SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION ADOPTS RESOLUTION EXPRESSING REGRET OVER DELAY IN TALKS TO RESOLVE FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS) DISPUTE
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION ADOPTS RESOLUTION EXPRESSING REGRET OVER DELAY IN TALKS TO RESOLVE FALKLAND ISLANDS (MALVINAS) DISPUTE
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Special Committee on
8th Meeting (AM)
special committee on decolonization adopts resolution expressing regret
over delay in talks to resolve falkland islands (malvinas) dispute
The Special Committee on Decolonization adopted a resolution today expressing regret that, despite widespread international support for talks between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resolve the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), implementation of General Assembly resolutions aimed at peacefully ending that dispute had not yet begun.
Taking that action by consensus, the Special Committee also reiterated that a peaceful and negotiated settlement was the way to end the special and particular colonial situation concerning the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). It further requested the two States concerned to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation by resuming their negotiations.
Addressing the Special Committee, Jorge Enrique Taiana, Argentina’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, said the Malvinas question had been recognized by the General Assembly as a special case. Granting self-determination to the British inhabitants of the islands would imply acceptance of the disruption of Argentina’s territorial integrity.
He said General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960 stated that “all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory…” Those general principles had been applied to the Malvinas question 42 years ago in resolution 2065 (XX), which explicitly ruled out the principle of self-determination as a way to settle the dispute.
Bolstering Argentina’s position, Uruguay’s representative said the key to the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) lay not in respecting the right of self-determination but rather in preserving Argentine territorial integrity. From that point of view, Argentina enjoyed irrefutable rights over the Islands, which had been inherited from Spain.
As many other Member States voiced their support for Argentina’s claims, Paraguay’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated States, stressed that a speedy resolution to the dispute was of great interest to their region, citing the declaration of the Rio de Janeiro MERCOSUR Summit of 18 and 19 January, which reaffirmed the organization’s support for Argentina in the sovereignty dispute.
In a similar vein, petitioner James Douglas Lewis called on the United Kingdom to take up the issue in a serious manner, saying he had struggled to find interests that would unite the two parties to the dispute, such as fishery conservation, tourism and exploitation of hydrocarbons, but the lack of dialogue had hampered progress.
Another petitioner, Marcelo Vernet, said Argentina had been granting licences to exploit natural resources and land to promote settlement in the region since 1820. Neither the United Kingdom nor other States had objected to those actions acts at the time, and the United Kingdom had persistently tried to distort its illegal seizure of Argentine lands.
For their part, Falkland Islanders defended their right to self-determination. Richard Davies, a member of the Territory’s Legislative Council, said Argentina’s “morally, historically and intellectually flawed” claims to sovereignty masked a cynical attempt to justify annexation of a small and peaceful neighbour. Annexation by negotiation or conquest translated to colonization and occupation by a foreign Power.
He dismissed as “historical nonsense” claims that Falkland Islanders were a transplanted people and, thus, had no right to determine their future, noting that many traced their ancestry back to the 1840s. Like most countries, including Argentina, the Falklands constituted a nation of immigrants that had developed a distinctive culture and identity. For Argentina to deny the right of self-determination was to question its own claim to the same right.
Ian Hansen, another Legislative Councillor, said the Territory enjoyed a strong economy, a profitable business community, excellent education and health services. As long as it was understood that the Falklands were a British Overseas Territory, the territorial Government would not penalize individuals or companies seeking a role in its future development.
The Special Committee also heard from the representatives of Grenada, Chile, Brazil, Peru, China, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Bolivia, Syria, Cuba, Tunisia, Venezuela and the Russian Federation.
Also speaking today was the representative of Congo, who made a statement in explanation of position before action on the draft resolution.
The Special Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 27 June, to take up the question of Tokelau.
Before the Special Committee was a working paper (document A/AC.109/2007/13) prepared by the Secretariat on the Non-Self-Governing Territory of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), which is administered by the United Kingdom and claimed by Argentina. Comprising two large islands, East and West Falkland, the Territory also includes two smaller areas, South Georgia and South Sandwich, which are administered from the Falklands (Malvinas) as a separate Territory, with the Governor serving as Commissioner.
According to the working paper, the Territory held its last general elections on 17 November 2005, electing eight members to four-year terms in the Legislative Council. The councillors have no ministerial duties, though each is responsible for a particular portfolio. Questions of policy are considered by the Executive Council, which consists of three members of the Legislative Council and two ex-officio members with no voting rights. The Legislative Councillors elect a speaker and appoint a Chief Executive to implement policy. The Governor presides over Executive Council meetings and is obliged to consult the Council in respect of his functions, while retaining responsibility for foreign policy and defence.
The paper explains that the role of the Legislative Councillors is under “active consideration” as part of a constitutional review, although the Government of Argentina -- which contests the United Kingdom’s sovereignty over the Territory -- rejects that constitutional reform process, saying it would “unilaterally modify the current situation” on the Territory. Argentina also claims title over the Falklands (Malvinas), a position traditionally supported by other countries in the region and at the United Nations. Argentina has repeatedly called on the United Kingdom to begin resolving the sovereignty dispute through negotiations, but the latter has maintained its sovereignty over the Territory, saying “there can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) unless and until such a time as the Falklanders so wish”.
According to the working paper, the two countries also disagree over the implementation of a fisheries regime, which would be implemented by the United Kingdom and give greater control over fishery resources to local residents and businesses. Argentina believes the policy “constitutes a long-term illegal and unilateral disposition of fisheries resources in the maritime areas surrounding the Islands”. The two nations have also failed to agree on an Argentine proposal to establish a direct regular air service operated by Argentine companies between the mainland and the Falklands (Malvinas). Argentina also rejects the United Kingdom’s extension to the Territory of such international conventions as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.
The paper says the United Nations acknowledges that the Falklands (Malvinas) question is different from the usual, given that granting self-determination to the Territory’s people would imply the disruption of Argentina’s territorial integrity. For that reason, General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX) of 1965 excludes the application of the self-determination principle in the case of the Falklands (Malvinas), urging Argentina and the United Kingdom to resolve their claims through negotiation. The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) has held debates on the issue, and the General Assembly has decided that the item will remain on the agenda for consideration “upon notification by a Member State”. However, in a letter addressed to the President of the General Assembly last September, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom remarked that the elected representatives of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had asked the Assembly to recognize that they were entitled to exercise the right of self-determination, and that they did not wish for any change in the Territory’s status.
Also before the Special Committee was a draft resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) contained in document A/AC.109/2007/L.8.
RICHARD DAVIES, Legislative Councillor, Falkland Islands, said that under the United Nations Charter, all Non-Self-Governing Territories, including the Falklands, had the right to self-determination and the islanders were strongly opposed to negotiations, as none but they had the right to dictate their political future.
Regarding Argentina’s “colonial ambitions” for the islands, he said that, while the islanders remained grateful to the British forces for liberating them 25 years ago, bitterness persisted. Although Argentina had stated it had no intention of military aggression, it remained committed to applying diplomatic pressure to exert control. Falkland Islanders did not wish to be “colonized”, whether by military aggression or through negotiations. The Falklands was a long-established, vibrant democracy that had never been part of Argentina and which remained ethnically and culturally distinct.
Argentina’s arguments were “morally, historically and intellectually flawed” in that they masked a cynical attempt to justify the annexation of a small and peaceful neighbour, he said. Such ambitions had no place in the twenty-first century. Annexation by negotiation or conquest meant colonization and occupation by a foreign Power. To claim that the islanders were a transplanted people and, thus, had no right to determine their future was “historical nonsense” as many of them traced their ancestry back to the 1840s. Like most countries, including Argentina, the Falklands constituted a nation of immigrants who had developed a distinctive culture and identity. For Argentina to deny them the right to self-determination was to question their own claim to the same right.
Regarding the “historically inaccurate” claim to territorial integrity, he said the islands had never been part of Argentina. Spain and the United Kingdom had claimed the islands from the eighteenth century, and it was simply incorrect to suggest that Argentina and the islands had ever formed a national unit. Argentina had become independent from Spain in the early nineteenth century. It had briefly occupied the islands in 1829 in full knowledge of the prior British claim. Whatever the rights and wrongs of 1833, the effective administration by islanders of their Territory negated any theoretical legal claim presented by Argentina.
Recent Special Committee statements, including paragraph 7 of the recommendations made during the recent Caribbean Regional Seminar in Grenada, had been worded in a manner that limited the right to self-determination, he said. Did the Committee support removing the right of self-determination from the very people it was mandated to protect? It was an established United Nations principle that the political future of Territories should be determined according to the wishes of their peoples, and as such, Falkland Islanders remained strongly opposed to Argentine sovereignty. They did not seek independence, but rather a continuation of the present constitutional link with the United Kingdom. British sovereignty did not imply a colonial relationship; the Territory had a continually evolving partnership based on the right to self-determination.
He said Argentina’s attempts to further its ambitions through economic measures –- equivalent to sanctions -- could be seen in its refusal to grant permission for charter flights across its airspace, the creation of fisheries legislation that would prevent Falkland-licensed companies from obtaining licences to fish in Argentine waters and threats to take similar measures concerning oil companies. Moreover, Argentina had withdrawn from the accord on hydrocarbons, a door for cooperation and confidence-building. The Special Committee should not condone Argentina’s behaviour by turning a blind eye to it.
Emphasizing that the Falkland Islands had no quarrel with the people of Argentina he said that, like the people of Tierra del Fuego, they had made a home in a harsh but beautiful land. Despite the Territory’s poor present relationship with Argentina, perhaps there were more grounds for future work together. It was important to leave the past behind and build a better relationship on the basis of tolerance and respect for human rights. It was inconceivable that the draft resolution before the Special Committee would make any progress towards self-determination, as it made no reference to that principle and, thus, undermined the very people it was intended to protect. Any contact with Argentina that would increase understanding and heal past scars was welcome, and the Special Committee should amend the draft resolution to confirm the principle of self-determination. Ignoring the rights of the people involved would lead nowhere.
IAN HANSEN, Legislative Councillor, Falkland Islands, said the Territory could be compared to such other New World countries as Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada and Argentina, whose populations consisted predominantly of immigrant Europeans, with a significant difference being the absence of an indigenous population. Though he had family connections to both Scotland and Denmark -- his great-great-grandfather having originally arrived from Scotland as a shepherd -– he did not consider himself as belonging to those countries.
Recalling that the right to self-determination had been challenged by military invasion 25 years ago, he said that in 2007, the islanders were commemorating the sacrifice made by those who had preserved that right. Since that war, the Territory had prospered far beyond any expectations that the islanders could have had prior to 1982. They enjoyed a strong economy, had a profitable business community, and excellent education and health services. There was no poverty and the territorial Government continued to invest in capital infrastructure, including the building of a wind farm to supply the town of Stanley with electricity and ferry terminals on East and West Falkland.
Describing the fishing industry as a main source of national income, he said tourism was the second biggest industry, in addition to the potential development of offshore minerals. Communications within the Territory proceeded to develop with the near completion of an island-wide road network and the introduction of mobile telephones and Internet access. Those networks would facilitate business opportunities other than farming in the rural community. However, agricultural enterprises were not in the best of health and the territorial Government had no qualms about providing farmers with grants and loans.
He said that, as long as it was understood that the Falklands was a British Overseas Territory, the territorial Government would not penalize individuals or companies seeking a role in its future development. The Governor articulated the views and advice of the United Kingdom Government and, in return, represented the views of the territorial Government to the United Kingdom. The absence of political parties an elected leadership had led to a consensus-style government that had served the Territory. The portfolio responsibility of each Councillor was exercised by working closely with departments and Government committees, which provided a measure of scrutiny.
ANGUS FRIDAY ( Grenada) said Article 1 of the United Nations Charter reminded the Special Committee that the purpose of the United Nations was to develop friendly relations among nations based on the principle of self-determination. Indeed, self-determination was not a mere footnote, but rather a central theme of the Special Committee, and Grenada was extremely concerned that sovereignty issues were overshadowing that body’s sole purpose. Many Territories had moved from colonization to full independence. If sovereignty disputes were allowed to block that process, what other new constraints would the Special Committee introduce to deny colonies their right to self-determination?
What was the purpose of seeking dialogue without the full involvement of the people? he asked. By encouraging dialogue between Governments, was the Special Committee not undermining the process of decolonization? Full participation by the islanders regarding their future should be encouraged, and Grenada reiterated its support for the right to self-determination. Sovereignty disputes, rather than slowing that process, should, if anything, speed it up. It was not the Special Committee’s role to recommend negotiation without the full participation of the people. They had a right to self-determination and the process of healing must take place. The Special Committee should first encourage small cultural and economic initiatives that would foster a culture of peace and allow the process of self-determination to progress.
JAMES DOUGLAS LEWIS, born on the Malvinas Islands and appearing before the Special Committee for the sixth time since his first intervention 20 years ago, expressed disappointment that little progress had been achieved. He said he had been raised in Puerto Santa Cruz, where his parents had settled and his grandfather had traveled to the mainland. Like other settlers from the Malvinas, he had integrated without difficulty and become a mayor.
Recalling that the Malvinas question had been introduced by the United Kingdom itself, he said that had led the Special Committee to adopt a resolution as recently as 2006, which stated that the dispute over the Territory was about sovereignty, and that it could only be resolved through negotiations.
That text determined that the principle of self-determination, applicable in the case of most Territories to be decolonized, was not applicable in the Malvinas case, which involved a Territory dismembered by force after the expulsion of the original Argentine population. Having been prevented from returning, it had been replaced by a population of British people.
In the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, the international community intended to put an end to all forms of colonialism, he said. In the Malvinas case, the international community had ordered the end of colonialism through negotiation between the parties. The United Kingdom had ignored that international mandate, but Argentina was willing to find a mechanism whereby both parties might reach agreement.
He said he had struggled to find interests that would unite the two parties, such as fishery conservation, tourism, livestock farming operations and exploitation of any hydrocarbons that might be present in the area, but the lack of dialogue had hampered progress. The United Kingdom, through its unilateral fishing agreements and exploration and exploitation of oil, had done nothing to maintain the spirit of cooperation set out in General Assembly resolution 41/11 of 1986, which declared the South Atlantic a zone of peace and cooperation. Argentina’s rights, arising from discovery and possession before 1833, had been repeatedly recognized at the United Nations and, as such, the United Kingdom should seriously address the issue.
MARCELO VERNET, a writer of Argentine citizenship, said his great-great-grandfather had been appointed the first Political and Military Commander of the Malvinas Islands and the Islands Adjacent to Cape Horn in the Atlantic Sea, a post created on 10 June 1829. That appointment had allowed the control and administration of the Territory by Spain, which that country had exercised since 1767. The Malvinas were viewed as a strategic enclave that facilitated the control of fishing and hunting activities in the face of “worrying predation” by the United States and the United Kingdom. The granting of licences to exploit natural resources, land and the provision of benefits to promote settlement had continued uninterrupted since 1820, without objection by the United Kingdom or other States. Indeed, the British consulate itself had been formally notified in accordance with the treaty of 1825 between the United Provinces of the River Plate and the United Kingdom.
He said the United Kingdom had persistently tried to distort its illegal seizure of Argentine lands, including that of “the population that had settled there”. In 1833, the fixed population on the Malvinas, numbering more than 100 persons, had been increased by the crews of ships that had made port there, and served as a strategic enclave for the development of Southern Patagonia. Southern Patagonia’s core was the colony on Soledad Island, established by Argentine citizens under laws of the Buenos Aires Government. They had come from the provinces of Santiago del Estero, Entre Rios, Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Uruguay. German peasants had arrived in 1829, as had the Dutch, Scots, French, Genoese, English, Irish and a group of Africans from Cape Verde.
Those people had worked and started families there, “thus, making the land inalienably theirs,” he said. The Argentine colony had established a diversified economy, involving the mainland and surrounding islands and based on fisheries, cattle farming, logging, the salting of fish and cow meat and sheep farming for wool. The main trade destinations were Brazil, the United States and England. The Territory’s division had seriously affected Argentina’s territorial integrity, and the lawfully established population had been expelled and “replaced with a population loyal to the seizing Power”. To apply the principle of self-determination to inhabitants who were British citizens loyal to the occupying Power would be “yet another display of the proverbial English irony”.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile), introducing the draft resolution (document A/AC.109/2007/L.8) on behalf of Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela, said it reflected the principal elements of the doctrine developed by the United Nations over the years. Moreover, it recognized that the Malvinas question was a particular colonial one, owing to the existence of a sovereignty dispute between two States. The draft resolution stated that a negotiated settlement was the only way to end that dispute, and called on the parties to consolidate the dialogue process through resumed negotiations.
Associating himself with the position of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and Associated States, he said his country fully supported the draft resolution and regretted that, despite the time that had elapsed and numerous resolutions adopted, it had not been possible to initiate direct diplomatic negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom. A quarter of a century had passed since the 1982 conflict and silence still reigned.
He said the presence of so many Latin American representatives at today’s meeting was a sign of their countries’ interest in seeing a lasting solution to the Malvinas question. Chile supported the rights of Argentina in the dispute, believing that the only viable way forward was through bilateral negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom. Calling colonial situations in the twenty-first century were an “inexplicable anachronism”, and there was no reason for continued delay in the search for a solution. Talks should resume as soon as possible.
JORGE ENRIQUE TAIANA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, said that, on 3 January 1833, the Malvinas Islands, governed by Argentine authorities, had been usurped by the United Kingdom and its settlers expelled by force. Their return had been forbidden and they had been replaced by a British population. On 22 January, Argentina had immediately protested that act of force, carried out without prior communication, a protest that extended to the present day.
Reading part of the 1833 protest, he said the document was clear proof that there had been no change in his country’s confusion over that act of colonial force, or in its determination to uphold its legitimate sovereignty rights. To take what belonged to somebody else was unacceptable, and to pretend that the “illicit character” of the occupation would become “fair” over the passage of time was inconceivable.
He said the Malvinas question had been recognized by the General Assembly and the Special Committee as a particular case, and resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960 stated that “all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory…”. Those principles had been applied 42 years ago to the Malvinas question by resolution 2065 (XX), which ruled out the principle of self-determination as a way to settle the dispute. Therefore, to grant self-determination to the British inhabitants of the islands would imply acceptance of the disruption of Argentina’s territorial integrity.
Noting that delegates had previously confirmed the existence of an illegally occupied Territory, dismembered by force from the territorial unity of a sovereign State, he noted that the principle of self-determination must not be used to transform an illegitimate possession into full sovereignty, as such an action would undermine resolution 1514. The inapplicability of the self-determination principle had been clearly confirmed in 1985, by the General Assembly’s rejection of two proposals to include it in the draft resolution on the Malvinas question. Argentina had always been, and would continue to be, a firm defender of the principle of self-determination for peoples subjugated under a colonial regime.
He stressed his country’s willingness to cooperate with the United Kingdom on practical aspects deriving from the de facto situation in the South Atlantic, under legal safeguards, so long as that cooperation contributed to the creation of favourable conditions for resumed sovereignty talks. In 1990, both countries had agreed to provisional ad hoc understandings on the dispute, but the United Kingdom continued to introduce unilateral changes in flat contradiction of those understandings.
Regarding the conservation of fishing resources, he said bilateral cooperation had been seriously affected by the United Kingdom’s unilateral position on fishery resources in Argentine maritime areas. Unlawful acts, such as the continued sale of fishing licences, contravened General Assembly resolutions and the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Moreover, such behaviour had altered the nature of the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission, making cooperation increasingly difficult.
On the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons, he said Argentina had repeatedly warned the United Kingdom that the consequences of its continued unilateral acts violated the 1995 Joint Declaration on Cooperation on Offshore Activities in the South West Atlantic. Cooperation had been paralyzed since 2000, when the South West Atlantic Hydrocarbon Commission noted “seriously diverging interpretations” of the scope of understanding. The United Kingdom’s attitude did not foster an atmosphere conducive to resuming sovereignty talks and Argentina had been forced to terminate cooperation in March.
Emphasizing that his country did not intend to harm the population of the Malvinas, he said that, in 2003, Argentina had proposed direct air services between the islands and the mainland with a view to diversifying communications. It awaited a satisfactory response from the United Kingdom. Argentina had also conveyed a new proposal to the United Kingdom, which would place the exchange of goods and services between the mainland and the islands under the sovereignty safeguard formula. Argentina had reiterated at every opportunity its willingness to negotiate and remained committed to exhausting all efforts to solve peacefully existing problems with the United Kingdom.
ELADIO LOIZAGA ( Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated States, said MERCOSUR would cooperate with the Special Committee towards a successful outcome in the dispute over the Malvinas Islands. In the declaration emanating from the MERCOSUR Summit of 18 and 19 January, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Presidents of the organization’s members and associated States had reaffirmed their support for Argentina, and that a speedy resolution of the prolonged sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich and the surrounding marine areas was of interest to the region, and should be reached in accordance with United Nations resolutions and those of the Organization of South American States. MERCOSUR reiterated its view that the two parties should resume negotiations and its support for the draft resolution before the Special Committee.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG ( Brazil), aligning himself with MERCOSUR, also reiterated his country’s support for Argentina’s rights over the Malvinas and called for the resumption of the dialogue between the two parties through an appropriate framework. That appeal had been reaffirmed at several regional meetings, including that of the Heads of State of South American nations on 9 December 2006; the Ibero-American Summit of 5 November 2006; and at the summit of Arab and South American nations in May 2005. While welcoming the Secretariat’s working paper, Brazil regretted that implementation of the numerous resolutions on the Malvinas had not yet begun.
LUIS ENRIQUE CHÁVEZ ( Peru), aligning himself with MERCOSUR, said his country had often defended the right of self-determination, whereby people could articulate their own political and social development. However, the principle of self-determination did not apply in the case of the Malvinas question and the only solution was to recognize Argentina’s sovereignty over the islands, including the surrounding maritime areas, as stated in various General Assembly resolutions. Peru’s position was based on historic legal criteria dating from the time of Argentina’s independence, and exercised fully until a violent act by a foreign Power in 1833. It was important to resume negotiations aimed at achieving a just and lasting solution as soon as possible, in accordance with the draft resolution before the Special Committee.
While noting that it was not easy to resolve sovereignty issues, he said it was, nevertheless, necessary for parties to act in good faith to ensure a peaceful and lasting solution. The proof of Peru’s conviction was the active participation by its former President, Fernando Belaúnde Terry, who had presented proposals to bring Argentina and the United Kingdom together during the 1982 conflict. There was no alternative to negotiations between the two Governments. In accordance with the Declaration of the Rio Group during its recent summit in Guyana, Peru recognized without reservation Argentina’s right to sovereignty over the disputed islands and its aspirations for a just solution.
ELBIO ROSSELLI ( Uruguay), aligning himself with MERCOSUR, said his country was convinced of the justice of Argentina’s claim and agreed that the dispute should be resolved speedily and peacefully. Furthermore, international law should allow just relations between States, large or small. The United Nations Charter and fundamental documents on decolonization, such as resolution 1514, protected small States and should be upheld.
Noting that the principle of territorial integrity formed the crux of the Malvinas dispute, he said the right of self-determination had its limits and the granting of independence should be done on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity of States in general. The key to the Malvinas question lay, not in whether the parties respected the right of self-determination, but in preserving Argentina’s territorial integrity. Indeed, that country had enjoyed irrefutable rights over the Territory, which had been inherited from Spain. A speedy solution to the dispute was the obligation of both States and would open a new stage of cooperation between two great friends of Uruguay.
LI KEXIN ( China) said territorial disputes between countries should be resolved through peaceful negotiations, and it was to be hoped that Argentina and the United Kingdom would act in accordance with previously adopted General Assembly resolutions. China supported the adoption of the draft resolution before the Special Committee.
RUPERT DAVIES ( Sierra Leone), stressing that it was incumbent upon the Special Committee to address each situation on a case-by-case basis, said the islanders valued their link with the United Kingdom and wished to retain it. Such a decision was an equally valid act of self-determination. Resolution 637 of 1952 reaffirmed the General Assembly’s commitment to recognizing self-determination as a fundamental principle, and it was in the spirit of that resolution, and Article 73 b of the United Nations Charter, that Sierra Leone reaffirmed that commitment to the islanders, who had been living in the Territory for more than 170 years.
He said that, despite recent setbacks, there was a reasonable degree of cooperation between the Argentina and the islands. Sierra Leone urged the parties to the dispute to continue their cooperation on fisheries and petroleum issues. Moreover, all parties should engage in a peaceful and sustained dialogue, bearing in mind the views and wishes of the islanders.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia) said there were no universal criteria that were applicable to every decolonization question, a case in point being the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) question. Relevant United Nations resolutions clearly determined that a negotiated settlement was the only way to end that colonial situation and Indonesia urged the resumption of negotiations in accordance with those resolutions, and based on the principle of territorial integrity and full acknowledgement of the interests of the Territory’s population. The good relationship between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom was heartening, and had made possible the conclusion of several agreements on the clearance of landmines in 2001 and 2006. Both parties were encouraged to use that relationship as the foundation for a mutually acceptable solution.
MARÍA ALICIA TERRAZAS ONTIVEROS ( Bolivia), associating herself with MERCOSUR, said the pages of history were opening again to remind the Special Committee of the existence of the Malvinas Islands. The British takeover of 1833 had disrupted Argentina’s sovereignty. Centuries had passed since that event and 25 years since the 1982 conflict.
She said the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom had been of concern to the United Nations, and had complicated the mechanisms for political consultation in the region. The recent Rio Group Summit in Guyana had reaffirmed its support for Argentina’s legitimate rights regarding the Malvinas and its interest in the resumption of talks leading to a just and lasting solution, in accordance with past resolutions.
Pointing out that dialogue had been put off since 1982, she said that, although the Special Committee had persisted in urging the resumption of negotiations that would also take the needs of the Territory’s inhabitants into account, the United Nations still had not achieved the objective of complete decolonization. Bolivia was concerned that relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom had not been conducive to achieving a lasting solution and called on both countries to resume talks.
BASHAR JAAFARI ( Syria) voiced his appreciation of Argentina’s rejection of foreign occupation over its territories, noting that its active presence in all United Nations forums added to its credibility and further demonstrated its commitment to international law. Syria aligned itself with the position announced at the 2005 Summit of Arab and South American States held in Brazil, which was also in line with the recent statement made in Doha, Qatar, by the Foreign Ministers of the “Group of 77” developed countries and China.
He also expressed support for the draft resolution before the Special Committee, saying its adoption by consensus would once more reaffirm the international community’s ability to help resolve problems between nations through diplomatic means. It would also reaffirm the international community’s support for Argentina. A resumption of dialogue between Argentina and United Kingdom, as had been consistently sought by the Government of Argentina, would lead to a suitable resolution in a manner that would guarantee respect for territorial integrity.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ ( Cuba) said that the difference between the Malvinas question and classic colonial situations was that the islands had belonged to Argentina since 1833, and its authorities and inhabitants had been removed through violence. Since then, Argentina had expressed its determination to recover, through negotiations, the exercise of its sovereignty over the Territory. But despite 41 resolutions adopted by the Special Committee, and the 10 adopted by the General Assembly, the parties to the dispute seemed to be no closer to a definitive solution.
Reiterating its support for Argentina’s legitimate right in the sovereignty dispute, he said his country believed that the Malvinas continued to be Argentinean. Cuba appealed for the conclusion of a negotiated, just and definitive solution in the shortest possible time. It urged the United Kingdom to respond positively to Argentina’s “reiterated willingness” to resume a bilateral negotiation process. For as long as a definitive solution was not reached, unilateral acts introducing changes to the situation in the Territory should not take place. Indeed, support for Argentina’s rights over the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich and the surrounding maritime space had been reiterated at the highest levels by the Rio Group, the Ibero-American Community of Nations and the South American Community of Nations.
KAIS KABTANI ( Tunisia) said his delegation had closely followed the statements on the Malvinas question and supported the draft resolution. Tunisia hoped the text would be adopted by consensus and called on Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations with the goal of finding a just and lasting solution.
FRANCISCO JAVIER ARIAS CÁRDENAS (Venezuela), supporting the MERCOSUR statement, called urgently on the United Kingdom to return to bilateral talks with the aim of achieving a lasting solution based on international law. In the context of conversations held during the nineteenth Summit of the Rio Group in Guyana, it was important to comply with measures that would prevent unilateral actions during the decolonization process.
The facts that had led to the rupture of Argentina’s peaceful exercise of sovereignty were “a painful page” of Latin American history, he said. The lack of recognition by the United States of Argentina’s rights had led to the United Kingdom’s easy takeover of the Malvinas in 1833 in an act of aggression that had affected the territorial integrity of a State.
Stressing that the principle of territorial integrity prevailed in the case of the Malvinas, he said colonization implied a displacement of political power. Human settlement on the islands -– an unstable population that travelled to and from the British Isles -– had always been subject to the British Government. The international community should make every effort to help achieve the restitution of Argentina’s sovereignty.
DENIS Y. PALETSKIY (Russian Federation), expressing support for the draft resolution, said the dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) required a just and mutually acceptable solution to be reached through bilateral negotiations and taking into account past General Assembly resolutions.
MARGARET HUGHES FERRARI ( Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Chairperson of the Special Committee, then invited the members to begin considering the draft resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) contained in document A/AC.109/2007/L.8).
Explanation of Position before Action
LUC JOSEPH OKIO ( Congo) said a negotiated settlement was the appropriate means for ending the unique situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Congo would vote in favours of the text.
The Special Committee then adopted the resolution without a vote.
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