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onto any UN list for decolonization, that the official Press Release from the Committee for the first day had to be withdrawn and re-done to Argentina’s specifications.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


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

26 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legislative Assembly Members meet with Argentine Human Rights Group

16 May

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

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

Following the meeting, MLA Sawle said:

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

MLA Mike Summers said:

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

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.”

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.”

Uruguay Ministers declare Falklands Referendum a “NATO ploy”

25 Mar

The Defence and Foreign Ministers of Uruguay have spoken out against the recent referendum carried out by the people of the Falkland Islands in exercise of their right of self-determination despite Uruguayan lawmakers acting as observers to the democratic process. Referendum 2

Luis Almagro, Uruguay’s Foreign Minister, said that the; ” .. colonial enclave in the Malvinas is unacceptable and must end soon through diplomatic means. We insist that UN General Assembly Resolutions must be complied which means beginning to talk.”

Also speaking on the subject of the Falkland Islands, Defence Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro was quoted as saying; “Now Germany has borders with Argentina, because as we all know in Europe the orders are given by Germany. We also have France in the Guyana which is considered part of metropolitan France; Curacao is Dutch, in other words a NATO base. The next world war, if there is one will be for natural resources and we have abundant resources in South America. We have to prepare to defend ourselves, but together because no one country can face such a challenge, not even Brazil. “

Speaking about the referendum, he said; “It is something which lacks all logical reasoning, it is an absurd and ridiculous effort by the Foreign Office not to comply with UN resolutions calling for bilateral dialogue.” Huidobro went on to add that the referendum was a ‘farce’ and only part of NATO’s strategy to keep bases in the region.

There is a small British military base on the Falkland Islands which has been maintained at a minimum level since Argentina’s attempt to seize the archipelago by force in 1982, resulting in the Falklands War. The Royal Navy also maintains one warship in the area. NATO’s remit does not extend to the South Atlantic however, and Britain is not in breach of any relevant UN Resolutions as confirmed by the UN’s Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon in December.

Timerman to complain to the UN – again!

23 Mar

Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman is due to hold meetings this coming week with both the United Nation’s Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Special Committee on Decolonization, Diego Morejón Pazmiño. United-Nations

The meetings are due to be held in New York and Timerman is expected yet again to raise his country’s claim to the British Falkland Islands.

Argentina maintains that the United Kingdom is in breach of several United Nations’ Resolutions demanding that the UK sit down and negotiate the issue of sovereignty over the Islands with the Government in Buenos Aires. The recent display of self-determination by the Falkland Islanders through the process of a referendum, has disturbed the Government of Cristina Fernandez which wishes to discuss the matter with the two figures at the UN.

Ban Ki-moon has recently rubbished the idea that the UK, as a permanent member of the UN’s Security Council, is in breach of any relevant UN Resolutions on the subject of the Falkland Islands. Pazmiño, on the other hand, does not believe that the Falklands should be on the UN’s decolonization list as he does not think the matter is one concerning decolonization but is purely a sovereignty dispute.

Argentina claims that British forces destroyed their fledgling colony on East Falkland in 1833 after they had ‘inherited’ the archipelago from Spain in 1816. The UK’s claim however goes back to 1765 and the British Government in 1829 clearly warned Buenos Aires of its ownership, and to stay away. Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982 but were thrown off by a British Task Force.

Argentina raises the issue every year at the UN but there have been no UN General Assembly Resolutions on the matter since 1988.