Tag Archives: General Assembly

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onto any UN list for decolonization, that the official Press Release from the Committee for the first day had to be withdrawn and re-done to Argentina’s specifications.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


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.

Cristina calls for “holy intervention”

19 Mar

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

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

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

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

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


99% say Yes

12 Mar

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

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









Falklands Referendum – what next?

12 Mar

With the polls closed and counting underway, the effect of the Falkland Islands’ Referendum continues to reverberate around South America and many other parts of the world.

Condemned by Argentina’s Government as “illegal,” and criticised by many other South American Governments, including Uruguay, Venezuela and Ecuador, the plebiscite to determine the Islanders’ wishes regarding their future is sure to keep the issue of sovereignty in the press for some weeks to come while its importance is debated. Referendum 2

Argentina’s view is that the vote can in no way affect their claim to the South Atlantic archipelago; which, as they see it, is a bone of contention between themselves and Great Britain, unaffected by any third party. An argument in which the Islanders have no place and no say. Argentina’s position remains that they inherited the islands on their independence from Spain, and that the Falklands were taken from them by force in 1833 in an act of colonialism that remains to be addressed today.

The British view is that the Falkland Islanders, like any people living in a non-self governing territory, have the right to determine their own future. A right enshrined in the United Nations’ Charter – a multilateral treaty signed by both Argentina and the UK. Britain’s claim goes back to 1765 and the British Government in 1829, clearly warned Buenos Aires to stay away from British property. Britain has also had to eject two armed forces sent by Argentina to seize this British territory – in 1833 and 1982.

The United Nation’s position remains ambiguous. A supporter of both decolonization, and the human right of ‘self-determination,’ the UN has not issued any Resolution on the issue of the Falklands since 1988. The UN condemned Argentina’s invasion in 1982, and has appeared reluctant to deal with the issue following the renewal of diplomatic relations in 1989. One sub-sub-Committee of the UN’s General Assembly, the Decolonization Committee, supports Argentina but is seen as outdated and heavily biased against the UK.

In reality, the Referendum cannot be seen as illegitimate, as there is no law which bans it and it has been conducted within the normally accepted rules concerning such events. Rules observed by an international team of lawmakers put together by the Canadians and which includes observers from Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile; all of whom support Argentina’s supposedly “legitimate” rights. Therefore these two days have seen a perfectly legal event in which the Falklanders’ have been able to express their desires. There is little doubt about the result however, as the Islanders’ remain staunchly British.

What is in doubt is the effect that this event will have. Some say that it’ll make no difference to either Argentina’s aggressive demands or UN indifference. Others say that it has already made a difference as the world has been reminded that the Falklands are not just an empty group of windswept rocks but a land with a people.

A people with the right to speak.