Note: Due to the liquidity crisis and the current COVID-19 pandemic impacting our Organization, only a partial summary of statements made in today’s meetings of the Special Committee on Decolonization are available. The complete summary will be issued as Press Release GA/COL/3347.
Question of Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*
MARK POLLARD, Member of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Legislative Assembly, said he travelled 12,000 miles to New York during a global pandemic because the Territory’s expansionist neighbour wants to take his home, “and I cannot accept that”. That neighbour wants to deny the Territory’s people their basic right to self-determination, while they are perfectly happy with their current political status, he said, citing the results of the 2013 sovereignty referendum in which 99.8 per cent of the population voted for the wished the Falklands (Malvinas) to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. Recounting his family’s history in the Territory, he said it goes back six generations, recalling his personal experience growing up in the aftermath of the 1982 invasion by a country with “a well-founded reputation for making its civilians disappear”. Thirty-nine years on, the minefields have been cleared, but the danger of unexploded ordnance remains, and the mental scars may never heal, he noted. Today’s Argentina may say it is a different country, but it remains an expansionist bully which shows no remorse for its past actions and still wants to annex the Falklands (Malvinas) against the wish of its people, he emphasized. “Argentina wants to take my home, my people’s home and my children’s home, and it will stop at nothing to do so.” He urged the Special Committee to reject Argentina’s claim and to send a visiting mission to the Territory, pointing out that it has never done so.
LEONA ROBERTS, Member of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Legislative Assembly, said her family’s presence in the Territory goes back nine generations and “we are confident in our British sovereignty”. The Falklands (Malvinas) may be a small country, but its population of less than 3,500 is diverse, drawn from more than 60 nationalities, including Filipinos and Zimbabweans, she said, noting that her own father arrived there with Chilean labourers. Argentina’s refusal to acknowledge two centuries of natural migration and organic growth is abhorrent, especially when it is, itself, the product of European migration and the decimation of an indigenous population, she pointed out. Recalling that she was 10 years old during the 1982 invasion, she said Argentina today threatens the Territory’s economic, political and social well-being, as well as those who wish to do business with it, and even attempts to block its athletes from competing in international events. It also sought to include the Territory’s COVID-19 statistics into its own national data. She went on to emphasize that the Falklands (Malvinas) today is self-sufficient and self-governing, and that its political future depends on its people, who will not be bullied. She urged the Special Committee to see Argentina’s colonial intentions, and its refusal to accept modern reality, for what they are and to dispatch a visiting mission to the Falklands (Malvinas).
PAULA MARÍA VERNET, a descendent of Luis Vernet, the first Argentine governor of the Malvinas Islands, emphasized that nations can find the best solutions when working together, as demonstrated during the coronavirus pandemic. Recalling that her ancestors settled and created a life there almost 200 years ago, she said they were forced to leave their land and their dream in 1833, when the United Kingdom arrived. In recent years, that country has refused to negotiate with Argentina. Citing the 2016 census, she said it shows that only 46 per cent of the Territory’s people were born there and about 57 per cent have been there less than 10 years. The question is not one of self-determination, but of resolving the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom, she stressed.
GUILLERMO RAIMUNDO CLIFTON, a veterinary doctor in Argentine Patagonia, provided a snapshot of his family’s history, beginning with his grandfather, who was born in the Malvinas in 1902, to his current correspondence with 50 relatives living there today. Highlighting some of the agricultural challenges facing the Malvinas, which are similar to those in Patagonia, he said the United Kingdom’s illegitimate occupation has stymied joint local efforts in such areas as livestock productivity. It has also restricted efforts in other areas, including fishing and access to water, he added, pointing out that the United Kingdom maintains a large naval force. The question at hand is a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom, he said. Recalling that the occupation began in 1833, he noted that today, the Territory’s inhabitants are descendants of participants in the illegal occupation. The Special Committee has repeatedly suggested that Argentina and United Kingdom settle their differences, he said, expressing hope that its efforts will soon bring an end to colonialism.
The representative of Chile, speaking on behalf of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, introduced the draft resolution “Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)” (document A/AC.109/2021/L.8), saying it features the same concepts that the United Nations established half a century ago regarding the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. Finding a lasting solution to that question has been a matter of fundamental importance for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, even during the coronavirus pandemic when in-person meetings were not possible, he added. Describing colonial situations as an anachronism in the twenty-first century, he said Chile and the other co-sponsors of the draft resolution support Argentina’s legitimate rights on the Falklands (Malvinas) question, which can only be resolved through bilateral negotiations. Speaking in his national capacity, he emphasized that Chile’s support for Argentina’s sovereign legal right over the Malvinas is long-standing State policy.
FELIPE CARLOS SOLÁ, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, provided an update of his country’s activities on the Malvinas question, including the creation of a national council to design a strategy to end the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom. Recalling that the dispute goes back to 1833, when the United Kingdom illegally and forcibly occupied the Territory and displaced its inhabitants, he said evidence of Argentina’s sovereignty is abundant and conclusive. Resolution 2065, adopted by the Assembly in 1965 with no opposing votes, emphasizes that bilateral negotiations should bear in mind the interests of the Territory’s inhabitants, he said, noting that special talks on ways to improve their living conditions are being held in parallel. Fifty years ago, the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom agreed to facilitate the provision of goods and services from the mainland, but the United Kingdom has since refused to engage in dialogue, he said.
There is no reason for the Government of the United Kingdom to maintain an illegitimate colonial situation or for bilateral negotiations not to resume, although Argentina is determined to continue talks, he continued. Responding to the United Kingdom’s allegation that the interests of the Territory’s inhabitants must be taken into account, he emphasized: “This reasoning is not based on international law and is just an excuse to maintain a colonial situation in the South Atlantic.” Moreover, the United Kingdom purports to apply the right to self-determination, even though it is the colonizer, he noted, adding that Argentina is always ready to negotiate special safeguards to guarantee the interests of the Territory’s inhabitants. Turning to the pandemic, he said Argentina offered to provide food and medicine to the Territory, but received no response from the United Kingdom, even though strengthening its ties with the mainland would benefit all parties. He went on to point out that the United Kingdom persists with activities that contravene resolution 2065, including the unilateral extension of fishing licences for 25 more years, the illegal exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons, and the unjustified military presence.
RODRIGO ALBERTO CARAZO ZELEDÓN (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System, said existing resolutions aim to free the region from colonialism. Expressing support for a resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom, he emphasized that both sides should refrain from adopting unilateral decisions. Central American States have designated 10 June as a day of solidarity with the Malvinas, he said, renewing the call for a peaceful resolution of the dispute, he added.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said the dispute represents a colonial situation, and expressed support for Argentina’s rights over the Malvinas and surrounding islands. Costa Rica, he said, regrets to note that almost 56 years have passed since the Assembly adopted its initial resolution on the Falklands (Malvinas) question. He voiced further regret over the United Kingdom’s recent actions, including military exercises. Appealing to the Governments of both countries to resume negotiations, he expressed hope that the dispute will soon be resolved.
JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said the question is one of resolving a sovereignty dispute. Efforts to that end must be in accordance with United Nations resolutions and related regional declarations, he said, emphasizing that unilateral measures, including the exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources, is not compatible with such decisions.
Speaking in his national capacity, he expressed support for Argentina’s rights over the Malvinas and for the resumption of negotiations to resolve the sovereignty dispute, taking note of Argentina’s efforts in that regard.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reiterated that group’s permanent interest in the resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom. Highlighting commitments contained made in CELAC’s Special Declaration, adopted by its Heads of State and Government, he recalled that the signatories pledged to support Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, as well as the surrounding maritime areas. Also by the terms of that Declaration, they instructed the CELAC presidency to request that the United Nations Secretary‑General renew efforts for the resumption of negotiations with a view to finding a peaceful solution as soon as possible.
Speaking in his national capacity, he emphasized the importance of a peaceful solution to the dispute, in accordance with United Nations resolutions. Mexico, for its part, calls upon the Special Committee to strengthen the possibility of dialogue on the question, with a view to finding a swift solution, he added.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with CELAC and the Central American Integration System, expressed his country’s everlasting solidarity with the people of Argentina, and that country’s position vis-à-vis the Malvinas.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) emphasized that the principle of self‑determination cannot apply to the Malvinas question, as it is incompatible with Argentina’s territorial integrity. Ecuador rejects the unilateral adoption of measures as long as the question remains outstanding, he said, urging use of the Secretary-General’s good offices to help resolve the dispute.
DIEGO PARY (Bolivia) said the Falklands (Malvinas) question represents a bilateral matter still awaiting a solution. Amid the United Kingdom’s continuing occupation, various General Assembly resolutions recognize the matter as a sovereignty dispute, he added. Indeed, the situation is recognized as one of the forms of colonialism that must be brought to an end, he noted. Shamefully, the United Kingdom has ignored existing resolutions, he said, calling for resumed negotiations for a peaceful, lasting solution.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), associating himself with CELAC, urged Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume talks on the matter, in line with the relevant United Nations resolutions. Calling for the Secretary-General’s assistance in reaching a peaceful solution, he said Venezuela does not support the exploitation activities carried out by the United Kingdom.
GARETH BYNOE (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said that while the lack of progress in this long‑standing sovereignty dispute might be frustrating, this fact must not give way to the urge to impose unilateral quick fixes. In recent years, both Argentina and the United Kingdom have taken bold and commendable steps to engage meaningfully on this issue, including through a humanitarian initiative to identify fallen Argentine soldiers in Darwin and the resumption of scientific cooperation on fisheries. “We urge them to continue along this just path,” he said, adding that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines remains committed to the prompt, just and peaceful resolution of this dispute.
The Special Committee then approved “L.8”, reiterating that the way to end the special and particular colonial situation concerning the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is through a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom.
Also by the text, the Special Committee expressed regret that, despite widespread international support for a negotiation between the two sides, implementation of General Assembly resolutions on this question has not yet started, and requested the two sides to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation through the resumption of negotiations.
Mr. SOLÁ thanked the Special Committee for approving a fresh resolution that calls once again on Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations to resolve their sovereignty dispute.
WALTON ALFONSO WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), associating himself with CELAC, strongly urged Argentina and the United Kingdom, both friends of his country, to intensity sovereignty negotiations. They should move “with haste and humility” towards a peaceful and definitive solution, in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions. This is a dispute that affects the lives of real people, he emphasized.
ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), associating herself with CELAC, recalled that the Special Committee has approved 35 resolutions on the Malvinas question over the years. Expressing support for Argentina, she said the issue represents a sovereignty dispute. Support from regional groups demonstrate the common desire for a peaceful settlement to the dispute, she said. However, conducting military exercises in the area contravenes United Nations resolutions, she noted, reiterating calls for Argentina and the United Kingdom to resolve the dispute as soon as possible. Cuba, for its part, will continue its efforts to ensure the region will be free of colonialism, she emphasized.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said the question is important to his delegation, because part of Syrian land is under occupation by Israel. Noting that General Assembly resolutions reaffirm that the Falklands (Malvinas) is a special colonial situation, he emphasized that a peaceful settlement is the only way to end the dispute. In approving the related draft resolution, the Special Committee will demonstrate its support for Argentina, he said, pointing out that the United Kingdom’s occupation has violated Argentina’s territorial integrity since 1833. For years, the Special Committee has approved a range of resolutions, which have yet to be implemented, he noted. With 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining, no stone must be left unturned in fully implementing international law to end colonialism, he stressed.
SHUANG GENG (China) said the Malvinas dispute is “essentially a historical legacy of colonialism”, emphasizing that the days when Western colonialists had free rein are long gone. However, colonial thinking, power politics and bullying still manifest themselves in international relations, he noted, expressing hope that the United Kingdom will respond to Argentina’s request and start negotiations as soon as possible, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions.
JOAQUIM JOSE COSTA CHAVES (Timor-Leste) said that the listed Non-Self-Governing Territories should be considered on a case-by-case basis since each has its own particular circumstances. On the Falkland (Malvinas) question, he urged Argentina and the United Kingdom to continue dialogue with a view to finding a peaceful and permanent solution, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions. He also urged both countries to continue a constructive dialogue on the question of Gibraltar.
MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia) said the only way to resolve the Falkland (Malvinas) question is through a peaceful negotiated settlement involving Argentina and the United Kingdom. Indonesia fully supports use of the Secretary‑General’s good offices to help ensure a peaceful, just solution to the ongoing dispute, he added.
DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) said the dispute should be settled by Argentina and the United Kingdom, in line with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. He went on to express concern over the increasing militarization of the area, highlighting the provisions of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) and declarations related to ensuring the region remains free of nuclear weapons.
ALIE KABBA (Sierra Leone) called on all stakeholders to engage constructively and create an environment that enables the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) to freely determine their political status. The resumption of earnest negotiations between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom is the right approach, with both parties engaging with the Special Committee as appropriate, he added.
CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay), associating himself with CELAC, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. Describing the dispute as a special and particular case of colonialism which can only be resolved through bilateral negotiations, he said Uruguay is confident that there can be rapprochement between Argentina and the United Kingdom on that question.
LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC, acknowledged the Special Committee’s efforts to hold its substantive session in person despite the pandemic. He went on to reiterate Guatemala’s steadfast support for the Argentina’s legitimate rights and applauded that country’s continued political will to resolve the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas through dialogue and negotiation.
NÉSTOR POPOLIZIO (Peru) expressed his full support for Argentina in relation to the Falklands (Malvinas) question, emphasizing that the notion of self‑determination does not apply. To settle the dispute, Argentina and the United Kingdom should resume negotiations towards a solution, including through the Secretary-General’s efforts, he said. Meanwhile, the parties must refrain from unilateral actions, he added.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador), associating herself with CELAC and the Central American Integration System, said the Assembly has been debating the Falklands (Malvinas) question for decades. El Salvador reaffirms its support for the resumption of negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the dispute, in accordance with the 2020 declaration of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, he added. The Malvinas question is a regional concern, she noted, saying that, if Argentina and the United Kingdom express a genuine willingness, the matter could be resolved expeditiously.
YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), associating herself with CELAC and the Central American Integration System, called for an end to colonialism in all its manifestations. She recalled that CELAC’S recent Special Declaration on the Malvinas calls for negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume as soon as possible and encouraged the Secretary-General to exercise his good offices and call upon both sides to resume dialogue.
GUILLERMO ROQUE FERNANDEZ DE SOTO VALDERRAMA (Colombia) associated himself with MERCOSUR and CELAC, reaffirming the importance of ensuring a peaceful and negotiated settlement to the special and particular situation of the Malvinas. Encouraging Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume talks to that end as soon as possible, he added that his country supports the good offices mission entrusted to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly on the Malvinas question.
JOSÉ BLANCO (Dominican Republic) reiterated his delegation’s support for Argentina, as outlined in regional declarations. Argentina’s just demands must be addressed through a negotiated agreement with the United Kingdom, he emphasized, calling upon the Secretary-General to use all available resources to reach a lasting settlement. Drawing attention to the special paper issued at the 2021 American Summit, he highlighted several action areas, including the need for negotiations to resume as soon as possible, within the framework of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), associating himself with MERCOSUR, said the Malvinas question involves a sovereignty dispute, not an issue of self‑determination. Brazil supports the territorial integrity of Argentina, he added. Acknowledging efforts by Argentina and the United Kingdom to resolve the issue, he recognized the positive initiatives taken with a view to resuming negotiations, while noting violations of bilateral understandings related to General Assembly resolutions. Calling upon the United Kingdom to refrain from exploiting natural resources and carrying out military exercises, he reminded the Special Committee that the South Atlantic is an area of peace, free of nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destruction.
ZORAYA DEL CARMEN CANO FRANCO (Panama), associating herself with the Central American Integration System and CELAC, underlined her delegation’s support for Argentina’s position. Through sustained awareness and dialogue, it is possible to overcome differences that may seem insurmountable, she said, citing her country’s experience of regaining sovereignty over the Panama Canal.
Question of New Caledonia
The representative of Papua New Guinea, speaking also on behalf of Fiji, introduced the draft resolution “Question of New Caledonia” (document A/AC.109/2021/L.22), noting that the administering Power has announced a self-determination referendum on — the third in four years — to be held on 12 December. The Special Committee must keep an eye on the preparation and conduct of the referendum, as well as the post-referendum situation, while also working with the people of New Caledonia and the administering Power, he said, going on to propose several editorial amendments.
By that text, the General Assembly would reaffirm that it is ultimately for the people of New Caledonia to determine freely and fairly their future political status, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly. It would also call upon the administering Power and all relevant stakeholders to ensure the peaceful, fair, just and transparent conduct of the self-determination referendum, in accordance with the Nouméa Accord.
The Special Committee then approved “L.22” without a vote, as orally amended.
Question of American Samoa
The Special Committee then took up the draft resolution “Question of American Samoa” (document A/AC/AC.109/2021/L.10), by which the General Assembly would reaffirm that, in the process of decolonizing American Samoa, there is no alternative to the principle of self-determination and that it is ultimately for its people to determine freely their future political status.
It then approved “L.10” without a vote.
Question of Tokelau
The representative of Papua New Guinea, speaking also on behalf of Fiji, then introduced the draft resolution “Question of New Caledonia” (document A/AC.109/2021/L.23), describing it as a collective effort involving the participation of Tokelau’s representatives, as well as the administering Power. He proposed several oral amendments.
The Committee then approved “L.23” without a vote.
* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).