The issue of the political status of the self-governed British overseas territory Falkland Islands has dominated (non-relations) and relations since the British and Argentine war in 1982 after the Argentine military government invaded the Islands, writes Alicia Dunkley-Willis from the Jamaica Observer who recently visited the Falklands.
Since the end of the war, Argentina (even though its invading force surrendered), has sustainedly argued that the “Malvinas Islands” are rightly theirs.
However the Falkland Islanders that have been living in the South Atlantic archipelago for nine generations insist, with the support from Britain that they have a right to determine their status as enshrined by the UN charter.
To put an end to the discussion, the Falklands elected government announced earlier this year it would be holding a referendum on the political status of the Islands and has now come up with the date for the ballot, March 10/11, and what lawmakers feel is the correct preamble and correct question.
In the interview with the Jamaica Observer, Ian Hansen, an elected member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falklands said that after consulting experts they “came to an agreement as to what we felt was the correct preamble and the correct question”: a Yes or No answer to “Do you wish to remain a self-governing British Overseas Territory”.
That determination, the Legislative Assembly has said, “will be done under the scrutiny of a whole series of international observers”.
But with that question now decided, another, often asked, is lingering in the background, MLS Hansen continued.
There were one or two queries about why we weren't including the choice of Independence in it, but our explanation for that was we felt that was further away; we are doing it one step at a time, we are not ready for Independence yet so we don't want to muddy the waters. We just want to get the self-determination issue out there MLA Hansen told the Jamaica Observer.
In the meantime, he said there have been rumblings from the Argentine camp.
Apparently the government of President Cristina Fernandez has stepped up the campaign with their ambassador in London Alicia Castro “to supposedly rubbish the referendum to say to African and Caribbean countries, don't send observers, it's not legal.
The Falkland Islands government, however, has no plans to retort in similar fashion, pointed out MLA Hansen.
The Falkland Islands government won't respond. We as the elected members can but the Government will remain strictly neutral. We were hoping to get one or two observers from South America, but whether the Argentine pressure might stop that we don't know, he noted.
That pressure, MLA Hansen said, could change a few dynamics, but not the outcome.
It won't affect the final number of observers, but it might affect where they came from because we had hoped to get some from South America, Africa and so forth, just so we could have a vast number of observers so no one can say it was rigged, Hansen added.
What happens after the referendum in March 2013?
Everything will be counted up and the results will be made public, and I hope it will be positive, I can't imagine it being anything else but positive. After that we will take that to the UN to say it is enshrined in your Charter that self-determination is important, and the people in the Falklands have said they want self-determination which is their right, Hansen said.
We will use it (results) as a tool to encourage those who say we are not worthy of it. We know what we want but we want to show the rest of the world what we want, he added.
And if the worst should come, the Falklands are prepared, he stressed.
If the majority says no, we actually have in the preamble wording that says if the larger percentage of people says no, the Falkland Islands government will hold another referendum to see where people want to go from there. They will have to say why they said no and what they want to be,” MLA Hansen pointed out.