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with a Regional Seminar which is held at one of the Non-Self-Governing Territories which remain on this rather outdated Committee’s ‘list’.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

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.

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?

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/

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.

Dick Sawle on Washington and the C24

This is part of an interview that was aired on FITV recently. I think it is useful to focus on just a part as it outlines the Falkland Islands Government’s attitude to getting their message across, and their willingness to deal with the misinformation spread by Argentina’s government.

A Congressional delegation visit to the islands would certainly give the neighbours food for thought !

” ………

MSP: When you went to Washington was that the first time that you had gone?

DS: Yes. It is the first time I had been to Washington and it is the first time I had been to New York as well. Obviously I hadn’t been to the C-24 before. As for Washington, I think I am right in saying this is the first time a delegation from the Falklands had been to Washington to do any political lobbying. It was very interesting.

MSP: How did you find it there? Were people receptive?

DS: Very! We found everybody we met in Washington was extremely supportive of our position. What you have to remember is that Governments may have a certain position that they adopt; and a certain standard line that they take but individually the politicians that we met there were extremely supportive and we are hoping that at some time we will be able to have a Congressional delegation to visit the Falklands to actually see first-hand our side of the story, which, I think is very positive.

MSP: And see how we live …

DS: Exactly, see how we live but most important of all, to get across to them the message of self-determination of the Falklands which the C-24 is actually about. And the more people we can get out there the more people we can get those key messages across to, the better it is for the Falklands.

MSP: Do you think the C-24 kicks themselves because of the United Nations Charter for self-determination?

DS: The C-24 is something which I think is very useful for us to attend. I think we must make sure we attend it otherwise it would be seen as a loss of interest; and, of course, something we are extremely interested in. The key point I was trying to put across to the C-24 Committee to the chair of that committee and of course to the group of Argentines who were there as well is that we have the right to self-determination and that right to
self-determination is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. It is also a right that has been respected by every UK Government and always has been. The UK Government has been behind us 100% and always has been firm on that for which we are very grateful. So it was very important to go there, get those key messages across; and also to try and dispel the myths about what happened in 1833 about the myth we expelled a large Argentine population there that was purely and absolutely a lot of nonsense and has been disproved.

MSP: The Argentine Defence Minister has, yet again, wanted talks on sovereignty. Does that get a bit boring and repetitive to answer each time to that?

DS: Well, it is. I have said before it is their default position on everything. There was a time when Argentina would talk to the Falklands about things under the sovereignty umbrella. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case as they have broken off all talking with us about anything of mutual interest and I think that is a shame. And I think internationally it is a sorry state of  affairs for Argentina. They are always putting that point across but when you read the other press from the other side, the Falklands are not even mentioned.

MSP: So do you actually think they see the real point of view or not? Or is it one that the government is trying to impose?

DS: I think that the international politicians that deal at high levels are aware of the nonsensical claims. But, as I said before, often a countrys position is a party line that is always going to be followed.

MSP: On any of your travels did you meet face to face with any Argentine Politicians or delegates?

DS: No. I wouldnt say I met with any of them face to face. You may recall that just before I went into the C-24 meeting David Cameron was asked a question by Andrew Rosendale in the House of Commons about whether Britain would continue to back the sovereignty of the Falklands and He answered absolutely and finished off by saying Full stop, end of story. I did a very rapid alteration at the end of my speech and said in Spanish Full stop, end of story. And the Argentine delegation went tut-tut ting around and it obviously upset them….

MSP: Do you plan to go to the next C-24 or will it go to someone else?

DS: No. That will become someone elses responsibility next year. Two people
go every year and during the life of this Assembly we will be sending two people
each year……………………… “

 

http://www.falklandnews.com/public/story.cfm?get=6047&source=3