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??


Self Determination Call at the United Nations

Nice speech from Malawi at the United Nations yesterday.

Foreign Minister Arthur Peter Mutharika, speaking to the UN’s General Assembly, said that the United Nations must renew its commitment to ensure that the world’s 16 remaining non-self-governing territories, home collectively to nearly two million people, are able to exercise their right to self-determination, before going on to praise those Administering Powers which had provided an opportunity for people in their non-self-governing territories to freely choose their destiny.

As there aren’t too many ‘Administering Powers’ left, the presumption must be that he has recognised the United Kingdom’s committment to ensuring that its Overseas Territories (OTs) are as self-determining as possible.

In that vein, the UK’s Minister for the Overseas Territories, Henry Bellingham has just invited all 280,000 residents of the OTs to send their views into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with a new White Paper due early in 2012.

Malawi’s Foreign Minister also called upon the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization (C24), “to pursue genuine dialogue aimed at finding fresh and more creative ways to eradicate colonialism.”

My views on the dysfunctional and discredited C24 are well-known, but maybe there’s always a glimmer of hope that they’ll get past the obfuscation of Argentina’s annual input and actually recognise that their job is to assist the peoples of the Non-Self Governing Territories to determine their own futures. Not to play sovereignty politics.

The thing I enjoyed most about Peter Mutharika’s reported speech is that he talked about the 16 names on the C24’s list. Not 15!

Malawi is a member of the G77 + China Group. Remember them?



G77 + China – Who ?

According to yesterday’s Buenos Aires Herald, the G77 + China has made a statement insisting that Britain returns to the negotiating table and discusses the Falkland Islands with Argentina.

How many times does Britain have to say ‘No’ before the message finally gets through?

The Group of 77 + China, which makes 78 according to my maths, apparently now has 132 members. Made up of supposedly ‘developing’ countries, the list of members includes such notable advocates of freedom and democracy as China, Afghanistan, Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe. Indeed, a large proportion of them fall under the general heading of ‘flawed democracies’, if not downright dictatorships.

And they presume to try to tell Britain that it should ignore the United Nation’s founding Charter and ride roughshod over the wishes and the interests of a Non-self Governing Territory, that the same UN has committed the United Kingdom to take care of under Article 73.

Shouting about a ‘colony’ in an attempt to fudge the issue of the Islanders’ right to determine their own future, we have a bunch of lame banana Republics attempting to apply pressure on the one country that sustains a fair few of them. The same country that allowed those ex-colonies of the British Empire to fully exercise their own rights to an independent future. Good enough for them but not for the Falkland Islanders’ apparently. Why? Maybe because the Falkland Islanders are not the correct colour to have any rights. Not dark enough to be seen as a colonial peoples.

But that’s what they are.

Britain should defiantly wave two fingers at the ridiculous G131+ China, and look to immediately stop any development money that it still forks out to this ungrateful  bunch.

After all, the money saved could be better employed on a few more missiles in the South Atlantic.

We’ll get out of the Falklands when China gets out of Tibet !


Britain Replies to Argentina at the UN

Following the Argentine Presidents repeated claim and threats at the United nations this week, the delegation from the United Kingdon submitted a written reply –

” In exercise of the right of reply to the remarks made by the President of the Argentine Republic in the general debate on 21 September 2011.

“The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. The United Kingdom Government attaches great importance to the principle and right of self-determination as set out in Article 1.2 of the Charter of the United Nations and Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That principle underlies our position on the Falkland Islands. There can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the islanders so wish.

The United Kingdom’s relationship with all its overseas territories is a modern one based on partnership, shared values and the right of each territory, including the Falkland Islands, to determine if it wishes to retain a link to the United Kingdom.

The democratically elected representatives of the Falkland Islands once again expressed their own views clearly when they visited the United Nations for this year’s debate in the Special Committee of 24. They asked the Committee to recognise that self-determination is a universal human right, and respect for this principle is enshrined in the UN Charter as one of purposes this Organisation. They made clear they, like any other people, are entitled to exercise the right of self-determination. They reiterated the historical facts that the Falkland Islands had no indigenous people and that no civilian population was removed prior to their people settling on the Islands over 178 years ago. They confirmed that they are and have been the only people of the Falkland Islands, and they did not wish for any change in the status of the Islands. They lamented the measures adopted by the Republic of Argentina that unlawfully aim to limit both their transport links and their access to open and free trade.

The Falkland Islands Government is entitled to develop both fisheries and hydrocarbons industries within its own waters. This right is an integral part of the right of self-determination, which is expressly contained in Article 1.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It states that all peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

The United Kingdom continues to believe that there are many opportunities for co-operation in the South Atlantic. However, in recent years the Republic of Argentina has rejected these opportunities. It withdrew from co-operation on the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission, and in 2007 repudiated the 1995 Joint Declaration on Hydrocarbons. The Republic of Argentina placed a ban on charter flights travelling to the islands in 2003. It has also introduced domestic legislation to restrict shipping to the islands and penalise companies who wish to do business in or with the Falkland Islands.

The United Kingdom has maintained an unchanged defensive military posture in the South Atlantic for over 29 years. This includes routine military exercises. The United Kingdom remains fully committed to defending the rights of the people of the Falkland Islands to determine their own political, social and economic future.”

Says it all !



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’.




If memory serves the British forces stationed on the Falkland Islands test their missiles every six months, which seems to make sense. No good pressing the button in time of need and nothing happening.

Now, a little known part of the 1989/90 agreement to restore diplomatic relations between Argentina and the UK, following  the break-down in 1982, deals with actions such as this by requiring a transfer of information. This also seems pretty sensible, one side keeping the other side informed so that no misunderstandings arise.

So far so good. But what happened in October 2010 was that Argentina suddenly woke up to the latest missile test and attempted to generate some political capital out of it. The result was complaints from a number of the ‘usual suspects’ and a formal protest laid before the International Maritime Organisation, whose bemused officers normally deal with such mundane issues as vessel safety.

The complaint was noted, and filed.

Now what do we have? News of Argentina asking Brazil to up-date their obsolete missiles, news of Argentina pushing for a UNASUR defence force and news of them seeking to join Brazil in producing a nuclear submarine.

Brazil has recently done a deal with France that will see just such a submarine entering into its service within the next few years. Argentina is hoping to join its larger trading partner by using an older submarine of their own and converting it to nuclear fuel.

Add to this United Nations’ concerns about a creeping militarization of Latin America and the result seems to be a near future return to the politics of the gun in the south cone. All potentially dangerous for the Falkland Islands and the few other territories held by European nations in that part of the world.

The reality of course may not be so bad. Brazil is more concerned with protecting its off shore oil fields than getting into anyone elses’ argument over small areas of territory. Quite why it is worried about someone attempting to take over the oil fields is not very clear, but it is. Brazil has even talked about the construction some kind of ‘sub-sea’ base within its EEZ so that it can keep a better eye on its territory.

Argentina is starting from a much lower position with its armed forces starved of cash for much of the last 25 years. And for all the bull and bluster about constructing a nuclear powered submarine, the vessel it is intending to use was never designed to take nuclear engines, and has been sitting on a dock in crates for the last 10 years.

Whether UNASUR is ever able to get its act together and make up a security force is something we’ll have to wait to see.

But the point is this, Argentina belly aches about what it sees as the militarisation of the South Atlantic, criticising the UK for the defence force that it keeps on the Falklands and whingeing anytime a Royal Naval vessel wants to dock in one of the mainland ports. Yet it fails to see the hypocrisy in its own moves to increase its military might in the same area.

It is doubtful that an Argentine nuclear submarine will ever see the light of day, but perhaps the British should protest and take the matter to the International Maritime Organisation.

Who of course, don’t give a damn!

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.