Ten years ago, the people of the Falkland Islands participated in a landmark referendum, overseen by international observers, to determine their political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. The question posed was, “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status?” and an overwhelming 99.8% of voters, on a 92% turnout, chose to remain a self-governing territory of the UK.
This was a powerful demonstration of self-determination in action.
The right to self-determination is a fundamental human right, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. However, for kelpers, or Falkland Islanders citizens and residents, this right is not something they can take for granted. They must continuously argue for their right to determine their own future, whether on social media, in the press, or in the United Nations itself. Without self-determination, their history and future would be at risk.
The Falkland Islands' freedom was restored by the Task Force in 1982, the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) reminded on Thursday, and their environment and economy continue to be sustained by the sea ant its resources. However, the freedom to live under the government of their choice is something that is still questioned and attacked. The people of the Falkland Islands know that their democratic rights must be respected and protected.
The Chair of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, Hon. Leona Roberts, emphasizes that the right of self-determination is critical for Falkland Islanders. They do not accept that anyone else can decide their future, despite Argentina's official position. The 2013 referendum, judged free and fair by eight independent observers from seven countries, clearly demonstrated the people's wishes.
The Deputy Head of the impartial international observers, Juan Manuel Henao, highlights the effort that was made to ensure a free and transparent referendum process. He witnessed the people of the Falkland Islands speaking loud and clear that they wished to remain with the United Kingdom. This outcome speaks volumes about their destiny and international status.
Today, the Falkland Islands are home to a diverse and multicultural community. They continue to welcome new citizens who wish to make the Islands their home. Together, they strive to improve the lives of everyone in their community and face the challenges presented by an ever-changing world, while continuing to determine their own future.
A special Referendum film has been produced to outline the reasons for the referendum, the vote, and the result. The film features interviews with many of the key players from 2013 and is available for download.