It’s C24 time again

June 14th 2012.

The 30th anniversary of the end of the Falklands war in 1982. Also the first time that the Head of State of any country in the world demeaned herself to go and try, in desperation, to convince the sub-sub-Committee of the United Nations, known as the C24, that she had a claim to another territory.

And the basis for this claim? Another defeat at the hands of British forces, 150 years before the Falklands War. President Cristina Kirchner alleges that in 1833 the British ‘usurped’ her country and threw off the legal authorities that were representing Buenos Aires. She even took along to the C24 a long-lost son of the family that Argentina claims established their right of sovereignty. A Vernet!

That poor scion was dragged up to say that his family had had a house on the Falklands since 1823 and that they became, in 1829, the representatives of the Buenos Aires Government. ” .. great-great-grandmother Maria had been the wife of the first political and military commander of the Malvinas Islands and those adjacent to Cape Horn.  Since 1823, her house had been part of Malvinas.  At that time, ranches had been set up for livestock.  Her brother and brother-in-law settled in Puerto de la Soledad in 1824.  In 1828, a decree had given her family land as a way to encourage the development of new areas for national prosperity.  In 1829, Maria was 29 with three children, the youngest of whom had taken her first steps in Malvinas.”

Now this is one of Argentina’s lies. They’ve been doing it to the C24 ever since Ruda’s speech in the 1960’s. What Marcello Luis Vernet did not mention, is that his family’s expedition to East Falkland in 1824 (not 1823) failed. The truth of that, the Vernet family’s initial attempt to establish a business on the islands under one Pablo Arequati, goes rather more like this: 

February 2nd, Pablo Areguati, with 25 gauchos, arrives on East Falkland. February 12th, Areguati writes, “We are without meat, without ship’s biscuits, and without gunpowder for hunting. We support ourselves by chance captures of rabbits, since there is no fat meat since we cannot go out to slaughter as there are no horses. I have resolved to tell you that we are perishing.” April 8th, the Captain of the British ship Adeona, threatens to denounce Areguati’s party as ‘pirates.June 7th, Areguati abandons the settlement and returns to Buenos Aires in the Fenwick. He leaves 8 gauchos behind, including the foreman Aniceto Oviedo. July 24th, the remaining gauchos are taken off East Falkland by the British sealer, Susannah Anne.

So – no house established in 1823.

In 1825, Britain and Buenos Aires signed a commercial Treaty which, while not recognising any right of Buenos Aires to any territory still claimed by Spain, at least set up the mechanism for trade. In Article 3, Britain gave permission for settlers from the mainland to try to forge business interests on the Falklands. So now the Vernet family had British permission.

And yet Marcello Vernet accused Britain of making the “gross historical error” !

Vernet then quoted from his ancestor’s Diary that at the time of Maria Vernet’s arrival in 1829 (not 1823), there were some 20 other settler families.  Her diary described daily life in a small community composed of Germans, people from Patagonia, Scots, Frenchmen, Genoese, English, Irish, and Africans.

He did not explain how these representatives from so many countries quite provides Argentina with the right to claim the Falklands.

Vernet also talked about the ‘Malvinas Command’, being founded on August 30th 1829. He did not mention the British protest of that same year which clearly told Buenos Aires that the Falklands were British and that they should stay away.

In many ways, the most surprising thing about Argentina’s claims over 1833 is that they were actually surprised that the British turned out to be as good as their word. They still do not think the British can be as good as their word.

In 1832 Argentina did not believe that the British would throw them off. They were wrong.

In 1982 Argentina did not believe that the British would throw them off. They were wrong.

And yet here they are still, in 2012, screeching at a discredited and biased sub-sub-Committee of the United Nations that Britain should let them onto a set of islands that they never owned, nor ever established any claim to.

Is Argentina hard of hearing ?

Let’s hear it for expense accounts !

May already! This occasional commentary piece has become very occasional. Of course the reason for this is that I’ve devoted rather more of my time to the Falklands History Blog and the Falklands News site.

Having said that, one of my particular grouses concerns the United Nations sub-sub-Committee known as the C24, and, as in previous years, they are gearing up once again for the show that they put on for a few weeks in summer.

This annual circus commences with a Regional Seminar which is held at one of the Non-Self-Governing Territories which remain on this rather outdated Committee’s ‘list’. Or perhaps not. This year it’s going to be held in Ecuador’s capital city. Well, I suppose the night life will be rather better than if they held it in a small wanna-be nation in the middle of the Pacific. Or in the Falklands for instance.

The original remit of this Committee was to oversea the transfer to full sovereignty of the oppressed colonies that once belonged to the supposed super-powers. This they did, in their early years. But these are not the early years, and there is a palpable sense at the UN of money being wasted seeing as how this Committee has failed to achieve very much in the last 20 years.

One of the things that they should be doing, is listening to the peoples of the NSG Territories. But it would seem that even this is beyond them. A number of NSGT’s have been shouting that they like the status quo, but does that get them off the list – oh no. Others have been asking for a visit by this Committee, but again their requests fall on deaf ears.

Ecuador then. Perhaps the perfect place for an old boys club where a goodly percentage of the old boys are from that region and are living high on expense accounts. At the expense of the NSGT’s certainly.

And what’s next? Well after the junket, the old boys will all return to the UN where they’ll spend a week listening to the same arguments that they heard last year, and, in fact, every year. They’ll then probably make the same recommendations to the Fourth Committee above them that they did last year, and every year.

Of course the one question that they’ll not consider is: Why do they bother ?

Happy New Year 2012

I haven’t had a moan on this site since November I see. Well, I’m beginning to get a little disillusioned. I have doubts.

I have doubts that Argentina is actually a serious contender.

Let’s take a look at events since my last post here. What has happened? Nothing really. Having failed, arguably not even tried, to get a ‘live’ United Nations General Assembly Resolution again in 2011, Argentina continues to shout about long dead Resolutions. 2065 for example, which dates back to 1965, and was probably Argentina’s only real diplomatic success at the UN. The problem though is that, for all the desperate attempts to resurrect it, Resolution 2065 is dead. Stabbed in the back by Argentina itself in 1982. A diplomatic suicide.

Then there are the annual General Assembly Resolutions that were thrown up between 1982 and 1988. All of them requesting that Britain and Argentina talk, and eventually that’s what they did. There was talk and, in 1989, a resumption of diplomatic contact, and, indeed, a number of agreements on fisheries, oil exploration, etc. All of which Argentina subsequently broke of course, but then that’s Argentina for you.

Importantly, the UN stopped making Resolutions asking Britain and Argentina to discuss their differences. I can only take the near deafening silence since 1988 as an indication that the UN was satisfied with the renewal of diplomatic relations and would now rather the whole subject went and annoyed someone else.

So that was the UN. Nothing getting passed the Fourth Committee on the issue of the Falklands, and in particular, nothing from the sub-sub-Commmittee generally known as the C24. It is suggested that the C is for ‘Committee’ but I have a rather different opinion. It’s not a high one, or worthy of repeating here. Britain long ago withdrew from dealing with the C24, although we did reserve a right to comment on matters involving the Falklands. Officially, I don’t think we ever have. Unofficially, the Englishman who sits at the back of the room has been known to have a quiet word after some particularly ludicrous decision. The quiet word seems to work.

Argentina doesn’t much go for quiet words, so November and December has been filled with increasingly loud rhetoric and claims of small victories. “China supports us”, was one; failing to mention that China always has, mostly because China wants Argentine support over Taiwan. “CELAC supports us”, was yet another, even though CELAC’s support was muted, and no-one actually knows what a CELAC is. I think that it is a type of vegetable, which is what it looks like, but I suspect we may never get to find out.

The latest storm in a tea-cup was Mercosur’s ban on Falkland flagged vessels from visiting their ports. Actually, this one dates from 2010, but as nobody seemed to have noticed, it was obviously worth repeating. Or at least it would have been, if the ban was actually very effective.

For political reasons little Uruguay took the most vocal stand for this ban, failing to  mention to its neighbours that the country would need some legislative change to make it work. Or that such change, was by no means certain. Uruguay’s official stance is that no new law is needed, but as there is at least one Falklands flagged vessel still sitting at Montevideo, this looks about as effective as the ban on British warships. One of which is also sitting in Montevideo harbour now, and has been since December 30th.

All of which only goes to show, that politics + bull and bluster = no contest.

I do hope that things liven up this year. In many ways they should, what with the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s last attempt at invasion, the 180th anniversary of their first, and Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations which will include a Royal visit ( by a very minor Royal) to the Falkland Islands. Oh, and there’s Prince William’s deployment too. Well, if he turns up at your crisis, any self-respecting Argentine should refuse to have anything to do with him, and drown for their misplaced cause.

Maybe I won’t be disappointed in 2012, but I suspect that I will.

Argentina just hasn’t got it!

Happy New Year.

Argentina’s Resolution Tango

I haven’t had a whine for ages. After Argentina’s performance before the 4th Committee it didn’t seem very worthwhile. After all, they desperately need a new UN General Assembly Resolution, but just don’t push for it. Which seems a little strange.

What they do, is tell the world that Britain is refusing to comply with a dozen UN Resolutions dealing with the Falklands, and generally telling the UK that it has to negotiate.

This is, of course, a complete lie.

General Assembly Resolutions is must first be recognised, are not mandatory. They are there to advise the subjects of the Members wishes and views. General Assembly Resolutions carry no weight in international law. Now Security Council Resolutions are obligatory, in that a refusal to comply is an offence in international law. Or it should be. Recent experience with SC Resolutions concerning Iraq and North Korea suggest otherwise. As did Argentina’s refusal to comply with SC Resolution 502 in April, 1982.

So perhaps no UN Resolution is really mandatory or effective.

Which raises questions about their longevity. One of Argentina’s current claims is that Britain should follow UN GA Resolution 2065 which recognises a dispute over sovereignty between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands and calls for talks.

Resolution 2065 dates back to 1965 and, as a direct consequence of it, both sides sat down in an attempt to resolve their differences. Needless to say, talks were protracted and didn’t go in the direction that Argentina wished. So Argentina invaded the Islands.

The rest is history, as they say, and so is Resolution 2065. Something of a cheek then, for Argentina’s wily diplomats to accuse Britain of refusing to comply with it, 29 years after they killed it stone dead. The same can be said of Resolution 31/49 (1976), and for the same reason.

Then there were the UN GA Resolutions produced between 1982 and 1988.

37/9 (1982) calls for negotiations over sovereignty, as does 38/12 (1983) and 39/06 (1984). Resolution 40/21 (1985) superseded these by calling for negotiations to solve the problems existing between the two countries, including the Falklands, which seemed now to take a secondary position. No mention of sovereignty in that one. Nor was there any mention of a sovereignty dispute in 41/40 (1986) or 42/19 (1987).

Each of course, taking over from the one before. Inaction having rendered it/them irrelevant, out-of-date, redundant.

The last UN GA Resolution was 43/25 (1988) which called, as had the two before it, on both sides; ” to initiate negotiations with a view to finding the means to resolve peacefully and definitively the problems pending between both countries, including all aspects on the future of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;”

And they did. Both sides sat down, talked for the first time in years and reached some agreements.

The United Nations was so happy that there hasn’t been another GA Resolution since.

So Argentina tells the world lies. Britain is not in breach of any UN GA Resolution concerning the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

There is another type of UN Resolution however; one which goes to the core of the UN itself; one that emanates from the Charter; one that cannot die.

One example is 1514 (1960) which talks about all peoples having a right to determine their own future; another example is 1515 (1960) which states that such peoples have the right to exploit their own resources, as does 1803 (1962).

Argentina shot itself in the foot when it invaded. That act not only killed a lot of good men, it killed off a few Resolutions too. The last effective Resolution on the subject was 1988. Britain complied.

Argentina lies !

Was That It ??

I’m feeling disappointed.

I was expecting so much more this year. After all, President Cristina of Argentina has been raising the rhetoric for months now. Sending ambassadors and minister to all parts of the globe to negotiate, well anything really, provided that Argentina could slap a paragraph on the bottom thanking whichever country they were in for the support given over the Falkland Islands.

Usually meaningless of course, and often the Minister concerned would thank their hosts for their support on the issue pretty well regardless of whether or not the other country had even mentioned it.

Now I know that it is an election year and much of all the talk was for consumption in Argentina. After all it is well recognised that the Falklands Question is the only one that actually unites the people of Argentina. Which only goes to show that you can, in fact, fool all of the people, all of the time – provided you repeat yourself often enough.

So here we are. Another year gone and the Fourth Committee all but done in their debate on the decolonisation process and where is it? You would have thought that all the shouting, all the handshaking, all the thankyou’s, all the support from more than 130 of the United Nations’ members would have achieved it. After 23 years. So I ask again, where is it?

According to many Argentine commentators, their country has the support of the majority of the Nations in the world. They say that the United Kingdom is isolated and should obey the world’s call for negotiations over the Islands. They say.

And yet there has been no United Nations General Assembly Resolution calling for talks since 1988.

Nothing has happened! Another year gone and no change whatsoever. The British Representative said what he or she said last year, and the year before. The Argentine Representative actually seemed more wet than in previous years. The best he could come up with was that the UK was falsely raising the Islanders’ hopes. He didn’t say which hopes.

What was important however, was that the UN’s Fourth Committee again reinforced the right of ALL peoples to determine their own futures. And added that they could use their own resources to do so. That is exactly what the Falkland Islanders are doing.

Maybe next year, Argentina??

Here We Go Again !

Here we go again!

The annual farce that is the Fourth Committee’s consideration of the Report by the Special Committee on Decolonisation is up and running. The opening session yesterday included the same old players, and the same old tired arguments.

” Octavio Errazuriz (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group reiterated the Group’s strong support for the rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom over the Malvinas islands, as well as the region’s support for the resumption of negotiations between the two to find a peaceful and definitive solution to that dispute as soon as possible, as  well as to the questions of sovereignty over South Georgia and South Sandwich islands and surrounding maritime areas in accordance with the relevant resolutions and declarations of the United Nations and the Organization of
American States, mindful of the principle of territorial integrity.  In regard to actions of the United Kingdom in exploring and exploiting hydrocarbons in areas of the Argentine continental shelf, he underlined General Assembly resolution 31/49, which called on the parties to avoid unilateral modifications in the situation.  The Group rejected military activities of that country in the Malvinas.”

“Lillian Silveira (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market  (MERCOSUR), reaffirmed the support of that group to the statements made by the
President of Argentina in 1996 and by the President of Paraguay in 1999 concerning the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime areas.  She reaffirmed MERCOSUR’s support for the legitimate rights of Argentina, and said that the adoption of unilateral measures by the United Kingdom in the territory was not compatible with the United Nations stipulations. She said the United Kingdom was conducting illegal hydrocarbon mining activities on the Argentine continental shelf, and all measures must be adopted to prevent those ships from “flying the illegal flag of the Malvinas islands”.  She urged the Secretary-General to renew
his efforts through successive resolutions to re-launch negotiations to find a
peaceful solution to the dispute. She rejected a recent statement made by the British Minister of Defence, and said the United Kingdom continued to ignore the calls of the international community to sit down with Argentina to solve the dispute.  She affirmed that those statements by the United Kingdom showed, once again, an attitude in contrast with the decisions of the region, which leant support to Argentina’s claims regarding its legitimate sovereignty rights.  In 1833, the United Kingdom had expelled the Argentine population and had prevented Argentineans from returning to the islands to this day.  The United Kingdom had brought in British subjects who did not respond to
the criterion of subjected peoples, according to resolution 1514, giving rise to a colonial territory with no colonial population.”

And of course, Argentina.

” Diego Limeres said that further delay of the application of the Declaration was a continuing source of a lack of harmony, and created a dangerous situation in various parts of the world that could be a threat to international peace and security.  The
fiftieth anniversary of resolution 1514, as well as the launch of the Third International Decade, should encourage a redoubling of efforts to promote decolonization. He stressed that the Declaration had made it clear that there was more than one form of colonialism.  The two established cases included the need for self-determination on the one hand, and territorial integrity on the other.  Argentina continued to staunchly defend the rights of people to self-determination, where that right was applicable.  The  sovereignty dispute in the Malvinas islands was an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation.  That sovereignty dispute, existing over the Malvinas islands and surrounding areas, was of utmost relevance to Argentina. “This is a
peculiar and particular colonial situation”, he said, since there was not a population subjected or subjugated in the South Atlantic islands usurped from Argentina, but rather British subjects whose situation had not changed since the United Kingdom had put them there.  Thus, there existed a colonial situation, but not a colonized people.  The British transplanted populations could not rightly claim the right to self-determination in the Malvinas islands, as that amounted to the United Kingdom “claiming self-determination for itself”.   Meanwhile, the United Kingdom carried out the exploitation of resources in the area, in contravention of agreements which expressly forbid unilateral
modifications to the Territory while the issue remained unsettled.  Furthermore, that Power had conducted military exercises from the Territory of the Malvinas islands, which ran contrary to full implementation of the maritime safety standard of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). All of those actions violated international law and the mandate of the international community.  Argentina was confronted by British activities, which did not just affect that region, but beyond, and the international community must put an end to the preying on natural resources by colonial powers.  He expressed Argentina’s permanent  willingness to resume sovereignty negotiations, and said the United Kingdom must comply in order to resolve the dispute.  The international community’s duty was to put an end to those “crimes”, and Argentina would extend its best efforts towards eradicating them for good.”

Same old rubbish so far then.

The British response was also the same as previous years.

” Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the UK said her country had no doubt regarding the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.  There could be no negotiations on that sovereignty if the population of the Islands did not so wish.  The democratically elected representatives of that population had made clear to the Special Committee their wishes and their claim to the right to self-determination. They confirmed that they were the only residents of the islands, which had never had an indigenous population, and affirmed their rights to exploit the resources of their islands
for their own benefit.  Routine military exercises were held as part of efforts to ensure the security of the population of the island “

Argentina then added to the myths that it spins with a reply to the UK’s Right to Reply.

” .. the representative of Argentina said that the Malvinas islands, along with South Georgia and South Sandwich islands and surrounding maritime areas, was an integral part of Argentina’s territory and was illegally occupied by the United Kingdom, as acknowledged by different international organizations.  The illegal occupation by the United Kingdom had led the General Assembly to adopt different resolutions recognizing the existence of the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas islands.  Those resolutions urged the parties to restart negotiations in order to find a speedy, peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute. The Organization of American States in June had made a new pronouncement in similar terms. He said it was regrettable that the British Government twisted historic events to cover up its own act of invasion. The United Kingdom should honour the commitment to find a fair and definitive solution to the dispute, in order to accept responsibility.  The principle of self-determination of peoples was the only element for the basis of the United Kingdom’s claims, which was totally inapplicable to this particular dispute.  He regretted that the United Kingdom continued to be irresponsible and to act based on the illicit appropriation of Argentinean assets in violation of international law and in contravention of international agreements. He
reaffirmed Argentina’s legitimate sovereignty rights over the islands and the surrounding maritime areas, which were an integral part of Argentinean national territory.”

Well, that’s about the only new bit. That the UK is twisting history. Coming from Argentina that’s funny. Still, apart from that this year is shaping up as a repeat of last year.

The main question is, will Argentina manage to get a new UN General Assembly Resolution?

Fortress Falklands – Is Argentina up for it?

“Ripe for the picking”, were the words chosen by Air Commodore Andrew Lambert in his reference to the Falkland Islands during this week’s blast of fury from Defence Chiefs over the cuts to their budgets.

The most recent report to come from the United Kingdom National Defence Association, entitled the Inconvenient Truths, says that British overseas territories are at risk and warns the Falkland Islands could fall if Argentina decided to abandon its peaceful approach to the issue of sovereignty, and invaded again, supported by its new-found friend the Chinese.

The report concludes: ‘The vital twin pillars of Britain’s security for the past 50 years, the ‘‘special relationship’’ with America and the continuation of an effective Nato, can no longer be guaranteed unless Britain increases its defence capabilities substantially and soon.’

Quite why the Chinese would abandon their long adhered to, ‘hands off’ approach to international politics isn’t made very clear. Nor is there any assessment of Argentina’s ability to actually amount an attack, considering its much depleted armed forces.

So what of the threat to the British Overseas Territories world-wide? What of the threat to the Falklands and Gibraltar?

The reality, as usual, is politics.

Argentina’s main threat is the potential for their President, Cristina Fernandez, to bore the Falkland Islanders into submission. That is a very clear and present danger. The ability of Argentine forces to successfully attack on the other hand, is rather more moot. Badly underfunded for the last 20 odd years, it is doubtful that they could gather enough of a force together to have much hope of success against even the limited forces on the Islands, not to mention the submarines that would be sent to the area the moment that a threat became apparent.

Besides, if Argentina’s Government took the Islands by force, what would they use as a smoke-screen to prevent their voters finding out about the true state of their economy?

So, for all the shouting, I am not very worried that we are about to lose the Falklands. Much the same goes for Gibraltar. Technically a lot easier for Spain to over-run the Rock, but politically a lot less likely.

No-body seems to want Pitcairn, or indeed, any of the other remnants of Empire.

Every-time Argentina wants to distract its population from other events, or to rally them behind the Government, the cry ‘Malvinas Argentina’s’ goes up. Every time the British Defence Chiefs want more money, “the Falklands are in danger’ appears on every newspaper.

Mind you, it was the defence cuts of 1774 that brought out the garrison from Port Egmont and spurred Spain into thinking it had the Islands all to themselves. And it was the defence cuts of the early 1980’s that suggested to Argentina’s ruling Junta that we didn’t care.

I think they know that we care now. But perhaps a couple of submarines should float about in that area for a while.