By Vicente Palermo (*)
The international resolutions which Argentina appeals to support its claim over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands are not definitive on the sovereignty issue, and do not ignore the rights of the Falkland Islanders, argues an Argentine scientific researcher and member of the Argentine Political Club who published an opinion article in Buenos Aires daily Clarin.
Vicente Palermo under the heading of “Malvinas cause in another dead alley” points out that Argentina has overlooked some recent events and parts of the original UN legislation on decolonization, which suffer of an ‘incurable’ ambiguity.
In November last year UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was hopeful the UK would accept his good offices and retake discussions with Argentina on the Malvinas question but also indicated that he did not believe permanent members of the Security Council were violating relevant UN resolutions.
Likewise “the impression is that people living under those conditions should have certain level of capacities to decide their own future, and this is the main criteria from the main UN bodies: achieving independence or having certain degree of self government in their territories. I don’t think it is an issue of abuse or violation of relevant UN resolutions”, said the UN chief.
But the Argentine rhetoric on Malvinas, repeated to exhaustion by Foreign minister Hector Timerman in London insists in two arguments relative to the UN.
First, the UN resolutions suggest more than affirm, that Argentina is right in the Malvinas core dispute: Malvinas are Argentine and the colonial power must sit and discuss with Argentina the terms of its withdrawal and restitution of the Islands.
Second: those resolutions are contrary to any Islanders participation in which they can express their wishes because it is an implanted population. Their interests must be considered but by the two exclusive parts of the negotiation.
However Ban Ki-moon direct statements show these arguments are false, and why following on them only helps Argentina get into a dead-end alley, as we are currently with the Malvinas question.
The first argument is false simply by reading UN Resolution 1514 from December 1960 referred to concession of independence to colonial peoples, which in Article II states that “All peoples have the right to self-determination and in virtue of that right can freely determine their political condition and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”.
Likewise Article V says that “Immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom”.
Finally Article VI says that any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations
It is hard to find in all this something that looks like the acknowledgement of Argentine sovereignty over the Malvinas. If there is a territorial dispute, which consensus is to determine if in the case under analysis national unity and territorial integrity are being broken up?
This determination is the core of the dispute, not something that can be taken for granted. The same can be said about the articles referred to self determination: it is the status of the Malvinas population that is the object of controversy.
Of course the strong argument of the Argentine Malvinas orthodoxy is the famous Resolution 2065, specifically referred to the Malvinas, which undoubtedly is more than favourable for Argentina’s aspirations. But again this does not mean at all recognition of sovereignty or exclusion of the wishes of the Islanders.
To start with the resolution takes notice of the existence of a dispute between the governments of Argentina and the UK…regarding the sovereignty of the Islands. This is a bit contradictory: a sovereignty dispute on the one side, and the consideration of the case as one of colonialism, thus gives sense to what follows: resume without delay negotiations and doing it taking into account resolution 1514, as well as the wishes of the population from the Islands.
The resolution undoubtedly suffers of an incurable ambiguity.
But there is no way to understand how it comes out in favour of Argentina in the core of the dispute. And of course regarding the Islanders it is useless to search for an indication that their wishes should or should not be considered.
It can be said that the parties involved in the negotiations are two, but nothing impedes those parts from calling a third party to make it a three-side discussion.
Finally we have resolution 31/49 approved December first 1976 that in article II calls on both sides “to abstain from adopting decisions which mean the introduction of unilateral modifications while the Islands are in the recommended process”, and which has been ignored in reiteration by both Argentina and the UK.
And the crassest of those examples is the 1982 military invasion. The British have found an argument to embark on a unilateral process, which is difficult to reverse.
(*) Chief researcher at Conicet and member of the Argentine Political Club
Conicet is the Argentine national council for scientific and technical research