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with a Regional Seminar which is held at one of the Non-Self-Governing Territories which remain on this rather outdated Committee’s ‘list’.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 ?

http://falklandstimeline.wordpress.com/

http://falklandsnews.wordpress.com/

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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?

http://falklandsnews.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/self-determination-for-all-peoples-fourth-committee/

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.

http://falklandstimeline.wordpress.com/1772-1822/

http://falklandstimeline.wordpress.com/1967-1981/

Faulty Towers

Talk about mixed messages.

Last week it was the Foreign Office showing a lack of fibre over the deployment of Prince William to the Falklands in the face of protests from Argentina. This week they are reassuring the money men in the City of London about the committment to defend the Islands.

Has something changed? Probably not. As one of the great Offices of State the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has long been recognised as the sort of ivory tower that carries on pretty much regardless of the realities that surround it.

It was, after all the Foreign Office that were so keen to enter negotiations with Argentina in the 1960’s, with the aim of disposing of an obstruction to their greater ambitions both at the United Nations and in the south cone. That over 2,000 Britain lived on that obstruction did not enter into their isolated minds. That those people had lives and rights did not either. It was only when the Islanders’ open letter hit Parliament in the February of 1968 did the Foreign Office wake up to the fact that the Islanders’ plight resonated with the British people. Their paymasters.

But they don’t learn. As a result the Labour Government ploughed on with negotiations with Spain over Gibraltar, advised by the Foreign Office, and completely oblivious to the will of the electorate. And then, when realisation dawns, there’s a massive U-turn and the Government is embarrassed.

That’s what happened in 1968, and that’s what happened to Mr. Blair.

And still they don’t learn. Prince William’s deployment to the Search and Rescue team on the Falkland Islands is not just a matter of military expediency. It’s a matter of British pride. That he should be there on an anniversary of a war that we pursued with honour is a matter for even greater pride.

But the image from this week’s news is that, as so many times in the past, the Foreign Office only responds to the money. The big investors in the City scream for assurances and the Foreign Office suddenly support a strong response to Argentina’s continued belligerence.

It really is about time these civil servants learnt the meaning of the word, ‘servant’.

 

http://falklandstimeline.wordpress.com/1967-1981/

Fighting Talk

There is little doubt that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the incumbent President of Argentina, will be re-elected in the October election. Her policies with regard to the Falkland Islands have followed on from her husband, Nestor, who preceded her as President. Politics in Latin America is often a family affair.

Nestor raised the temperature over the Falklands and now hardly a meeting, forum or Congress in the world of International politics is without an Argentine minister popping up and asking for support for their spurious claim to the islands.

I doubt that a South American knitting circle could publish a record of its meeting without the inclusion of something like, ” Mrs Garcia, in bringing this week’s meeting of the Sante Fe Knitters to a close, reiterated the support of this circle to the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland of the North, concerning the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich and the surrounding maritime area, recalling the particular interest for both Governments to resume negotiations to find a solution to the dispute as soon as possible.”

I suspect the plan is to bore the world into applying pressure on the UK. Something along the lines of, ” For God’s/Buddha’s/Allah’s sake, talk to them, they’re driving us nuts !”.

So it’s nice to read in the recent Legislative Assembly meeting held a week or so ago in Stanley, comments such as –

” … A brief word about shipping and the new arrangements for shipping:  The nice thing about this is that it’s not only just been put in place but it is that we will always find solutions for these sorts of problems and it doesn’t matter how many different problems that the neighbours or others try to throw at us. We will always find a solution. There’s always another way of doing things and we will always find them. Sometimes it’s difficult to accept that a certain service is not there anymore – we can’t ship to Punta – we can’t ship to here or to there.  But there’s another way of doing it.  And I think if there is a message from this to the other side, it is just, “open your eyes.”  We are Islanders, we are resilient, we will always find another way. That’s how we’ve lived for the last two centuries and that’s how we will do for the next centuries and that’s how all Islanders cope with their lives.  So try as you might, we will survive. ”

” .. Before sitting down I would like to turn my attention towards the cursed neighbours.  I note in particular a statement that was made by their defence minister in which he said that his Government was minded to respect our ways of life, language, culture, etc.  We’ve heard all this before and from my experience of them nearly thirty years ago, they would not know the word “respect” if it came up and sat up on its hind legs wanting attention.  I had a dose of their respect and will not be having another experience of it.  Perhaps if instead of using macho bullying tactics they were to grow up or smell the coffee and start to behave like a first world country – which they say they are – and recognise us as a people with just as much right to our country and to determine our own future and way of life as they have then maybe – just maybe – given long enough we could start to have normal, friendly relations as we would hope to have with any other country.  But until they drop their totally unfounded and illegal claim, stop behaving in a threatening, macho manner and with blatant disregard for international treaties then they can sit over in their crumbling country and posture all they like. This Islander is not giving an inch. Full stop.”

The Islanders are British.

Anyone reading the words above should know it.

Falkland Islands

One of my particular bones of contention is the beligerent way in which Argentina treats the Falkland Islands based on no claim whatsoever other than geography ( the islands lie closer to Argentina than the UK), and their need to take control over the south Atlantic in an attempt to exert some influence over the future of the Antarctic. Geopolitics pure and simple.

Oh yes, Argentina will come up with a concocted history claiming that they had founded a settlement in the 1820’s and then been thrown off by British forces in 1833. This is a selective, indeed spurious, version of events as it fails to note that the British first gained sovereignty in 1765. Long before Argentina was even a twinkle in a revolutionary’s eye.

There was no indiginous population on the islands when the first British settlement was founded and the sovereighty claim that Britain gained then has never been renounced nor abandoned

However, what is most important here in the 21st century is the future of the islander’s themselves. As an ex-colony and a non-self governing territory they are entitled to both protection and rights under the multi-lateral Treaty known as the Charter of the United Nations.

The Falkland Islander’s are empowered by the Charter to decide their own future and the British Government is meeting its responsibilities under Article 73 with that end in mind.

Article 73 states:

” Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end:

a) to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social, and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses;

b) to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free
political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each
territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement;

c) to further international peace and security;

d) to promote constructive measures of development, to encourage research, and to co-operate with one another and, when and where appropriate, with specialized international bodies with a view to the practical achievement of the social, economic, and scientific purposes set forth in this Article; and

e) to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General for information purposes, subject to such limitation as security and constitutional considerations may require, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social, and educational conditions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible ….. “

The islanders have their own government in the form of a Legislative Assembly with eight elected members representing a population of around 3,000 islanders and they are increasingly taking responsibility for their own development.

For example the recent oil exploration licences were issued by the Falkland Islands Government, not the UK. These, together with fishing licences, sheep farming, tourism and the production of stamps, have reduced the islander’s dependancy on the UK to the point that the only costs the British pick up are those for defence.

However, there is another Article in the UN Charter regarding non-self governing territories.

Article 74 states:

” Members of the United Nations also agree that their policy in respect of the
territories to which this Chapter applies, no less than in respect of their
metropolitan areas, must be based on the general principle of good-neighbourliness, due account being taken of the interests and well-being of the rest of the world, in social, economic, and commercial matters. “

This Article applies to all of the Members of the United Nations and lays a duty upon them. Argentina is in breach of that duty. Argentina is not a ‘good neighbour’.

http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter11.shtml

http://www.falklandshistory.org/gettingitright.pdf

http://en.mercopress.com/falkland-islands