United Nations Press Release
Special Committee on Decolonisation
6th & 7th Meetings (AM & PM)
Special Committee on Decolonization Adopts Draft on Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Amid Petitioners’ Concern that Text Ignores Islanders’ Self-Determination Wish ‘Committee of 24.’ Also Forwards Three Traditional Texts in Support Of Decolonization Declaration to General Assembly; Hears Petitioners from Guam
In a busy day that heard pleas to do otherwise, the Special Committee on Decolonization today adopted a consensus resolution reiterating that the way to end the “special and particular” colonial situation in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was through the peaceful, negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
The text was one of four passed today, which zeroed in on thorny questions that had been before the Special Committee for decades, and recommended ways to better implement the 1960 (Decolonization) Declaration, which it was tasked to monitor. The day also heard a number of petitioners air their views on the questions of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Guam.
By the terms of the text, introduced by Chile’s representative, the Special Committee regretted that, despite widespread international support for negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom, which included all aspects of the Islands’ future, longstanding General Assembly resolutions on that question had not been implemented. The parties were requested to consolidate the current “process of dialogue and cooperation” by resuming negotiations in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful solution to their sovereignty dispute.
Imploring the Special Committee not to adopt the resolution as presented, Roger Edwards, an elected official of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands, and one of several petitioners to take the floor on the issue, pointed out that the text had been drafted without a reference to the wishes of the Falkland people and their fundamental right to self-determination. “Falkland Islanders do not wish to see a change from British sovereign status,” he declared. The Islands had never formed part of Argentina; they were self-sufficient, self-governing and enjoyed a high standard of living. “Please respect our people’s wishes and our right to self-determination,” he said.
On the other side of the issue, petitioner María Angélica Vernet, Director of the National Historical Museum of the Buenos Aires Old Town Hall and May Revolution, traced her roots to the Malvinas Islands, where Argentine citizens had been stripped of their property and expelled by the United Kingdom in 1833. The population on the islands today was not a people in the legal sense of the term, as they were British either by birth or by origin. “The usurpation of the Malvinas Islands in 1833 was the usurpation of a territory that, both in fact and in law, belonged to Argentina,” she insisted.
Weighing in as an observer, Héctor Marcos Timerman, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, reiterated his Government’s “unrenounceable” rights over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime spaces. In accordance with the United Nations mandate, he said, Argentina had included in its Constitution the commitment to take into account their interests and respect their lifestyle.
Further, while Argentina had always advocated the right to free determination of peoples, the United Nations, on the question of the Malvinas Islands, had determined that such a principle did not apply, he said, since the inhabitants of the South Atlantic Islands had not been subjugated to a colonial power. He extended a formal invitation to the British Government to resume negotiations, in good faith, to resolve the sovereignty dispute and end an “incomprehensible” colonial situation that was unacceptable in the twenty-first century.
Echoing the call to end colonialism in the modern era, the Special Committee approved three other consensus resolutions submitted by Chairperson Francisco Carrión-Mena (Ecuador) for the General Assembly’s adoption, all of which related to the implementation of the landmark Decolonization Declaration.
By the first, the Assembly would call on the administering Powers to cooperate fully with the 24-member body and finalize — as soon as possible — a programme of work on a case-by-case basis for the Non-Self Governing Territories to facilitate implementation of the Special Committee’s mandate. Among other things, it would request the Special Committee to continue to seek a suitable means to carry out actions related to the Second and Third International Decades for the Eradication of Colonialism, in those Territories that had not yet exercised their right to self-determination.
By the second text, the Assembly would urge the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations that had not yet done so to provide assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories. Those agencies would be urged to provide information on environmental problems facing the Territories, ways and means to assist them in fighting drug trafficking, and on the illegal exploitation of the Territories’ marine and other natural resources. The Assembly would recommend that the heads of those agencies formulate proposals for the full implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions and submit them to their governing and legislative organs.
The third text would have the Assembly reaffirm the right of Non-Self-Governing Territories to self-determination, in line with Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) (1960), as well as to the enjoyment of their natural resources and to dispose of those resources in their best interest. It would affirm the value of foreign economic investment undertaken with the Territories — and in accordance with their wishes — in order to contribute to their socio-economic development. By other terms, the Assembly would urge administering Powers to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of Territories to their natural resources and maintain control over the future development of those resources.
In final business today, the Special Committee heard presentations by several petitioners on the question of Guam, who made their voices heard on the future of that Non-Self-Governing Territory administered by the United States. Lisa Baza of the non-profit organization Conscious Living recommended that Guam remain on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories until the Chamorros people had an opportunity to exercise their right to political self-determination. More broadly, she recommended that the United Nations adopt a resolution that reflected a case-by-case decolonization plan for each of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to be achieved in the Third Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.
Echoing that call, Clare Calvo, speaking on behalf of the Governor of Guam, said: “exercising this human right is long overdue”. She urged the Special Committee to help the Chamorros become citizens of their own place in this world.
The Special Committee on Decolonization met today to hear petitioners on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Before members was a draft resolution on the item (document A/AC.109/2011/L.7), as well as a working paper prepared by the Secretariat (document A/AC.109/2011/14) outlining, among other things, constitutional and political developments, as well as progress on mine clearance, economic and social conditions, and the Territory’s future status.
The paper says that the Constitution approved in 2008 came into force on 1 January 2009. The last general elections were held for all eight members of the Legislative Assembly on 5 November 2009: five from the Territory’s urban constituency and three from the “Camp”, for a four-year term. The Governor took up his appointment in October 2010.
As for the Territory’s future status, the paper says that, on 24 September 2010, the United Kingdom reiterated in the General Assembly that there could be “no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the Islanders so wish”, and that the principle of self-determination “underlies our position on the Falkland Islands”. The Falkland Islands Government was entitled to develop a hydrocarbons industry within its own waters, the representative had said, noting that Argentina had announced plans for hydrocarbons exploration in the South Atlantic.
In an annual message to the Territory for 2011, the United Kingdom Prime Minister said: “It is in all our interests that we maintain a constructive working relationship with Argentina. And we will continue to do so.” There was common ground to be found at the Group of 20 (G-20) and on tackling climate change. The United Kingdom would stand resolutely with the Territory on any question of sovereignty, the paper explains.
Also on 24 September, according to the paper, Argentina’s President in the General Assembly claimed “respect for our sovereign rights over the Malvinas Islands”, underlining that the United Kingdom had refused to implement Assembly resolutions calling for negotiations with her country on the question of sovereignty. Unilateral decisions had been taken by the United Kingdom to exploit hydrocarbon resources on the Islands, she said, which constituted a “depredation of natural resources that belong to us” and entailed “the risk of ecological catastrophe”.
According to the paper, she had expressed her belief that the United Kingdom could “do as it likes”, as no one was compelling it to implement Assembly decisions. In a world of double standards, it was not possible to build peace, she had said, let alone maintain international security, as such situations ended up creating the kind of insurmountable disputes seen every day.
*****Also before the Special Committee was a working paper (on the territory of Guam) prepared by the Secretariat (document A/AC.109/2011/15), which outlines constitutional, legal and political issues there, as well as matters relating to the military presence, land, economy, social conditions and the environment.
The paper explains that the new Governor of Guam took office after the November 2010 elections. In October 2010, United States President Barack Obama signed into law bill H.R. 3940, which clarifies the Secretary of the Interior’s authority and obligation to provide federal funding for political status education on Guam, which should help inform the people of the island about their constitutionally viable political options.
As for action taken by the General Assembly, the paper explains that, on 10 December 2010, the Assembly adopted without a vote resolutions 65/115 A and B. Section VI of resolution 65/115 B outlines, among other things, the Assembly’s call on the administering Power to consider the expressed will of the Chamorro people as supported by Guam voters in the 1987 referendum and as subsequently provided for in Guam law, regarding Chamorro self-determination efforts.
Additional texts before the Special Committee are contained in documents A/66/63, E/2011/73 and A/AC.109/2011/L.10; as well as A/AC.109/2011/L.9 and L.11).
Petitioners on Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Addressing the Special Committee, ROGER EDWARDS, an elected member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands, told delegates that Argentina’s claims over his native islands were unfounded. “The Falkland Islands never formed part of Argentina,” he stressed, adding that Falkland Islanders themselves did not wish to see a change from British sovereign status. In that light, he urged delegates not to adopt the draft resolution currently before them, which had been drafted without reference to the wishes of the Falkland people and their fundamental right to self-determination. While Argentina claimed sovereignty over the Islands on historic, geographic and legal criteria, those criteria were flawed. They were based on “myth” and on changes to historical facts imposed by Argentina “to suit its own ends”, he said.
The Falkland Islands, he said, were self-sufficient and self-governing, with the exception of external affairs and defence. Falkland Islanders enjoyed a level of independence and democracy that many nations would be proud of, with an elected Legislative Assembly, a high standard of living, a tourism industry that had increased over the years, newly built schools and free education, and “superb” free medical services. With the introduction of the Falkland fisheries zone in 1986, additional revenue was raised by licensing foreign fishing vessels. That wealth was carefully managed by the Falkland Islands Government, with economic assistance and support given to the farming community and other sectors, leading to diversification. Additionally, oil was thought to exist within the territorial waters off the islands, though it had not been established whether it was commercially viable and therefore no allowance was made in the Falkland Islands’ budget deliberations for any oil revenue.
Following the last change of Government in Argentina, the relationship of that country with the Falkland Islands had worsened to the extent that attempts were now made to disrupt and damage the economy of the Islands, he said. The Falkland Islands were accused by Argentina of having an “imported, temporary” population. In fact, the small population of 3,000 people were of diverse origins and had been in existence for more than 178 years, with its own unique culture and institutions. “We are a people in our own right,” he emphasized, adding that they were proud and economically self-sufficient and enjoyed a relationship with Great Britain based on consultation, dialogue and partnership. “Please respect our people’s wishes and our right to self-determination,” he concluded, adding: “We do not wish Argentina or any country to dictate our future.”
DICK SAWLE, another elected member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, added that the Islands was comprised of a population united in its belief that it should be left in peace to determine its own future. In 1964, the Argentine representative to the United Nations had presented a speech making claim to sovereignty over the islands, based largely on the “expulsion myth”, which claimed that a resident of the Argentine population had been expelled by the British in 1833. That speech — which ultimately had led to the passage of General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX), which called for the United Kingdom and Argentina to negotiate the future of the Islands – was full of historical inaccuracies. Moreover, in 1964, the Falkland Islanders themselves had not been given the opportunity to speak in their own defence. Their views must now be heard. “This Committee must open up its mind and begin to hear both sides,” he stressed.
Regarding the true history of the Falkland Islands, no civilian population had ever been expelled, he said. There were no pre-nineteenth century native people living on the islands. In 1833, Britain had in fact expelled an Argentine military garrison, which had been sent to the Islands three months earlier. But the small civilian population present on the Islands had been encouraged to remain, and all but four individuals had decided to do so. Years later, Argentine military forces had twice invaded and occupied the Islands and had been justly expelled on both occasions, once in 1833 and again in 1982.
He urged the Special Committee to stand by the principles enshrined in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), in particular that all people had the right to self-determination and to freely determine their political status. “Sovereignty is not negotiable,” he said, adding that it was the duty of the Special Committee as guardians of the fundamental principles of the United Nations to respect that statement and the ideals it represented.
Despite the “aggressive and unjust” approach taken by Argentina over the years, both the Government of the United Kingdom and that of the Falkland Islands had attempted to talk and agree on ways forward with Argentina, while respecting sovereignty. In response, Argentina had broken agreements, invaded the Islands and attempted to restrict its external communications and economy. In 1999, the Falkland Islands had signed a joint statement with Argentina, the aim of which was to agree on various items that would be mutually beneficial, including those relating to fish stocks, civil air services, mine clearance and others. While the Falkland Islands had complied with its side of the agreement, Argentina to date had not done so. It had also embarked on several other unilateral actions.
Those actions were not those of a friendly nation, but of a “bully-boy” that had lost a fight and was now attempting to gain by political pressure what he had failed to do by force. He asked the Special Committee to consider that what Argentina was presenting was a desire to colonize the Falkland Islands and subjugate its people. “I call on you to see this challenge that we face for what it really is — a simple desire to steal what is rightfully ours”, and dismiss the Argentine arguments as territorial expansionist desires.
MARÍA ANGÉLICA VERNET, Director of the National Historical Museum of the Buenos Aires Old Town Hall and May Revolution, Argentina, said her family’s roots lay deep in the history of the Malvinas Islands, where Argentine citizens who had lawfully occupied that territory had been stripped of their property and expelled by the United Kingdom in 1833. Her great-great grandfather, Luis Vernet, had been the first political and military commander for the Malvinas Islands. The political and military command office for those islands and others adjacent to Cape Horn in the Atlantic had been created in June 1829 to enhance the domain exercised by Spain since 1767. As a legitimate occupant of the islands inherited from Spain, Argentina had exercised its sovereignty over them, but had been forced out by the United Kingdom.
Born in Hamburg and emigrated to Argentine by choice, Luis Vernet had colonized the Malvinas Islands, she said, applying orderly and methodical management of natural and strategic resources that had strengthened Argentine sovereignty over the archipelago. He had activated new trade areas and had shared with the Argentine Government his research on the archipelago’s production potential, as well as land surveys and feasibility studies for the settlement of a fixed population. He had been convinced that a colony would be to the country’s advantage and, for that reason, had asked for ownership of the vacant lands on Soledad and Staten islands, in exchange for the commitment to establish a settlement with a fixed population. The Argentine Government’s decree of 11 January 1828 had issued him the deeds to do so.
In less than two years, the population of Puerto Soledad had reached more than 100 stable inhabitants, she said, adding that the island had become a trading post, whose main activities had included cattle raising and fishing. The colony organized by Luis Vernet had had a multinational, yet mainly Argentine population, which had been dispersed and replaced by British immigrants in 1833. “The usurpation of the Malvinas Islands in 1833 was the usurpation of a territory that, both in fact and in law, belonged to Argentina,” she insisted.
The population living on the islands today was not a people in the legal sense of the term, she said, as they and their ancestors were British either by birth or by origin. They did not constitute a nation or specific ethnicity. They had never been subdued by a “metropole” to be subjects of self-determination. As an Argentine citizen and descendant of a pioneer of Argentina’s sovereignty over those territories, she was convinced of the sovereign rights that her country upheld over the Malvinas Islands and other archipelagos of the South Atlantic.
ALEJANDRO BETTS said he had been born in Puerto Argentino in 1947 into a family that, at that time, had accounted for 105 years of residence in the territory. He had been a permanent resident of the Malvinas Islands until the end of June 1982, when he had moved to Argentine continental territory, where he currently lived. He had publicly stated that Argentina was “absolutely right” in the sovereignty dispute, which, in turn, had created a consensus among “parochial islanders” that such disrespect warranted his expulsion from the colony. He had left behind his parents, brothers, sisters and his eldest daughter.
As a stateless individual but Malvinas Islands native, he said he was recognized as a native Argentine citizen, but if he wished to reside again in the place he was born, the occupying Power “quite simply would not allow me”. That exclusion extended to all people born in the Malvinas Islands who had decided to settle in Argentine continental territory. That discriminatory policy had turned the Malvinas Islands into a colonial enclave, where an Argentine national was not allowed to enter — even as a temporary worker — because the laws on labour force recruitment required a permit, but that was denied to people from Argentine continental territory.
Indeed, the United Kingdom had kept tight demographic control on the islands with regard to Argentine nationals, he explained, noting also that, since the British Parliament had passed the British Nationality Act (Falkland Islands) on 28 March 1983, the colony’s population had been recognized as British. In 2002, the Parliament had adopted a new act granting automatic British citizenship to all inhabitants of United Kingdom Overseas Territories, which included the Malvinas Islands. Thus, there was an indisputable colonial situation in the Malvinas Islands with an occupying Power, whose nationals represented the effective occupation of the archipelago.
He went on to clarify that, in 2011, there were no political parties in the Malvinas Islands, there was no party representation on the Legislative Assembly and further, the alleged 62 nationalities representing almost 30 per cent of the population lacked active participation in island politics. Candidates for elective positions in the public administration were united only by their pledge of loyalty to the Queen. The colonial situation arising out of continued British occupation of an integral part of the Argentine island territory had been further aggravated by the military re-conquest in 1982. The only way to decolonize the Malvinas Islands was by restoring the archipelago to the Argentine Republic, their rightful owner.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), introducing the draft resolution on the “Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)” (document A/AC.109/2011/L.7), said the text reflected the mean elements of the United Nations doctrine on that situation, drawn up over the years. The draft resolution acknowledged that the question was a special one, different from other colonial questions, due to the existence of a dispute between two States parties, the United Kingdom and Argentina. As the only way to end the dispute was a negotiated solution between them, the parties were requested to renew negotiations in order to provide a solution in accordance with United Nations resolutions on the situation.
He recalled that a resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had been approved at a meeting of the Organization of American States in El Salvador on 7 June. At a subsequent meeting, Chile had read a statement on behalf of the Rio Group rejecting the planned military activities of United Kingdom. The very fact that colonial situations existed in the twenty-first century was an anachronism, which needed to be halted. Chile regretted that there had been no direct negotiations between the parties to end the dispute; there were no valid reasons to delay a solution. He once again called on the parties to renew effective negotiations as soon as possible, and to that end, hoped that the Special Committee would approve the resolution before it by consensus.
HÉCTOR MARCOS TIMERMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, recalled that the United Kingdom had abstained from adopting General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) (1960), showing its selective adherence to the decolonization process. Reiterating the “unrenounceable” rights of Argentina over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime spaces, he said he was supported today by the Argentine society as a whole, which, since the plundering of 1833, had staked its claim to those occupied territories.
Indeed, the General Assembly had applied resolution 1514 (XV) (1960) to the question of the Malvinas Islands, he said, and through resolution 2065 (XX) (1965), had classified it as a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom, reiterating its commitment to end colonialism in all its forms and inviting both Governments to negotiate a peaceful solution. Sovereignty negotiations had started between the parties, which had been unilaterally interrupted by the United Kingdom in the early 1980s. The United Kingdom still refused to resume negotiations, despite multiple calls by the international community and its duty as a United Nations Member to peacefully resolve disputes.
Reviewing history, he said the United Kingdom had occupied the Malvinas Islands since 1833, when its fleet had driven away the population and Argentine authorities, a “shameful, imperialist act” consistent with the expansionist intent of the British Crown. It had replaced the Argentine population with its own subjects in a discriminatory and systematic matter. In the 1960s and 1970s, the United Kingdom had driven away almost 1,800 indigenous Chagossian inhabitants from the island of Diego García in order to satisfy its political and economic interests. Although British courts had upheld the illegality of such expulsion and the right of the population to return, various British Governments had failed to adhere to those decisions.
Such acts made it difficult not to notice the United Kingdom’s attempt to rely on the principle of free determination as an excuse not to negotiate on the question of the Malvinas Islands, he said. That was also clearly reflected in such illegal activities as its exploration and exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources in the disputed archipelagos and waters. The situation had been compounded by the United Kingdom’s increasing military presence, which had turned the Malvinas Islands into a fortress. The conduct of military exercises from those islands had been going on for years.
Clarifying three points, he said “Argentina has nothing against the inhabitants of the islands”. It had included in its Constitution the commitment to take into account their interests and respect their lifestyle, a permanent position that was part of the safeguards and guarantees offered by Argentina and negotiated with the United Kingdom in the 1970s. While Argentina had always advocated the right to free determination of peoples, the United Nations, on the question of the Malvinas Islands, had determined that such a principle did not apply, since the inhabitants of the South Atlantic islands had not been subjugated to a colonial power.
Finally, he said Argentina was not contrary to cooperation with the United Kingdom on practical aspects arising from the de facto situation in the South Atlantic, under the due legal safeguards and for the purpose of creating a suitable framework for both parties to resume the negotiations urged by the international community. That was evidenced by the multiple provisional understandings on cooperation reached in that spirit, many of which, unfortunately, had become unfeasible, as they had been used by the United Kingdom as an attempt to give a “false appearance” of legitimacy to its unilateral activities. Since 1965, the United Nations had reiterated its call on both parties to negotiate as the only way to resolve the sovereignty dispute. Argentina had no doubts about its sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, and had reiterated its willingness to negotiate, in order to comply with the duty incumbent on both parties.
In closing, he said Argentina attached great value to the role to be played by the Secretary-General under the good offices mission entrusted to him by the Assembly and systematically renewed for the purpose of bringing the parties to the negotiating table. With that, he extended a formal invitation to the British Government to resume negotiations, in good faith, in order to resolve the sovereignty dispute and end an “incomprehensible” colonial situation that was unacceptable in the twenty-first century.
PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA (Cuba) recalled that resolutions on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had been adopted by the Special Committee without a vote since 1993. At present, there were 45 resolutions on the matter, as well as 10 adopted by the General Assembly. As defined in resolution 2065(XX) (1965), the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) should be settled through negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom, bearing in mind the main provisions and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations and of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), as well as the interests of the population of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
He reiterated his country’s unrestricted support for the legitimate right of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), which respected the territorial integrity of Argentina and the interests of the Islands’ population. To that end, he urged the United Kingdom to heed the successive calls by the Special Committee to hold negotiations and to respond positively to the willingness reiterated by Argentina to resume bilateral talks. Pending a definitive settlement of the dispute through negotiations, no unilateral acts introducing changes in the situation of the Islands should be carried out.
WANG MIN (China) said that the General Assembly and the Special Committee had followed the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) closely and had adopted relevant resolutions inviting the two parties to find a peaceful solution to the situation, in demonstration of the common wishes of the United Nations Member States. China’s position on the issue, namely that territorial disputes between nations should be resolved by peaceful negotiations, had been consistent. It was China’s hope that the two parties would act in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions and continue negotiations in search of a peaceful and just solution at an early date. In that light, China would support the draft resolution currently before the Special Committee.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said the presence of Argentina’s Foreign Minister testified to the importance accorded to the Special Committee. Argentina’s robust presence in all forums, especially as the head of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, showed its credibility and compliance with international principles. Syria’s position towards Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was in line with the Second Summit of Arab and South American Countries, held on 31 March 2009 in Doha, Qatar, as well as positions adopted by both the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, which underlined the sanctity of territorial integrity in solving territory disputes.
Supporting the draft resolution, he said its adoption by consensus would reemphasize the support for Argentina in resolving the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) through peaceful means. Resumed negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom, which the former country had sought in a sincere manner, would lead to an appropriate solution to the sovereignty dispute in a way that respected Argentina’s territorial integrity and led to its sovereignty over all its territories.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) supported the draft resolution on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), expressing hope it would be adopted without a vote. Indeed, it was necessary to find a fair, mutually acceptable solution as part of bilateral discussions between the United Kingdom and Argentina, bearing in mind appropriate General Assembly resolutions.
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia) said his delegation had always strongly upheld that uniform and universal criteria could not be applied to every situation of the decolonization question, as every case was unique. That was demonstrated in the case of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), as the historical and political backgrounds of Argentina and the United Kingdom did not fit the so-called “traditional” decolonization scenarios. The General Assembly resolutions on the question encouraged both parties to seek a peaceful settlement and urged accelerated negotiations, with the objective of reaching an early agreement corresponding to the best interest of the Islands’ population. Indonesia called upon the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to take advantage of the “solid relationship” established between them through the years, and to renew negotiations. The delegation further hoped that the draft resolution, which it would support, would be adopted by consensus.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela) agreed that the colonial situation “in our America” had been specifically described as “special and particular” by the General Assembly. He reaffirmed his delegation’s conviction that the resumption of bilateral negotiations to achieve a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom was the proper way to resolve that “anachronistic” colonial situation. In that context, he recalled the current mandate of good offices, conferred by the General Assembly to the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to bring the parties together. It was also worth recalling that, at the multilateral level, there were successive and repeated United Nations resolutions and declarations of the Organization of American States on the matter, urging a speedy resolution and in support of the position of Argentina. He hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.
PABLO SOLÓN (Bolivia) said “there are no doubts that the Malvinas belong to Argentina”, underlining that that colonial situation must be resolved in order to achieve Latin American and Caribbean integration. The right to self-determination could not be applied to that case. He urged caution in the selective application of that principle, as his own country had suffered from attempts in some areas and sectors to achieve integration of its territory.
He said that Argentina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which had been broken by United Kingdom’s military intervention, must be maintained. Occupation by force was not the answer, and military intervention could not erase Argentina’s legitimate rights of sovereignty and territorial integrity. He also rejected the exploitation of natural resources that belonged to Argentina, saying that Argentina must be compensated for the unilateral use of those resources. He hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus.
DIEGO MOREJÓN (Ecuador), fully agreeing with Argentina’s statement, supported the draft resolution, underlining the need for Argentina and the United Kingdom to start direct negotiations without delay. He supported Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute, saying that the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty were essential precepts in international relations.
Reiterating support for Argentina in the dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), and rejecting military manoeuvres by the United Kingdom, he also reiterated support for Argentina’s position concerning the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime areas, urging that Assembly resolutions be implemented.
DANILO ROSALES DÍAZ (Nicaragua) stressed that Argentina’s sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and surrounding areas was “unquestionable”. The colonial situation in Latin American and the Caribbean must end, he said, including by the return of those Argentine territories that had been usurped by the United Kingdom in 1833. At that time, a civilian population had been expelled and replaced by the military and civilians of the occupying Power. Not recognizing the sovereignty of Argentina would amount to a legitimization of those actions, he added.
He recalled that General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) called for a quick end to colonialism in all its forms and manifestations. The only way to end the “special and particular” colonial situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was through negotiations and a peaceful solution between the two parties. It was truly regrettable that despite the length of time that had passed since the adoption of resolution 2065 (XX), the dispute still had not been resolved. It was important to stress that Argentina had always been willing to enter negotiations to resolve the dispute, a position that had been supported by the international community, including the General Assembly and other global and regional bodies. Nicaragua, therefore, denounced the “unilateral and illegal” decision of the United Kingdom to conduct missile tests and to take over resources from Argentina. He called on the parties to resume negotiations and to end British colonialism in Latin America. “It is time for those territories to return to their true and rightful owner, Argentina,” he stressed.
JEAN-BAPTISTE AMANGOUA (C ôte d’Ivoire) said that his delegation, a member of the Special Committee, attached great importance to decolonization. Some 51 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, 16 Territories were still under the auspices of colonial Powers. Côte d’Ivoire called for the peaceful settlement of the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Self-determination was a precondition for the enjoyment of peoples’ fundamental rights, and therefore, any solution must allow for the exercise of that right in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Côte d’Ivoire maintained excellent relations with both the United Kingdom and Argentina, two friendly nations, and hoped that the two Governments would return to the negotiating table in order to achieve a lasting, peaceful solution to the issue as soon as possible.
OUMAR DAOU (Mali) said the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had been on the Special Committee’s agenda for years and members had regularly adopted resolutions inviting parties to start negotiations to achieve a fair and lasting settlement to the dispute. The situation had hardly changed, and he reiterated Mali’s commitment to the United Nations Charter. He regretted that the dispute had not been resolved. Mali had excellent relations with Argentina and the United Kingdom, and had always supported a peaceful resolution to the dispute. He voiced hope that propitious conditions would be created for resuming negotiations. He fully supported the draft resolution and hoped it would be adopted by consensus.
RASIE KARGBO (Sierra Leone) said the principle of self-determination was a prime factor in any consideration of the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). The basic principles outlined in resolution 1514 (XV) (1960) formed the basis of the Special Committee’s work. Citing General Assembly resolution 637 (VII), she said the Special Committee was obliged, not only to uphold the principle of self-determination, but to recognize it as a prerequisite for realising fundamental human rights. Any attempt to resolve the issue without taking into full account the wishes of the islanders would be inconsistent with the United Nations Charter and relevant Assembly resolutions.
The Special Committee then adopted by consensus the resolution on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) (document A/AC.109/2011/L.7).
Speaking after action on behalf of the member States of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), an observer from Paraguay said that the President of the association had recently approved a special statement on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), reiterating its support for the legitimate rights of Argentina in the dispute over the Falkland and surrounding islands. The members of MERCOSUR reiterated their rejection of any actions linked to exploration and exploitation by the United Kingdom of resources on the Argentine continental shelf, which were in direct contradiction of General Assembly resolution 31/49. They also recalled several declarations approved at the summit of Latin American and Caribbean States, which asked States to take domestic measures to prevent the arrival of “illegal vessels” in their ports. The MERCOSUR member States had also ratified statements through which Governments had expressed their “formal and energetic protests” against the military activities of the United Kingdom in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
He said his country was steadfast in its support of Argentina’s rights in the long-standing dispute. Only political will would bring about a solution to the question of the Islands. His delegation hoped that the parties would resume negotiations as soon as possible and would continue to maintain links and strengthen a bilateral relationship towards that goal.
Also taking the floor, an observer from Guyana, speaking on behalf of the member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), described a declaration adopted by the Union at its fourth regular summit in 2010, by which it had adopted “all appropriate regulatory measures to prevent entry into their ports of vessels flying the illegal flag of the [Falkland] Islands”. By the same declaration, those States had undertaken to inform the Government of Argentina about any vessels or marine structures travelling to the Falkland, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands with cargo to be used for illegal hydrocarbon and/or mining activities on the Argentine continental shelf. UNASUR member States reiterated their strong support for the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom, and said that the region had an “abiding interest” in the resumption of negotiations between the two Governments leading to a peaceful and definitive solution as soon as possible, in accordance with all relevant texts of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
Also speaking after action, on behalf of the Ibero-American Countries, an observer for Guatemala said the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were part of the American continent. The General Assembly had recognized the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom through many resolutions. That colonial situation had been defined as “special and particular”, as it involved characteristics that differentiated it from “classic” decolonization cases. The sovereignty dispute stemmed from 1833, when part of Argentina’s territory had been occupied by force. Through that colonial policy, perpetrated by force, the United Kingdom had transferred its people to Argentinean land.
“This is a colonized territory, not a colonized population,” he said, underscoring that the United Nations, bearing in mind the special nature of the situation, had decided not to apply the principle of self-determination. He expressed hope that Argentina and the United Kingdom would resume bilateral negotiations to find a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute. He also hoped that that call, contained in the resolution, would help achieve the United Nations aim, set forth in 1965.
Brazil’s observer, aligning with MERCOSUR, said the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had been occupied illegally since 1833, when the Argentine population had been expelled and banned from returning. In resolution 2065 (XX) (1965), the Assembly recognized the case as a special colonial situation. He urged Argentina and the United Kingdom to peacefully resolve the dispute, in line with the United Nations Charter and relevant General Assembly resolutions on the matter. Forty-five years had passed since the Assembly had first called for negotiations to resolve the question.
He reiterated Brazil’s commitment to support Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute, expressing regret there had been no progress in resuming negotiations between the parties regarding all aspects of the Islands. Brazil reaffirmed its interest in the resumption of those talks, supporting the good offices of the Secretary-General and the mandate entrusted to him by the Assembly. Brazil also supported the resolution, expressing hope that the Special Committee would make substantial progress in resolving the dispute.
An observer for Uruguay, associating himself with the statements made by Paraguay on behalf of MERCOSUR and Guyana on behalf of UNASUR, reiterated his delegation’s position in support of Argentina’s legitimate right of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and surrounding areas. As numerous studies had shown, he said “irrefutable ownership” of the Islands had been inherited from Spain on historical and geographic grounds. As General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX) (1965) had deemed the matter a special colonial issue that should be ended though a peaceful, negotiated solution, the two parties to the dispute should resume negotiations as soon as possible. They also should avoid taking unilateral measures, such as the exploration and exploitation of natural resources by the United Kingdom. Uruguay regretted the military activities of that State in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), which ran counter to efforts to find a peaceful solution. The delegation hoped that the shared values between the two parties would encourage negotiations between them.
An observer from Peru, also associating with the statements made on behalf of MERCOSUR and UNASUR, said that Peru was firmly committed to supporting the efforts of the United Nations to eradicate colonialism. Despite achievements made towards that goal, the situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) remained a great concern. Peru acknowledged the legitimate rights of Argentina in those Islands, as well as in the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding areas, which was based on historical and geographical reasoning. The question was a source of regional concern, and there had been repeated communiqués and calls for both parties to resume negotiations. There was indeed no other way to resolve the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), he stressed.
The observer for El Salvador said the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) should be solved through respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, based on international law and the nature of the historic context of the islands. Indeed, the Islands were under Argentinean sovereignty. In that context, he recalled that a unanimous vote had been taken on the Malvinas question during the forty-first General Assembly of the Organization of American States.
He urged Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations to find a peaceful solution to their dispute. The colonial Power’s view was indeed outdated in today’s world, which promoted human rights and respect for freedom. He urged that a just and peaceful solution be found to the situation in the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, expressing solidarity with Argentina in its just claim to sovereignty. El Salvador also supported the text just adopted.
The representative of Grenada said her delegation had always maintained that constructive and more strategic dialogue among all parties involved in the dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was critical to resolving the matter. It supported self-determination for people in an effort to promote ownership of one’s own destiny. Referencing a Swahili proverb to the effect that “you cannot change the direction of the wind, so turn the sails”, she called for the addition of “fresh thinking” to that “thorny” dispute.
When the Special Committee turned its attention to several additional draft resolutions related to the decolonization issue, it first adopted, without a vote, a text on “implementation of the (Decolonization) Declaration" (document A/AC.109/2011/L.9).
Next, it adopted a draft resolution, also without a vote, on “implementation of the (Decolonization) Declaration by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document A/AC.109/2011/L.10).
The representative of the Russian Federation, referring to draft “L.10”, noted that the resolution had referred in part to a report of the President of the Economic and Social Council (document E/2011/73). While her delegation had always supported the right to self-determination, it felt that consideration of that “very political” issue in the Council diverted that body’s attention from social and economic issues. The Russian Federation had chosen not to block consensus; however, it would maintain its stated position on that matter.
The Special Committee then adopted, without a vote, a resolution entitled “Economic and other activities, which affect the interests of the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories” (document A/AC.109/2011/L.11).
Petitioners on Guam
CLARE CALVO, speaking on behalf of Eddie Baza Calvo, Governor of Guam, said: “The people of Guam need your help.” Colonialism had weighed on them for nearly 500 years. The island had suffered over 230 years of Spanish colonial rule, during which the Chamorros had been devastated by disease, war and oppression. After the Spanish-American War, the United States had claimed Guam, and rule had begun under the “Naval Government”. Japan’s foray into imperialism during the Second World War had been especially brutal, when Chamorro women had been raped and men beheaded by the Japanese Imperial Army.
In July 1944, the United States had taken back the island, she continued, and while the Chamorros had been liberated from slavery and war, they were still suppressed under colonialism, and worse, had yet to receive reparations for the atrocities they had suffered. The Chamorros of the Second World War had endured slavery, murder and genocide, yet the United States had been silent on its obligations for war reparations. That silence reinforced the point that Guam could no longer be a colony in perpetuity.
She said the Chamorros had been unable to reach their full socio-economic potential because of their political status. “Now, more than ever, it is important to move forward”, while there were still Chamorros left to express their right to self-determination. She was thankful that the United States, the administering Power, recognized that right. The Obama Administration had agreed to match local funding allocated for decolonization efforts. The Government of Guam was committed to a plebiscite, and she wished to see a vote taken in the next general election or the one thereafter.
Most important was to ensure that Chamorros made an educated decision on their political status, she said, underscoring that “exercising this human right is long overdue”. For far too long, the Chamorro people had been told to be satisfied with a political status that did not respect their wishes first. For far too long, they had dealt with taxation without full representation, quasi-citizenship and partial belonging. She urged the Special Committee to support their human rights and help them become citizens of their own place in this world.
EDWARD ALVAREZ, Executive Director of the Commission on Decolonization of Guam, said his Government would embark on an aggressive campaign to parlay its situation to a national and international audience. Legislation had been introduced to appropriate money for a Chamorro self-determination educational campaign, a programme which the United States Department of the Interior had expressed its intention to fund. Moreover, the Governor aimed to hold a plebiscite in the next five years for the Chamorro people to exercise their right to self-determination.
He said that Guam did not plan to draft a constitution at this time, but rather, it would pursue the resolution of its political status by helping Chamorros exercise their right to self-determination, particularly amid the military build-up. With that, he recommended that a representative from the United States President’s Office facilitate the issue in Congress, as Guam engaged the Departments of the Interior and Defence.
For its part, Guam would reach out to national and international media “to get our story told and message across”, he pledged. It also would seek advocacy from as many groups and celebrities as possible. He also recommended that the United Nations advocate for Guam by pressuring the United States. Along with a national and international media campaign, Guam might request an invitation to the International Court of Justice. “The time has come for all of us to come to grips with what is right and just for the Chamorro people of Guam,” he said.
LISALINDA NATIVIDAD, Chamorro professor at the University of Guam and a member of the Guam Commission on Decolonization, said that, in 2006, the United States had entered into a bilateral agreement with the Government of Japan, which included plans to transfer 8,000 United States Marines from Japan to Guam. That process had occurred without any consultation with Guam leaders or the Chamorro people — a situation that had been made possible by the island’s unresolved political status. Guam’s current colonial condition “set the stage for exploitation” of its lands and the rights of the Chamorro people.
She said that the announced planned military build-up had prompted a return by Guam to the annual sessions of the Special Committee after a nearly 10‑year absence. But despite consecutive years of attendance since 2006, the situation remained unresolved and conditions in Guam were poor. “As you hear the dismal realities of our island home, we ask that you do something different,” she urged the Special Committee, calling on delegates to focus on specific actions that could be taken by the United Nations, and the Special Committee in particular, to bring about changes.
“Militarism has historically been used as the imperial hammer that ensures the suppression of Guam’s colonized peoples,” she said, noting that the application of American militarism in Guam had continued as recently as 2010, when the United States Navy had begun awarding Department of Defence contracts for construction and other projects on the island. Over the years, the United States military presence in Guam and the Federated States of Micronesia had resulted in radiation exposure, environmental devastation and toxic contamination of the islands and their peoples. Nonetheless, Guam residents were still not eligible for compensation through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of the United States Congress, a fact that continued despite evidence of excessively high rates of rare types of cancer among the Chamorro people.
In light of the current situation, she offered a series of recommendations, including keeping Guam on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories until the Chamorro people were able to exercise their right to political self-determination. She further recommended that the Special Committee reaffirm and declare that Guam’s militarization plans by the administering Power, the United States, posed an impediment to the exercise of the Chamorros’ rights to self-determination and decolonization. Among other recommendations, she also said that the United Nations should provide financial and technical assistance for an educational campaign in Guam, in the near future, relative to the political status plebiscite.
YASUKATSU MATSUSHIMA, Professor at Ryukoku University in Japan, said that the colonial histories of Guam and his native Okinawa were closely linked. Just as Guam had been historically controlled by Spain, Japan and the United States, Okinawa had been under Japanese and United States control. And just as the Japanese Government had imposed colonialist policies in Okinawa, prohibiting the use of the Okinawan language in schools, Chamorros in Guam had been forced to speak English. Those policies and others like them amounted to a “cultural genocide”. The military policies in Guam and Okinawa had been unilaterally decided by the colonial Powers, ignoring the claims of their residents.
Today, the militarization of Guam was tied to the building of new military bases and the transfer of more than 8,000 United States Marines from Okinawa to Guam. With that movement, the Chamorro people would face many of the same problems that the Okinawan people had faced, including field fires and bomb accidents caused by live ammunition, plane and helicopter crashes, as well as noise pollution, traffic accidents, the destruction of environmental and historical sites and the loss of indigenous cultural heritage. The Okinawan people were against the movement of United States Marines to Guam, as well as the construction of new military bases, as they feared that the island’s colonial situation would become “deeply fixed”. They insisted that Guam be demilitarized in accordance with United Nations decolonization principles and the Special Committee’s processes.
LISA BAZA, Conscious Living, a non-profit organization, recommended that Guam remain on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories until the Chamorros had an opportunity to exercise their inalienable right to political self-determination. The United Nations should provide financial and technical assistance for an educational campaign that informed all people of Guam about the political status plebiscite, and it should send a visiting mission to observe that event.
More broadly, she recommended that the United Nations adopt a resolution that reflected a case-by-case decolonization plan for each of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to be achieved in the Third Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in particular, should financially assist Non-Self-Governing Territories in dealing with poverty-related issues caused by their economic dependence on administering Powers. The Organization should also consider revisiting the development of a declaration of rights for indigenous peoples, which would allow colonized voices to be heard.
Guam’s process of self-determination would be revisited with a plebiscite within the next five years, she said. The administering Power, through the Department of the Interior, had pledged funding for education, as the island worked towards that plebiscite, and she asked the Special Committee to implore the administering Power to follow that mandate.
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