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 Resolution 40/21 (1985) superseded these by calling for negotiations to solve the problems existing between the two countries, including the Falklands, which seemed now to take a secondary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 Inaction having rendered it/them irrelevant, out-of-date, redundant.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 !


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.

Oil Investment – Pros and Cons

News today from TELAM, the official Argentine news agency, that President Cristina Fernandez is on her way to New York next week for her annual speech to the United Nations. Unsurprisingly the news agency added that one of the main thrusts of her speech would be Argentina’s everlasting whine about the Falklands and the fact that Britain won’t sit down to negotiate.

Same speech as last year then, and the one before. Saves the speechwriters from thinking too much I suppose, although there may be more emphasis on oil this time.

Rockhopper’s news about its plans to take the find to a production phase will have hurt. It’s the one thing that Argentina’s politicians prayed would not happen. Why? Because an oil-producing Falklands makes the Overseas Territory totally self sufficient, and with their promise to contribute towards the Islands’ defence removes one source of antagonism with the British public. The only source of complaint, in these days of cost cutting.

So next week, the ‘Falklands Question’ will become the ‘Oil Question’.

There are a lot of opinions being expressed in the press about the viability of an oil production plan and whether or not Rockhopper Exploration can raise the necessary funding, which brings me back to yesterdays news.

The Foreign Office is to reassure the City that this Government is committed to the Islands’ defence. As I said, yesterday’s news. But there is one other ‘Question’ in the midst of all the speculation.

Who asked for the Foreign Office to provide some reassurance?

The obvious answer would be Rockhopper who desperately need the reinforcement in order to negotiate with the money men. But I’m not so sure. The Foreign Office have a history of viewing the Falklands as a nuisance; an irritation to better relations with South America and Brazil in particular. It is very well-known that the present British Government wish to dramatically improve their relationship with South America’s big performer. Even in the face of Brazil’s support for Argentina.

So Rockhopper are merely a part of the problem as far as the Foreign Office are concerned, and unlikely to get any swift support.

Maybe it wasn’t Rockhopper then. So who?

Could it be that some, even many, of the big investment houses in the City of London are seriously considering putting their money in? Seriously looking at the pros and cons? Weighing the risks?

Now they could generate a swift response from the notoriously lumbering Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Don’t you think?


Food Security – Fish in the south Atlantic

Last week Brazil’s new Defence Minister was proclaiming the need for closer ties amongst the UNASUR nations and South Africa to ensure that the south Atlantic turned into some kind of ‘peace zone’ under the control of the continents that border it.

Celso Amorim stated, ” The south Atlantic and its resources is a zone we share with African countries, and we want to make sure it remains an area of peace to the benefit of our peoples …. and it is the duty of the State to watch over the borders and protect our natural resources.”

This week comes a tale from the scientific experts at the Falkland Islands’ Fishery Department that the stocks of Southern Blue Whiting are so low that the fishery has become uncommercial. All as a result of Argentina’s lack of control over its fishing industry.

A little research with regard to fish stocks in the south Atlantic indicate that the demise of the Southern Blue Whiting is not an exceptional case however. Indeed the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization currently lists species that are either ‘Fully Exploited’, ‘Overexploited’ or ‘Depleted’.

Regions 41 and 47 cover the south Atlantic and the record reads –

Southwest Atlantic (FAO area 41)

Argentine Hake (Merluccius hubbsi) – Overexploited to depleted

Main fishing countries = Argentina, Uruguay

Southern Blue Whiting (Micromesistius australis) – Fully exploited to over exploited

Main fishing countries = Argentina, Japan, Chile

Argentina Croaker (Umbrina canosai) – Moderately exploited to overexploited

Main fishing countries = Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina

Whitemouth Croaker (Micropogonias furnieri) – Moderately exploited to overexploited

Main fishing countries = Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina

Striped Weakfish (Cynoscion striatus) – Moderately exploited to overexploited

Main fishing countries = Argentina, Uruguay

Brazilian Sardinella (Sardinella brasiliensis) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = Brazil

Other shrimps – Fully exploited to over exploited

Main fishing countries = Argentina

Southeast Atlantic (FAO area 47)

Cape hakes (Merluccius capensis M. paradox) – Fully exploited to overexploited

Main fishing countries = Namibia, South Africa

Geelbeck Croaker (Atractoscion aequidens) – Depleted

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Red Steenbras (Petrus rupestris) – Depleted

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Kingklip (Genypterus capensis) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = Namibia, South Africa

Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = China, Taiwan, Japan

Southern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = Japan, China, Taiwan

Cunene Horse Mackerel (Trachurus trecae) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = Angola

Cape Rock Lobster (Jasus lalandii) – Overexploited or recovering from depletion

Main fishing countries = South Africa, Namibia

Southern Spiny Lobster (Palinurus gilchristi) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Perlemoen Abalone (Haliotis midae) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Cape Hope Squid (Loligo reynaudi) – Fully exploited to over exploited

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Based on these figures it would seem that allowing UNASUR and the south African nations to take charge of the south Atlantic and its resources would be a little like putting the asylum into the care of the residents!

Special Committee on Decolonization – a waste of money?

On the 24th February, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, opened the 2011 session of the Special Committee on Decolonization, in New York and said, ” … Today, 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remain on the list, awaiting constructive, results-oriented initiatives.  On a case-by-case basis, those Territories have to be given the opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination in order to take the interests of their peoples fully into account.”

This sub-committee of the UN’s Fourth Committee was created in 1961 by the General assembly with the aim of monitoring implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (Resolution 1514 of 1960) and to make recommendations on its application {1}.

The committee is more usually known as the C-24, although its current membership consists of diplomats from 29 countries with an interest in the decolonization process. The sub-committee no longer includes any of the ‘Administering Territories’, i.e. the old colonial powers, although France has ‘observer’ status {2}.

It should be remembered that over 50 years has now passed since the 1960 Resolution, and the C-24 has just entered its Third Decade, the Second Decade having drifted by with only East Timor gaining independence.

The question is then:  “Has the C-24 passed its sell by date”?

Ten of the sixteen non-self governing territories on the C-24’s list are administered by the United Kingdom which has long since abandoned its membership of the C-24 seeing it as outdated and unsympathetic to the modernisation of the UK’s relationship with its Overseas Territories. The United Staes has three territories on the list although a fourth is pushing to be returned to it. The US similarly pays no heed to the C-24. France, New Zealand and, nominally, Spain make up the rest of the administering countries.

The Western Sahara, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands are probably the most contentious territories still on the list. The Western Sahara is controlled and arguably occupied, by Morocco. Negotiations sponsored by the UN are now in their 8th round with little sign of a solution.

Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands have been granted almost total freedom by the UK in matters of self governance, almost to the point of them being independent in all but name. Their continued inclusion on the C-24 list appears to be more to do with the internal politics of the sub-committee than it does with realty. Every year the elected representatives of the Falkland Islands ask the C-24 to remove them from its list without effect. The Government representatives from Gibraltar have adopted a similar stance to the UK and the US in its dealing with the C-24 although the official Opposition makes a speech calling for Gibraltar’s de-listing.

So, the Second Decade managed to oversee the freedom of one non-self governing territory and the C-24 goes into its Third Decade with little support from any of the Administering Authorities and a history of inaction on those territories whose peoples overwhelmingly wish to remain as they are.

A sub-committee that proves itself unable to achieve its primary aims has to be a waste of money. And a waste of money is unacceptable in these constrained times. If all the C-24 has become is a forum for talk and no action, then a change is required.



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’.