The United Kingdom relationship with the Overseas Territories “is based on the choices of the peoples” said Monday British representative Philip Parham before the UN Fourth Committee on Decolonization in response to several statements from Latin American delegates regarding the Falkland Islands and sovereignty discussions with Argentina.
“The relation with the Territories UK administers is based on the choice of the respective peoples and UK would not force people into independence” said Parham adding that “when those territories wished to retain links, the British government would assist them with development and good governance”.
He insisted that “good governance was the central theme in the United Kingdom’s engagement with Territories”.
Earlier Chile’s representative Octavio Errazuriz on behalf of the Rio Group, urged resumption of negotiations between UK and Argentina regarding the Falkland Islands to find a peaceful and definitive solution as soon as possible to that dispute, as well as to the questions of sovereignty over South Georgia and South Sandwich islands.
He further said that the actions of the United Kingdom in exploring and exploiting hydrocarbons in areas of the Argentine continental shelf ran counter to General Assembly resolution 31/49, which called on the parties to avoid unilateral modifications to the Territory before a resolution could be reached.
Diego Limeres from Argentina insisted that further delay of the application of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples was a continuing source of a lack of harmony, created “a dangerous situation” in various parts of the world, and posed a threat to international peace and security.
“The sovereignty dispute in the Falkland Islands was an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation”, he said.
“This is a peculiar and particular colonial situation” said Limeres, since there was not a population subjected or subjugated in the South Atlantic islands usurped from Argentina, but rather British subjects whose situation had not changed since the United Kingdom had put them there.
“Thus, there existed a colonial situation, but not a colonized people”.
The British transplanted populations could not rightly claim the right to self-determination in the Malvinas islands, as that amounted to the United Kingdom “claiming self-determination for itself”.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom carried out the exploitation of resources in the area, in contravention of agreements which expressly forbid unilateral modifications to the Territory while the issue remained unsettled.
Furthermore, that Power had conducted military exercises from the Territory of the Malvinas islands, which ran contrary to full implementation of the maritime safety standard of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Speaking in behalf of Mercosur, Uruguayan representative Lilián Silveira reaffirmed the group’s support for the legitimate rights of Argentina in the South Atlantic Islands, and said that the adoption of unilateral measures by the United Kingdom in the territory was not compatible with the United Nations stipulations.
Ms Silveira said the UK was conducting illegal hydrocarbon mining activities on the Argentine continental shelf, and all measures must be adopted to prevent those ships from “flying the illegal flag of the Malvinas islands”. She urged the Secretary-General to renew his efforts through successive resolutions to re-launch negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the dispute.
Finally the Uruguayan delegate rejected a recent statement made by the British Minister of Defence, and said the United Kingdom continued to ignore the calls of the international community to sit down with Argentina to solve the dispute.
She affirmed that those statements by the United Kingdom showed, once again, an attitude in contrast with the decisions of the region, which leant support to Argentina’s claims regarding its legitimate sovereignty rights.
The opening speech of the UN Fourth Committee was from Romania’s Simona Mirela Miculescu, who currently holds the chair of the committee.
No effort should be spared to fulfil the dream of all peoples to self-determination Ms Miculescu said, was the message to the Fourth Committee of the United Nations. However, “the task of decolonisation was not yet complete”, she told delegations and urged to continue their common endeavour to bring an end to colonialism for the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories on the United Nations list.
She also called for an allocation of adequate financial resources for the Special Committee on Decolonization and appealed to that Committee to craft tailored solutions that took into account the varied circumstances involved.