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No change in Argentina’s case before the UN Decolonisation Committee

Susana Malcorra, Argentina’s Foreign Minister (and nominee for the post of UN Secretary General), presented Argentina’s traditional point of view to the UN C24 Decolonisation Committee at its annual hearing on the Falkland Islands in New York on 23 June. She was accompanied by a strong delegation from the Province of Tierra del Fuego, including the discredited Alexander Betts. It was significant that Ms Malcorra had decided that the C24 meeting was more important than the crisis meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS (Organisation of American States) on Venezuela, being held at the same time in Washington. 

Whilst Ms Malcorra might have used less rhetoric, she made the usual Argentine points that recovering full sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) was a permanent and unrelinquished objective of the Argentine people set out in their national constitution; that the UK had occupied the Falkland Islands by force and expelled its Argentine population in 1833; and that the principle of self-determination of peoples, protected by the UN Charter, was not absolute, could not violate the territorial integrity of existing States, and could not apply to the Falkland Islanders who were not recognised as a “people”. She reiterated her Government’s desire to develop a broad agenda of co-operation with the UK Government over a wide range of issues but this should include “an open and clear dialogue over the sovereignty dispute in order to work in an intensive and substantive manner towards a solution to the protracted dispute”. 

Both the Hon. Mike Summers and Gavin Short spoke as members of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly. Mike Summers said that some families in the Falklands were able to trace their antecedents back over nine generations. Settlers had come and gone of their own free will from many different countries. The Argentine suggestion that the Falkland Islanders were an implanted British population was simply untrue. Both made the point that the Falkland Islands were not a colony of the UK and had no intention of becoming a colony of Argentina. 

The UK Mission to the UN made it clear that the UK had no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands; that the 2013 referendum, in which 99.8% of those who voted wanted to maintain the Falkland Islands’ current status as a British Overseas Territory, had sent a clear message that the people of the Falkland Islands did not want a dialogue on sovereignty; and that “Argentina should respect those wishes.” 

The Falkland Island representatives, accompanied by two young Falkland Islanders (Krysteen Ormand and Karen Minto), had spent time on the Hill in Washington during the week, meeting Congressional leaders and representatives of US think tanks, such as the Americas Society and Council of the Americas. Krysteen Ormand had also attended the regional seminar of the UN C24 Committee in Managua, Nicaragua in early June (where she had delivered an excellent speech setting out the Falkland Islands’ position). 

The texts of the speeches by MLAs Summers and Short are attached. 

Expulsion Myth 

The canard that the UK expelled the Argentine population by force in 1833 is untrue. The Argentine garrison of 26 soldiers (with their 11 women and 8 children) were indeed ordered to leave. But the Captain of HMS Clio had strict orders not to molest any civilians in the Falklands and he was in any case keen for them to stay as most were gauchos and could therefore hunt the wild cattle on the Islands and provide fresh beef for visiting ships. The only genuine residents to leave with the Argentine garrison were two men (a Brazilian and a Uruguayan) with their female partners. That left about 25 civilians at Port Louis, most of them gauchos. The Argentine garrison was not a genuine population: it had been there only for three months during which time the soldiers had mutinied, murdered their commanding officer, Etienne Mestivier, and terrorised the community in Port Louis. When the garrison returned to Buenos Aires, seven of the mutineers were executed for the murder of Estivier; two were flogged and another disciplined.

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