”We would be delighted to have a normal, friendly relationship with all our neighbors, to freely trade with, work with and discuss things of mutual benefit” said Falkland Islands lawmaker MLA Roger Edwards at the UN Decolonization 2018 Pacific Regional Seminar held in Grenada last week. But, he added, “instead, we are not recognized or accepted as a people in our own right”, by Argentina.
The Falklands' people right to determine their own future was unequivocal, as demonstrated in the March 2013 referendum. “That result was unequivocal, but unfortunately, Argentina refuses to accept and recognize the result of that referendum,” emphasized MLA Edwards.
It had been argued that the Islanders were not a “people” but an implanted British population put there to further Britain’s colonial aspirations, he recalled. Yet, a recent census clearly demonstrated that that was not the case because people from more than 60 ethnic background groups lived and worked peacefully together, having done so for the past 185 years.
MLA Edwards pointed out that the Falkland Islands were now self-financing and had been so since the late 1980s, adding that they did not receive economic aid nor pay any taxes or levies to the United Kingdom. Britain had never relinquished its sovereignty claim and the Islanders had freely demonstrated their wish to remain British.
In reference to Argentina, “we would be delighted to have a normal, friendly relationship with all our neighbors, to freely trade with, work with and discuss things of mutual benefit,” emphasized MLA Edwards.
Argentina's delegate Luis Vernet said the applicability of the standards of self-determination and territorial integrity must consider the specific characteristics of the British colonial enterprise on the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. Recalling that the British had brought their own subjects to the Islands, Vernet emphasized that the issue should not be dealt with like other cases of decolonization. It was the people of Argentina who had suffered, having been expelled through military force and unable to return for some 200 years. The only civilized way to resolve the question was through bilateral dialogue between Argentina and the United Kingdom, he stressed.
The representative of Argentina said the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas remained the subject of an illegal occupation as a result of an act of force perpetuated by the United Kingdom.
The issue was a sovereignty dispute recognized by the United Nations, he said, underlining that the General Assembly was crystal clear in its recognition of the situation as a special and particular case of decolonization.
The Pacific Regional Seminar held in Grenada May 9/11 is held under the auspices of the Special Committee, which is formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (also known as the Special Committee of 24 or simply as “C-24”).
The theme of the 2018 Seminar was “Implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism: towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Non-Self-Governing Territories: social, economic and environmental challenges”.
The Seminar’s conclusions and recommendations will be considered by the Special Committee at its June substantive session in New York, and subsequently transmitted to the General Assembly.
There are 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories under the purview of the Special Committee: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and Western Sahara. The administering Powers are France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The 29 members of the Special Committee are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Chile, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Syria, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania and Venezuela.