Special Committee on Decolonization Approves Text Reiterating Need for Talks as Only Way to Resolve Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Question

26 June 2014
GA/COL/3271

Special Committee on Decolonization Approves Text Reiterating Need for Talks as Only Way to Resolve Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Question

26 June 2014
General Assembly
GA/COL/3271
 
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Special Committee on Decolonization Approves Text Reiterating Need for Talks

 

as Only Way to Resolve Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Question

 

United Kingdom Has Rejected Negotiations, Says Foreign Minister of Argentina

 

The Special Committee on Decolonization approved today 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 through a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom.

 

By other terms of the text, approved without a vote, 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 sovereignty dispute as soon as possible.  The Assembly would express regret that in spite of widespread international support for negotiations between them 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 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 Territory’s population.

 

Chile’s representative submitted the draft resolution.

 

Speaking after the text’s approval, Héctor Timerman, Foreign Minister of Argentina, reasserted his Government’s right of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding areas, while noting that despite overwhelming support for negotiations, the United Kingdom had rejected that option.  He questioned that country’s right to demand that others respect resolutions when it did not itself do so, emphasizing that to apply the principle of self-determination in the Malvinas Islands case would mean promoting the violation of Argentina’s territorial integrity and giving a voice to the population of the occupying Power.  A settlement depended on the United Kingdom’s return to the negotiating table.  “We’ve been patient,” he said, stressing that Assembly resolutions must be implemented.

 

Several delegations voiced support for Argentina’s sovereignty claim, with almost all of them calling for resumed negotiations at the earliest possible time.  Some, including Nicaragua’s representative, rejected the outcome of a referendum on the Territory’s status, describing the 2013 exercise as an unacceptable unilateral measure taken by the United Kingdom.

 

Bolivia’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said both parties must refrain from decisions that would imply the introduction of unilateral modifications to the situation while the islands were undergoing an Assembly-recommended process.  Speaking in his national capacity, he stressed that the use of force did not confer rights, and the issue of self-determination could not be discussed when a population had been transplanted.  “The Malvinas are Argentinian,” he declared.

 

Venezuela’s representative, speaking for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), said the grouping’s Common Market Council had adopted a declaration highlighting the illegitimacy of unilateral measures and the need for a swift resolution of the issue.  The exploitation of the Territory’s renewable and non-renewable resources, including hydrocarbons, must stop, he added.

 

The Special Committee also heard four petitioners, including Marcelo Luis Vernet, who said that his great-great-grandparents had made their home in the Malvinas Island, usurped land that “I am banned today from entering freely” and a home in ruins that “I am denied the possibility to visit”.  On the other hand, Mike Summers, said that of all the participants in the 2013 referendum, monitored by international observers, 99.8 per cent had voted “yes” to remaining an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.  The other two petitioners were Alejandro Betts Goss and Roger Edwards.

 

Also speaking today were representatives of Cuba, Syria, Indonesia, China, Russian Federation, Brazil, Guatemala, Uruguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market, or MERCOSUR), Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Peru, Sierra Leone, Costa Rica (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador, Paraguay, Honduras and Ecuador.

 

The Special Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 27 June, to consider the questions of French Polynesia and New Caledonia, and to conclude its work.

 

Background

 

Meeting this morning to take action on a draft resolution (document A/AC.109/2014/L.7) concerning the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the Special Committee on Decolonization had before it a related working paper prepared by the Secretariat (document A/AC.109/2014/15).  It was also expected to hold a hearing of petitioners on that question.

 

Hearing of Petitioners

 

ROGER EDWARDS, Member, Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), recalled that he had made the case for his people’s voice to be heard and respected over the years, but the Special Committee had failed to deliver on that responsibility by prioritizing the interests of some States over the wishes of those it was meant to assist.  The Chair had the monumental task of restoring its social and political conscience.  While Argentina insisted that the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were a colony of the United Kingdom in order to make the case for its own territorial expansionism, the latter had accepted that all overseas territories should be given the freedom to determine their political future.  The Territory’s inhabitants wished strongly to be masters of their own destiny, having created a thriving and progressive economy, made possible by working with the United Kingdom to achieve constitutional, political, administrative and land reform, build a fishing industry and develop tourism — largely with their own resources.  The Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had made the transition from colony to internally self-governing overseas territory, and the islanders had voted in a 2013 referendum to retain that status for the foreseeable future.  The only inhibition was Argentina’s “aggressive harassment”, he said, citing a ban on commercial charter flights and threats against oil workers.  To argue that the islanders had no right to self-determination contravened the founding principles of the Special Committee.  “You do not have discretion to change those resolutions,” he said, once again inviting the Special Committee to visit the Territory.

 

MICHAEL SUMMERS, Member, Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had chosen to remain British, and a referendum monitored by international observers had found that of all voters, 99.8 per cent had said “yes” to remaining an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.  Their wish was to enjoy economic self-sufficiency and the right to determine their own future.  International observers had deemed the poll fair, transparent and in line with the Territory’s laws.  The United Nations had at no point stated explicitly that the right to self-determination did not apply to the Falklands, and the inhabitants did not consider their land a colony, he said, describing the situation as “post-colonial”, with natural resources belonging to the government and its people, who shared values with the United Kingdom.  The right to self-determination was a fourth option, alongside free association, integration and independence.  Negotiations over sovereignty would not be possible when Argentina had only one outcome in mind, he said, emphasizing that becoming a colony of that country was not the islanders’ wish.  They neither received economic assistance from the United Kingdom nor paid taxes to its Government, which provided “minimum” defence in order to deter future aggression.

 

ALEJANDRO BETTS GOSS described himself as a “true islander”, born on the island where he had been a permanent resident for more than 30 years.  In 1946, the United Kingdom had voluntarily included the Malvinas Islands on the United Nations list of colonial territories, and it could, therefore, not claim to be unaware of the dispute, nor ignore its duty to seek a peaceful solution.  Under British “recolonization” since 1982, 35 per cent of the population had lived on the islands for fewer than 10 years, 11 per cent were more than 65 years old, and 55 per cent were “new settlers”, a floating majority of the population, showing that the permanent renewal of settlers was the only way to maintain a quantitatively acceptable civilian population.  Further, the colony was administered by a governor appointed by the United Kingdom, and the illegitimate Legislative Assembly was chaired by a resident born in the “metropole”, while the Executive Council was chaired by the illegitimate colonial governor.  The question of sovereignty must be resolved before other aspects of the dispute could be considered, he stressed.  After the sovereign State was identified, the principle of territorial integrity would take precedence over that of self-determination.

 

MARCELO LUIS VERNET said his great-great-grandparents had made their home in the Malvinas Islands, and their fourth daughter, Malvina, had been born there.  The Malvinas Islands were, in the strictest and most profound sense, “my homeland”, “land of my parents”, usurped land that “I am banned today from entering freely”, and a home in ruins that “I am denied the possibility to visit”.  The Government of the United Kingdom could construct many sophisms, but it could not conceal the fact that the Territory “is in dispute”, he emphasized.  The General Assembly clearly defined the true nature of the conflict in resolution 2065, noting the existence of a dispute between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom concerning sovereignty over the islands.  In 2015, 50 years would have passed since the adoption of that text, he noted, saying it was hard to believe that in all that time, the United Kingdom, with its well-grounded experience in international law, had failed to understand such a self-evident truth.

 

Introduction of Draft Resolution

 

CRISTIAN BARROS (Chile) introduced the draft resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), saying that the text (document A/AC.109/2014/L.7) acknowledged that the question of the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands was a “special and particular” colonial situation under the Special Committee’s purview due to the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  It stated that the only way to end the situation was a negotiated settlement of the dispute.  By terms of the text, the General Assembly would request the parties to consolidate the process of dialogue and cooperation by resuming negotiations to find a solution, in accordance with United Nations resolutions on the subject.

 

Statement

 

HÉCTOR MARCOS TIMERMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, reasserted his Government’s right of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding areas, citing the Royal Navy’s 1823 invasion of a friendly country and expulsion of Argentine inhabitants.  The draft resolution just approved sought a more just world in which disputes would be resolved peacefully, and the aspirations of small and medium-sized countries would not be ignored when their claims were embodied in international law.  An end to the special and particular situation would be brought about through a peacefully negotiated settlement between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

 

Since 1982, the United Kingdom had been asked to re-launch those negotiations, in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions, he recalled, emphasizing that it was not force that settled disputes, but rather, diplomacy.  Despite overwhelming support for negotiations, however, the United Kingdom had rejected that option.  Argentina had emphasized for decades that international law and justice were the only appropriate means for settling such disputes.  Citing article 2 of the United Nations Charter, on the peaceful settlement of disputes, and Assembly resolution 2065 (XX), he questioned the United Kingdom’s right to demand that other countries respect resolutions when it did not itself do so.

 

He went on to state that nothing had changed since the 1974 condominium agreed on the basis of an Argentine proposal.  Forty-six General Assembly resolutions had been adopted on the world’s commitment to peace, all of which had been violated by the United Kingdom.  The only goal of that country’s control over migration to the islands was to maintain its occupation, he said, noting that 90 per cent of the islanders were British citizens or from the Commonwealth.  That illegal policy ensured that all processes were subjected to final decisions by the United Kingdom.  It also meant that 38 per cent of the population changed every 10 years.  Who was discriminating against whom, especially when Argentina was extending to the islanders the same civil rights as those enjoyed in Argentina?

 

The United Kingdom’s exploitation of Argentine waters contravened the resolution calling on all parties to refrain from unilateral steps while the Malvinas Islands were under United Nations processes, he said, citing the usurpation of fisheries, control over seaways and exploitation of oil.  The “so-called referendum” had seen 1,500 people state that they wished to be citizens of the United Kingdom, but the problem was that that country was holding onto Argentina’s territory.  To apply the principle of self-determination meant promoting the violation of Argentina’s territorial integrity and giving voice to the population of the occupying Power, he said, adding that a settlement depended on the United Kingdom’s return to the negotiating table.  “We’ve been patient,” he said, stressing nevertheless that Assembly resolutions must be implemented.

 

SACHA LLORENTTY (Bolivia), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the group’s Heads of State and Government had met in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, from 14 to 15 June, to address the status of countries with individual and special needs.  They had reaffirmed the need for Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands, which had seriously damaged Argentina’s economic capacities.  Both parties must refrain from decisions that would imply the introduction of unilateral modifications to the situation while the islands were undergoing the Assembly-recommended process.  The Group of 77 and China called for implementation of the Santa Cruz Declaration, he said.  Speaking in his national capacity, he stressed that the use of force did not confer rights, and the issue of self-determination could not be discussed when a population had been transplanted.  “The Malvinas are Argentinian,” he declared.

 

RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ ( Cuba) said that a clear statement had been made by Argentina’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.  The second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held in Havana on 28 and 29 January, had concluded with the signing of a Final Declaration containing language that supported Argentina’s position on the disputed islands and surrounding maritime areas, he said.

 

MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua) expressed support for the legitimate claims of Argentina and rejected the referendum undertaken in the disputed islands, which ignored the historical context.  The outcome had no binding effects, he emphasized, adding that it was unacceptable to introduce unilateral changes to the situation.  Citing an initiative to promote 10 June as the “Day of Central American solidarity with Argentine Malvinas Islands”, he called on the parties to resume negotiations immediately.

 

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), said that the forty-fifth regular meeting its Common Market Council had adopted a declaration highlighting the illegitimacy of unilateral measures and the need for a swift solution.  The exploitation of the Territory’s renewable and non-renewable resources, including hydrocarbons, must stop.  Speaking In his national capacity, he voiced support for Argentina’s claim that the Malvinas Islands had been occupied and its people expelled.

 

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), noting that 10 of the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories were under the occupation of the United Kingdom, said the Special Committee, 52 years after its creation, must increase its efforts to eradicate colonization, which was a crime against humanity.  Resolution 1514 (1960) established important principles of self-determination and territorial integrity, which should not be applied selectively, he said, adding that his delegation rejected the United Kingdom’s unilateral measures on the Malvinas Islands.

 

DESRA PERCAYA ( Indonesia), emphasizing that there was no “one-size-fit-all” solution to decolonization, said the question under discussion today did not fall into any traditional category.  A series of resolutions had been adopted on the subject and Indonesia reiterated calls for the resumption of negotiations to find a mutually acceptable solution.

 

Action on Draft Resolution

 

CAI WEIMING ( China), speaking after the action, said that his Government had always maintained that settlement through negotiations was in accordance with the United Nations Charter.  He expressed hope that Argentina and the United Kingdom would start a constructive dialogue to find a peaceful, just settlement at an early date, in line with the relevant resolutions.

 

PETR V. ILIICHEV ( Russian Federation) said his Government had always favoured direct bilateral negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom, in line with relevant resolutions.  That position was reflected in the joint statement issued after the 2008 visit by the President of Argentina, he recalled, encouraging the parties to agree to re-launch negotiations.  The Russian Federation was concerned about the militarization of the South Atlantic, and the referendum had not influenced its position, he said, stressing that it did not view the vote as a sign of the United Kingdom’s sovereignty over the islands.

 

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil) reiterated his strong support for Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute, describing the situation as a colonial one of a special nature that must be resolved by re-launching negotiations as soon as possible.  No reference should be made to the principle of self-determination, because the islanders were the descendants of a British population that had expelled Argentines, he emphasized, rejecting “illegitimate” activities such as fishing, mining and hydrocarbon exploration.

 

GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) reiterated his delegation’s strong support for Argentina’s legitimate rights over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  Since 1965, the Assembly had recognized the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom over that territory, a colonial situation defined as “special and particular”.  The inhabitants could hardly be considered legitimately deserving of the right to self-determination in a dispute in which their country was a party, he said, reiterating the call for resumed bilateral negotiations.

 

GONZALO KONCKE (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said his Government had unflaggingly maintained its position in support of Argentina’s legitimate sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  The General Assembly and the Special Committee had made it clear that the question discussed today was a “special” colonial situation because of the dispute existing between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  The parties must resume negotiations and the Secretary-General should use his good offices.  The referendum undertaken in the Malvinas Islands did not change the situation.

 

ROBERT GUBA AISI ( Papua New Guinea) urged all parties to ensure that the rights and interests of the inhabitants of the territory were acknowledged and respected in any negotiations.  Noting the quickly approaching midpoint of the Third Decade to Eradicate Colonialism, he said the Committee must strive to explore all options to facilitate a solution, with the hope of assisting all parties concerned.

 

INGA RHONDA KING ( Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said her country was unequivocally anti-colonialist and supported all decolonization efforts, especially the right to self-determination.  As the Assembly had acknowledged, there were competing sovereignty claims over the Malvinas Islands, and the failure to make progress on that long-standing dispute was a source of deep concern.  Citing resolution 31/49, which called upon Argentina and the United Kingdom to expedite negotiations, she said the lack of political will in that respect was the root cause of tensions.

 

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA ( Peru) supported Argentina’s legitimate rights over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  During the previous meeting of foreign ministers, Peru and Argentina had underscored the need for the parties to the dispute to resume negotiations.  The General Assembly, through its resolutions, requested the Secretary-General to use his good offices.  The Organization’s involvement at the highest level was necessary, he said, stressing that there would be no solution without negotiations.

 

AMADU KOROMA ( Sierra Leone) said the Special Committee was expected to address questions of both self-determination and sovereignty.  Assembly resolutions granted the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories the right to exercise self-determination, and the Special Committee should maintain its neutrality and respect such choices.  It should put modalities in place for bringing the parties to the negotiating table and start peaceful dialogue as soon as possible, he said, encouraging members to visit Argentina, the United Kingdom and the islands as a first step so that they could approach the issue in a more objective manner.

 

CAROL VIVIANA ARCE ECHEVERRÍA (Costa Rica), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that, at its second summit in Havana, Cuba, the Community had reiterated its strongest support for Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  Members had reiterated the importance of observing resolution 31/49, which called on parties to refrain from decisions that introduced unilateral modifications to the situation, while those areas were going through the Assembly-recommended process.

 

YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico), associating herself with CELAC, said her country supported the rights of Argentina.  Mexico also supported the path towards negotiation and reiterated its interest in having the parties renew their dialogue, as soon as possible, with a view towards finding a peaceful solution.  Her country recognized Argentina’s willingness to explore alternative solutions and urged the United Kingdom to join the effort to find a definitive settlement, in line with international law.

 

MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ ( Colombia), associating with CELAC, the Group of 77 and China and ALBA, said that a peaceful and definitive solution was of interest, not only to his country, but to the entire region.  He expressed Colombia’s support for Argentina’s rights, adding that the sovereignty dispute must be resolved.  To that end, he called on the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations, deeming it essential to pursue the dialogue process.  Colombia regretted that, despite several General Assembly resolutions on the issue, the dispute had yet to be resolved.

 

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN ( El Salvador) said the question of the Malvinas Islands was a priority on the agenda in the Latin American region.  It was important for the parties to the dispute to maintain close cooperation in many areas of international affairs and solve the matter on the basis of United Nations resolutions.  A dispute over sovereignty, he added, had been recognized in different resolutions of the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS).

 

JOSE OSVALDO SANABRIA RIVAROLA (Paraguay), commending the Special Committee on its work, said member States of the OAS had expressed their support for the will of Argentina to seek all possible solutions through negotiations.  The General Assembly should put the question of the Malvinas Islands on its agenda until a solution was found.

 

KARLA GARCÍA LÓPEZ ( Honduras) said decolonization should be a priority topic at the United Nations.  She reiterated her country’s support for Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute.  Argentina’s cause, she said, was a “demand” of all of Latin America, in the name of international peace and security.

 

Ms. ARCE ECHEVERRÍA (Costa Rica), speaking in her national capacity and associating with the Group of 77 and China, CELAC and ALBA, expressed support for Argentina’s legitimate rights and urged both Argentina and the United Kingdom to renew negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the long-running dispute.  A solution should be based on the relevant General Assembly resolutions, as well as the work of the Special Committee.  In many international forums, Costa Rica had supported declarations urging both sides to engage in dialogue, as international law and the peaceful coexistence of States were essential.

 

VERÓNICA BUSTAMANTE ( Ecuador), associating with the Group of 77 and China and CELAC, voiced her country’s strong support for Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute over the areas illegally occupied by the United Kingdom.  She urged the Government of the United Kingdom to renew negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the dispute, as set out in various statements and resolutions of the United Nations and the OAS.  Argentina’s cause was important to Latin America, the Caribbean, and the whole international community.  It had indicated its willingness to renew negotiations, while the United Kingdom had remained silent.

 

Taking the floor a second time, Mr. TIMERMAN, Argentina’s Foreign Minister, thanked the delegates that had expressed support for his country’s position,

 

directly or indirectly, by supporting the United Nations resolutions.  Citing resolution 2065 (1965), which invited Argentina and the United Kingdom to negotiate a solution, he said that 2015 would mark 50 years since its adoption.  “I was 10 years old, but now 60,” he said, adding that the conflict had been unresolved for nearly his entire life.  Argentina always wished to comply with United Nations resolutions, but that required the other party to do the same.  The representative of the United Kingdom did not even show up to this forum, and that Government had ignored 46 United Nations resolutions on the matter.  It was not a complex issue; the United Kingdom just needed to sit down at the negotiating table, where Argentina had been sitting for 50 years.

 

* *** *

 

*  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).

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.