The Falklands have never been part of Argentina and Islanders overwhelmingly voted to remain British

Dear Editor,

Respecting territorial integrity is a key cornerstone of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and other Members of the United Nations. The UK respects the right of every independent nation to have an opinion, but it is imperative that those opinions reflect the facts and international law. Otherwise, as history has shown, the consequences for peace, stability and constructive relations can be severe.

The facts are straightforward: The Falklands have never been part of Argentina and never will be until the residents of those islands (comprised of 33 nationalities, including Argentine) decide they want that. Their opinion is clear: 99.8% voted for the Falkland Islands to remain a British Overseas Territory (ie part of the United Kingdom) in March’s referendum. So that is what they will remain. Just because the Falkland Islands’ nearest neighbour is Argentina (400 miles away) does not make the Falklands Argentinian. Expanding such thinking leads to unjustified and unjustifiable claims by others to sovereign territory. Imagine the consequences if every country said that any land 400 miles from its internationally recognised border was theirs? Most countries, including Guyana and the United Kingdom, would cease to exist.

International law is also straightforward: Peoples’ right to self-determination is inalienable and outlined in the UN Charter; indeed the exercising of those rights is what led to the independence of many countries in the Caribbean. The UK Government and Falkland Islands representatives support dialogue on the Falklands. That is why Mr Summers visited Guyana in March; to have discussions with the Government of Guyana. It was a pity that previously arranged meetings were cancelled at very short notice meaning an opportunity to sit down, talk and try to find a solution was lost. However sovereignty will only be discussed when the Falkland Islanders themselves want it. That is their right. And as they are British citizens, the UK will protect that right.

There have been several UN resolutions on the Falklands over the years. Non-binding UNGA resolution 2065 (1965) did indeed call for negotiations with a view to finding a peaceful resolution. But that in no way precludes the right to self-determination as outlined in the UN Charter, something which Argentina continues to overlook by refusing to acknowledge the inalienable rights of the Islanders. Binding UN Security Council Resolution 502 (1982) referred to the need for immediate withdrawal of all Argentine forces from the Falkland Islands. As history showed, Argentina ignored that resolution meaning military action to remove an illegally occupying force, whilst regrettable, became both necessary and legal. You cannot have your cake and eat it.

Yours faithfully,
Andrew Ayre
British High Commissioner           

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