16/06/2003
Press Release
GA/COL/3087



Special Committee on

Decolonization

8th Meeting (AM)


DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE CALLS FOR RESUMPTION OF NEGOTIATIONS BY ARGENTINA,

UNITED KINGDOM ON FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS)


Adopting Draft Resolution by Consensus, Committee Debates

Questions of Self-Determination, Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity


The Special Committee on Decolonization this morning regretted that, in spite of the widespread international support for a negotiation between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom that includes all aspects on the future of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the implementation of the General Assembly resolutions on that question has not yet started.


Adopting the resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) by consensus, the Committee also requested both Argentina and the United Kingdom to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation through the resumption of negotiations to find as soon as possible a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute.


The Committee’s action followed a discussion involving over 25 speakers, including the new Foreign Minister of Argentina, as well as petitioners from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).


Rafael Bielsa, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Worship of Argentina, said that his country’s willingness to peacefully solve the sovereignty dispute had not been met by a corresponding willingness from the United Kingdom.  In a joint statement in 1989, Argentina and the United Kingdom had agreed to normalize their bilateral relations and to apply a formula for sovereignty by which both countries safeguarded their positions in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. 


While some of the understandings under the formula on sovereignty reached between his country and the United Kingdom on practical matters had proved useful, he noted, the understandings were not a substitute for a definitive solution of the sovereignty dispute.  A solution could only be achieved by resumed negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.


The Argentine claim to the Falklands was baseless, stated Mike Summers, Legislative Councillor, Falkland Islands Government, because it relied solely on the dubious bases of history and territorial integrity.  The so-called occupation of the Falklands probably never happened, and, if it did, was very short lived.  Self-determination for the people of the Falkland Islands must be the guiding principle for the United Kingdom, Argentina and the Committee.  The people of the Falkland Islands did not wish to change from British administration to an Argentine administration.


With a new Government in Argentina, he added, there was an opportunity for Argentina to demonstrate a new political maturity on the world stage.  In the future, no resolution on the Falkland Islands should be brought which did not note the right to self-determination of all peoples.


At no time, stated Uruguay’s representative, did Argentina challenge the right of the people of the Malvinas to freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development.  Argentina had always said it would respect the way of life of the inhabitants of the Malvinas.  Those inhabitants could choose to live under either Argentine or British sovereignty.  But they could not choose to be British subjects while living on Argentine territory.


Introducing the resolution, Chile’s representative acknowledged that the question was a special one different from other colonial cases, due to the sovereignty dispute between two States.  It stated that the only way to put an end to the dispute was through a negotiated solution between the two parties, who were called on to resume dialogue and negotiations on the issue.  He supported Argentina’s sovereignty rights and reiterated that the only way forward was through bilateral negotiations.  There were no reasons to continue postponing a solution to the Malvinas question.


Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of Peru (on behalf of the Rio Group), Paraguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)), Brazil, China, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Cuba, Côte d’Ivoire, Syria, Tunisia, Russian Federation, Bolivia, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Papua New Guinea.


Other petitioners addressing the Committee were John Birmingham from the Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands, James Douglas Lewis and Alejandro Betts.


The Committee, formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and commonly referred to as the “Special Committee of 24”, will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 18 June.


Background


The Special Committee on decolonization met this morning to consider the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), including a draft resolution (document A/AC.109/2003/L.12).  By the terms of the text, the Committee would regret that, in spite of the widespread international support for a negotiation between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom that includes all aspects on the future of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the implementation of the General Assembly resolutions on this question has not yet started.


According to the draft, the Committee would also request both Governments to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation through the resumption of negotiations in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute relating to the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).


For background on the Committee, see Press Release GA/COL/3083 issued on

2 June.


Statements


MIKE SUMMERS, Legislative Councillor, Falkland Islands Government, said his country was not a colony.  His Government had been fully aware of the option of free association and had knowingly followed that path.  The Falkland Islands had a modern constitution and an excellent working relationship with the United Kingdom.  For some years, Falkland Islanders had run their own affairs through a democratically elected government, with the exceptions of foreign affairs and defence, which were taken care of by the United Kingdom.


Through its failure to respect the terms of the United Nations Charter on the right to self-determination, Argentina sought to frustrate self-government in the Falkland Islands, he said.  The civil service in the Falkland Islands was free of corruption and acted only on the advice of the Executive Council, whose voting members were all elected members of the Legislative Council.  His Government did not have senior officials appointed by the United Kingdom Government to determine policy or run its affairs.


He said that, while there was not movement in the Falkland Islands for independence, it closely guarded its right to determine its own affairs.  The Argentine claim to the Falklands was baseless because it relied solely on the dubious bases of history and territorial integrity.  The so-called occupation of the Falklands probably never happened, and if it did, was very short lived.  In any event, the so-called occupation was over 160 years ago.  It was both a practical and political impossibility to roll back history 160 years and expect to find happy solutions.  The doctrine of territorial integrity relied on the myth of occupation.  Self-determination for the people of the Falkland Islands must be the guiding principle for the United Kingdom, Argentina and the Committee.  The people of the Falkland Islands did not wish to change from British administration to an Argentine administration.


With a new Government in Argentina, there was an opportunity for Argentina to demonstrate a new political maturity on the world stage, he said.  The Committee should support his Government.  In future years, no resolution on the Falkland Islands should be brought which did not note the right to self-determination of all peoples.


JOHN BIRMINGHAM, Legislative Councillor, Falkland Islands Government, said that the Falkland Islands was an internally self-governing territory working in partnership with the United Kingdom.  It had a thoroughly modern constitution, to which the Government was currently considering further improvements.  The elected Government of the Falkland Islands wished the new President of Argentina and his Government well for the future and hoped that there would be further cooperation in the South-West Atlantic on matters of mutual interest and concern, not least in the conservation of marine resources.


It was time, he stated, for the politicians in Argentina and the Special Committee to look at the reality of the situation and put outdated views and prejudices in the past.  He thanked those countries and delegations who had in the past and continued today to support the people of the Falkland Islands in their struggle for recognition of their rights to self-determination.  They obviously recognized what a decolonization committee was all about and were happy to see one-time colonies moving from that status at their own pace and to a future of their own choice.


Mr. SUMMERS, responding to a question from the floor, said the United Kingdom Government did invite members of the Falkland Islands Government to meetings to discuss matters of mutual concern.  The United Kingdom position in respect to sovereignty had not changed, and his Government was invited to participate on matters of practical concern.  There were occasions when his Government wished to be represented at various international bodies and trade fairs, but was obstructed by the Argentine Government.


JAMES DOUGLAS LEWIS, petitioner, said he was a Falklands Islander who had lived on the Argentine mainland for several generations.  Since the turn of the nineteenth century, Argentina had welcomed immigrants from around the world.  Argentina had just elected a new president and Argentine democracy was slowly maturing.  Record crops, herds and the increase in the wool industry made him optimistic about Argentina’s economy, despite its foreign debt.  In southern Patagonia, where most Falkland Islanders had settled, there was a promising future in tourism.  Many farms in Patagonia had had a good season, and the possibility of working and sharing experience with farms on the Islands would be interesting.


He said Argentina’s legitimate claim to sovereignty could not be denied.  An agreement must be reached.  The rights of Argentina’s claim to sovereignty would not be dropped.  He requested the United Kingdom to respect resolutions on the matter to find a just and lasting solution to the controversy.


ALEJANDRO JACOBO BETTS, a petitioner from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said the issue was one of sovereignty, and the only parties involved in the dispute were Argentina and the United Kingdom.  The cause of the problem was the illegal occupation of a territory by an occupying Power and the resulting claim by the prejudiced State for the full recognition of its pre-existing legitimate sovereignty.  The only acceptable basis on which to find a just and definitive solution to the Falkland Islands/Malvinas question was through the application of the principle of territorial integrity. 

The dispute began in 1833, when British military forces invaded and occupied the Islands by force, expelling the original Argentine authorities and inhabitants, he said.  Since then, Argentina had never consented to that violation of her territorial integrity.  The principle of self-determination could not be utilized to transform an illegitimate occupation into full sovereignty, under the protective shield of the United Nations.  He wondered why, in an age when colonialism was being eliminated and mutual respect between nations was being consolidated, did the United Kingdom persist in maintaining its occupation of the Falklands/Malvinas in detriment to its relations with a friendly State.


HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) introduced the draft resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  The text reflected the main elements of the doctrine the United Nations had drawn up over the years on the question.  It acknowledged that the question was a special one different from other colonial cases, due to the sovereignty dispute between two States.  It stated that the only way to put an end to the dispute was through a negotiated solution between the two parties, who were called on to resume dialogue and negotiations on the issue.


He said that the presence and participation of many representatives from Latin American States represented the high interest of the region in finding a just solution to the question.  He expressed support for Argentina’s sovereignty rights and reiterated that the only way forward was through bilateral negotiations.  There were no reasons to continue postponing a solution to the Malvinas question.  He called on both parties to resume effective negotiations as soon as possible.


RAFAEL BIELSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Worship of Argentina, said that since 1965 the General Assembly, in 10 resolutions, had recognized the existence of the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands.  Respect for the territorial integrity of the Argentine Republic with the recognition of the interests of the inhabitants of the islands must be reconciled.  In 1985, the Assembly had reaffirmed that position by ruling out the applicability of self-determination to the colonial case of the Malvinas Islands.


He said the recovery of the full exercise of sovereignty, respecting the way of life of the inhabitants of the islands and in accordance with international law, was a mandate set forth in Argentina’s Constitution.  In his inaugural address, President Nestor Kirchner had stressed that he comes from the south of Argentina, which was imbued with the Malvinas culture.  From the beginning of its independent life in 1810, Argentina had expressed its willingness to exercise its effective sovereignty over the archipelagos and maritime areas of the South Atlantic inherited from Spain.  On 3 January 1833, British forces had occupied the Malvinas Islands, ousting the Argentine population and authorities established there.  Some 170 years after the British military occupation of the archipelagos, the parties to the dispute must commit themselves to the resumption of the negotiations.


His country’s willingness to peacefully solve the sovereignty dispute, as set forth by Assembly resolutions, had not been met by a corresponding willingness from the United Kingdom, he said.  In a joint statement in 1989, Argentina and the United Kingdom had agreed to normalize their bilateral relations and to apply a formula for sovereignty by which both countries safeguarded their positions in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.  While some of the understandings under the formula on sovereignty reached between his country and the United Kingdom on practical matters had proved useful, the understandings were not a substitute for a definitive solution of the sovereignty dispute.  His country would continue to protest British unilateral acts in the disputed area.


A solution could only be achieved by resumed negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom, he said.  The sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas could only be resolved by the two Governments that were a party to it.  He reaffirmed Argentina’s willingness to contribute towards that end.  At the same time, however, he called upon the United Kingdom to positively respond to Argentina’s willingness to negotiate, thus, acting in compliance with those resolutions.


OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru), speaking on behalf of the 19-member Rio Group, said that, while progress towards decolonization had been substantial, it was still an unfinished effort, which continued to prompt special attention from the international community.  The plan of action for the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism had made a plea to complete the process of decolonization of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, whether through the exercise of self-determination or through holding negotiations with interested States with a view to resolving outstanding issues.


That spirit of reconciliation, he continued, was linked to the Malvinas, whose solution involved resolving a sovereignty dispute.  The Rio Group believed that the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom must resume their negotiations to find as soon as possible a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute of the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, in accordance with resolutions of the Special Committee and the General Assembly.


Speaking in his national capacity, he said that the dispute must be settled according to the sovereignty right of Argentina, based on historic, legal and geographic criteria.  Frank and open dialogue should make it possible to find a peaceful solution to the dispute.


ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay), on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) and associated States, said the Committee was once again considering the question of the sovereignty dispute regarding the Malvinas Islands where a colonial situation persisted.  The MERCOSUR members, in a declaration on the Malvinas Islands, firmly asserted their support for Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute.  The draft resolution expressed the common position on the sovereignty dispute to achieve a definitive solution, thus, ending the colonial situation.  He supported the draft resolution and trusted that it would be adopted as in previous years without a vote.


PAULO ROBERTO CAMPOS TARRISSE DA FONTOURA (Brazil) said the Special Committee was considering, once again, the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom concerning the Malvinas Islands, where there was still a colonial situation, and which must be resolved through peaceful means in accordance with General Assembly resolutions.  He reiterated his support for Argentina’s rights in the sovereignty dispute.  In recent years, Argentina and the United Kingdom had managed to agree on a set of provisional measures in areas such as maritime and air transportation.  He hoped that that climate of cooperation would extend to other areas.


On 10 June, he informed the Committee, the thirty-third general assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) had issued a statement on the Malvinas, reiterating the need for both Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute.  He regretted the fact that the United Nations General Assembly resolutions regarding the need to resume negotiations had still not been implemented.  He supported the draft resolution introduced and hoped it would be adopted without a vote.


WANG YINGFAN (China) said the General Assembly had adopted a resolution as early as 1965 inviting the Governments of the United Kingdom and Argentina to seek a solution to the question.  The Special Committee, on numerous occasions, had requested the two Governments to resume negotiations to find a peaceful solution.  The dispute should be settled through peaceful negotiation.  He hoped the Governments would continue their dialogue and work for a peaceful settlement of the question at an early date. 


ADRIANA PULIDO SANTANA (Venezuela) said the presence of Argentina’s Foreign Minister highlighted Argentina’ commitment to continue efforts to resolve the question of the Malvinas Islands.  A few days ago, the members of the OAS had expressed their continuing interest in the question of the Malvinas Islands.  The presence of many Latin American delegations signalled solidarity in the quest for a resolution to the matter.


She reiterated her country’s support to Argentina’s right regarding the dispute.  The General Assembly had recognized the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom and had determined the need for negotiations on the matter.  The Committee must deal with all pending colonial matters.  The draft reflected the United Nations’ doctrine regarding the Malvinas question and made a new plea for the resumption of negotiations.  Bearing in mind the good bilateral relations between the two countries, she trusted that there were good conditions to renew the quest for a satisfactory settlement of the question.


MARINO VILLANUEVA CALLOT (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the host country of the Summit of Ibero-American countries, said his country had always supported the just and ongoing dialogue between Argentina and the United Kingdom so they could find a satisfactory solution to the dispute over the Malvinas in a peaceful manner.  He would continue to urge the parties to continue negotiations leading to a definitive and realistic solution.  He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to support the Special Committee, which was an appropriate forum to continue to deal with the Malvinas Islands and other Non-Self-Governing Territories.  He also supported the draft resolution introduced today.


The twelfth Summit of heads of State and government, held in Bavaro in November 2002, had adopted a statement on the issue in which it reaffirmed the need for both Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume, as soon as possible, negotiations to find a swift solution to the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, in accordance with the United Nations and OAS resolutions and the provisions of the United Nations Charter, including the principle of territorial integrity.


FELIPE H. PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said he was convinced of the validity of the Argentine claim and the need to resolve the dispute as soon as possible through peaceful means.  His support for Argentina’s cause was based on solid legal and historical bases.  He emphasized the core of the dispute, the relationship between self-determination of people and the principle of territorial integrity of States.  At no time did Argentina challenge the right of the people of the Malvinas to freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development.  Argentina had always said it would respect the way of life of the inhabitants of the Malvinas.


It was not a matter of whether Argentina would respect the right of self-determination of the inhabitants of the Malvinas, he said.  They could choose to live under either Argentine or British sovereignty.  But they could not choose to be British subjects while living on Argentine territory.  Much would depend on strengthening the relationship between Argentina and the United Kingdom.


DARMANSJAH DJUMALA (Indonesia) said it was imperative that the status of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, including the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), be resolved expeditiously.  The Assembly had long considered the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) to be a special case.  Despite the Assembly’s continued consideration of the question, a final solution on the matter was yet to be worked out.  He was heartened, however, at some positive developments that had taken place in the bilateral relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  The question could only be resolved through peaceful means in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions, the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.  It was gratifying to note that both parties had expressed a willingness to resume negotiations.  He hoped the Committee would reach a consensus on the draft.


ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said he supported Argentina’s legitimate right in the sovereignty dispute in the Malvinas.  Only an open dialogue between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom would lead to a just, peaceful and honourable solution to the conflict.  Cuba wished to co-sponsor the draft resolution.


BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUÉ (Côte d’Ivoire) said the atmosphere between the parties seemed to be one of good relations.  Côte d’Ivoire, a friend of both countries, believed that the two Governments should consider all aspects of the future of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  An ultimate solution to the question must be found.  In that spirit, he called on all Member States to adopt the draft resolution.


MILAD ATIEH (Syria) said that the adoption of the draft resolution by consensus would show the role the international community was playing in helping to resolve the dispute over the Malvinas Islands.  The continuation of dialogue and meetings between Argentina and the United Kingdom would make it possible to achieve a solution acceptable to both sides.

KAIS KABTANI (Tunisia) expressed his support for the adoption of the draft resolution by consensus.


YURI M. RUDAKOV (Russian Federation) favoured the adoption of the draft resolution and hoped that, as in past years, it would be possible to achieve consensus on the issue.  He supported the resumption of negotiations between the United Kingdom and Argentina leading to a peaceful solution in accordance with General Assembly resolutions.


ERWIN ORTIZ GANDARILLAS (Bolivia) said his country’s position on the issue was well known.  He reiterated his support for Argentina’s right in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas.  Also, he appealed for the United Kingdom and Argentina to begin negotiations as soon as possible to achieve a solution to the problem.  He hoped the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.


LUC JOSEPH OKIO (Congo) said his delegation had continually supported the need for an open dialogue as the sole means for achieving a peaceful solution.  He supported the draft resolution before the Committee in the hope that a decisive move by the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom would make it possible to achieve significant progress.


BIRHANEMESKEL ABEBE (Ethiopia) encouraged the peaceful resolution of the issue through sustained efforts by the concerned parties.  In that context, he supported the spirit and letter of the draft resolution before the Committee.


LIBERATA MULAMULA (United Republic of Tanzania) said progress on the question must be made, taking into account the interest of the population of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  She called on all parties to resolve the question and said her country would join consensus in adopting the resolution.


Acting without a vote, the Committee then adopted the draft resolution.


Speaking in explanation of position after action, PATRICK ALBERT LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said he had taken the floor after the adoption of the draft because he feared his comments would be misinterpreted.  He hoped for positive results regarding the resolution of the question.  The discussions had dealt with the rights of eminent domain.  There had been a plea for respect for the people involved.  The draft resolution made no reference to the principle of self-determination.  The Special Committee, it seemed, would need to be renamed to include, in brackets, “arguments for and against self determination”.  There had been no mention of the three options.


He said he was encouraged with the meetings between Argentina and the United Kingdom, and he urged intensification of cooperation in areas such as horticulture and fisheries.  The Committee should differentiate between matters of self-determination and issues of sovereignty.  The Committee had become an exhortative committee, as it did not have a mandate to deal with the question of sovereignty.  If the Committee’s deliberation of such matters eased pressure on the major countries involved, then it must continue to debate such matters, but not under the guise of self determination.


LAMUEL A. STANISLAUS (Grenada), speaking after the adoption of the draft, also welcomed the Foreign Minister and recognized the presence of the petitioners.  It was the thirteenth time he had participated in the Committee’s discussion on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  There was no question that the core of the discussion had been on the subject of sovereignty.  That knot had to be untied so that the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) could be resolved and the people of the Falklands could be heard.  The countries must concentrate on the things that united them and leave the “impossible” for later.


JIMMY URE OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said he had joined the consensus in the belief that there was a solution to the problem.  He had similar questions, however, on the Committee’s mandate, and whether it had the mandate to discuss issues of sovereignty.  He urged the Committee to take a proactive view of the status of the 16 territories as it sought to remove all vestiges of colonialism.


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