STATEMENT ON THE “QUESTION OF THE MALVINAS ISLANDS” BY THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND WORSHIP OF THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC, H.E. MR. HECTOR TIMERMAN, TO THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS. 21 JUNE 2011
On behalf of the Argentine Republic, I would like to congratulate you and express our satisfaction at your having been elected to preside over this Special Committee on Decolonization. We are conscious of the key role that this Committee plays in the decolonization process. Therefore, my Government is confident that, in view of your outstanding personal qualities and vast diplomatic experience, we will be able to make headway in the eradication of colonial situations that unbelievably subsist well into the 21st century.
In the conduct of this task, you have indicated, with accuracy and prudence, the need to consider each case in accordance with its special and particular characteristics, as the Committee has done since its inception.
14 December last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, General Assembly Resolution 1514(XV), adopted with the support of all the countries that have fought against the maintenance of colonial regimes. It should be recalled that the United Kingdom abstained from adopting such resolution, thus evincing its selective adherence to the decolonization process.
In my capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of the Argentine Republic, I have the honour and the privilege to attend once again this Committee to reiterate before the international community the unrenounceable and imprescriptible rights of the Argentine Republic over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime spaces.
I am proud to have the certainty that my presence in this distinguished forum relies on the support of the Argentine society as a whole, which, since the plundering that occurred in 1833, has uninterruptedly staked its claim to the occupied territories.
The General Assembly applied Resolution 1514 (XV) to the concrete case of the Question of the Malvinas Islands , and through Resolution 2065 (XX) of 1965 classified it as a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom. In such resolution, the General Assembly reiterates its commitment to put an end to colonialism in all its forms and invites both governments to negotiate a peaceful solution, taking into account the provisions and objectives of the Charter, Resolution 1514 (XV) and the interests of the inhabitants of the islands.
In compliance with the provisions of Resolution 2065 (XX), a sovereignty negotiation process started between the parties, which was unilaterally interrupted by the United Kingdom in the early 80 s, and in which different alternatives were considered, none of which was actually implemented. Following the armed conflict, 10 resolutions passed by the General Assembly and 28 passed by the Special Committee on Decolonization evidence the persistence of the sovereignty dispute and of the need to resolve it through negotiations between both parties.
However, even until today, the United Kingdom refuses to resume this negotiation process, despite the multiple calls by the international community and its responsibility as a UN member to resolve disputes peacefully. It is as if the United Kingdom, relying on its status as permanent member of the Security Council and on the privileges deriving from such status, interpreted a military conflict as providing it with rights and exempting it from its international obligations under international law, which is inadmissible in the case of a responsible member of this organization.
Let me refer to our history and recall that, after two unsuccessful attempts to invade Buenos Aires, the current capital of Argentina, in 1806 and 1807, the British fleet occupied the Malvinas Islands by force in 1833 and drove away the population and the Argentine authorities, who peacefully and actively exercised the legitimate rights of the Argentine Republic.
The Argentine Republic never consented to this expulsion. It was a shameful imperialist act consistent with the expansionist intent of the British crown. This world power replaced Argentine population, transplanting its own subjects and preventing Argentines, in a discriminatory and systematic matter, from settling in the archipelagos or owning lands.
At this point, it is pertinent to underline the substantial differences with the Argentine legislation. Recently, Mr. James Peck, a British descent plastic artist born in the Malvinas Islands received his Argentine identity document. Some years ago he and his Argentine partner moved to the continent, after she, being pregnant, was denied of medical assistance in the Islands.
It is very important, Honourables Delegates, to point out that I am also obliged to denounce before the United Nations the criminal attitude of fanatics that have made death threats to James in case he dared to return to the Malvinas Islands. We make the British authorities that illegally occupy the Islands responsible for the security of the Argentine citizen, Mr. James Peck, in case he decides to exercise his rights as Argentine, to return to the occupied islands.
It should come as no surprise that the United Kingdom continues until today its colonialist policy in the Argentine territories it has occupied: indeed, in the second half of the 20th century, more specifically, between the end of the 60s and the early 70s, it did not hesitate to drive away from their territory almost 1800 indigenous Chagossian inhabitants from the island of Diego García in the Indian Ocean in order to satisfy its own political and economic interests. In other words, despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights being in force and the decolonization process being underway, the United Kingdom did not even think of the principle of free determination that it now fervently espouses with respect to another colonial territory. In addition, although British courts have upheld the illegality of such expulsion and the right of the population to return to their territory, the different British governments that have been in office to date have failed to adhere to such decisions.
That is why it is hard not to notice Britain s attempt to rely on the principle of free-determination as an excuse not to negotiate the Question of the Malvinas Islands; a mask that hides the real strategic and financial interests that, way into the 21st century, are in keeping with the guiding principles of the colonialist powers of the 20th century. This is clearly reflected in the illegal activities carried out by Britain consisting in the exploration for and exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources in the disputed archipelagos and waters, which not only contradicts the United Nations mandate in Resolution 31/49 against introducing unilateral innovations in the area while the dispute is subject to a resolution process, but also renews the policy of taking advantage of and exploiting resources that do not belong to Britain, which characterized the role that the United Kingdom has played in international policy throughout its history.
In addition to being a flagrant violation of international law and a blatant disregard for the mandate of the international community, the activities carried out by Britain are an affront not only to the Argentina, but also to the rest of the countries of the region, which has turned the conflict into a regional one.
This does not affect our region only, insofar as other regions have echoed the need to resume negotiations and put and end to this predation of natural resources, as shown in the pronouncements of regional and bi-regional organizations.
This is further compounded by the increasing military presence of Britain, which has turned the Malvinas Islands into a fortress, whose purpose is not clear. This certainly does not have to do with the fear of a supposed military mobilization by Argentina, which constantly makes it clear, even in its National Constitution, that the recovery of the usurped territories must take place through the peaceful mechanisms provided for in the United Nations Charter. The conduct of military exercises, which included the firing of missiles from the Malvinas Islands and that, as acknowledged by London, have been going on for years, has led my country to raise at the International Maritime Organization the violation of elementary rules on navigation security and life at sea. This is also a matter of concern to the region.
Having heard rumours that seek to distort Argentina s position, we wish to clarify three important aspects:
1. Argentina has nothing against the inhabitants of the islands; on the contrary and in accordance with the mandate of the United Nations, it has included in its own Constitution the commitment to take into account their interests and respect their lifestyle. This position is permanent and was part of the safeguards and guarantees offered by Argentina and negotiated with the United Kingdom in the seventies. Ever since then, Argentina has always expressed its willingness to update those safeguards and guarantees but was only faced with the United Kingdom s refusal.
2. Argentina has always been and still is a strong advocate, in all forums, of the right to free determination of peoples, whenever that right applies. However, in the Question of the Malvinas Islands, the United Nations itself has determined that such principle does not apply since, the inhabitants of the South Atlantic islands seized from Argentina are not submitted or subjugated to a colonial power, but rather they are British subjects whose nationality has not been modified by the years during which they have resided there. There is, indeed, a colonial situation, but there are no colonized people . Therefore, in claiming the right to free determination for this transplanted British population, the United Kingdom only claims free determination for itself.
3. Argentina is not contrary to cooperation with the United Kingdom on practical aspects arising from the de facto situation in the South Atlantic, under the due legal safeguard and for the purpose of creating a suitable framework for both parties to resume the negotiations urged by the international community. This is evidenced by the multiple provisional understandings on cooperation reached in this spirit. Unfortunately, many of those understandings have become unfeasible, as they were used by the United Kingdom to attempt to give a false appearance of legitimacy to its unilateral activities.
Since 1965, the United Nations have been reiterating their call upon both parties to the sovereignty dispute to negotiate, as the only way to resolve it. This Committee insists on this request every year.
Argentina has no doubts about its sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. However, the Argentine Government has reiterated at every opportunity its willingness to negotiate in order to comply with the duty incumbent on both parties to resume sovereignty negotiations.
The United Kingdom insists on its refusal to answer the calls of the international community. This attitude is even more worrisome if we take into account the fact that it is adopted by a permanent member of the Security Council, a body whose main purpose is the preservation of international peace and security. Its arguments in favour of a peaceful solution to disputes are hardly credible since it refuses to assume its own international obligations.
That is why Argentina, which considers multilateral diplomacy to be particularly important, attaches great value to the role to be played by the Secretary General under the good offices mission entrusted to him by the General Assembly and systematically renewed by this Organization for the purpose of bringing the parties to the negotiation table. The Heads of State and Government of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) have requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a letter of last April to renew his efforts in this respect and to inform them about any progress in the fulfilment of his mission.
Never in the 178 years of this dispute has the Argentine People lost sight of the sense of justice inherent in its claim, based upon the respect for the fundamental rights of man, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
A few days ago, the British Prime Minister David Cameron once again disclosed the colonial matrix on which part of the London foreign policy is still based nowadays, when he arrogates himself the authority to declare "end of history" regarding the sovereignty dispute concerning the Question of the Malvinas Islands . Nevertheless, we, Argentines, insist on the calling for peaceful negotiations, because history teaches us that the mere expression of the will of the powerful is not sufficient to justify a territorial occupation emerged from an act of force. Had it been not that way, many of the nations that today integrate this committee would still be colonial countries.
Once again I avail myself of this international forum, which is, precisely, a space aimed to refrain hegemonic aspirations, to extend a formal invitation to the British Government to sit down at a table and resume the negotiations, in good faith, in order to resolve the sovereignty dispute and put an end to this incomprehensible colonial situation, unacceptable at this stage of the 21st century.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman."
Misión Permanente Argentina ante las Naciones Unidas