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

18 Oct

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

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

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onto any UN list for decolonization, that the official Press Release from the Committee for the first day had to be withdrawn and re-done to Argentina’s specifications.

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

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

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

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

Another year gone.

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

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

26 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

Falklands’ referendum recognised at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference

6 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

Princess Anne Threatened over the Falklands

6 Sep

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

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

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

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

The Falklands at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

4 Sep

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

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

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

Falklands Memorial Service for Thatcher

17 Apr

A Memorial Service for Margaret Thatcher was held yesterday at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Christ Church Cathedral in the capital Stanley was packed; a measure of the esteem in which she is held in the islands. MT Memorial

Members of the British military, whose predecessors evicted the Argentinean invaders in 1982, also attended the service in uniform.

Ian Hanson, a member of the Falkland Islands Assembly gave the tribute; “In the case of the Falklands, her conviction that standing up for justice and freedom was the right thing to do, may have made her difficult decisions easier. We must give thanks for that conviction and for her strength of character. Because of her courage, and the skill, bravery and sacrifice of Britain’s armed forces – our liberty and our future were secured. Lady Thatcher’s legacy in our Islands goes much further than our liberation. She made the UK’s position on the Falklands very clear; there would be no negotiation over the Falkland Islands unless and until the Islanders wished it. This has ensured that subsequent British governments, regardless of political affiliation, have publicly reaffirmed the right of Falkland Islanders to determine their own future. “More than 30 years on, the support of the current British Government could not be stronger.”

Mr Hanson told the congregation: “Today’s modern Falkland Islands is forward-looking, internally self-governing and financially self-sufficient. There is perhaps no greater legacy to a prime minister who was not afraid to stand up for freedom and justice, than the people and community she allowed us to become. One thing is certain, in the Falkland Islands her memory will never be forgotten. Margaret Thatcher – What a woman!  What a leader!  What a friend!”

 

The Falklands’ “Winston Churchill”

8 Apr

Falkland Islanders mourned Margaret Thatcher on Monday, revering her as “our Winston Churchill” after the 1982 invasion by Argentine forces, while many Argentines bitterly recalled her role in defending the South Atlantic territory.

Flags flew at half-staff on the Falklands after news of Thatcher’s death aged 87. margaret-thatcher-falklands-jan-1983

Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister when Argentina sent an invasion force to seize the Falklands in April 1982. PM Thatcher’s immediate reaction was to fight back. ” … for the first time for many years, British sovereign territory has been invaded by a foreign power. …The Government have now decided that a large task force will sail as soon as all preparations are complete. HMS Invincible will be in the lead and will leave port on Monday. …

The people of the Falkland Islands, like the people of the United Kingdom, are an island race. Their way of life is British; their allegiance is to the Crown. They are few in number, but they have the right to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and to determine their own allegiance. It is the wish of the British people and the duty of Her Majesty’s Government to do everything that we can to uphold that right. That will be our hope and our endeavour..”

The Falklands War lasted only 74 days before the British Task Force forced the surrender of the Argentine forces dug in on the Falklands; but not before the loss of over 900 lives including those of three Islanders.

In many ways the War defined Thatchers period as Prime Minister and earned here the name “Iron Lady.’

Her resolve was unflinching; even when pushed by the US President to find a diplomatic solution; “I didn’t lose some of my best ships and some of my finest lives, to leave quietly under a ceasefire without the Argentines withdrawing… I’m not handing over the island now … I can’t lose the lives and blood of our soldiers to hand the islands over to a contact group. It’s not possible… This is democracy and our island,..”

Islander Tim Miller, 60, recalled the 1982 conflict. “For me, she was for the Falklands what Winston Churchill was to Great Britain in 1940. She was the right person in the right place at the right time and did the right thing.”

However Thatcher’s death stirred up angry memories in Argentina. Jose Raschella, 48, said: “I hope God can forgive her because I can’t. The pain that she left our country can’t be erased, we’ll never forget all that pain.” On Twitter, left-leaning political groups celebrated the demise of a “war criminal.”

Carlos Grillo, a 63-year-old shop owner in Buenos Aires, said he had mixed feelings. “I hated her at that time, so I can’t be impartial. I can’t say ‘I’m sorry, I’m not sorry.”

In Buenos Aires, while most people were pleased or indifferent about Thatcher’s death, Alcides Francesco expressed some admiration for the British leader. “She was an English patriot. If we’d had several Margaret Thatchers here, the Falkland Islands would be ours.”

The Argentine government made no official comment.