SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ON FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS)

11 July 2000
GA/COL/3033

SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ON FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS)

11 July 2000


Press Release
GA/COL/3033


SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ON FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS)

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The General Assembly would reiterate that the only way to put an end to the special and particular colonial situation on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom, by the terms of a draft resolution approved without a vote this morning by the Special Committee on decolonization.

By other terms of the text, the General Assembly would also reiterate its firm support for the Secretary-General's mission of good offices to assist the parties in complying with the Assembly's request in its resolutions on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Further by the text, the Assembly would regret that despite widespread international support for a negotiation between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of all aspects on the future of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the implementation of the Assembly resolutions on that question had not yet started.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela. It was introduced by the representative of Chile.

Speaking before the Special Committee took action on the text, Adalberto Rodriguez Giavarini, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, said his country was committed to resuming negotiations with the United Kingdom. At the same time, Argentina would fully respect the islanders' way of life, as well as international law. But it would never renounce its claim to the islands.

He said that, while Argentina was willing to resume negotiations, the United Kingdom had not indicated a similar willingness. That complicated bilateral relations and damaged prospects for the harmonious development of the South Atlantic. Unilateral steps by the United Kingdom were contrary to bilateral agreements. Those actions were only possible because of the de facto presence of the United Kingdom in the islands. They were aimed at excluding Argentina from areas where it was customarily present.

As the Special Committee heard petitioners before taking up the draft text, Sharon Halford of the Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands, said the new Argentine Government had been saying it would not engage with the government of the islands. Argentina would prefer, it appeared, to return to the days of mistrust. Argentina could not reinvent the colonial past. The only route to real progress was for the Special Committee to recognize the islanders’ right to self- determination. They were culturally distinct from Argentina, and the Argentine

Decolonization Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/COL/3033 8th Meeting (AM) 11 July 2000

Government should accept that they had the same right to self-determination as the other countries that Argentine troops helped to protect.

Alejandro Jacobo Betts, who moved from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) to Argentina in 1982, said that the argument of linguistic, cultural and historical difference was a device aimed at continuing to impede a responsible and final solution to the sovereignty dispute. During the last decades, Ukrainians, Slovenians, Hindus, Koreans, Nigerians, Japanese from Okinawa and Cape Verdians had established themselves in Argentina. Each individual group fully enjoyed the political and individual rights and guarantees granted by the Argentine Constitution.

Three other petitioners addressed the Special Committee.

Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Tunisia, Iraq, Indonesia, Venezuela, China, Syria, Cuba, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, Bolivia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and Sierra Leone.

The Special Committee's next meeting will be at 3 p.m. today, when it will hear statements on the question of Guam.

Special Committee Work Programmme

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 morning to consider the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

It was expected to hear petitioners on that issue and to take action on a draft resolution, Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (document A/AC.109/2000/L.8). By that text, the General Assembly would regret that in spite of the widespread international support for a negotiation between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of all aspects on the future of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the implementation of the General Assembly resolutions on this question has not yet started.

By other terms of the draft, the Assembly would reiterate that the only way to put an end to the special and particular colonial situation on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is the peaceful and negotiated settlement of the dispute over sovereignty between the Governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom.

Further by the text, the General Assembly would reiterate its firm support for the Secretary-General's mission of good offices to assist the parties in complying with the General Assembly's request in its resolutions on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

The draft resolution is co-sponsored by Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela.

Also before the Special Committee was a Secretariat working paper on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (document A/AC.109/2000/11), which describes the Territory as having an ordinarily resident population of 2,221, according to the territorial census report of 1996. The figure is adjusted to take into account persons residing in the Territory who were absent during the holding of the census.

The report says that the Territory's constitution came into effect on 18 April 1985 and vests power in the Governor, personal representative of the British monarch, assisted by an Executive Council. The Council comprises three members of the Legislative Council elected annually by the eight elected members of that Council from among their own number, as well as the Chief Executive and the Financial Secretary, ex-officio members who also sit on the Executive Council. The Attorney-General and the Commander of British Forces in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) attend by invitation.

Political developments include a meeting in London on 13 and 14 July 1999 between Argentine and United Kingdom delegations, according to the report. It followed previous London meetings on 25 and 27 May and in New York on 2 July. The talks concluded with the signing of 14 July of a joint statement (A/54/229, annex) to record the understandings reached. At a press conference on 14 July, Argentina's Foreign Minister and the United Kingdom's Secretary of State said that nothing in the agreement compromised the positions of either country in relation to sovereignty. What the agreement did was to show that the two countries had managed their disagreements on sovereignty in a way that had enabled them to make arrangements to carry forward the practical business arising between the islanders and their immediate neighbours on the Latin American continent.

The report states that, in December 1999, a British Foreign Office Minister said at a meeting of the House of Commons that a number of measures set out in the British-Argentine Joint Statement of 14 July had already been implemented. The Falkland Islands Government had admitted Argentine passport-holders since July. All deadlines had been met to restore air links between the islands and South America and to introduce measures to combat the poaching of fish stocks. The United Kingdom was working with Argentina on a Memorandum of Understanding to determine the cost and feasibility of removing the remaining landmines from the islands.

Among the economic conditions outlined in the report are public finance; agriculture, land tenure and livestock; fisheries; tourism; transport, communications and other basic facilities; banking; and public works. Also outlined are the social conditions in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), including public health; social security and welfare; and housing. Educational conditions are also covered.

On 6 December 1999, the General Assembly decided to defer the consideration of the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and to include it in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session.

Statements

SHARON HALFORD, of the Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands, expressed puzzlement over Argentina’s attempt to decide whether or not the people of the Falkland Islands were entitled to self-determination, given that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was ratified by both Argentina and the United Kingdom.

There had been some progress to report, she said. Talks between Argentina and the United Kingdom had produced the 14th of July Statement that had led to freer air travel, agreements on war memorials, and progress on protecting fish stocks. But the new Argentine Government had been saying it would not engage with that of the Falkland Islands despite the 14th of July Statement. Argentina would prefer, it appeared, to return to the days of mistrust.

Argentina, she said, could not reinvent the colonial past. The only route to real progress was for the Committee to recognize the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination. They were culturally distinct from Argentina. They had already made their choice of status in their current association with the United Kingdom, with an independent, democratically elected government. This system had resulted in a prosperous, independent nation. She urged the new Argentine Government to accept that the people of the Falkland Islands had the same rights to self-determination as the other countries that their troops helped to protect.

RICHARD COCKWELL, of the Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands, said the wishes of the Falkland Islanders should be paramount. The issue involved was not sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, but the rights of the people of the Falklands to decide their own future. Discussions of which power should have control, he said, were a continuation of a kind of colonialism. Representatives of Argentina could not demonstrate that they had the support of the Falkland islanders, or that the Falkland Islanders were not a culturally distinct society, with the ability to decide how they wished to be governed, he said. The Falkland Islands were, in fact, self-supporting in every way except defence, and self-governing in all matters except foreign and defence policy. They had created universal excellent education, sophisticated free medical service, had protected the local environment while prospering, and had contributed to disaster-relief programmes around the world. These were hardly the actions of a dependent territory.

Argentina, while championing other people’s rights around the world, wished, he said, to deny them to the people of the Falkland Islands. The time and money spent on this contentious area could be better put to other ends, such as expanding cooperation in the management and conservation of the valuable natural resources of the South West Atlantic.

GUILLERMO RAIMUNDO CLIFTON, petitioner, said that his family’s story –- living in both Patagonia and in the Malvinas/Falkland Islands -- was irrefutable evidence of the islanders’ possibilities of living in the socio-economic context of the Argentine Republic. Since the 1880s, Argentina had received immigrants from all over the world, including England and Wales. In addition, Patagonia had had similar economic problems. These factors showed that Patagonia and the islands had a parallel life.

He said the United Kingdom’s self-determination policy was intransigent. The current inhabitants were non-natives deriving their legitimacy from the illegal colonization of Great Britain. Argentina’s claims, on the other hand, were based on first settler’s rights, Spain’s sovereignty conveyance and other well-known facts. For all these reasons, he supported the resolution urging the United Kingdom and the Argentine Republic to initiate negotiations towards solution of the sovereignty dispute.

ALEJANDRO JACOBO BETTS, who moved from the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) to Argentina in 1982, said it was now customary for the islanders' representatives to demand passionately that the international community recognize them as a people in the classic sense of the word. That concept enclosed a paradox: in adopting the British Nationalities Act of 1983, the islanders had already freely chosen their identity as a people. They were British and indivisible from the British people. It was impossible to suggest that they might be a British people and, at the same time, a Falkland people with an entirely separate identity from the administering Power to which they swore allegiance.

To brandish the argument of being linguistically, culturally and historically different from the American States was a device to defend the indefensible, with the aim of continuing to impede a responsible and final solution to the sovereignty dispute, he said. During the last decades, people as diverse as Ukrainians, Slovenians, Hindus, Koreans, Nigerians, Japanese from Okinawa and Cape Verdians had established themselves in Argentina. Each community functioned as a centre of disclosure and conservation of their traditions, with the teaching of their language being one of the principal objectives of those organizations. Each individual group fully enjoyed the political and individual rights and guarantees granted by the Argentine Constitution.

ALEJANDRO DANIEL VERNET, an elected representative of Tierra del Fuego and a grandson of the first Argentine Governor of the Malvinas, said that the Argentine citizens who had peacefully settled and worked hard on the islands had been forced to leave their homes. The representatives of the islanders sought international recognition as British, in spite of the fact that they had no legal connection with the Territory they were occupying. A self-determination principle might not be fairly applied in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) dispute because, from the very beginning of its illegal occupation, the United Kingdom had kept control over the population to guarantee an overwhelming British majority. Since the islands' occupation, the settlement of Argentine citizens had not been allowed.

He said seizure and violence did not engender a right of property. To seize a territory that was part of an independent State did not grant the State seizing the land and its people a legitimate or legal right to the territory. Granting self-determination to British settlers occupying the islands would be wrong since it would back up the United Kingdom's seizure, as well as the replacement by force of Argentine settlers with British settlers.

He said the present inhabitants of the Falklands Islands (Malvinas) must be absolutely sure about the respect of their legal rights and dignity, since the Argentine Republic, its people and representatives eagerly wished that democracy, as well as a state of law, freedom and justice prevailed over any other circumstance. As enshrined in the Argentine Constitution, the interests of the current inhabitants of the islands must be very specially considered so that their lives did not suffer any substantial change.

Action on Text before Committee

JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile), introducing the draft resolution, associated himself with the statement to be made by the representative of Brazil on behalf of the countries of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), Bolivia and Chile, in support of the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute on the question of the Malvinas.

He said the draft constituted a new contribution towards efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the dispute, which had been going on for several years. A peaceful and negotiated solution to the special situation of the Malvinas was the only way to address the issue.

Chile sincerely hoped for the speedy implementation of General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX) of 1965, and all other related resolutions adopted by the Assembly and approved by the Special Committee, which called for the resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom to resolve the sovereignty dispute. Chile and the other co-sponsors hoped the draft resolution would be approved by consensus.

ADALBERTO RODRIGUEZ GIAVARINI, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, expressed his Government's commitment to regain the islands in a peaceful manner because they were a part of Argentine territory. Argentina would never renounce its claim to their restitution. At the same time, Argentina would fully respect the islanders' way of life, as well as international law. That did not depend on any set of circumstances, but was the will of the Argentine people as a whole, reflecting all political opinion in the national Congress.

Argentina was committed to resuming negotiations with the United Kingdom, he said. The search for a solution to the Malvinas question was encountering major problems. Despite Argentina's willingness to negotiate, the United Kingdom had not indicated a similar willingness. That complicated bilateral relations and damaged prospects for the harmonious development of the South Atlantic.

He recalled that since 1965 the General Assembly had recognized the existence of a colonial situation in the Malvinas and had recommended an end to it, reconciling respect for Argentina's territorial integrity with the interests of the islands' inhabitants. In 1985, the Assembly had reaffirmed that position. The Special Committee had repeatedly requested that the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom resume negotiations for a peaceful solution. The international community had recognized the existence of the dispute and for 35 years had urged the two Governments to settle it.

Ten years had passed since the resumption of diplomatic relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom, he said. An agreement had been concluded allowing the two countries to maintain their positions with respect to the islands and the maritime zone around them. The two countries should base their relations on the Joint Statement of 14 July 1999. That statement affirmed that the two countries fully respected the need to resolve disputes by peaceful means. It was necessary to clear all difficulties with determination and imagination. The two countries had adopted various ad hoc agreements aimed at governing their behaviour in the disputed zone, and it had been agreed that fish stocks should be protected and that air links and transit rights be maintained.

However, there had been some negative developments, he said. Unilateral steps by the United Kingdom were contrary to the letter and spirit of bilateral agreements and the spirit of cooperation that governed their adoption. Argentina had not consented to those acts and they were only possible because of the de facto presence of the United Kingdom in the islands. Argentina had also not consented to actions aimed at excluding it from areas where it was customarily present. Any such unilateral actions were contrary to United Nations resolutions.

The representative of Brazil, speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries Bolivia and Chile, said that at a Summit meeting of those countries on 5 June 1999, the heads of State had welcomed the positive atmosphere in relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom and reiterated their commitment to the amicable consolidation of the principle of dialogue and cooperation without which it would not be possible to overcome the situation in the South Atlantic.

The representative of Uruguay recalled that in 1986 his country’s President had told the General Assembly that Argentina and the United Kingdom should sit down at the negotiating table, in the name of peace and mutual understanding among nations, and undertake a frank and open dialogue, putting all the issues and questions in dispute on the table and resolving all problems hindering full normalization of relations.

He said Uruguay had maintained long-standing and major links of friendship with Argentina and unconditionally supported that country. It also unconditionally supported the United Kingdom and hoped it would act in accordance with its best traditions and in accordance with its position as a member of the Security Council.

The representative of Paraguay said his Government had traditionally supported Argentina, most recently at the 6 June meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The representative of Tunisia said the international community would like to see the resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom so that they could find a just and lasting solution to their dispute as soon as possible, thus implementing the appropriate General Assembly resolutions. Tunisia welcomed the present climate of dialogue and cooperation between the two States and wished to see them continue in that spirit.

The representative of Iraq said that, at the end of the decolonization decade, there were still territories that were occupied under various pretexts, including those of small size or limited resources. It was sometimes said that the peoples of those territories wished to remain under the administering Power.

Iraq believed the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) belonged to Argentina and had been occupied by the United Kingdom, which continued to occupy them, invoking the right to self-determination. In this case, that was not appropriate because the islanders were several hundred British citizens who had been transplanted and encouraged to remain on the islands. Their presence there did not change the historical and geographical realities, which supported Argentina's right to recover the Territory taken unjustly and illegally from it. Argentina had a right to demand compensation for damage inflicted during the 1982 conflict over the islands.

The representative of Indonesia welcomed the approach of the Special Committee in its efforts to resolve the dispute. The question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was a special situation and required the enhancement of understanding and reconciliation. Bilateral relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom had reached an important stage. Their broad approach and determination had included cooperation on marine protection and licensing and cooperation in joint scientific projects. The two countries should follow dialogue to pave the way towards a just, peaceful and lasting settlement of their dispute.

The representative of Venezuela said his country, as a co-sponsor of the draft resolution, supported Argentina's legitimate rights of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). The process of dialogue and cooperation, which both Argentina and the United Kingdom had strengthened in the last few years, was the only way to reach a just and lasting settlement to the dispute. Venezuela hoped the draft resolution would be approved by consensus as in previous years.

The representative of China said his delegation had paid close attention to Argentina's Foreign Minister and other speakers. The General Assembly resolution of December 1965 had invited the two Governments to seek a peaceful resolution to their dispute. Subsequently, the Special Committee had approved resolutions asking them to continue negotiations in order to achieve a peaceful settlement. It was a widely accepted principle that a territorial dispute should be resolved through peaceful negotiations. China appealed to Argentina and the United Kingdom to continue their dialogue and supported the draft resolution in that regard.

The representative of Syria said his country favoured a peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute, achieved through dialogue and cooperation between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom.

The representative Cuba said his country's position was well known and had been expressed clearly in the Special Committee and elsewhere. Faithful to the principle of brotherhood and others guiding Cuba's foreign policy, it endorsed its full commitment to and support for Argentina's sovereignty. A peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute could be achieved through dialogue and cooperation.

The representative Côte d'Ivoire expressed the extreme importance his country attached to the resolution of the dispute, which had remained unsolved for too long. Conditions could not be better for a peaceful resolution. Côte d'Ivoire hoped the resolution would be approved by consensus.

The representative Ethiopia said that, as in the past, a high-level delegation led by the Argentine Foreign Minister showed the importance that country attached to the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). That question constituted a colonial situation involving a sovereignty dispute. Ethiopia would support the draft resolution.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said that the consistent position of his delegation was reflected in the current draft resolution and represented the way to put an end to this particular colonial situation. He called for a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the issue of sovereignty between Argentina and the United Kingdom. He also expressed concern and disappointment that the situation remained unchanged from what it was a year ago. The viable alternatives, he said, were obvious, given the resolutions of the General Assembly and tenets of international law.

The representative of Bolivia called for approval of the draft resolution. He was concerned, though, that previous calls for progress had not been heeded. The parties involved should explain why some resolutions had been applied and others not.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

The representative of Grenada urged the parties to press on, in the spirit of optimism, for the eventual successful resolution of the dispute. The principle of self-determination could be applied in the present situation. It would be a crowning glory for the decade of colonialism to end with the United Kingdom and Argentina cutting this Gordian knot entangling the questions of sovereignty and self-determination. The right of self-determination was reserved for the inhabitants of the Territory, who were the only and final arbiters of their future destiny. The representative of Antigua and Barbuda said the current discussion had dealt with sovereignty and not decolonization, which was the real subject matter of the Committee. The job of the Committee was not to determine who should govern a territory, but to ensure that the options chosen by the inhabitants were followed. It was encouraging that Argentina and the United Kingdom, in recent discussions, had made progress on matters relating to the welfare of the people of the islands. If these nations were engaged in cordial discussions in ways that benefited the population, the Committee could provide support -– not, however, for the sovereignty dispute.

The representative of Sierra Leone said that it was important for the resolution to express interest in the self-determination of the population of the islands. There was no substitute for self-determination in matters of decolonization.

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For information media. Not an official record.