The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, met on Monday with representatives of the authorities of the United Kingdom and of the Falkland Islands to discuss a process seeking to identify the remains of a number of unidentified Argentine soldiers buried at Darwin cemetery in Falklands/Malvinas Islands.
The ICRC release stated that in line with the neutral, impartial and independent nature of its work protecting and assisting victims of conflict, the ICRC seeks to engage transparently and with the full confidence of all parties involved to bring about the best possible outcome in humanitarian terms.
According to the release, Julian Braithwaite, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom's Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, and Mike Summers OBE, Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands, were welcomed at the ICRC's Geneva headquarters by Mr. Maurer.
In 2012, the ICRC received a request from Argentina's president to facilitate the identification of the mortal remains of the unknown Argentine soldiers buried in Darwin cemetery. Motivated solely by the interests of the families and their need to know what happened to their relatives who died during the conflict, the ICRC accepted this request.
At the meeting, Mr. Maurer affirmed the ICRC's readiness to help facilitate a process to recover and identify the bodies of the unidentified soldiers and stressed the strictly humanitarian nature of the organization's approach to the matter.
In line with the neutral, impartial and independent nature of its work protecting and assisting victims of conflict, the ICRC seeks to engage transparently and with the full confidence of all parties involved to bring about the best possible outcome in humanitarian terms.
Last week the Falkland Islands Government, FIG, reiterated it that it remains committed to its humanitarian obligations under the Geneva Convention and extends its sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives during the 1982 conflict, and also announced MLA Mike Summers OBE trip to Geneva.
FIG also revealed that the UK Government was considering carefully the approach made by the government of Argentina and had consulted FIG on how to respond and underlined that FIG’s engagement with the ICRC is part of this sensitive humanitarian process.
In effect, FIG said its position and that of the UK government is that if any identification is to take place of combatants buried in the Falkland Islands, it would have to be done with the full agreement and involvement of the Falkland Islands Government.
Likewise if ICRC is to have a role to play, it is important that it understands and accepts the Constitutional arrangements between the UK and the Falkland Islands, and acknowledges the formal role that FIG would have to take in any identification process that might take place in our jurisdiction.
FIG indicated that MLA Summers would meet with Mr. Maurer to seek assurances from the ICRC of its understanding of the role FIG would have to play, and to invite the ICRC to explain a) their activities on this project to date; and b) how they can gain the confidence of Falkland Islanders that they would have a strictly neutral position in any supervisory role they might play.
Finally FIG is well aware the Geneva Convention sets down the requirements on Convention signatories to enable the identification and proper burial of all persons lost in combat, and the provisions for repatriation.