SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION REITERATES CALL ON ARGENTINA, UNITED KINGDOM TO RESUME NEGOTIATIONS ON FALKLANDS/MALVINAS ISSUE

19 June 2002
GA/COL/3067

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION REITERATES CALL ON ARGENTINA, UNITED KINGDOM TO RESUME NEGOTIATIONS ON FALKLANDS/MALVINAS ISSUE

19/06/2002
Press ReleaseGA/COL/3067

Special Committee on

Decolonization

8th Meeting (AM)

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION REITERATES CALL ON ARGENTINA, UNITED KINGDOM

TO RESUME NEGOTIATIONS ON FALKLANDS/MALVINAS ISSUE

The Special Committee on Decolonization called on Britain and Argentina this morning to resume negotiations to find a peaceful resolution to the sovereignty dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  The call came in a resolution sponsored by Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela.  The text was adopted without a vote.

Further by the text, the Special Committee expressed regret that resolutions on the matter had not been implemented, despite widespread international support for negotiation between the two countries on all aspects of the future of the Islands.  The Committee requested the two countries to consolidate the current dialogue and cooperation process.  It reiterated that the way to end the special and particular colonial situation in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was for the two countries to peacefully negotiate a settlement of their dispute over sovereignty.

Four petitioners addressed the Committee this morning.  Alejandro Jacobo Betts said he regretted Britain's reluctance to consider negotiations on the sovereignty question with Argentina, despite the fact that resolutions had called for that measure and the Committee had recommended it.  Stating that the principle of territorial integrity was “the only acceptable basis” for a solution to the dispute, he added that compliance with today’s resolution would lead to eliminating a last bulwark of colonialism from the region and the world.  James Douglas Lewis also called on Britain to resume dialogue with Argentina to resolve the controversy.

Norma Edwards, Legislative Councillor of the Falkland Islands, said it was untrue that the Islands were in a colonial situation.  They enjoyed a close relationship with the United Kingdom as British citizens of a British Overseas Territory, but they looked after their own internal affairs.  They consulted with Britain on foreign affairs and relied on it for defence.  Argentina should recognize the right of the Falkland Islands people to live under the government of their own choosing.

Philip Miller, Legislative Councillor of the Falkland Islands, concurred with that view.  He said the people of the Islands did not trust Argentina because of its unjustified claim to sovereignty of the Islands.  Trust could be built for the benefit of both countries if Argentina relinquished its claim.

Carlos Ruckauf, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, reiterated his Government’s commitment to recovering the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, as well as the surrounding maritime areas.  He said they constituted an integral part of his country's national territory.  The United Kingdom had seized the Malvinas Islands in

1833 after the Argentine inhabitants and authorities were ousted by force and replaced with British subjects.  He called on the United Kingdom to reconsider its unwillingness to resume the dialogue on the question.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Peru, China, Syria, Brazil (on behalf of the Southern Common Market, MERCOSUR, as well as Bolivia and Chile), Paraguay, Uruguay, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Russian Federation, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Cuba, Venezuela, Fiji, Côte d’Ivoire, Bolivia, Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda.

The representative of Chile introduced the resolution. 

The Committee is expected to meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 24 June to continue its work.

Background

The Special Committee on Decolonization met this morning to take up the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  It had before it a draft resolution (document A/AC.109/2001/L.12) sponsored by Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela.  By the terms of the text, the Special 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), implementation of the General Assembly resolutions on this question has not yet started. 

The Committee would also request the two Governments to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation through the resumption of negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute as soon as possible.  Further, it would reiterate that the way to put an end to the special and particular colonial situation in the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is the peaceful and negotiated settlement of the dispute over sovereignty between the two Governments. 

Also before the Committee was a working paper prepared by the Secretariat (document A/AC.109/2002/16) on the question.

Statements

NORMA EDWARDS, Legislative Councillor of the Falkland Islands, said that while she had seen many changes in the Islands over her time as an elected member of the Government, she had not seen a great deal of change in the attitude of Argentina towards the Falkland Islands.  It seemed there was still a perception that the Islands were in a colonial situation.  That was just not true.  The days of colonialism were over, she stated.  The Islands enjoyed a close relationship with the United Kingdom as British citizens of a British Overseas Territory, but they looked after their own internal affairs, consulted Britain on its foreign affairs and relied on Britain for its defence.  

She said that the children of the Islands were provided with further education in Britain if they chose to obtain higher education or university degrees.  Young people in the Islands today felt they had a future in their homeland, unlike the young people of her generation, who had left the Islands mainly because they felt their future might be threatened by the constant pressure from Argentina during the 1960s and the 1970s –- pressure which culminated in the invasion of the Islands in April 1982. 

After the conflict, she said, the people of the Islands were able to decide their own future.  Britain had recognized their right to self-determination.  As a result of that, the Islanders were also able to rewrite their Constitution, which in turn had led to the end of absentee landlords and provided more autonomy for the Falkland Islands Government.

She found it amazing, she said, that Argentina still insisted that the Falkland Islands were rightly theirs at the beginning of the twenty-first century, when, apart from the period between 2 April to 14 June 1982, the Falkland Islands had been under constant British rule since 1833.  The Islands were discovered by the British at the end of the sixteenth century and claimed for it in the eighteenth century, long before Argentina existed as a country.  It was unjustified for Argentina to persist with its claim to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.  She suggested that Argentina recognize the right of the Falkland Islands to live under the government of their own choosing.   

PHILIP MILLER, Legislative Councillor of the Falkland Islands, said the people of the Islands did not trust Argentina because of its unjustified claim to sovereignty of the Islands.  Trust could be built for the benefit of both countries if Argentina relinquished its claim.

The Falkland Islands people had been cooperating with Argentina since the July 1999 agreement between that country and Great Britain, he continued.  It had been hoped at that time that Argentina would recognize the Government of the Falkland Islands.  The Islands were self-governing in all matters other than foreign policy and defence.  They had a well-balanced budget financed by their own industries.  The support of the British Government had enabled the people to create a small and democratic self-supporting nation.  The people also recognized their financially privileged position and contributed to disaster relief around the world.

He said the Falkland Islands should be allowed to develop peacefully, democratically and economically to benefit its own people and its neighbours.  That should happen without threat from outside domination, political or commercial.  The only route to cooperation and progress was for the Committee to acknowledge the right to self-determination of the Falkland Islands people.  It should be recognized that they were not prepared to relinquish the sovereignty of their birthright in any shape or form, now or in the future, and that they have always been culturally, linguistically and historically different from the people of Latin America.   

ALEJANDRO JACOBO BETTS said that Argentina’s sovereign rights over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas were solidly based on historical-juridical criteria, which had been clearly determined before the Committee and the General Assembly.  It was obvious that the only acceptable basis that would lead to a just and definitive solution to the dispute was the application of the principle of territorial integrity.  The application of the principle of self-determination to the inhabitants of the Territory would be detrimental to the genuine rights of another State, and would undoubtedly be a misrepresentation of that principle.

In 1833, he said, the United Kingdom was aware of the fact that the Falkland/Malvinas Islands were effectively under Argentine sovereignty, inherited from Spain as an integral part of the River Plate Viceroyalty, established in 1776, and administered from its central government in Buenos Aires.  The Islands were not, therefore, an abandoned territory without a sovereign nor occupants, and were not open to be colonized by another State.  Neither time, nor the succession of governments of distinct political extractions, nor the endless series of British dilatory pretexts had been able to prejudice the firmness and coherence of Argentina’s claim to sovereignty.

The draft before the Committee, as in other years, maintained the same principles and objectives in view of a prompt, negotiated and definitive solution to the dispute, he said.  He regretted the reluctance of the administering Power to consider the possibility of beginning negotiations on the sovereignty question with Argentina, in compliance with United Nations resolutions and the Committee’s recommendations.  Compliance with today’s resolution would result in the elimination from Latin America of one of the last bulwarks of colonialism in the region and the world. 

JAMES DOUGLAS LEWIS recalled his Argentine family's roots in the Malvinas/Falkland Islands.  He pointed out that he had been born in the islands, of British descent, and had later integrated into Patagonian society, the Anglo-Argentine community which had resided in Patagonia since the middle of the nineteenth century.  Notably, they were the Welsh in Chubut and the islanders of Santa Cruz.

He said Argentina had repeatedly offered safeguards to the islanders about preserving their way of life and taking due account of their interests.  Those safeguards had been incorporated into the Argentine Constitution.

Argentina's claim to the Islands was legitimate, he said.  It had been backed up by United Nations resolutions.  The claims had been unaltered since 1833, when Britain had expelled the Argentine inhabitants at Port Louis.  The United Kingdom had been reluctant to resume negotiations on the matter.  It had failed to comply with the resolutions.  Argentina was nearing 20 years of democracy.  It was time for Britain to comply with the international community's will and resume the dialogue with Argentina so as to find a just and definitive solution to the question.  All delegations should back the resolution before the Committee and thus help both parties find a lasting solution to the controversy over the sovereignty of the Malvinas/Falkland Islands.     

GABRIEL VALDES (Chile), on behalf of the other co-sponsors –- Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela -- introduced the draft resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  As in previous years, the text was a contribution to efforts to achieve a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  He reiterated that a peaceful and negotiated solution was the only road that should be taken with regard to that matter.  He requested that the text be adopted, once again, by consensus.  

CARLOS RUCKAUF, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, said that his Government was committed to the recovery of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, which constituted an integral part of its national territory.  He reiterated his country’s positive disposition towards the interests of the inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands, the preservation of their way of life and welfare, and respect for the full exercise of their individual rights. 

The Malvinas Islands, he said, were seized by the United Kingdom in 1833, after the Argentine inhabitants and authorities settled there had been ousted by force and replaced with British subjects.  Ever since, Argentina had been claiming the restitution of that integral part of its national territory before the usurping power and the international community.  The General Assembly had recognized the existence of a colonial situation in the Malvinas Islands (resolution 2065 (XX)) and recommended putting an end to it, reconciling respect for the territorial integrity of Argentina with recognition of the interests of the inhabitants of the Islands.   

Furthermore, he continued, the Special Committee had on several occasions requested both Governments to strengthen the current process of dialogue and cooperation by resuming bilateral negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute as soon as possible.  He regretted that the United Kingdom had not been willing to resume the dialogue on the question and hoped it would reconsider.  He hoped that the United Kingdom would be disposed to jointly find a solution to the sovereignty dispute by resuming bilateral negotiations, in accordance with the provisions of the successive resolutions of the United Nations on the matter. 

OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said his country had always supported the principle of eliminating colonialism.  The question being considered today was no different from others before the Committee in dealing with a situation of colonialism.   Peru had participated in mediation efforts during the 1982 conflict.  Negotiations between Britain and Argentina must resume so that the rewards of a mediated settlement to a dispute could begin.  The Eleventh Summit of the Ibero-American countries, meeting in Lima, had reaffirmed the call for Britain and Argentina to resolve the matter, taking into account the principle of territorial integrity. 

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that the question of the Malvinas Islands had been under the Committee’s consideration for many years.  The Special Committee had adopted many resolutions requesting both Governments to resume dialogue to find as soon as possible a peaceful solution to the dispute.  Solving territorial disputes among States by peaceful means was the way forward.  He hoped that both Governments could carry out constructive dialogue to seek an early, peaceful and just settlement.  He supported the adoption of the text before the Committee today. 

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that his delegation had always supported the Committee’s resolutions calling on both Governments to resume their negotiation with a view to finding a speedy solution to their sovereignty dispute.  He was grateful for the statement given by Argentina, in which it expressed its interest in respecting the rights of the inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands.  The numerous resolutions of the United Nations on the issue reflected the interest of the international community in finding a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

He hoped dialogue would resume as soon as possible to put an end to the long-lasting conflict.  Expressing its keen interest in helping both parties to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict, his delegation would, once again, endorse the text before the Committee. 

GELSON FONSECA (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries, said the question before the Committee concerned the peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute.  The legitimate rights of Argentina and the sovereignty question of the Malvinas were to be negotiated.  Numerous international forums had affirmed that the situation of the Malvinas was a matter of colonialism and that it should be resolved like all other matters of that nature.  It was unfortunate that resolutions had not been implemented and that negotiations had not been taken up to resolve the question.  For the record, MERCOSUR reaffirmed Argentina's legitimate rights in the matter.

ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay) reaffirmed his country's firm support for Argentina on the issue of the Malvinas Islands.  He said the MERCOSUR countries were developing closer ties and greater cooperation with each other.  They were committed to a peaceful resolution of the sovereignty dispute within their region and to ending the colonial situation there.  There was no reason to avoid a dialogue for resolving the issue.

FELIPE H. PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said that the only ground on which the British claim lay was an act of force committed against the territorial sovereignty of Argentina.  The only thing that seemed fit now was to insist on the need for the two Governments involved in the dispute to start negotiations towards a normalization of the situation of the Malvinas Islands, according to law and justice.  That was what the international community had been requesting for a long time through decisions adopted in many forums, particularly the General Assembly and the Organization of American States, which had pronounced itself on the issue earlier in the month in Barbados. 

To end that possession based on illegality, that unfair dismembering of the territorial integrity of Argentina, was a goal that must be achieved in the short term for the benefit of all the parties, including the inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands.  

MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia) said that it was imperative that the status of the remaining non-self-governing territories be resolved as soon as possible.  The Committee had always realized that no one model of decolonization could be applied to all cases.  Despite the lapse of many years, a final solution had yet to be worked out regarding the Malvinas Islands.  He was heartened by some of the recent advances in bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina.  The question would only be resolved through peaceful means, in accordance with relevant resolutions and international law.  It was gratifying to note that both parties had expressed their willingness to resume negotiations.  He supported the draft resolution before the Committee.

FODE S. KAMARA (Sierra Leone) said that the existence of colonialism in any form was incompatible with the United Nations Charter.  He reiterated that the Islanders must be allowed to exercise their right to self-determination.  They must be allowed to determine what political status best suited them.  He remained confident that the United Kingdom and Argentina would work to consolidate the process of dialogue to resolve their dispute over the Islands. 

VLADIMIR F. ZAEMSKY (Russian Federation) expressed his support for the draft resolution and expressed satisfaction that a consensus had been reached.  It was still necessary for a mutual resolution of the dispute through bilateral negotiations between the two parties, bearing in mind the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Committee.

JIMMY URE OVIA (Papua New Guinea) said that his delegation’s views on the issue were well known.  Needless to say, the issue was very delicate.  Both the United Kingdom and Argentina should enter into dialogue to resolve the dispute.  He recognized that it was an issue of decolonization.  With that in mind, the people of the Islands must be consulted on their future.  The issue of sovereignty was best left to the two countries to discuss, but without forgetting the interests of the people living on the Islands.  

BIRHANEMESKEL ABEBE (Ethiopia) believed in the peaceful and negotiated settlement of the issue by the parties, in accordance with the resolutions of the Committee and the General Assembly, taking into account the interests of the inhabitants of the Islands.  He encouraged both Governments to resume dialogue as soon as possible to resolve the dispute and expressed support for the draft resolution.

MOHAMMED KARIM MAHMOUD (Iraq) said that despite the great support the international community had shown for the resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom to find a peaceful solution to the dispute, the resolutions of the Committee and the General Assembly on the issue had not yet been implemented in a way that would put an end to the occupation and restore Argentine sovereignty over the Islands. 

ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said his country was a co-sponsor of the resolution.  He reaffirmed Argentina's rights in the matter of the Malvinas Islands, and called for an adoption of the resolution without a vote.

ADRIANA PULIDO SANTANA (Venezuela) said her country was also a co-sponsor of the resolution.  The cooperation that had developed between the two countries in the dispute was a good basis for finding a negotiated, peaceful and lasting resolution to the question of the Malvinas Islands.

AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) noted the strengthening of the relationship between the people of the Falkland Islands and Argentina, as well as between Britain and Argentina.  He called for the latter two to resolve the question by considering the interests of the Falkland Islands people first.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d'Ivoire) said the question before the Committee concerned two countries that were both friends of his country.  It was a matter of deciding whether the question concerned the issue of decolonization or of sovereignty.  Different approaches had to be taken to both questions, which was why the two Governments must come together to negotiate the conflict over sovereignty.  The question of self-determination was at the heart of the matter.  The two Governments must negotiate a peaceful settlement of the question, but the welfare of the people was the first concern.

ERWIN ORTIZ GANDARILLAS (Bolivia) said he supported the legitimate rights of Argentina in the question of the Falkland Islands.  At the same time, he called for a peaceful negotiation of the issue.  His country's position had been put forward at MERCOSUR meetings and to the Organization of American States.  Bolivia was a co-sponsor of the resolution, he said.  It should be adopted by consensus.

LAMUEL A. STANISLAUS (Grenada) said that he joined the consensus on the draft resolution and re-emphasized that consensus through compromise was an essential instrument in bilateral and multilateral relations.  He noted that certain things were taking place while the issue of sovereignty had yet to be resolved between the parties.  While his delegation was fully aware of the complications surrounding sovereignty, he hoped that when time came for serious dialogue on sovereignty, the views of the people of the Islands would be taken into consideration.  The Special Committee should endeavour to ask both parties to first consolidate on those issues which united them rather than those which divided them.

PATRICK ALBERT LEWIS (Antigua and Barbuda) said that the Committee had gone through its annual exercise on the topic.  He was pleased to note that Argentina and the United Kingdom were cooperating with one another and ensuring the

continued safety and development of the Islanders.  It was the Islanders who concerned him most.  He wished to see their rights guaranteed.  The Committee was the conduit through which the interests of the parties were served.  He wished the Islanders success in their endeavours. 

The Committee adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

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For information media. Not an official record.