The Argentine government has criticized the successful eleven-year demining process in the Falkland Islands arguing it is a new “violation” of a UN resolution calling on both sides, UK and Argentina, to abstain from any unilateral action in the disputed territories.
Daniel Filmus, Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands Secretary made the comments following the announcement by the Falklands' government that finally after 38 years, since the end of the 1982 conflict, the Islands are mine free and banned spaces have been recovered and opened to the public.
Before surrendering to the British Task Force sent to recover the Falklands, Argentine forces planted an estimated 20,000 antipersonnel mines and other explosives in strategic beaches and access areas.
For Argentina this process should have been done jointly, said Filmus recalling that in 2001 and 2006 Argentina and the UK agreed on a feasibility study to remove the antipersonnel mines.
He added that the feasibility study was jointly presented to the Ottawa anti personnel mine Convention during its meeting in Jordan.
However in 2009, and with no previous warning the UK did not comply with the commitments agreed and illegitimately started mine clearance activities on its own without the participation of Argentina in a clear act of violation.
This UK attitude has been extensive to illegal fishing, hydrocarbons exploration establishing a military base in the Islands, and now with the demining
Filmus added that since 2009, Argentina has been presenting a formal complaint at the annual Ottawa Convention to eliminate mines, because UK has consistently ignored Argentine participation, and will do again next Monday at this year's edition scheduled to take place in Geneva..
In effect this year when UK makes the official presentation of the complete demining in the Falklands, before the Convention, Filmus revealed that Argentina has offered the possibility of making it a joint presentation so that Argentina can also be confirmed, but we have received no reply
Argentina aspires that the final presentation can be done jointly, and this way comply with the humanitarian purpose of the demining, and at the same time UK listens to the UN resolution and the call from most countries of the world to resume sovereignty negotiations.
However earlier this week, Foreign Office minister Wendy Morton said that the removal of the mines laid during the 1982 conflict with Argentina means the UK has now met its obligations set by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
The removal of the last mine means there are no anti-personnel mines on British soil anywhere in the world, and the Falkland Islands will mark the moment next Saturday with the detonation of the final mine and the cutting down of fences which will finally re-open their access to beaches. Games of cricket and football will be played on the beach itself, to enjoy unrestricted access.
Minister Morton added that This is a huge achievement for the Islands and we must pay tribute to the brilliant team of deminers who put their lives at risk day to day removing and destroying landmines to make the Falklands safe.
Our commitment to ridding the world of fatal land mines does not end with our territories being mine free. A further £36 million of UK funding will allow demining projects across the world to continue, protecting innocent civilian lives.
The demining team from Zimbabwe, with supervising staff from British companies SafeLane Global and Fenix Insight had to struggle with the Islands’ challenging physical conditions, often working in remote locations and through the unpredictable and sometimes extreme Falklands weather, to achieve the goal to rid the Falklands of mines.
The Falklands will be officially declared landmine free on the 14 November in a local celebration.
There will also be an official celebration hosted by the UK at Government House on the 17 November, where the deminers will be presented with certificates signed by Minister Morton.