UK to Argentina: Yes, But Have You Asked The Falkland Islanders?
By Editor, St Kitts & Nevis Observer June 26th, 2023.
British Foreign Minister for the Americas and the Caribbean, David Rutley MP gave a statement, on 23 June, to the Organization of America States in response to the Argentine Government’s draft declaration on the Falkland Islands:
Secretary General, Assistant Secretary General, Ministers, Delegates – friends and colleagues. It is an honour to represent the United Kingdom here as a permanent observer state.
Ten years ago, their government asked the people of the Falkland Islands whether they wished to retain their links to the UK as a self-governing Overseas Territory. In a referendum with a 92% turnout, 99.8% of those who voted chose to retain the Island’s links to the UK.
An observer mission from six countries, including OAS states Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Canada and the USA oversaw this referendum, and their ringing endorsement of the process was that it was “free and fair”.
The people of the Falkland Islands have made their wishes clear – they do not wish to be incorporated against their will into Argentina. Likewise, they make it very clear to me that the UK has no mandate to negotiate with Argentina on the future of their home.
I am not here to talk about events in the 19th century – who claimed what rock first. What we are talking about is the democratic rights of the community who live on the Islands, and their right to decide their own future. They have no other home and, despite the challenges of living on these remote islands, they are proud of their community and what they have achieved.
Today the Islanders are economically self-sufficient, run a sustainable fishery, and have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. They are probably the smallest jurisdiction to have an A-plus credit rating- an endorsement of their stable and democratic government.
Before adopting this motion today, you should all be clear what you are endorsing. Argentina officially argues that the right to self-determination does not apply to the people of the Falkland Islands – so putting it bluntly, they argue the Islanders are not entitled to democracy.
This motion calls for two larger countries to negotiate, without the consent of those who live there, over the transfer of the Islands to Argentina. The United Kingdom will not negotiate to transfer the sovereignty of the Islands as the local population have clearly shown they do not want this.
The Falkland Islands are internally self-governing, and the Islanders fiercely guard their constitution and the powers of their elected government. They have their own constitution, laws, currency and traditions.
It is absurd to argue that this community, which stretches back 10 generations on the Islands, is not a real community and does not deserve the democratic rights we expect for ourselves.
A referendum was held in 2013 in which the Falkland Islanders overwhelmingly voted to maintain their status as a self-governing British Overseas Territory – making it clear that they have no wish for a dialogue with Argentina.
Sources: SAINT, BBC, OAS, Mercosur Newspapers