SPECIAL COMMITTEE ASKS ARGENTINA, UNITED KINGDOM TO RESUME NEGOTIATIONS ON FALKLANDS-MALVINAS DISPUTE

29 June 2001
GA/COL/3055

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ASKS ARGENTINA, UNITED KINGDOM TO RESUME NEGOTIATIONS ON FALKLANDS-MALVINAS DISPUTE

29/06/2001
Press ReleaseGA/COL/3055

Special Committee on

Decolonization

8th Meeting (AM)

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ASKS ARGENTINA, UNITED KINGDOM TO RESUME NEGOTIATIONS

ON FALKLANDS-MALVINAS DISPUTE

Adopts Resolution Without Vote; Also Examines

Questions of Gibraltar, Visiting Missions to Territories

Adopting without a vote a resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the Special Committee on Decolonization this morning requested the Governments of 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 their sovereignty dispute.

In addition, the Committee regretted that, in spite of the widespread international support for negotiations between the two Governments, which would include all aspects of the future of the Territory, the implementation of the Assembly resolutions on that question had not yet started.

During the discussion on the Territory, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina reiterated his Government’s commitment to the recovery of the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, which were part of Argentine national territory.  That was a permanent and irrevocable objective for his country, which could only be carried out through the peaceful means of diplomatic negotiations, he emphasized.

He added that despite recognition by the international community of the existence of the sovereignty dispute and its repeated call on the parties to start negotiations towards its solution, the United Kingdom had shown itself reluctant to resume dialogue on the issue, thus impeding progress in the process of decolonization. 

Richard Cockwell, from the Falkland Islands, said that the days of British colonial control were past.  The Falkland Islands were self-governing in all matters other than foreign policy and defence.  Falkland Islanders had no wish that Argentina take over the sovereignty of their country.  He suggested that Argentina stand back from the Falkland Islands problem and understand and acknowledge that the Falkland Islanders were yet another community that deserved the recognition of its universal right to determine its own future.

Also this morning, the Committee adopted by consensus a resolution on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories, by which it called on the administering Powers to cooperate or continue to cooperate with the United Nations by receiving United Nations visiting missions in the Territories under their administration. 

Also, the Committee requested its Chairman to enter into consultations with the administering Power of Guam to facilitate the dispatch of a United Nations visiting mission to that Territory, to coincide with a proposed plebiscite to be conducted by the Guam Electoral Commission on or about 7 September 2002.

On the question of Gibraltar, the Committee decided to continue consideration of that question at its next session, subject to any directives from the Assembly at its fifty-sixth session.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries), Brazil, Uruguay, Panama, China, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Fiji, Sierra Leone and Spain.  In addition, the representative of Chile introduced the text on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

Also addressing the Committee were Conrado Bullrich (on behalf of Americanos del Sur); John Birmingham, Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas); Alejandro Vernet; Alejandro Betts; and Ricardo Ancell Patterson.  

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 2 July.

Background

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 questions of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Gibraltar as well as the question of sending visiting missions to Territories.

On the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the Committee had before it a working paper submitted by the Secretariat (A/AC.109/2001/11) on the latest developments as well as social and economic conditions in the Territory.  It also had before it a draft resolution, submitted by Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela (A/AC.109/2001/L.8).  By its terms, 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 to find as soon as possible a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute related to the Territory, in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

Also, the Committee would regret that, in spite of the widespread international support for a negotiation between the two Governments that includes all aspects of the future of the Territory, the implementation of the Assembly resolutions on that question had not yet started.

Before the Committee was a draft resolution on the question of sending visiting missions to Territories (A/AC.109/2001/L.6), by which the Committee would call on the administering Powers to cooperate or continue to cooperate with the United Nations by receiving United Nations visiting missions in the Territories under their administration. 

The Committee would request the administering Powers to consider new approaches in the work of the Committee, and urge them to cooperate with the Committee in its efforts.  It would also request the Committee Chairman to continue consultations with the administering Powers concerned, and report thereon to the Committee as appropriate. 

Further, the Committee would also request its Chairman to enter into consultations with the administering Power of Guam to facilitate the dispatch of a United Nations visiting mission to that Territory.

On the question of Gibraltar, the Committee had before it a working paper submitted by the Secretariat (A/AC.109/2001/10) outlining recent political developments as well as social and economic conditions in the Territory.

Statements

HAMZAH THAYEB (Indonesia) said the Special Committee had recognized that no formula worked for all situations.  General Assembly resolutions had taken note of the dispute concerning the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and had called for a settlement.  Despite standing differences, negotiations had strengthened over the years and had resulted in solutions over a number of issues concerning the fishery industry and others.  Both Argentina and the United Kingdom should continue their negotiations.  The Special Committee should devise a resolution that could be adopted by consensus.  

CONRADO ETCHEBARNE BULLRICH, President of Americanos del Sur, introduced his group as a non-governmental, non-profit organization whose aims were to foster peace and friendship among the peoples and countries of South America.  He said Argentine and British diplomats had been working for many years to express their views and respective positions.  The islanders had expressed their views as well.  They held the key to the future.  They had to negotiate with both Argentina and the United Kingdom.  The reality was that as long as the Argentine claim remained, a Damoclean sword hung over them.  The islanders had the most to gain from a good solution and they had the most to lose if one were not found.

After many visits to the islands and listening to all views, he said, a peace proposal known as the Bullrich Forsyth proposal had been formulated.  It had been published in Buenos Aires and London, and in Stanley in the islands.  It was being circulated at the present meeting.  The 16-point proposal set out terms for the autonomy of the Falkland Islands and made proposals for settlement of other issues.  It was the first peace proposal to be formally introduced to the Special Committee of 24, for inclusion in the Committee’s resolution as an alternative to be studied.

RICHARD COCKWELL, from the Falkland Islands, said that contrary to being a colony, the Falkland Islands and Britain were moving ever more towards a partnership, with all the responsibilities that were laid out in the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary’s 1999 White Paper on British Overseas Territories, which was based on four basic principles.  The partnership must be founded on self-determination.  Territories were British and must be allowed to remain so for as long as they wished.  

The partnership, he continued, created responsibilities on both sides.  Britain is pledged to defend the overseas territories, encourage sustainable development and to look after their international interests.  In return, the territories were expected to maintain high standards of probity, law and order, good governance and observance to Britain’s international commitments.  Also, the territories were expected to exercise the greatest control over their own lives.  In addition, Britain would continue to provide aid to the territories when needed.

The Falkland Islands welcomed and accepted those principles, he said, working to build on that partnership with Britain and the overseas territories.  The days of British colonial control were past.  The Falkland Islands were self-governing in all matters other than foreign policy and defence.  Falkland Islanders had no wish that Argentina take over the sovereignty of their country.  He suggested that Argentina stand back from the Falkland Islands problem and understand and acknowledge that the Falkland Islanders were yet another community that deserved the recognition of its universal right to determine its own future.

JOHN BIRMINGHAM, also from the Falkland Islands Government, said he and his colleague represented a territory that, since 1833, except for a thankfully brief illegal occupation by forces of a then undemocratic Argentina, had lived within a system that had total freedom of speech.  Visitors, especially from Argentina, were surprised at how such a small country could not only survive, but prosper.  Elections would be held in the Falklands this year.  There would be much debate and there would be differing views on nearly every subject under the sun, except one -- and that would be the false claim by Argentina over the Falkland Islands, which would be denounced. 

The Falkland Islands, he said, were willing to work with their Argentine neighbours on issues that were of benefit to both countries.  There was a certain amount of cooperation and exchange of information with regard to helping conserve fish stocks in the South West Atlantic, but much more could be done.

PETER DONIGI (Papua New Guinea) said that both speakers talked about the developing partnership, which was founded on self-determination.  The Committee had considered self-determination in the past in terms of three options - -independence, free association and integration.  A fourth option might be available, which could be developed on a case-by-case basis.  He wanted to know what sort of self-determination the speakers wished to see for the Falkland Islands.  Also, Mr. Cockwell had stated that Britain would continue to provide aid to its overseas territories when needed.  Could he indicate whether there existed an agreement between the United Kingdom and its territories as to the question of aid? 

Mr. BIRMINGHAM replied that at the moment the status of the Falkland Islands, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, was something they were comfortable with.  He did not foresee a change in that status.   

Mr. COCKWELL said that because the Falkland Islands were self-financing, it did not require much aid from the United Kingdom.  Under the partnership agreement, if territories required aid they had a right to submit that claim to the British Government.  As long as the request was justified, the British Government would agree to furnish that aid.

ALEJANDRO VERNET, a descendent of the first settlers of the Malvinas Islands, gave a history of his family’s experience with the islands and asked that they be returned to the status of Argentine territory.  The United Kingdom had recognized Argentina’s sovereignty over the islands through a treaty, but still it had succumbed to greed and had peopled the island with illegitimate residents.  The present Malvinians were descendents of the occupiers who had seized the islands.  The principle of self-determination did not apply to the dispute there because the people were neither indigenous nor descendants of original settlers. 

The General Assembly had recognized Argentina’s rights to the island and had called on both countries to negotiate a settlement of the dispute.  The Argentine people were firmly resolved to gain justice for all.  The present residents of the island were covered by Argentine law.  An acceptable compromise could be found for both parties.  The Committee should urge the British Government to take up its burden to work out a compromise with Argentina.

ALEJANDRO BETTS introduced himself as a descendant of a traditional family of colonists with six generations of his family raised in the territory.  Since the United Kingdom had included the islands in its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories and a solution to the situation in the South Atlantic had been sought, the question had suffered a series of setbacks.  Most were a result of impediments introduced by the United Kingdom, probably for the purpose of keeping the islands from achieving what they deserved.

He said the principle of self-determination did not apply to the Malvinas Islands.  Argentina’s sovereignty over the islands had been affirmed.  The Governments of both Argentina and the United Kingdom had been directed by resolutions to find a peaceful solution.  Both parties had also been directed to expedite negotiations and to refrain from decisions and actions that would adversely affect the Malvinians.  Still, the British had caused the customs and lifestyle of the islanders to change.  A military base on the island was also a violation of the peace and cooperation zone that the islands had been designated.

The controversy over the Malvinas Islands was a singular situation, he said.  For more than 15 years, Argentina had been saying it would take special guarantees to insure protection of the islanders’ culture.  Each resolution of the United Nations had had the common denominator of calling for bilateral negotiations.  Today’s resolution set out the terms for negotiations.  The law of force must give way to the force of law.  A solution must now be negotiated.      

RICARDO ANCELL PATTERSON said that he was here to urge the United Kingdom to settle the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands.  Currently, differing positions continued to prevail.  On the one hand, the United Kingdom implicitly disregarded the provisions of the General Assembly by refusing to engage in the negotiations called for by that body.  On the other hand, Argentina, supported by numerous resolutions and the history of the situation, requested that the sovereignty dispute be dealt with jointly, knowing that the Islands had always belonged to Argentina and that nothing built on the use of force could prevail. 

The Committee, he said, had repeatedly asked the Argentine and British Governments to resume negotiations on sovereignty over the Islands.  The British Government had stated at every possible opportunity that it did not wish to discuss the issue, making it impossible to implement a mechanism that could lead to a solution.  He was willing to hear every proposal proceeding from the Malvinas Islands voiced through Great Britain, with the exception of those intending to decolonize the Islands on the basis established by the United Kingdom -- which disregarded the jurisdiction and supervision of the United Nations.

Argentine sovereignty over the Islands could not be disregarded based on the right to self-determination of peoples, when those peoples did not own the territory on which they wished to exercise that right.  How could it be proved that a non-native population, resulting from a colonial occupation, with no defining characteristics, could have rights over a territory seized by force?  The interests of the two countries involved and those of the international community would benefit from the United Kingdom’s reconsideration of its narrow-minded position. 

GABRIEL VALDES (Chile), introducing the draft resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said that the text was a contribution intended to bring about a solution to the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom regarding sovereignty over the Territory.  His country was firmly convinced that a peaceful and negotiated solution was the only path to follow in the situation. That was why he was requesting once again swift implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions on the issue.  He hoped that the text would be adopted by consensus.

ADALBERTO RODRIGUEZ GIAVARINI, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, reiterated the commitment of his Government to the recovery of the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, which were part of Argentine national territory.  That was a permanent and irrevocable objective for his country, which could only be carried out through the peaceful means of diplomatic negotiations.

The Malvinas Islands, he said, a constituent part of the Argentine territory since their independence, were occupied by British forces in 1833.  Those forces expelled the Argentine inhabitants and authorities established there and replaced them with British subjects taken to the South Atlantic for the purpose of settling the Islands as a colony.  Those acts of force were never consented to by Argentina, who had since then proceeded to constantly reclaim their restoration. 

Despite recognition by the international community of the existence of the sovereignty dispute and its repeated call on the parties to start negotiations towards its solution, the United Kingdom had shown itself reluctant to resume dialogue on the issue, thus impeding progress in the process of decolonization.  Resumption of diplomatic relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1990 began with the signing of a bilateral agreement containing a formula on sovereignty, which allowed both countries to safeguard their respective positions on the sovereignty question over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.   

His Government aspired to acceptance by the British Government of the need to sit at the negotiating table to undertake dialogue on the sovereignty issue, in response to multiple requests from the international community.  He reiterated Argentina’s positive disposition to take into account the interests of the inhabitants of the Islands, in order to ensure the preservation of their way of life and their well-being, as well as to respect the full exercise of their individual rights. 

ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) as well as Chile and Bolivia, said the resumption of negotiations over the South Atlantic had been welcome.  A settlement of the lengthy dispute in the region would be welcome to all MERCOSUR countries, including Chile and Bolivia.  MERCOSUR had affirmed Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands.  The Special Committee’s resolution should be adopted by consensus without a vote.

GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said all countries of South America were interested in a resolution of the dispute over the Malvinas and other islands in the South Atlantic.  The maintenance of colonial situations was incompatible with peace and security.  The meeting of the two countries at the highest level should help.  The sovereignty of Argentina’s rights over the islands had been affirmed.

FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said his country had close ties with both parties in the dispute.  The Malvinas was in an area designated a zone of peace and cooperation.  It was a rich area and one on the cross-seas between Africa and South America.  The rights of the zone must be scrupulously respected.  One party in the dispute, however, was standing in the way of peace for the region.  All parties must resume negotiations and resolve conclusively the issues standing in the way of peace.

RAMON MORALES (Panama) said the United Nations had tried to bring about a quick solution to the question of the Malvinas Islands and the others in the region.  The need for the two parties to resume negotiations and reach a solution had been reiterated last year at the Ibero-American summit in Panama.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said that the General Assembly had adopted a resolution, as early as 1965, inviting both parties to conduct negotiations to seek a peaceful solution to the dispute over the Malvinas Islands.  Afterwards, the Committee had on several occasions passed resolutions requesting them to strengthen dialogue and resume negotiations.  It was widely accepted that territorial disputes between countries should be resolved through peaceful negotiations.  It had been through active dialogue and negotiations that the Chinese Government had successfully solved border disputes with its neighbours.  He appealed to both Governments to continue their dialogue and work for an early resolution to the question.  He also expressed support for the draft resolution on the matter.

VLADIMIR F. ZAEMSKY (Russian Federation) said that his country supported the draft resolution on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and was pleased that, as in past years, the Committee had been able to arrive at a consensus on the matter.  His country had always proceeded from the need for both Governments to conduct peaceful negotiations for the settlement of such disputes, taking into account relevant United Nations resolutions.

MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela) congratulated the Foreign Minister of Argentina on his appeal for the resumption of dialogue and negotiations on the issue.  He highlighted the importance of the presence of the Argentine parliamentarians and various political groups from Argentina, which showed that theirs was a general State position.  He expressed his clear support for the rights of Argentina in the dispute over the Malvinas Islands.  Talks for a peaceful settlement were the right way of dealing with the matter.  He continued to believe that the current state of bilateral negotiations between the two Governments offered the necessary conditions for seeking a satisfactory solution, and hoped that the text would be adopted without a vote.

RODOLFO ELISEO BENITEZ VERSON (Cuba) said that his country’s position was well known to all.  He reiterated his full support for the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  A fair and lasting solution could only be achieved through dialogue and negotiations by both parties.  He regretted that despite broad support by the international community for a resumption of negotiations by the parties, there was still no implementation of the resolutions of the Committee and the Assembly on the issue.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that he had listened with particular interest to all the statements made.  He expressed his satisfaction with the ideas expressed by the Argentine Foreign Minister regarding his Government’s readiness to engage in dialogue with the United Kingdom on the issue of sovereignty over the Territory.  He supported the draft resolution and hoped it would be adopted by consensus.

Mr. ABEBE (Ethiopia) said that his country’s position was clear and the matter was a sovereignty dispute.  Once again, the issue was before the Committee with little or no progress to record.  He called on the parties to resume negotiations to achieve a peaceful solution.

EDWIN ORTIZ (Bolivia) said that his country’s position was well known on the matter of the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), as reflected in the statement on behalf of MERCOSUR as well as in his country’s co-sponsorship of the draft resolution.  He was very satisfied by the way in which the Committee was working towards the objective of decolonization.  In the case of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), he appealed to both Governments, particularly the United Kingdom, to begin negotiations on the search for a peaceful solution to the question.  He asked that the draft be approved by consensus.

LAMUEL STANISLAUS (Grenada) said his Foreign Minister had just returned this week from a visit to Argentina.  It was gratifying to see Argentina’s Foreign Minister at the present meeting.  The resolution should be adopted by consensus.

Action on Draft

The Committee took up the resolution on the Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (document A/AC.109/2001/L.8).  The sponsors were Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela.

Explanation of Position Before Decision

DORNELLA SETH (Antigua and Barbuda) said progress was being made in the region.  Britain and Argentina had signed an agreement allowing planes to fly in the no-fly zone of the Falklands for the first time since the conflict in 1992.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Explanation of Position after Adoption

PETER DONIGI (Papua New Guinea) said the Committee must ask and answer three questions at this point with regard to this item.  What was the Committee mandate?  Did the mandate include adjudication of competing sovereignty claims?  If not, then could the Committee devise a solution without dealing with the sovereignty claims?  The Committee could not continue as it was doing year after year on this issue.  The United Kingdom, Spain and Argentina should appreciate the spirit of the resolution.

AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) asked Argentina and the United Kingdom to take the next step and devise a work programme for the Falkland Islands.

OTTO DURING (Sierra Leone) said the interests of the people were paramount.  A resolution should make reference to the important question of self-determination.  Some had said the principle did not apply when a process of decolonization needed to take place, but the principle should have primacy.

Visiting Missions

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on sending visiting missions to Territories.

Mr. DONIGI (Papua New Guinea) proposed an amendment to the text.  In operative paragraph five, the following words should be added after Territory:  “to coincide with a proposed plebiscite to be conducted by the Guam Electoral Commission on or about 7 September 2002”.

The text was adopted, as orally amended, without a vote.

Gibraltar

Mr. DONIGI (Papua New Guinea) said that he had made a statement previously on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), which also applied to Gibraltar.

Mr. STANISLAUS (Grenada) said that there was an English idiom which said, “in matters of principle stand as the rock of Gibraltar, but in matters of State swim with the current”.  The matter of Gibraltar had been before the Committee for a long time and he wondered whether it was a matter of principle or State.

ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain) said that Papua New Guinea had stated that her delegation had an apprehensive reaction to the paper distributed to the Committee.  Her delegation only reacted to official documents and not to academic papers.  As such, she would be happy to react officially to any document presented officially to the General Assembly.  If that official document contained ideas circulated on a personal level on Gibraltar, then that would be unacceptable.  The mandate of the Committee was established many years ago and the matter of Gibraltar fell within that mandate.  Spain and Argentina had been referred to as administering Powers.  She stressed that Spain was not an administering Power.

DOMINGO BLANCO (Venezuela) said that the contributions of Papua New Guinea had always been well received, not only by members of the Committee but also by others linked to the Committee’s work.  While the document had been given due attention by his delegation, he would refrain from giving any view on its contents, given that the formal procedures which needed to be followed had not yet taken place.

The Committee would continue discussing the matter at its next session.

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For information media. Not an official record.