Intervention by Ambassador Jorge Faurie, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Argentine Republic
It is an honour for me to be here today to address the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations for the first time as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Argentine Republic.
I would first like to congratulate you on your reelection as Chair of the Committee and wish you a successful term, reiterating our full support and our trust in the work you and all of the distinguished members of this organ carry out.
Next, I would like to thank the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for the highly professional organization of the Caribbean Regional Seminar and for the hospitality extended to our delegation.
The elimination of colonialism in all of its forms and manifestations, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and the mandate of the General Assembly, involved a great challenge for this Organization and is one of its most significant, recognized achievements. More than 80 former colonies have achieved independence and, today, there remain only 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories. We are confident that the process that began with such great effort will be satisfactorily seen through to its end.
Argentina has supported decolonization since the beginning and, in 1960, voted for the "Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples"—the true engine of the decolonization process. We have renewed our support year after year through our contribution to the Committee's efforts and our participation in the Regional Seminars.
Among the 17 colonial situations still pending which pertain to the work of this Special Committee, there is one particularly important to my country: the Question of the Malvinas Islands.
I do not need to renew in detail to this Committee all of the historical events and legal arguments that support Argentina's rights. I will simply recall that the Malvinas Islands have been an integral part of the Argentine territory since the very birth of our nation.
In 1833, the islands were occupied by the United Kingdom by force. This act of force, which is at the origin of and core to the Question of the Malvinas Islands, was never consented to by the Argentine Republic, which has since then claimed the restitution of its full sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, in accordance with the mandate of the Argentine Constitution..
This is an issue that transcends administrations and goes beyond political or party difference. It constitutes a true State policy. This is demonstrated by the fact that I am honoured to be accompanied today by representatives of different Argentine political parties as part of the Argentine delegation, as well as by the Governor of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands.
In this occasion, I would like to renew before this Special Committee the full willingness of the Argentine Government to follow the only possible path for a peaceful and definite solution to the sovereignty dispute, as stated in the successive relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and this Committee, that is, through bilateral negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
Argentina has strongly supported since the beginning of the 1960´s the decolonization process, in accordance with Resolution 1514 (XX), the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.
In this context, the question regarding the sovereignty of the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas is a “special and particular” decolonization case, due to fact that the principle of self-determination breaks the inalienable and pre-existent right of the Argentine State to preserve the integrity of territorial integrity against any foreign influence.
The principle of self-determination, like any other principle, is not absolute when it breaks the territorial integrity of existing States, like in the case of Argentina, the case of the Malvinas Islands.
This is why self-determination does not apply to the inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands, who are not recognized as a "people" which can exercise this right under the United Nations resolutions.
When the United Kingdom forcefully occupied the islands in 1833, it expelled the authorities and population of the State that was legitimately exercising its sovereignty, subsequently implanting its own settlers and strictly controlling migration policies, which have determined up to this very day the current composition of the population in the territory.
This historical fact, it has been recognized by the several resolutions on the question of the Malvinas Islands, due to the fact that the principle of self-determination has been ruled out of this case. This reaffirms that that this question is different than the classic cases of colonialism in which the pre-existent people is a victim of colonial domination.
There is no reference to the principle of self-determination in any of the more than 40 resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and by this Special Committee with regard to the Question of the Malvinas Islands. In 1985, the General Assembly rejected by a large majority two amendment proposals to incorporate it.
Resolution 2065 (XX), adopted by the General Assembly in 1965, acknowledged the special and particular nature of the "Question of the Malvinas Islands," by stating that it is a case of decolonization with an underlying sovereignty dispute which must be resolved by the two Parties—that is, the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom.
"Decolonization" and "self-determination" are not synonymous.
Not all cases of decolonization can be settled through the application of the principle of self-determination.
In the Question of the Malvinas Islands, as mentioned earlier, the General Assembly and this Special Committee have been clear about this.
This does not mean that Argentina is indifferent to the interest of the islanders, to their well-being and to their prosperity. On the contrary, the Argentine Republic is strongly determined to respect and defend the way of life of the inhabitants of Malvinas.
That is a commitment that all Argentine democratic governments have undertaken. The definitive solution to the sovereignty dispute will need to take into account, as an essential requirement, the "interests" of the population of the Islands, as enshrined in the Argentine Constitution and established in Resolution 2065 (XX).
Over the years that followed the adoption of Resolution 2065 (XX), my country and the United Kingdom have engaged in substantive negotiations, and considered various proposals in 1968 y 1974. In 1981, bilateral meetings took place in New York. These iniciatives provided for Argentina's recovery of the exercise of sovereignty. None of them succeeded.
In parallel to these discussions, Argentina adopted specific measures to improve living conditions for the inhabitants of the islands.
Weekly direct air connections with mainland Argentina, the construction of an aerodrome, fuel supply and access to the Argentine healthcare and education system are some examples of the measures taken by Argentina at that time for the benefit of the islanders.
For that reason, Resolution 3160 (XXVIII), adopted by the General Assembly in 1973, recognized the efforts made by the Government of Argentina to promote the well-being of the population of the islands.
Since 1982, the United Kingdom refused to resume sovereignty negotiations.
The armed conflict, with its sad toll of lives of Argentine and British servicemen, whom we remember and honour today, has not changed the legal nature of the dispute, much less settled it.
In November that year, the General Assembly, through Resolution 37/9, once again requests Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations in order to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute.
A year ago, on 23 June 2016, Argentina stated before this Committee that the President of Argentina was determined to start a new stage in the relationship with the United Kingdom, based on the significant historical ties that bind our countries.
Today, I would like to ratify the commitment assumed by the President Macri. We are convinced that this relation must be restored.
Over the past year, both governments have decided to give a boost to the bilateral relationship in order to achieve enhanced cooperation across all fields of mutual interest.
To such end, meetings were held at different levels, and in a Joint Communiqué in September 2016 we designed a roadmap, which shows the political intention of both countries to resume a dialogue on a number of aspects of the bilateral relationship, including also the South Atlantic.
This new framework has allowed to make progress and high level contacts in the field of Trade, Investement, Science and Technology, Education and Culture, Safety and Human Rights, among other areas.
I would like to underscore the importance progress achieved on one of the issues referred to in the communiqué: in December 2016, we signed agreements in London between Argentina, the United Kingdom, and the International Committee of the Red Cross for the identification of unidentified Argentine soldiers buried in Darwin cemetery, in the Malvinas Islands. The forensic work has begun, at the hands of a team of experts selected and led by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is a strictly humanitarian task, and we are performing it in that spirit.
We wish to maintain a broad agenda with the United Kingdom, in order to address all issues and build consensus in the different fields in which we identify opportunities and coincidences. At the same time, we would also like to maintain an open and clear dialogue in order to work in an intensive and substantive manner towards a solution for the protracted dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime areas.
The Argentine Republic aspires that our region be recognized as an example of peace and dialogue, for the world and for future generations. In order to achieve this, it is crucial to strength the South Atlantic as a zone of peace, as well as to find a solution to the dispute over the Malvinas Islands.
We believe that the current circumstances offer a favourable context to deal with this matter at the bilateral level and to overcome disagreements. We firmly believe in the importance of sitting at the negotiating table to discuss any problem, however complex, because this is the only way to find a solution.
Within this new framework we would like to set for our relations with the United Kingdom, we expect that the two parties will be able to work creatively and in a spirit of cooperation, addressing each and every issue on the bilateral agenda, excluding none.
Within this constructive framework, the Government of the United Kingdom will end the unilateral measures in the area under dispute, as required by Resolution 31/49 of the General Assembly, and, we recall that several multilateral and regional fora have condemned the unilateral activities for the exploration and exploitation of natural resources carried out in the area under the sovereignty dispute.
I would like to share with the delegates to this Special Committee the conviction of the Argentine Government that, with political will, it is possible to reach a definitive solution to the Question of the Malvinas Islands.
Thus, we support this Special Committee and thank it for its efforts to eradicate colonialism in all of its forms and, in particular, for its permanent dedication to the special case of the Malvinas Islands.
I would also like to especially recognize to the Latin American nations, which have co-sponsored the draft resolution, and our partners at MERCOSUR, UNASUR, CELAC, OAS and G77 and China, as well as all the other countries that have, at various multilateral fora, joined the international community's call to resolve this dispute, among which the Ibero-American Summit, the Summit of South American- Arab Countries (ASPA) and the South America-Africa Summit (ASA).
To conclude, allow me to reiterate the adherence of Argentina to the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes, and in that regard, the trust in the mission of Good Offices between the parties entrusted to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly. This request has been reiterated every year by this Committee.
I hope these words will be of help for the draft resolution on this matter to receive broad support from the honourable members of this Committee, as in previous years.