|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Special Committee on Decolonization
8th Meeting (AM)
Special Committee on Decolonization Approves Text Reiterating Need for Negotiated
Settlement of Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Question
The Special Committee on Decolonization today approved a draft resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)* by which the General Assembly would reiterate that the way to end that “special and particular colonial situation” was the peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom.
By other terms of that text (document A/AC.109/2013/L.7), approved by consensus, the Special Committee would have the Assembly request that the two Governments consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation by resuming negotiations in order to reach a peaceful solution to the dispute as soon as possible. The Assembly would express regret that in spite of widespread international support for negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom on all aspects of the Non-Self-Governing Territory’s future, implementation of the relevant General Assembly resolutions had not yet started.
Further by the text, the Special Committee ‑ formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples ‑ would have the Assembly reaffirm the need for both parties to take due account of the interests of the population of the islands.
Héctor Marcos Timerman, Argentina’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship, said that the United Kingdom’s refusal to engage in dialogue ‑ by fallaciously invoking the principle of self-determination ‑ was contrary to the obligation incumbent upon all United Nations Member States to resolve international disputes peacefully. It also concealed the British military presence in the South Atlantic and its illegitimate appropriation of natural resources. The United Kingdom sought to present itself as the victim of an attempt at dispossession, he said.
He said it was a paradox that the United Kingdom had invoked self-determination against his country when the United Nations had repeatedly defined the Malvinas (Falklands) question as a violation of Argentina’s territorial integrity. The principle of self-determination could not be applied since the islands were not home to a “people” under alien subjugation, domination and exploitation, he emphasized. By not speaking before the Special Committee and withholding cooperation with the Secretary-General’s mission of good offices, the United Kingdom had shown “imperial disdain” and lack of respect for the Special Committee’s mandate, he said.
Argentina was already at the negotiating table, ready to follow requests from the United Nations for a peaceful resolution of the dispute, he continued. The people of Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia had expressed themselves many times, and two permanent members of the Security Council, China and the Russian Federation, had also shown their support. Recalling that the General Assembly had requested the Secretary-General to resume his mission of good offices between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom, he said a resolution to the dispute was “hostage in London”.
Introducing the draft resolution, Chile’s representative said it was important for the Latin American and Caribbean nations that the dispute was settled once and for all, as they had repeatedly stated during their meetings.
Several other delegations raised their voices in support of Argentina’s sovereignty claim, with Cuba’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, saying that the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands were an inseparable part of the national territory of its “brother countries in Latin America”. Hence, there was an urgent need to resume negotiations for a peaceful and definitive end to the dispute.
Echoing that sentiment, Venezuela’s representative said the United Kingdom’s illegal occupation of Argentine national territory was an “affront to our continent”. The illegitimate takeover was in “direct collision” with several United Nations resolutions, and bilateral negotiations were the “only appropriate way” to resolve the dispute.
The Russian Federation’s representative called the militarization of the South Atlantic “unacceptable”, saying the region must purge itself of all nuclear weapons. Both parties should refrain from any actions that could impede negotiations, he added.
The Special Committee also heard four petitioners ‑ two from each side ‑ including Mike Summers, a representative of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), who called for a correction of the historical “distortion” upon which Argentina based its claim over the Territory. The United Kingdom’s claim pre-dated Argentina’s existence, and the latter had itself given up sovereignty over the islands. There was no indigenous Argentine population on the island, he added.
On the other hand, Maria Angelica Del Carmen Vernet, a petitioner from the Argentine side, said it was “undeniable” that her great-great-grandfather had settled peacefully and lawfully in the Malvinas (Falklands), encouraged by the Government of Argentina to do so. In the nineteenth century, the Government had offered a number of incentives for people emigrating to the Malvinas ( Falklands), including a tax exemption and exclusive fishing rights.
Other petitioners addressing the Special Committee were Sharon Halford, another member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), and Alejandro Jacobo Betts, a fourth-generation native-born islander.
Also speaking today were representatives of Syria, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, China, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Peru (on behalf of the Union of South American Nations), Guatemala, Costa Rica and Brazil.
Participating as observers were representatives of Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Peru, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
The Special Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 21 June, to conclude its question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and take up the questions of Tokelau, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
The Special Committee on Decolonization met this morning to take action on a draft resolution concerning the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). It was also expected to hear petitioners regarding that question, and to consider its report on decisions concerning organizational matters (document A/AC.109/2013/L.14).
Hearing of Petitioners
SHARON HALFORD, Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said the islanders had clearly expressed in a March referendum that they wished to remain part of the United Kingdom. The referendum had been organized by the Government of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), not by the United Kingdom, she explained, saying the latter had been prepared to accept and recognize its outcome, unlike the Government of Argentina. A team of eight independent international observers, civil society leaders and journalists from both North and South America had concluded that the process had been free and fair. With 99.8 per cent of the voters having chosen to remain an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, the “message was clear”, she said. The people of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were happy with their current relationship with that country.
She said it was unfortunate that Argentina had not moved on since her first address to the Special Committee some 16 years ago. The Argentine Government continued to spread misinformation worldwide, and had regrettably amended its Constitution in 1994 to state that the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were a part of its territory. Asking what negotiations could possibly take place when one party had already predetermined the outcome, she said Argentina had also ignored two binding Security Council resolutions calling for the cessation of hostilities in 1982. As for Argentina’s claim that the islanders were a transplanted population brought to the Falklands (Malvinas) to control the territory, she cited a recent consensus which concluded that 57 different nationalities lived on the islands, including people from Chile, Argentina and the Russian Federation. In fact, half of the population considered themselves Falklanders first and British second, demonstrating that “we were a people in our right”, she said.
MICHAEL SUMMERS, Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said the Special Committee must change in order to remain relevant. Emphasizing that the right to self-determination was a universal human right, sacred to the decolonization process, he said some States were currently seeking to deny his people their basic human rights. The Special Committee had no mandate to resolve sovereignty disputes, and, given that resolutions 1514 and 1654 granted self-determination to all Non-Self-Governing Territories, advancing any State’s sovereignty claim was an “abuse” of the Special Committee’s responsibilities, he said. Its only duty was to find a political settlement acceptable to the islanders, who had expressed their views in the recent referendum ‑ they supported the status quo.
The right to self-determination meant that history was irrelevant to the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), he continued, nonetheless wishing to correct the historical “distortion” upon which support for Argentina was based. The United Kingdom’s claim pre-dated the existence of Argentina, which had itself given up sovereignty over the islands. There had been no indigenous Argentine population on the island and, while the United Kingdom had expelled a military garrison in 1833, the attached civilian population had been invited to remain. Members of the Special Committee needed to set geopolitical alliances and friendships aside and concentrate on decolonizing the Non-Self-Governing Territories, he emphasized, urging the Special Committee to pursue its mandate, something it had failed to do over the past two decades. Following the referendum, the “luxury of indulging in rhetoric and ritual” no longer existed. Concrete action was necessary.
ALEJANDRO JACOBO BETTS said he was a fourth-generation islander born on the Argentine island territory. He had been a permanent resident for more than 30 years and his two eldest children had been born there. Through private research, he had studied documents from indisputable French, Spanish and even British sources that were not available on the islands. British policy towards the islands, under their illegitimate occupation, was based on giving priority to the wishes of their inhabitants, yet those wishes did not constitute a legal basis for claiming sovereignty when the inhabitants in question lived in a territory subject to a sovereignty dispute. Criticizing the unlawful popular referendum held in the Malvinas Islands ( Falklands) last March, he said it was apparent that those living there were British, but the islands were not.
He went on to say that those British citizens had no right to insist on preventing discussion of the central issue in the dispute between the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom ‑ which of them held sovereignty over the Falklands (Malvinas). Argentina sought constructive dialogue focused on that core question, and its focus was not blurred by secondary aspects. The colony was not administered by islanders born in the territory, but by a Governor representing the Crown and appointed by London, he emphasized. The blind intransigence of a few privileged persons, accomplices of the British Government, was being used by the administering Power to reject adherence to United Nations resolutions and the international community’s calls for a definitive and negotiated solution to the question. The question required the reopening of bilateral dialogue, he said.
MARIA ANGELICA DEL CARMEN VERNET said Argentina was deeply rooted in the history of the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, a sentiment shared by all its citizens. Describing her family’s history in the islands, she said some of the first Argentine settlers had transported horses and hunting supplies there. Backed by the Government in Buenos Aires, the first settlers had made plans to build ports and increase the population by promoting immigration. The Government of Argentina had offered a number of incentives for people emigrating to the islands, including a 30-year tax exemption and exclusive fishing rights for 20 years. Such perks had paved way for Argentines to migrate and set up shop on the islands, whether in fishing, hunting or building, she said.
In that regard, all the data relating to the islands’ economic potential, topography, and development proposals had been relayed to the Government in Buenos Aires, she continued. Argentina had planned to build new ports in the islands in order to create a national fishery market. She recalled that in 1828, products from the islands were traded with Buenos Aires and later exported to North America and even to the United Kingdom. With a stationery population of fishers and builders on the islands, Argentina had exercised authority over the Territory, which the United Kingdom had replaced with a transplanted population, she said, emphasizing that it was undeniable that her great-great-grandfather had peacefully and lawfully settled in the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, encouraged by the Government of Argentina to do so. She said she therefore remained confident that the Special Committee would promote dialogue to bring about a peaceful solution to the long-standing dispute.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), introducing the draft resolution on the question of the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, said it acknowledged that the question was a “special and particular” one that differed from other colonial situations under the Special Committee’s purview because of the sovereignty dispute. The text stated that the only way to end the situation was through a negotiated settlement between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom. It also asked both sides to consolidate the process of dialogue and cooperation by resuming talks and finding a solution in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions. It was important for Latin American and Caribbean nations that the question of the Malvinas (Falklands) Islands be settled once and for all, as repeatedly stated during their meetings.
HÉCTOR MARCOS TIMERMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina, said he had come to urge the United Kingdom to comply with the obligation imposed upon it by international law and to address a new British attempt to manipulate a reality that the United Nations had defined decades ago as a “special and particular” colonial situation. The United Kingdom’s refusal to engage in dialogue ‑ by fallaciously invoking the principle of self-determination ‑ was contrary to the obligation incumbent on all United Nations Member States peacefully to resolve international disputes, and concealed the British military presence in the South Atlantic and its illegitimate appropriation of natural resources.
He said his country had enjoyed unanimous support from many forums, including the Organization of American States (OAS), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR). African nations had given Argentina their support through the Declaration of Malabo, while the Lima Declaration united the South American and Arab Countries in calls for the United Kingdom to resume negotiations and stop unilaterally exploring and exploiting hydrocarbon resources in the waters surrounding the Malvinas ( Falklands). Meanwhile, the United Kingdom sought to present itself as the victim of an attempt at dispossession and had conducted a poll in which islanders had voted on continuing the colonial situation.
It was a paradox that the United Kingdom invoked self-determination against Argentina, he said, when the United Nations had repeatedly defined the Malvinas (Falklands) question as a violation of Argentina’s territorial integrity, and where self-determination could not be applied as the islands were not home to a people under alien subjugation, domination and exploitation. In addition, the United Kingdom’s adherence to the principle of self-determination was not consistent. Among other instances, it had refused to support efforts by the Polynesians to re-inscribe French Polynesia on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. On the other hand, Argentina supported all the peoples who came to the United Nations to stand up to colonial Powers. The United Kingdom was attempting to “deceive the world by presenting itself as a champion of self-determination”, he declared.
The United Kingdom showed “imperial disdain” and a lack of respect for the Special Committee’s mandate by not speaking before it and not cooperating with the Secretary-General’s mission of good offices, he continued. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s 2012 appearance before the Special Committee expressed the significance that Argentina attached to its work and to renewing dialogue. Argentina was already at the negotiating table, ready to follow United Nations requests for a peaceful resolution of the dispute. The people of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as those of Africa and Asia, had expressed themselves many times, he noted, also pointing out that two permanent members of the Security Council, China and the Russian Federation, would again make statements before the Special Committee. The General Assembly had requested the Secretary-General to resume his mission of good offices between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom, but a resolution of the dispute was “hostage in London”, he said.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, read out the special communiqué on the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands adopted at the Summit held in Santiago, Chile, on 27 and 28 January 2013. He reaffirmed Argentina’s legitimate rights in the dispute over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands, as well as the need for Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations for a peaceful and definitive end to the dispute. Speaking in his national capacity, he said the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands were an inseparable part of the national territory of its “brother countries in Latin America”, and called for a negotiated, just and definitive settlement of the dispute.
BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said he supported the draft resolution, believing that its adoption by consensus would reinforce and reiterate the Special Committee’s complete support for Argentina’s wish to resolve the question by peaceful means. Defending the right to self-determination, he said he did not accept that the principle should be used to justify the violation of territorial integrity, and rejected the unilateral actions taken by the United Kingdom in the islands. The dispute must be resolved in accordance with General Assembly resolutions, which identified the case as a “special and particular question” involving a sovereignty dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina, he said. The only way to resolve it was through negotiations. Although all relevant previous resolutions remained unimplemented, he called for full implementation of the draft just approved and called on the United Kingdom to deal seriously with the Special Committee, providing updates on progress made towards finding a solution.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela), said the illegal occupation of Argentine national territory was an “affront to our continent”, and it was therefore critical to insist on the urgency of the prolonged dispute, which had arisen from the United Kingdom’s illegitimate takeover of the territory, in “direct collision” with several United Nations resolutions. Bilateral negotiations were the only appropriate way to resolve the dispute. The international community had supported Argentina’s claim in various international forums, including through the Special Communiqué adopted at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Summit in Santiago, Chile, in January 2013. The countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) had also been alerting the world to the illegitimacy of the referendum held in the Malvinas (Falklands), he said, emphasizing that the time had come to end the militarization of the South Atlantic, and the United Kingdom must stop sending its nuclear submarines there.
XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA ( Ecuador) voiced strong support for Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute, and urged the United Kingdom to resume negotiations, stressing that the cause was important to Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as to the international community at large. The referendum had not changed the central issue as it had not tackled the sovereignty dispute. The General Assembly had rejected incorporation of the principle of self-determination into a 1985 resolution on the Malvinas (Falklands), stating that it did not apply when the inhabitants were citizens of the United Kingdom, he recalled. Urging the Secretary-General to exercise his good offices to ensure the resumption of negotiations, he said Argentina awaited the United Kingdom’s response.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ ( Bolivia) said he had co-sponsored the draft resolution with pride, but also fundamentally as a duty. More daring steps were needed, beyond the repeated issuing of “inert” resolutions. The Malvinas ( Falklands) question was an Argentine and Latin American issue and was of concern to all the world’s peoples. Geography and history made it clear that they were part of South America, but it was also a matter of international law. Where had the principle of sovereign equality gone? he asked, noting that the United Kingdom now sought to apply the principle of self-determination when it was “void of content”. Stressing that he was offended to see a former colonial Power using the term, he said self-determination was a principle for fighting colonialism, not ratifying it. Legitimacy, truth and justice were on Argentina’s side, while the powerful had only “haughtiness” to turn to, even refusing to sit at the negotiating table, he said.
MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua) pledged her country’s “unconditional and unbreakable” support to Argentina, emphasizing that its sovereignty over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands was unquestionable. Recalling that the Argentine population had been expelled, only to be replaced by soldiers and a transplanted population, she said the only way to end the dispute was through a peaceful and negotiated solution. She also recalled that since 1965 more than 40 resolutions demanding renewed negotiations between London and Buenos Aires had been adopted, and expressed deep regret that none had been implemented. Nicaragua strongly condemned the United Kingdom’s missile tests in the waters surrounding the islands, as well as its take-over and exploitation of Argentina’s natural resources.
WANG MIN (China) said the issue of the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands was a historical and colonial one, and reiterated his country’s consistent support of Argentina’s right of sovereignty over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands. China hoped that Argentina and the United Kingdom would conduct constructive dialogue in order to find a peaceful, fair and proper solution.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said he supported the draft resolution and continued to believe in bilateral negotiations, taking relevant General Assembly resolutions into account. Calling for a speedy, peaceful settlement of the dispute, he said the militarization of the South Atlantic was unacceptable, emphasizing the need to purge the area of nuclear weapons. All parties should refrain from any actions that could impede negotiations, he added.
NEDRA P. MIGUEL (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said she remained “deeply concerned and frustrated” over the lack of progress in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands. A lack of political will to negotiate the matter in good faith was the root cause of military and diplomatic tensions. Associating herself unreservedly with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States special communiqué, she said it supported “the legitimate rights of the Argentine Republic in the sovereignty dispute”. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines also supported the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America special communiqué rejecting the recent referendum as “an irrelevant distraction” from the sovereignty issue and an attempt to avoid the strong international consensus in favour of negotiations. While she was “unequivocally anti-colonialist” and supportive of decolonization efforts, particularly the right of self-determination of colonized peoples, the question of the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands was about competing claims of sovereignty over islands that lay a short distance off the Argentine coast. As an archipelagic State, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines understood fully the “political, emotional and existential ties that our citizens have to every far-flung island in our archipelago”, she said.
OSMAN KEH KAMARA (Sierra Leone) maintained that the rights of the islanders, present in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) for 180 years, should be paramount to any settlement. Subjecting people to “alien domination” was unacceptable and the right to self-determination lay with the people. Non-Self-Governing Territories had special needs, expectations and concerns, and it was incumbent upon the Special Committee to deal with reality case by case, always putting the people first, he stressed. Sierra Leone’s position had been consistent and remained unchanged ‑ self-determination was the guiding principle whenever the issue came before the Special Committee. The islanders’ rights should come first.
ENRIQUE ROMÁN-MOREY (Peru), speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations, said the particular historical and legal circumstances relating to the islands denied the applicability of self-determination, and the Union believed that the referendum had not ended the dispute. Its colonial origins could not be ignored, and neither could United Nations resolutions calling for negotiations and taking due account of the inhabitants’ interests.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said Peru had always supported Argentina’s sovereign claim. The Malvinas (Falklands) were a legacy that Argentina had gained with its independence, and after the armed conflict of 1982, the Secretary-General had been called upon to renew his good offices so as to help bring about negotiations for a “pacific, constructive and long-lasting” solution, in accordance with United Nations and OAS resolutions. While the islands were subject to a process recommended by the United Nations, both parties must refrain from unilateral modifications, he stressed.
GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) said his country supported the existing mandate set out by the General Assembly and the Special Committee, and expected the two Governments promptly to resume bilateral talks. He pointed out that Argentina had permanently indicated its willingness to resolve the dispute in the manner set out in the United Nations Charter: negotiation and dialogue.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, urged the Governments of the United Kingdom and Argentina to renew negotiations “as soon as possible”, emphasizing that a solution to the long-standing “controversy” should be based on relevant General Assembly resolutions, international law and peaceful coexistence.
LUIZ ALBERTO FIGUEIREDO MACHADO (Brazil) noted that 2013 marked 180 years since the beginning of the illegal occupation of the Malvinas (Falklands). The colonial invasion had been of particular nature and should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with the relevant resolutions. Calling for bilateral negotiations, he associated himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Union of South American Nations before reading out the Special Declaration of MERCOSUR on the Malvinas (Falklands). Firmly defending Argentina’s right over the islands, he said it was unfortunate that despite the constructive attitude of the Argentine Government, there was still no settlement of the sovereignty dispute.
Mr. TIMERMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina, took the floor again to thank participants for their contribution to the debate. He said the question of the Malvinas (Falklands) was at the heart of the United Nations ‑ the resolution of conflicts. Asking the United Nations to call upon the United Kingdom to withdraw its nuclear submarines from the South Atlantic, he said they were a threat to peace-loving countries.
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* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).