and it cannot be taken away from them. The Argentine Government’s pathetic attempts to suggest otherwise belies the term ‘free press’ in Argentina. In a healthy democracy a Government spread lie, such as this is, would quickly be denounced. Or is everyone in Argentina blind to the truth ?

 

Decolonization Committee – Press Release on the Falklands

15 Jun

United Nations Press Department. June 14th

Special Committee on Decolonization:4th Meeting (PM)

Special Committee on Decolonization Considers ‘Question of the Falkland Islands

Hears from Petitioners, Island Assemblymen, Argentina’s President

Following statements by petitioners and an impassioned plea by the President of Argentina to leave behind an “outdated story” of prejudice and cliché, the Special Committee on Decolonization today reiterated that ending the “special and particular” colonial situation relating to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)* required a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

By a consensus resolution, introduced by Fernando Schmidt, Vice Foreign Minister of Chile, the Special Committee regretted that, despite widespread international support for negotiation between the two Governments, implementation of General Assembly resolutions on the question had not yet started.  The Governments were requested to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation through resumed negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the dispute relating to the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), in line with resolutions 2065 (XX) and 3160 (XXVIII), among others.

Those negotiations dated back to 1974, said Christina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina, in a sweeping address to the Special Committee 30 years to the day after the end of a conflict with the United Kingdom over the South Atlantic Islands.  At that time, a confidential proposal had been presented by the United Kingdom to President Juan Perón, outlining the terms of a “condominium” approach to the question of the Territory, by which the British and Argentine flags would fly side by side, English and Spanish would be the official languages and all “native-born islanders” would possess dual nationality.

A counter-proposal had been put forward, she said, which aimed to graduate the Islands into the economic, political and social life of the Argentine Republic.  The two sides had come to the negotiation table in 1974, but the efforts stalled upon the death of President Perón.  “We want to renew those negotiations,” she asserted.  As in 1974, Argentina was open to negotiations and she urged the United Kingdom to acknowledge that there was a legitimate issue of sovereignty to discuss.  The question was larger than a bilateral case; it was a challenge to multilateral bodies to determine whether the world could overcome prejudice and embrace a new world order.  “We’re just asking to talk,” she said.

Among the petitioners speaking on the issue was Michael Summers, a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), who said the 3,000 Islanders, whose families had arrived from Europe, Latin America and the Far East, had developed their own culture and were proud of their achievements over the last 180 years.  Gross domestic product (GDP) was more than 130 million pounds per annum.  No taxes were paid to the United Kingdom and no income was received from that country.  It was comfortable with its post-colonial relationship with the United Kingdom.  As much as Argentina would like to “airbrush us out of existence” such behaviour belonged to another era, he said, and should not be tolerated in a modern world.

On the other side of the issue, Alejandro Jacobo Betts, a former resident of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said a “pro-British” posture meant that anyone expressing disapproval with the vertical pro-British system was a target for psychological persecution and discrimination.  The United Kingdom with its long history of subjugating peoples, was now seeking to manipulate the principle of self-determination.  Moreover, “the right to self-determination was not created […] to further the results of military conquests”, he said, adding that the upcoming referendum [announced on 12 June and to be held within the next year] would “bring nothing to the table” in terms of helping to find a solution to the dispute.  It was simply an anecdotal vote, and the results were well-known ahead of time.

When the floor was opened to members of the Special Committee and observers, speakers urged that a peaceful solution to the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom be sought, in line with the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter.  Striking a balanced tone, Papua New Guinea’s delegate supported the view that the working methods of the Special Committee must be “retooled” in order to better achieve its goals.  If not, it ran the risk of being marginalized within the United Nations family.  Situations should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, which could only be accomplished with the active participation of all stakeholders, and the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was no exception.

Delivering a statement on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs of Brazil.

The representatives of Venezuela, Cuba, Russian Federation, China, Nicaragua, Syria and Sierra Leone also spoke.

Other petitioners speaking today were Roger Edwards, an elected official of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), and Marcelo Luis Vernet.

Background

The Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this afternoon to hear petitioners on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  Before the Special Committee was a Secretariat working paper on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (document A/AC.109/2012/13), outlining constitutional and political developments, as well as budget considerations, economic and social conditions, progress on mine clearance and the future status of the Territory.

The Constitution that was approved in 2008 came into force on 1 January 2009, the working paper says.  During 2011 and 2012, Argentina and the United Kingdom continued to reiterate their respective positions regarding various constitutional, military and economic aspects of the sovereignty dispute over the Territory.  Actions included written démarches and the issuance of press releases by Argentina on 10 June 2011, in connection with the observance of the “Day of Affirmation of Argentine rights over the Malvinas Islands” and other areas, and on 3 January 2012, “on the occasion of the latest anniversary of the illegitimate occupation of the Malvinas Islands by the United Kingdom”, as well as remarks to the media.  There were also written démarches by the United Kingdom before the United Nations, rejecting territorial and other claims made by Argentina.

On 10 February 2012, the working paper says, the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of Argentina to discuss developments related to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), with the Foreign Minister lodging a protest against what he termed the United Kingdom’s “militarization of the South Atlantic” and sought the Secretary-General’s support for dialogue.  The Secretary-General expressed concern at the increasingly strong exchanges between Argentina and the United Kingdom on the issue and reiterated his good offices to resolve the dispute remained available if both countries so requested.

The Foreign Minister expressed the same protest in meetings with the Presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the working paper states, following up with a letter to the Assembly President, which stated that Argentina had been “compelled to alert the international community, through the principal organs of the United Nations, to the growing British militarization of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas”.  The same day, at a press conference, the Foreign Minister called for the start of dialogue on the sovereignty of the Islands and urged the United Kingdom to comply with Assembly resolutions calling for both parties to approach the negotiating table and refrain from the militarization of the South Atlantic.

For his part, the working paper states, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom said at a press conference that the Argentine accusations were “manifestly absurd”.  In a 22 February 2012 letter to the Secretary-General, the United Kingdom outlined that the country’s military posture “has not changed” and “exists only in order to protect the rights and freedoms of the people of the Falkland Islands to determine their own political, cultural and economic futures”.  The accusations were “unwarranted and baseless”, calling “into question the evidential threshold applied by the Republic of Argentina to all its political claims”.  The United Kingdom stated that there “will be no negotiations on sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the Falkland Islanders so wish”.

On economic matters, the working paper states that, according to the administering Power, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) worked to uphold various environmental treaties and conventions, for which Argentina had rejected the territorial application, on grounds that the Territory, along with the surrounding maritime areas, were an integral part of Argentina.  Offshore exploration for hydrocarbons continued in 2011 amid protest from Argentina, other Member States and regional organizations.  According to the administering Power, an oil and gas discovery had been declared by two of the licensees, with one indicating it considered the discovery to be potentially commercial.

As for the future status of the Territory, the working paper states that on 21 September 2011, the United Kingdom, exercising the right of reply in the General Assembly, reiterated there could be “no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such a time as the Islanders so wish” and that the principle of self-determination “underlies our position on the Falkland Islands”.  The United Kingdom indicated that the Falkland Islands Government was entitled to develop both fisheries and hydrocarbon industries within its own waters.

That right, the United Kingdom goes on to state, according to the working paper, was integral to the right to self-determination, contained in article 1 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  The United Kingdom “continues to believe there are many opportunities for cooperation in the South Atlantic.  However, in recent years, the Republic of Argentina has rejected these opportunities.”   In the annual new year message to the Territory for 2012, the United Kingdom Prime Minister reiterated his country’s commitment to the Islanders.  He noted that “ Argentina continues its unjustified and counterproductive efforts to disrupt shipping around the Islands and to deter business from engaging in legitimate commerce”, adding:  “I firmly believe that it is in our interest that we have a constructive relationship with Argentina”.

For Argentina, the working paper states that in her 21 September 2011 address to the General Assembly, the President stated that 10 Assembly resolutions, 29 Special Committee resolutions, 11 resolutions and eight declarations of the Organization of American States, as well as resolutions of various forums including the Ibero-American forums, the Union of South African Nations, the Southern Common Market and meetings of Arab and African countries, had demanded that the issue of sovereignty be addressed.  She had gone on to say that the United Kingdom had “systematically refused to do so” and had “obviously used its status as a veto-wielding member of the Security Council to that end”.

Further, according to the working paper, she stated her country would wait for a reasonable period of time, but if nothing transpired, it would be forced to begin reviewing the provisional understandings between the two nations that were still in effect, notably the joint statement and exchange of letters of 14 July 1999 on regular weekly Lan Chile flights between Punta Arenas and the Islands with two monthly stopovers, one in each direction.  Further, Argentina had no intention of exacerbating the situation for any party, but considered it fair that the General Assembly and the United Kingdom be aware that there had to be compliance with resolutions.  She called for dialogue with the United Kingdom and among all Assembly members on the dispute.

Petitioners on the Falkland Islands

Taking the floor, ROGER EDWARDS, Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said that he accepted that Argentina had changed—and was pleased that it had—but did not understand how that State sought to absolve itself from its past while still punishing the people of the Falkland Islands for something it claimed happened centuries ago.  Argentina wished to annex the Falkland Islands and to subject its people to alien domination, which was “the very definition of colonialism”.  In that vein, he asked, what about the rights of the Falkland Islanders?  “Or do human beings not have human rights if they reside on a piece of land that Argentina wants?”

That was all clear evidence of hypocrisy, he said; while allegations of hypocrisy were not something new for Argentina, they were indeed symptomatic of that State’s attitude towards the Territory.  It had been conducting “economic warfare” against the Falkland people, having withdrawn from almost all forms of cooperation, banned charter flights in its airspace, threatened to intercept shipping, and, through intimidation and association, it had tried to harm the Territory’s hydrocarbon, fishing and tourism industries.

The Falkland Islands was a democratic Territory of the United Kingdom, with a Constitution, its own wealth and “a newfound energy and confidence to face the future”.  The Constitution was a reflection of the Territory’s aspiration to press on with democracy and self-government, and in that respect, “all we ask for is the right to determine our own future” without having to endure the “bullying tactics” of a neighbouring country.

He noted that the Special Committee, which offered advice to Non-Self-Governing Territories, regrettably had not taken up the Falkland Islands’ invitation to visit the Territory.  “By seeing our islands, and by talking to our people, you will recognize exactly how important it is to us to exercise our right to self-determination, as we are currently doing.”  In that vein, he was dismayed that the Special Committee had visited Argentina, but not the Territory.  “How can this Committee truly understand the issue and adopt resolutions when it had never visited our islands?” he asked.  It was explicit in international law that the right of self-determination applied to all peoples, without exception.  Argentina had consistently attempted, and rightly failed, to dilute that principle.

Moreover, it was interesting that the draft resolution currently before the Special Committee did not recall or reaffirm the principles of the United Nations Charter, which should prevail over all other resolutions and agreements, he said. It was heartening, however, that it recalled resolution 1514 (XV) (1960), which stated that the exploitation and domination of a people constituted a denial of human rights.  Argentina was imposing an economic blockade, and was, therefore, acting against the principles of that resolution.  Under the auspices of resolution 1514, people from Non-Self Governing Territories could reach the full measure of self-government in three ways.  However, there was another way in which that could be accomplished:  the emergence of a Territory into any political status, as long as that was supported by its people, could be considered an exercise of self-determination.

In that regard, he reported, the people of the Falkland Islands had announced on 12 June their intention to conduct a referendum to reaffirm to the world to retain the status quo and to maintain the sovereignty it desired.  The vote would be conducted within the next year and would be overseen by international monitors.  Regrettably, however, there was one in the Argentine delegation who had already declared that referendum to be illegitimate.  “Perhaps he is suggesting that the Charter of the United Nations itself is illegal”, as it supported the right of the Falkland Islanders to conduct such an election.  “The people of the Falkland Islands know what we want for our future,” and exercising that right “will be a true self-determination in action”.

MICHAEL SUMMERS, Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said that since 2004, the Falkland Islands had moved on politically and economically.  “We are a successful country”, he said, using the term “country” because the Territory’s people had a distinct identity.  “We’re committed to the care and well-being of our people and the development of our country.”  But some things had not moved on, including the unsubstantiated claim by Argentina being pursued with increasing vigour.  The United Nations had tried to remain neutral.

But all Special Committee resolutions must comply with United Nations Charter, he said, notably Article 1, which outlined the right to self-determination for all peoples.  Argentina would argue that the United Nations had ruled that right out for his people. Though the Special Committee had ignored its responsibility to promote that right for Falkland Islanders, resolution 1514 (1960) explicitly set out the right of self-determination for all people, making clear that Charter principles trumped those in other texts, rendering Argentina’s declarations irrelevant under international law.  He agreed that United Nations reform was needed, but that would not change the United Nations Charter nor remove the Special Committee’s obligation to respect the principle of self-determination.

The Falkland Islands was a small “country”, he said, with a population of 3,000, all of whom had arrived and lived there of their own free will, from Europe, Latin America and the Far East.  They had developed their own culture, based on a variety of influences, and they were proud of their achievements over 180 years.  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was more than 130 million pounds per annum.  There were no borrowings, and reserves were three times annual expenditure.  Due to its size, its relative isolation was increased by “vindictive” Argentine attempts to stifle its economy.  Nonetheless, it had been economically self-sufficient for more than 20 years, except for its self-defence.

Falkland Islanders paid no taxes to the United Kingdom, he continued, and received no income from that country.  They were responsible for all their services and internal transport infrastructure.  They issued their own fishing licenses and those for hydrocarbon exploration.  All revenue from those industries belonged to Falkland Islanders; not the United Kingdom.  The Constitution, last revised in 2009, confirmed the Islands’ post-colonial status.  There was clear separation of executive functions, justice and civil service management.  The Constitution contained a full panoply of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to self-determination.  Falkland Islanders were comfortable with their post-colonial relationship with the United Kingdom.  There was no current move in the community towards independence or association with any other country, including Argentina.

Calling Argentina’s claims to the Territory “spurious”, he said that no native inhabitants and no population had been expelled.  Some islanders were now eighth and ninth generation.  Other Latin American populations could not trace their histories back that far, but yet could exercise their rights to self-determination.  “Why don’t we have the right to self-determination, but they do? Are we second-class people without rights, just because we’re not Hispanic?” he asked?

As much as Argentina would like “airbrush us out of existence” such behaviour belonged to another era, he said, and should not be tolerated in a modern world.  Argentina rejected self-determination for Falkland Islanders.  Was that not the epitome of colonialism? Indeed, Argentina sought to re-colonize the Islands. 

The Falkland Islands was a small, progressive country keen to get on with its neighbours and ensure its success was based on the sustainable use of natural resources, he said, adding that the islanders wanted to be left in peace.  “It is your duty to ensure we’re allowed to do that,” he declared, and to adhere—in spirit and letter—to the United Nations Charter to support all peoples’ right to self-determination.

He invited the Special Committee to condemn the use of military force against a peaceful neighbour.  Noting that Argentina had called for negotiations, he held up a letter from the Government of the Falkland Islands inviting Argentina to sit down and listen to the views of his people and enter in dialogue to find ways to cooperate, to the benefit of future generations of both countries, before the imposition of sanctions against his people by Argentina.  He asked Argentina to invite him to deliver that letter to the Argentine President before the end of the current session.

Another petitioner, ALEJANDRO JACOBO BETTS, a former resident of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said that he was a fourth-generation Malvinas Islander, who had been raised and educated in that Territory.  However, due to his unconditional support for the Argentine position, it had become impossible for him to remain on the Islands.  Non-compliance by a founding member of the Organization, with veto power in the Security Council, compelled the Special Committee to have before it a resolution asking both parties to come to a definitive solution to the dispute about the Territory.  Unfortunately, such a solution had not been reached due to the non-compliance with international mandates by one of the two parties to the dispute, the United Kingdom.

There were only two sides to the debate, he stressed, adding that no event or circumstantial situation had changed the bilateral nature of the dispute.  The United Kingdom, with its long history of subjugating peoples, was now seeking to manipulate the principle of self-determination, with the objective of continuing to subjugate the people of the Falkland Islands.  Moreover, “the right to self-determination was not created […] to further the results of military conquests”.

He said that the continued colonization in the Malvinas had become more obvious since 1982.  Some 37 per cent of the population, when queried, had reported that they were born outside the Islands.  Indeed, the increase in the colonial population since 1982 had been due, in large part, to the policy of contracting labour from the United Kingdom.  Those facts were important to bear in mind when considering the evolutionary process of the United Kingdom’s colonization of the Malvinas.  On that Territory, there was no possibility for Argentine settlers to become citizens or landowners or to vote, whereas a British subject, born in London, could participate in local elections after only a few years of residence.

As of the mid-1970s, he continued, influential community voices had insisted on absolute subordination to the “pro-British posture”.  In contrast, any native-born Malvinas Islander who had chosen to pursue a future on the Argentine mainland was considered a full Argentine citizen.  Anyone that expressed his or her disapproval with the vertical pro-British system was a target for psychological persecution and discrimination.  It should be clear that there was no independent government in the Malvinas; in fact, it was headed by a non-elected governor, who was appointed by the British crown.  Eight of the current 13 members of the Assembly were United Kingdom citizens, born in that country.

“It is obvious that the division of powers and independence in the Islands is non-existent”, he continued in that vein.  “Under no concept or form can this group of people be considered a people with the right to self-determination”, he said.  In that respect, the referendum slated to be held “would bring nothing to the table” in terms of helping to find a solution to the dispute.  It was simply an anecdotal vote, and the results were well-known ahead of time.

Based on what had been said so far, it was clear that only United Kingdom’s military power was maintaining the “unfair and distorted situation” in the South Atlantic.  That country knew well that it had no legal standing for its illegitimate claims, but it did have the advantage of force.  The issue affected not only Argentina, but also other countries in the region, which had joined in rejecting the British maritime prevalence.  Moreover, the United Kingdom was using the unfounded excuse of self-determination to establish a powerful military base, which was used to maintain absolute control over the region.  The few renewable resources there belonged to the three archipelagos, and not to the British.  “There is an ongoing illegitimate occupation taking place in the Malvinas”, he concluded, as well as in the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding territory.  An unfair situation existed that required reparations.

MARCELLO LUIS VERNET, a writer, said he was bound to the Malvinas because he was a citizen of Argentina.  His family’s history was tied to that of Argentina. His great-great-grandmother Maria had been the wife of the first political and military commander of the Malvinas Islands and those adjacent to Cape Horn.  Since 1823, her house had been part of Malvinas.  At that time, ranches had been set up for livestock.  Her brother and brother-in-law settled in Puerto de la Soledad in 1824.  In 1828, a decree had given her family land as a way to encourage the development of new areas for national prosperity.  In 1829, Maria was 29 with three children, the youngest of whom had taken her first steps in Malvinas.

He expressed concern at an article by the British Ambassador to the United States, which had recently appeared in the Washington Post.  He was surprised to read that, according to the Ambassador, the only Argentine presence in the area had been a brief military presence in 1832.  He was concerned at that “gross historical error” and the attitude it revealed:  a distortion of history of Malvinas, which was only in the interests of the Ambassador’s country.  That did not foster understanding between the two peoples.

Offering testimony of his ancestors’ presence on the Islands, he said there had never been a tone of belligerence.  The area was “something that is naturally ours and we cannot separate ourselves from it”.  At the time of Maria’s arrival, there were some 20 other settler families, he said.  Her diary described daily life in a small community comprised of Germans, people from Patagonia, Scots, Frenchmen, Genoese, English, Irish, fishermen and sailors.  There were also Africans.  The stable population was over 100, and boosted by the vessels that often called in.

Maria’s diary was now preserved in Argentina’s archives and it described island life at that time, he said, adding, there was no military presence.  It described a farmyard, next to which was a gardener house, where a German who planted vegetables lived.  Nearby, there were a blacksmith, a stone cutter, and another tradesman from Genoa.  Other families had planted an orchard, and over the cliffs were ruins of the Spanish port.  Elsewhere there were houses that looked after cattle and 15 shacks roofed with peat.  The countryside was one “of men and horses”.  Animal pens were made by fencing off the peninsula with “mouths of whales”.

He also enlivened Maria’s description of 30 August 1829, which was a feast day.  At noon, inhabitants gathered to cheer the motherland and Maria had pinned ribbons of the flag colours on the hats of people attending the celebration. Everyone was shouting “long live the motherland”.  On that day, the Malvinas command was born.  Mr. Vernet had described those scenes, he said, to give testimony to the peace that had existed, in contrast to what was happening today:  a colonial enclave that had been wrenched from its American identity.  The daily activities of his people were also acts of control and possession.

He said he had recalled that story so the Special Committee could imagine how history could have continued without the United Kingdom’s usurpation of land in 1833.  The settlers would have made the land of their motherland their own.  Most certainly, there would not have been war.  He requested the Special Committee to promote a constructive dialogue between the United Kingdom and Argentina, in line with General Assembly resolutions, so they could find a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute.

Introduction of Draft Resolution

Introducing the draft resolution “Question of the Falkland Islands” (document A/AC.109/2012/L.6), FERNANDO SCHMIDT, Vice Foreign Minister of Chile, said the text acknowledged that the question of the Malvinas was a “special and particular” colonial question because of a sovereignty dispute between two States,  namely, Argentina and the United Kingdom.  The draft further stated that the only way to put an end to the dispute was through a negotiated settlement between the two parties.  It asked both States to consolidate that process by resuming negotiations, in accordance with United Nations resolutions on the matter.

Moreover, he said, for the Latin American and Caribbean nations, it was important that the matter “be settled once and for all”.  The Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) had repeatedly reiterated their support for the sovereignty rights of Argentina in the dispute.  The continuation of colonial situations well into the twenty-first century was an “intolerable anachronism”.  In that vein, they asked the Secretary-General of the United Nations to continue to provide his good offices to the parties to the dispute, and reiterated an appeal to those parties to negotiate a peaceful settlement as soon as possible.  Indeed, they hoped that the Special Committee would adopt the resolution, which was a “faithful reflection” of United Nations doctrine on the question of the Malvinas.  As in past years, they also hoped that it would be adopted by consensus.

CRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ DE KIRCHNER, President of Argentina, speaking as an observer, said she had come today accompanied by a majority of parties in her Government, which viewed the issue of the Malvinas as one that transcended Argentine sovereignty:  “It is an affront to a world we all dream of.”  She was also accompanied by former combatants, the mothers of combatants and mothers of those buried in the Malvinas, whose remains still had not been identified.  In a letter to the Chair of the International Committee of the Red Cross, she asked that a forensic team be set up to help the mothers identify their children’s remains.

Her country was a leader in the area of human rights, she said, noting that few others had so much freedom in migration.  Argentina was comprised of migratory flows from Europe in the first half of twentieth century, and from Latin America in the second half, making the country a truly cosmopolitan nation.

“I’m not here because of what happened 30 years ago,” she said.  Rather, “180 years ago, we were usurped” by a superior force from the British Empire.  That had not been the first time the British had come to the Argentine region, she said, citing an invasion in 1806, when Argentina was still a Spanish colony, and a usurpation in 1833.  At that time, Goucho Rivero had been brought to London, where he could not be tried because he was found not to have committed crimes on British territory.  She also read a letter by José de San Martín, addressed to the Governor of San Juan, asking for more soldiers.  “This is the history that brings us here today”, she said, adding that, again, in 1845, Anglo-French troops had been repelled by the forces commanded by Lucio V. Mansilla.

How could it be claimed that this Territory was part of the United Kingdom? she asked.  The Islands were part of the South American continental plate.  The first of 11 United Nations resolutions had been passed in 1965.  Later, there were 10 more.  Twenty-nine resolutions had been issued by the Special Committee, on top of innumerable texts by other international forums.  But the United Kingdom was benefitting from its privileged position as a permanent Security Council member.

Turning to diplomacy, she said the phrase “renew negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom” had never been more clearly needed.  During the Presidency of Juan Perón in 1974, a “secret paper” had been presented by the British Ambassador, containing a proposal for a “condominium approach” to the question of the Malvinas.  It proposed that British and Argentine flags fly side by side, that English and Spanish be the official languages, that all “native-born islanders” possess dual nationalities, that colonial passports be replaced by travel documents issued by the “condominium”, that the legal system be adapted to the “condominium”, and that constitutional changes require the agreement of the “condominium”.

She said a counter-proposal had been put forward, which outlined an exchange rate to be set by common agreement, passports to be replaced by a joint document issued by the two sides, administration to be set by the President of Argentina and the British Majesty, Spanish and English to be official languages and dual nationality for the Islanders.  The main purpose had been to graduate the Islands into the economic, political and social life of Argentina.  On 19 June 1974, the Ambassadors were at the negotiating table.  But, on 1 July 1974, President Perón had died.  A form had been prepared to declare a new round of conversations to explore the issues with the possible “condominium” approach.

“We want to renew those negotiations”, she asserted, reiterating that Argentina’s dispute was with the United Kingdom.  She was not talking about oil or fisheries resources.  The support of Argentina’s sister nations was more than solidarity; it was an exercise in self-defence.  The South Atlantic region had been demilitarized.  Argentina was a leader in non-proliferation, despite that it was the most advanced in Latin America in nuclear science.  “We have too much history not to be solely a country of peace.”  The issue was a global one because the United Nations had different standards for its members.  If one was a permanent Security Council member, one was allowed to disrespect United Nations resolutions.

“If you violate human rights in a country with oil, then there will be consequences,” she said.  The issue of the Malvinas must be resolved sooner rather than later and the instruments making it possible to live in a civilized world must be recovered.  “We’re defending the resources of Latin America.  We’re defending the role of the United Nations, founded on General Assembly resolutions.  How long will the double standards last?” she asked.

Argentina was open to negotiations, she said, as it had been in 1974, meaning that the United Kingdom must acknowledge that there was a legitimate issue of sovereignty.  Argentina was an open country that would strictly comply with United Nations resolutions, which required renewal of the negotiations.  Those would allow for associations that could benefit the whole of Latin America and the world.  Globalization allowed no one to act without impacting others.

She said that to see the Malvinas only as a territorial or sovereignty matter was to shrink the case.  It was more than that:  it was a challenge to multilateral bodies to determine whether the world was able to overcome prejudice and cliché.  “We must leave behind us this outdated story,” she said.  “We’re not asking for much.  We’re just asking to talk.”  She urged embracing a new world order that all States must help to realize.

Action on Text

The Special Committee then adopted the draft resolution on the Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (document A/AC.109/2012/L.6) by consensus.

Statements

JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) expressed concern over the continuing territorial usurpation by the United Kingdom of an Argentine territory.  “It is undeniable that British subjects, settled in Argentine territory, are not a subject or subdued population by a colonial Power, but human contingents transplanted by the British Empire to the Malvinas Islands, through acts of usurpation and plunder.”  That colonial situation had been characterized by the General Assembly as a “special and particular” case.  It was illegal occupation of part of Argentine territory by the United Kingdom, which, since 1833, had carried out imperial policy in the disputed area.  The occupation of the Islands, as well as of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, contradicted the spirit and purpose of the United Nations Charter and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.  It also contravened the principles established in Assembly resolution 1514.  He drew attention to numerous resolutions of the United Nations, statements of the Organization of American States and declarations of regional forums, which urged a speedy resolution of that protracted sovereignty dispute, and he declared his delegation one of the sponsors of the draft resolution before the Special Committee.

PEDRO NUNEZ MOSQUERA ( Cuba) said that his delegation supported the position of Argentina on the matter of the Malvinas Islands, on which there were already 29 resolutions.  However, despite those, the United Nations was no closer to seeing a resolution on the dispute.  The question should be resolved by negotiations between those two States, he stressed, adding that history had seen the substitution of the Territory’s Argentine people with British people.  Since that time, the people of Argentina had continued to assert their rightful claim to those islands.  The people and Government of Cuba reiterated their support for Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, the South Georgia Islands and the South Sandwich Islands, as well as over the surrounding maritime areas.

In that regard, he highlighted the special communication issued recently by the CELAC Heads of State, and a similar statement by the Cuban Government.  He urged the United Kingdom to take into account the successive calls of the Special Committee to undertake negotiations, and to respond positively to those requests.  Until a definitive solution was found, there should be no unilateral acts aimed at militarizing the region.  The strict compliance of the prohibition of nuclear weapons in the region should be adhered to.

VITALY I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that he had supported the adoption of the resolution without a vote.  There was a need for a just and mutually acceptable solution to the dispute, taking into account the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly.  The parties should be wise, responsible and show their commitment to the principles of the United Nations.  In that connection, he welcomed Argentina’s intention to engage in bilateral negotiations.

VERA LUCIA B.C. MACHADO, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs of Brazil, speaking as an observer, said the session was particularly important since 30 years had now elapsed since military hostilities ended in 1982.  Brazil associated itself with the statement made by Chile on behalf of CELAC, and referred to last year’s joint communiqué of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), in which States had reiterated their support for the legitimate rights of Argentina over the sovereignty of the Malvinas islands.  Adopting unilateral measures was not compatible with United Nations principles. Heads of State had underscored that the United Kingdom’s military presence in the South Atlantic ran counter to the policy of the region, which sought a peaceful solution to all territorial disputes.  The MERCOS UR communiqué had shown strong regional support for Argentina.  Brazil also supported a peaceful solution to the matter, and reaffirmed the importance of quickly renewing negotiations.  She expressed support for the Secretary-General’s good offices, as well as for the resolution just adopted, and voiced her expectation that between now and the next session substantial progress would be made towards a peaceful settlement of the dispute.

WANG MIN ( China ) welcomed the presence of Argentina’s President and paid tribute to the work of the Special Committee, which had followed closely the territorial dispute.  China’s position was consistent in that it sought a peaceful solution to the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) in line with the spirit of the United Nations Charter.  China hoped for constructive dialogue and an early peaceful solution, and expressed its support for the resolution just adopted.

MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua ) said the attendance of Argentina’s President was a historic event, and Argentina had every trust of the Special Committee.   Argentina’s sovereignty was beyond any doubt.  That colonial situation must be ended.  The United Kingdom resorted to force in 1883, driving out people who lived on the Islands and replacing them with its soldiers and nationals.  The situation on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was a clear case of colonial plunder.   The only way to end that dispute was through a peaceful negotiation. 

He asked the Secretary-General to step up his efforts through the principle of good offices.  It was deplorable that that dispute had not been resolved. Argentina was always willing to resume negotiations, which had been its consistent stance.  He condemned unilateral actions by the United Kingdom in the disputed area, including missile tests.  That nation’s attitude undermined efforts made in the matter.  It was time to put an end to British colonialism, and return the Islands to their true, legitimate owner.  In the spirit of solidarity and with full support, Nicaragua viewed the struggle of Argentina as its own and as that of the Latin American region as a whole.

BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) noted that the visit by the President of Argentina was “crystal clear proof” of that country’s respect for United Nations resolutions, its rejection of colonialism and its commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the dispute at hand.  The continued presence of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories — which was a polite expression meaning “colonial” — even after the Special Committee had existed for 51 years, should push all parties to end colonialism worldwide.  Syria, therefore, had supported the resolution on the Malvinas Islands.  Resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960 had laid down two important principles:  self-determination and territorial integrity.  Syria had never ceased to defend the rights of people to self-determination; however, that principle should not be used to defend territorial disputes.

He said his country rejected all unilateral actions undertaken by the United Kingdom in the Malvinas, as they undermined action aimed at constructive dialogue and violated United Nations resolutions.  Those actions concerned military exercises and the exploitation of natural resources.  He called upon the United Kingdom to implement the relevant resolutions by the Special Committee and to seriously consider engaging in negotiations.  It was wrong for that country to put nuclear weapons in that denuclearized region — “more civilized means” were needed to solve international questions.

SHEKOU MOMODU TOURAY ( Sierra Leone) said that, by its Charter and its own resolutions, the United Nations was obligated to uphold the right to self-determination of all peoples.  In that regard, the view often expressed in the Special Committee was that it was incumbent upon it to deal with Non-Self-Governing Territories on a case-by-case basis, always giving weight to the right of peoples to self-determination.  Sierra Leone’s position had always been that the right to self-determination of the Malvinas Islanders must be respected, and that a solution should be reached by peaceful means and a negotiated settlement. All parties should engage together, and with the Committee, as appropriate.  For its part, Sierra Leone was committed to helping reach that outcome.

ROBERT GUBA AISI ( Papua New Guinea) supported the view that the working methods of the Special Committee must be “retooled” in order to better achieve its goals.  If not, it ran the risk of being marginalized within the United Nations family.  The Special Committee must put together an innovative work plan with clear benchmarks to make progress towards fulfilling the rights of all peoples to self-determination.  A “one size fits all” approach was not appropriate; cases should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

However, he said, that could only be accomplished with the active participation of all stakeholders, and the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was no exception.  Papua New Guinea had joined the consensus today in the belief that the only way to break the impasse was through negotiations and dialogue.  While respecting the views and positions of both parties, the people of the Islands themselves should not be “idle spectators” in the process.  “The Falkland Islands have had a voice,” having participated in the work of the Special Committee; Islanders themselves had been heard today.  He felt that those wishes should be an inclusive part of the negotiation process.

The Special Committee on Decolonization will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 15 June, to continue its discussion of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), and take up the questions of Gibraltar and Western Sahara.

Ends * *** *

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/gacol3238.doc.htm