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onto any UN list for decolonization, that the official Press Release from the Committee for the first day had to be withdrawn and re-done to Argentina’s specifications.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

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.

Referendum – a game changer

7 Apr

Mike Summers, speaking on his return from his United States tour, told the Falkland Islands Radio Service that the American Congressmen that he had met talked about the Falklands Referendum being a “game changer.” BA Herald Editor

Summers, a Member of the Falklands’ Legislative Assembly, reviewed the trip which he’d made with Sharon Halford; ” We had a wide range of discussions on the first Monday in the States. I stopped in Miami for a while and talked to some cruise companies there … and also met with Congressman Mario Dules Belar who has a key interest in the cruise industry. ..  we had some very good discussions and confirmations from a couple of cruise vessel companies that they are reinstating their business in the Falklands again next year.

Sharon Halford carried on to Atlanta to do some interviews with CNN and I was diverted to New York so Sharon also dealt with the announcement of the results of the referendum in Washington on Tuesday and did all the media work there.

Wednesday was a key day in Washington. We had a whole series of meetings with various Congressmen and we met people in important positions in the Western Hemisphere Committee, people in the Foreign Affairs Committee and others who we knew from other activities. And without exception the Congressmen were saying that the referendum changed the game in the Falklands.

It changes the way that people should be seeing the Falklands and it brings another clear dynamic to these discussions they were very supportive of our right to self-determination. And I am not sure if you have heard or it has been announced that there is a Motion now on the floor of Congress supporting the right to self-determination for the people of the Falkland Islands.

Thursday was a day back in New York where we met with UN Officials. We had a very good opportunity to present the Falklands case about the referendum, how it went and what the programme was going on from there. They listened very carefully. I think they were generally very supportive of what we had done and what we are doing but naturally much more cautious about what the UN might say as a result of the referendum. There is no indication at this stage that the UN as an institution will take any different view in public. But clearly they get the referendum and what it means.

The same day we had a very interesting meeting with a number of UN Ambassadors, all of whom sit on the C-24. It was a very positive discussion with people clearly understanding what it is we are doing and why we are doing it. Some of them are agreeing very strongly with the concept of self-determination for the people of the Falklands. Others perhaps are slightly more cautious. Even amongst countries that we may not have expected automatic support it was evident. Countries like Indonesia and Iraq expressed quite strong support for the right to self-determination for the people of the Falklands. We also had a good discussion led by the Ambassador from Papua New Guiana about different ways of doing business in the C-24 and I think there is a caucus of countries that sit in the C-24 who are frankly fed up with the way that it operates and that they need to do it differently. It was an interesting discussion that will be very helpful to us and I am looking forward to June.

On Friday we went back to Washington and had meetings in the National Security Council and State Department who are the advisors to the US Government on Foreign Policy. They were very supportive and agreed that the referendum changed the dynamic. .. at a personal level very much appreciate what we were doing and why we were doing it. In fact the US position on the Falklands has changed by a degree or so. We are not expecting a big bang. It has changed by a degree or so in that the statement by the US after the referendum was that it recognised the democratic nature of the referendum and it then went on to refer to negotiations between all parties. That’s different because previous statements had referred to both parties…”

Asked about the reaction of Argentina’s Government, Summers said; “I think they are struggling to know how to deal with it. I think it is inevitable that they would go to the UN. I think the arguments that we have about not being an implanted population and not being a colony and about Argentina wanting to colonise the Falklands and all those sorts of things are pretty powerful and pretty well understood and simply going there and repeating a number of slogans that have a limited base in fact will have limited effect.  I don’t think it will make that much difference.”

All Fools Day

1 Apr

In the UK, and many other countries, today, April 1st, is known as Fools Day.

Today is also the 246th anniversary of Louis de Bougainville’s handing over of his East Falklands settlement to the Spanish in an act of French recognition that Spain claimed all of that part of the world. A claim not recognized by Britain, or indeed many other European nations – indeed a claim not recognized by Bougainville himself. 1763 Louis Antoine de Bougainville

April 1st, 1767 was however the last act of French involvement in the history of the Falkland Islands despite Bougainville’s attempt to get Napoleon to assert the French claim to sovereignty in 1801. Not that the French had discovered the archipelago – an accolade likely to belong to Portuguese explorers – but the French had been stopping off at East Falkland since at least 1700.

Bougainville, however, was the first to establish a permanent settlement on the eastern of the two main Falkland Islands which he did in February 1764; almost 12 months before the British arrived in West Falkland and reasserted their claim to all the islands.

At that time, French/Spanish politics was based on the ‘Family Compact’, an agreement recognizing that the two royal families were related. It was as a result of this agreement that Bougainville was forced by his King to hand over his settlement; an Order he fought against arguing that the Spanish had never attempted to settle on the Falklands and appeared not even to know where they were.

Britain’s claim was asserted by Commodore John Byron in January 1765; having been sent with orders based on earlier English claims to the archipelago; “Whereas nothing can redound more to the honour of this Nation, as a maritime power, to the dignity of the Crown of Great Britain, and to the advancement of trade and navigation thereof, than to make discoveries of countries hitherto unknown; and whereas there is reason to believe that lands and islands of great extent, hitherto unvisited by any European power, may be found in the Atlantic ocean, between the Cape of Good Hope and the Magellanic streight, within the latitudes convenient for navigation, and in climates adapted to the produce of commodities useful in commerce; and whereas his Majesty’s islands called Pepy’s island, and Falklands islands, lying within said tract; have never yet been sufficiently surveyed as that an accurate judgment may be formed of their coasts and product: his Majesty; conceiving no conjuncture so proper for an enterprise of this nature; as a time of profound peace, which his kingdoms at present happily enjoy, has thought fit that it should now be undertaken.”

Whilst it is noteworthy that the British King assumed sovereignty from the 1690’s, the reality was that the French claim was probably the better one. But they gave it up in a simple ceremony; “ I delivered our settlement to the Spaniards, who took possession of it by planting the Spanish colors which were saluted at sun-rising and sunset from the shore and on the ships. … “

And so the Spanish arrived two years after Byron reasserted the British claim – on April 1st 1767. All Fools Day.

http://falklandstimeline.wordpress.com/1480-1768/

http://falklandstimeline.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/falklands-history15.pdf

Timerman meets with Ban Ki-moon

27 Mar

According to news reports in the Spanish language press this morning, Argentina’s Foreign Minister met with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon to reassert his country’s claims to the Falkland islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. This meeting followed a working lunch with some of the permanent members of the  Decolonization Committee. united-nations-flag-icon

José Baraún Araníbar, President of the UNASUR block of nations, told Argentina’s media state agency Télam; “It is simply to reiterate South American states’ willingness to support not only Argentina’s rights but also to hold negotiations and settle the dispute.”

The United Nations press release simply stated: “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Foreign Ministers of Argentina, Cuba, Peru and Uruguay discussed the issue of the Falkland Islands during their meeting today at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom have been engaged in a dispute concerning the sovereignty of the islands, located in the south Atlantic Ocean.

According to a read-out of the meeting, the Secretary-General acknowledged the strong regional support on this issue and reiterated that his good offices to resolve this dispute remain available, if the parties are willing to engage.

Participating in the meeting were Héctor Timerman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina; Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba; José Beraún, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Peru; and Luis Almagro, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay.

The Falkland Islands is one of 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, along with Gibraltar, New Caledonia, Western Sahara, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and Tokelau.”