SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE ADOPTS TEXTS RELATED TO QUESTION OF FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS), DISSEMINATION OF DECOLONIZATION INFORMATION

1 July 1999
GA/COL/3014

SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE ADOPTS TEXTS RELATED TO QUESTION OF FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS), DISSEMINATION OF DECOLONIZATION INFORMATION

1 July 1999

Press ReleaseGA/COL/3014

SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE ADOPTS TEXTS RELATED TO QUESTION OF FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS), DISSEMINATION OF DECOLONIZATION INFORMATION

19990701 Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina Speaks; Committee Also Adopts Text on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories

The Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom were requested to resume negotiations in order to find a peaceful solution to the dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), according to a resolution adopted without a vote this afternoon by the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

Also by that text, the Committee expressed regret that implementation of General Assembly resolutions on the issue had not yet begun, in spite of the widespread international support for negotiations between the two Governments. The Committee reiterated its firm support for the mission of good offices of the Secretary-General in order to assist the parties in complying with General Assembly resolutions on the issue. It also decided to keep the issue under review. Speaking before the vote, Guido Di Tella, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said that there was currently a habit of politicizing everything from trivial issues to issues that were not trivial, such as fisheries, oil and tourism. The problem was that both the islanders and Argentineans were suspicious that each side was trying to get the political advantage. All sides needed to put an end to the present situation. It was essential to normalize every aspect of relations in order to live a normal life, side by side, in the South Atlantic.

Jan Cheek, a representative of the Falkland Islands Government, said the people of the Falkland Islands had a right to self-determination and looked to the Special Committee to recognize that right. It offended a sense of natural justice to see countries enjoying rights that they wished to deny to others. She asked that the Committee support the Falkland Islands in resisting attempts by Argentina to make the Islands its colony in the South Atlantic. The people of the Falkland Islands had the right to freely determine its political status, and the people chose to retain their association with the United Kingdom as an overseas territory.

Decolonization Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/COL/3014 10th Meeting (PM) 1 July 1999

Statements on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were also made by the following petitioners in their personal capacity: Alejandro Jacobo Betts, Ricardo Patterson, Carlos Moyano Llerena.

The representatives of Chile, Uruguay (on behalf of MERCOSUR), Antigua and Barbuda, Venezuela, Indonesia, Fiji, Grenada, Cuba, China, Bolivia and Sierra Leone also made statements.

Sharon Halford of the Falkland Island Government also spoke.

Also this afternoon, the Committee adopted a draft resolution on dissemination of information on decolonization. By that text, the Committee requested that the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Department of Political Affairs take into account its suggestions with regard to the use of all available media in publicizing the work of the Organization on decolonization. It further requested the Department of Political Affairs and the DPI to encourage the involvement of non-governmental organizations in the dissemination of information on decolonization.

A draft resolution on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories was also adopted by the Special Committee. By its terms, the Committee requested the administering Powers concerned to transmit or continue to transmit to the Secretary-General the information prescribed in Article 73 e of the Charter, as well as the fullest possible information on political and constitutional developments in the Territories concerned, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year in those Territories.

The next meeting of the Special Committee will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 6 July, to consider the remaining items on its agenda.

Committee Work Programme

The Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this afternoon to begin its considerations of the question of The Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and to conclude its considerations of the question of East Timor. The Committee is also expected to adopt its provisional daily agenda and take up requests for hearing from petitioners.

The Committee will have before it a working paper prepared by the Secretariat on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), a draft resolution of the question of the dissemination of information on decolonization, and another draft on the question of information from Non-Self-Governing Territories. It will also take up the report of the Special Committee

Question of Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

The working paper prepared by the Secretariat (document A/AC.109/1999/12) states that the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is a Non-Self-Governing Territory administered by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is situated in the South Atlantic, about 770 kilometres north-east of Cape Horn and has a population of 2,221, as of 1996. The Constitution of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), which came into effect on 18 April 1985, vests executive power in a Governor, who is the personal representative of the British monarch.

A 10 June 1998 press release by the Government of Argentina stated that, since the beginning of its existence as an independent nation, the Argentine Republic has demonstrated the firm political determination to exercise its effective sovereignty in the southern territories inherited from Spain, including the Malvinas. That sovereignty was interrupted when, in 1833, British forces occupied the islands, expelling the population and the Argentine authorities established there. Argentina never accepted that act of force, and today it reiterates its unwavering determination to regain through the peaceful means of diplomatic negotiations and in accordance with the numerous appeals by the international community, the exercise of sovereignty over the Malvinas.

Before his visit to Argentina in August 1998, United Kingdom Foreign Office Minister Tony Lloyd said, at a meeting of the House of Commons, that the United Kingdom position towards the Falklands remains that: "we have no doubt about our sovereignty over the islands, and we remain fully committed to protecting the right of the Falkland Islanders to determine their future. There is no inconsistency between that and our real commitment to continue working with the Argentines on all other aspects of our relationship".

The President of Argentina, Carlos Menem, visited London at the

Decolonization Committee - 3 - Press Release GA/COL/3014 10th Meeting (PM) 1 July 1999

invitation of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, from 27 October to 1 November 1998. It was the first time an Argentine head of State had visited the United Kingdom since the 1982 war. On 29 October 1998, Argentina and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement on cooperation, entitled "Action Agenda", which states that both Governments reaffirm their support for the United Nations and the commitment of their respective countries to resolve their differences exclusively through peaceful means. Both Governments are determined to continue working together in a spirit of cooperation on all issues of mutual interest, particularly in the South Atlantic context.

The General Assembly, on 2 November 1998, decided to defer consideration of the issue and to include it in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fourth session. Draft Resolutions

By the terms of a draft resolution on dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC.109/1999/L.3) submitted by its Chairman, the Committee would approve activities undertaken by the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Department of Political Affairs in the field of dissemination of information on decolonization.

In addition, the Committee would request that those two departments take into account the suggestions of the Special Committee with regard to the use of all available media in publicizing the work of the Organization in the field of decolonization. The Committee would further request that a working relationship be maintained with appropriate intergovernmental organizations, particularly in the Pacific and Caribbean regions, through consultations and exchange of information.

By the draft, the Committee would also request the Department of Political Affairs and the DPI to encourage the involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the dissemination of information on decolonization. It would also request those two departments to report to the Committee on measures taken in the implementation of the present text. The Committee would also request that all States, including the administering Powers, continue to extend their cooperation in the dissemination of information.

By the terms of a text on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/1999/L.4), also submitted by its Chairman, the Committee would request the concerned administering Powers to transmit or continue to transmit to the Secretary-General the information prescribed in Article 73 e of the Charter, as well as the fullest possible information on political and constitutional developments in the Territories concerned, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year in those Territories.

Decolonization Committee - 4 - Press Release GA/COL/3014 10th Meeting (PM) 1 July 1999

The Committee would also request the Secretary-General to continue to ensure that adequate information is drawn from all available sources in connection with the preparation of the working papers relating to the Territories concerned. It would decide, subject to any decision that the General Assembly may take in that connection, to continue to discharge the functions entrusted to it under Assembly resolution 1970 (XVII), in accordance with established procedures.

By the terms of a text on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (document A/AC.109/1999/L.5), the Committee would request the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom 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).

Also by the text, the Committee would express regret that, in spite of the widespread international support for negotiations 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 the issue has not yet started. The Committee would also reiterate its firm support for the mission of good offices of the Secretary- General in order to assist the parties in complying with the request made by the General Assembly resolutions on the issue. It would also decide to keep the issue under review.

Statements on Question of Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

SHARON HALFORD, representative of the Falkland Islands Government, reminded the Committee that last year the Argentinean Foreign Minister had said that respect for the ways of life of Falkland islanders had been a commitment to which his Government was committed. He had further promoted tripartite dialogue. As a result, earlier this year, the Legislative Councillors of the Falkland Islands had initiated talks, the first of their kind, between the United Kingdom and Argentina to look at ways that would be mutually beneficial to those persons who lived in the South Atlantic islands. However, in all the efforts being made, the missing factor was still the recognition to the right of self-determination for the people of the Falkland Islands.

She noted that last year the Argentine Foreign Minister had said that self-determination did not apply to the inhabitants of the Falklands Islands since they were descendants of settlers who had been transplanted there. However, she noted, currently the islanders had established excellent communications with the telecommunication and internet services available to them. Also, a direct twice-weekly air service to the United Kingdom was enjoyed. Further, the Argentine Government had proceeded to do its utmost to isolate the Falklands Islands from South America. The Falkland Islands

Decolonization Committee - 5 - Press Release GA/COL/3014 10th Meeting (PM) 1 July 1999

currently had the status of their choice and had been continually moving along the decolonization route with the help and support of the United Kingdom.

The right to self-determination, she added, was not only enshrined in their Constitution, but also published in the white paper issued by the United Kingdom. The Falkland Islands did not rely on the United Kingdom for budgetary or developmental aid and stated that, to promote real cooperation and progress for the Islands, the Committee should recognize the right to self-determination. They were willing to work with Argentina in a mutually beneficial manner.

JAN CHEEK, representative of the Falkland Islands Government, said the population of the Falkland Islands was small, but it was dedicated to maintaining its chosen way of life. The people of the Falkland Islands were certain of their right to self-determination and looked to the Special Committee to recognize that right, thus, upholding one of the most basic principles of the United Nations Charter. It offended a sense of natural justice to see countries enjoying rights that they wished to deny to others. "Why should we suffer discrimination in this matter because of our small population and proximity to another more powerful country?" She asked that the Committee support the Falkland Islands in resisting attempts by Argentina to make the Islands its colony in the South Atlantic.

She said that the people of the Falkland Islands had the right to freely determine its political status. The people there chose to retain their association with the United Kingdom as an Overseas Territory. The Falklands Islands also warmly welcomed the United Kingdom White Paper on Overseas Territories, in particular its recognition of the right to self-determination. With the exception of defence costs, the Falkland Islands was economically self-sufficient, not dependent on aid from the United Kingdom.

She added that it was unfortunate that the claim on her homeland by Argentina had inhibited the development of a normal neighbourly relationship with it. The Falkland Islands Government welcomed the improved relationship between the United Kingdom and Argentina, but only in the clear context of the United Kingdom's assurances that the sovereignty of the Falklands was not negotiable.

SAKIUSA RABUKA (Fiji) asked what else was required before the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) could attain full self-determination and independence.

Ms. CHEEK said the Falkland Islands did not think that independence was a reasonable goal, especially with a large and powerful neighbour.

OTTO DURING (Sierra Leone) asked whether the question of self- determination had been discussed between the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Argentina.

Decolonization Committee - 6 - Press Release GA/COL/3014 10th Meeting (PM) 1 July 1999

Ms. HALFORD said Argentina would not recognize the Falkland Islands Government in its own right, so it had to raise the question through the United Kingdom.

PETER DONIGI (Papua New Guinea), Special Committee Chairman, asked where the absentee landlords that owned land in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) currently resided.

Ms. CHEEK said the lands had been bought from the absentee landlords so they were no longer a problem.

Statement by Petitioners

ALEJANDRO JACOBO BETTS, in his personal capacity, said the official visits of Prince Charles to Argentina and of President Carlos Menem to the United Kingdom, as well as the presence of observers from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) at the recent bilateral talks in London, were emphasis of the spirit of reconciliation that now characterized relations between the two countries. He noted that these gestures reaffirmed the Argentine Government's commitment to pursuing all options for a peaceful solution to the controversy. He pointed out that, while islanders stressed their preference to remain British nationals, Argentine law did not oblige them to become Argentine nationals.

He said that in a climate of continuous adversity and antagonism -- for example, the introduction of a geographical area known as the Falklands Interim Conservation Zone during the 1980s that had seriously damaged bilateral relations at that time -- the Argentinean Government had remained steady in its efforts to retain its territorial integrity. During the early 1990s, Argentina had proposed realistic mechanisms that had required bilateral cooperation to ensure maximum economic benefit to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and their inhabitants. He was, therefore, certain of Argentina's genuine concern for the well-being of the Islands. He requested that the Committee continue to assist Argentina and the United Kingdom to resolve the problem permanently and equitably.

CARLOS MOYANO LLERENA, in his personal capacity, said there was a need at present to create mutual trust and links between the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Argentina. Argentina wished to have the best possible understanding with the islanders. There was no feasible future for them without a stable relationship with Argentina in view of the geographical location of the Islands. The security and welfare of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), in the long term, was linked with Argentina. Many islanders were now opposed to any relationship with Argentina, and islanders enjoyed a high standard of living. But that was the wrong attitude. The prospects for the Islands economy were poor because the United Kingdom's expenditures on defence and reconstruction would not continue, and fishing revenues were decreasing.

Decolonization Committee - 7 - Press Release GA/COL/3014 10th Meeting (PM) 1 July 1999

There had been great expectations about the future of off-shore oil production in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), he said. But there had been no tangible results of that so far, and the opinion of many oil companies was not optimistic. There was no real possibility for the economic future of the Islands unless diversification took place. Such diversification towards new industries required cooperation with mainland Argentina.

RICARDO PATTERSON, in his personal capacity, noted that the United Nations General Assembly, in 1965, had invited Argentina and the United Kingdom to proceed to negotiations without delay, bearing in mind the provisions and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations and the interests of the population of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Since then, efforts to fulfil that request had been evident, in contrast, with the United Kingdom's indifferent attitude.

He said that they were open to listening to all proposals coming from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) through the United Kingdom, except for the one to drop their sovereignty claim. It had now become necessary to initiate a new step in bilateral relations which would lead the parties to understand the definition of sovereignty. He was requesting that the Committee continue its efforts so that the United Kingdom would accept the request for the benefit of all the region's inhabitants.

Draft Resolution on Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) introduced the draft resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (document A/AC.109/1999/L.5) which was sponsored by Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela. He said that, as in previous years, the draft resolution constituted a new contribution to the efforts to arrive at a peaceful settlement of the controversy, which had been going on for several years between Argentina and the United Kingdom. His country was firmly convinced that a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was the only path that could be followed. It, therefore, called for the resumption of negotiations between the United Kingdom and Argentina to resolve the dispute.

GUIDO DI TELLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said that last month the United Kingdom (including islanders) and Argentina had met formally in London to start conversations on issues of common interest. However, the situation that had led to that meeting no longer existed. There was currently a habit of politicizing everything from trivial issues to issues that were not trivial, such as fisheries, oil and tourism. The problem was that both the islanders and Argentineans were suspicious that each side was trying to get the political advantage.

All sides needed to put an end to the present situation. Such was not the behaviour of intelligent people or people proud of their traditions.

Decolonization Committee - 8 - Press Release GA/COL/3014 10th Meeting (PM) 1 July 1999

There were currently two essential matters: the first was the need to hold meetings and discussions between the parties. The refusal of the United Kingdom to talks was disappointing. They were essential to normalize every aspect of relations in order to live a normal life, side by side, in the South Atlantic. There was a need to normalize relations to solve problems related to flights, tourism and other issues. The second matter was related to substantive issues that would take longer to resolve.

A meeting between the United Kingdom and Argentina should rapidly solve all matters, he said. That included all problems related to normalization. In order for such normalization to develop, it was necessary to try to deal with matters for what they really were and not for their political implications. To that end, it was important for both sides to live together, and to meet more systematically and regularly. The meeting in London had shown that ticklish issues could be solved in an atmosphere of cordiality. He hoped that such meetings would happen again in the future.

JORGE PEREZ-OTERMIN (Uruguay), on behalf of the countries of the Common Market of the Southern Cone (MERCOSUR), as well as Bolivia and Chile, said that at the end of the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) still remained on the agenda of the Special Committee, and an effort should be made to end the discussion. In June 1996, the MERCOSUR countries had reaffirmed their commitment, along with Argentina, for the peaceful settlement on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

On 5 June of last year, at a meeting of the Heads of State of the MERCOSUR countries, as well as Bolivia and Chile, those countries had reiterated that they sought to have a positive dialogue between Argentina and the United Kingdom. That would reflect political maturity, as well as a will for understanding.

PARTICK LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said that the matter before the Special Committee lessened its status because the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was not an issue of decolonization. The draft resolution should be placed before the Security Council or the General Assembly as a whole to address, because it detracted from the Committee's purpose. The resolution should be taken where it belonged and should cease coming to the Committee for annual consideration.

NORMAN MONAGAS-LESSEUR (Venezuela) said that his country believed that negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom were the only way to resolve the dispute. The recent talks in London had proved that negotiations could take place in a reasonable and positive way.

MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) said Indonesia was confident that the dispute would eventually be amicably settled to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

Decolonization Committee - 9 - Press Release GA/COL/3014 10th Meeting (PM) 1 July 1999

SAKIUSA RABUKA (Fiji) said that for sometime the question of the Falklands Islands (Malvinas) had been before the Committee. However, did the Committee have the mandate to deal with the question of sovereignty or of self-determination? he asked. His delegation firmly believed that it was necessary to focus on the persons inhabiting the Territories, rather than on the Territories themselves. The Committee also needed to consult with the International Court of Justice for a legal opinion on the dispute. Further, it would help the Committee if the parties concerned in the dispute could submit a formal report on the negotiations thus far.

LAMUEL A. STANISLAUS (Grenada) said that the dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had become less confrontational and adversarial due to an intellectual convergence of views between the two countries. Therefore, it seemed to his delegation that the remaining stumbling blocks of sovereignty and the principle of self- determination, which the Falklands Legislative Councillors were stressing, were not insurmountable. However, the Government of Argentina had continued to claim sovereignty over the Islands, while the British had rejected that claim.

He noted that that remained a dilemma for the Special Committee, adding that they were faced with the difficulty of deciding who was right, based on the history of the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). He suggested that a decision could be aided through the involvement of the inhabitants in the process of discussions, so that they could express their wishes and exercise their right to speak for themselves.

BRUNO DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) said his country supported the legitimate right of Argentina over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

JI HONGBO (China) said his country hoped that talks between the United Kingdom and Argentina would continue and that the situation would be resolved soon.

ALBERTO SALAMANCA (Bolivia) said the resolution made it clear that both parties should seek a peaceful solution to the conflict through negotiations. Such a dialogue should promote a solution to the situation. His country recognized the right of Argentina over the sovereignty of Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

The draft resolution was then adopted by the Committee without a vote.

Mr. DURING (Sierra Leone) urged both sides of the conflict to find an agreeable solution to the long-standing matter. The Committee should also ensure that the interests of the people of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were taken into account in its negotiations. They also should be given the right to self-determination.

Decolonization Committee - 10 - Press Release GA/COL/3014 10th Meeting (PM) 1 July 1999

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on dissemination of information on decolonization (document A/AC.109/1999/L.3) and adopted it without a vote.

The Committee also took up the draft resolution on information from Non- Self-Governing Territories (document A/AC.109/1999/L.4) and adopted it without a vote.

On the question of East Timor, the Committee decided to continue its consideration of the item at its next session, subject to any directives which the General Assembly might give in that connection at its fifty-fourth session.

The Committee then suspended the meeting in order to discuss its draft report.

When the Committee resumed its meeting, it decided to continue its consideration of its draft report at a later time. The draft report deals with such matters as the question of holding a series of meetings away from Headquarters; representation at seminars, meetings and conferences of intergovernmental and other organizations; pattern of conferences; and the control and limitation of documentation. It also addresses the question of the list of Territories to which the Declaration is applicable; the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism; and participation of representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the work of the Special Committee.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.