An Open Letter in response to Nobel Peace Prize winners
4th April 2012
An Open Letter to Adolfo PÃ©rez Esquivel, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee.
I am writing with regard to your and colleagues’ letter to David Cameron, dated 28th March 2012, in which you call for the UK Government to open negotiations with Argentina over sovereignty of our home and people.
It is deeply disappointing that, as someone who has been recognised and celebrated as a champion of human rights, you appear to have overlooked the rights of the people most affected by this issue, the Falkland Islanders themselves.
Your letter focuses on United Nations Resolution 2065 (XX) of 16 December 1965, which calls on Argentina and Britain to seek a peaceful solution to the Falklands issue within the framework of UN Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960. However, your letter omits mention of Argentina™s far from peaceful attempt to force a solution in 1982, when they illegally invaded our home, resulting in the deaths of nearly 1000 people. Your letter also omits mention of the first two sections of Resolution 1514 (XV), which read as follows:
1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of World peace and co-operation.
2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
This is important on two fronts “ firstly, our fundamental right to self-determination, as enshrined in the UN Charter and referenced in Resolution 1514, is what we have exercised in choosing to retain our relationship with Britain as an Overseas Territory. We are not subjugated by Britain: we are entirely self-governing, except for defence and foreign affairs. We democratically elect our Legislative Assembly Members; they are chosen by the people of the Falkland Islands to represent them and to determine and administer our own policies and legislation. Secondly, as a community whose ancestry, history and cultural identity has been linked to Britain for nearly 200 years, we would consider any control by Argentina as alien, and therefore a denial of our rights as a people.
Whilst the Argentine Government™s calls for negotiations with the UK may seem benign, and a rational way to end any dispute, it should be noted that the Argentine Constitution as amended in 1994 allows for nothing but full Argentine sovereignty over our home. As a result, there can be no negotiation on this issue, as Argentina already has a predetermined outcome in mind – this is no basis for discussion. As far as we are concerned, sovereignty is not up for discussion. On all other fronts, we want nothing more than to have a relationship of cooperation for mutual benefit, with Argentina and all of our neighbours. Argentina were working towards a relationship of cooperation in the 1990s, and we entered into Joint Statements in 1990, 1995 and 1999 to co-operate in a number of areas, including hydrocarbons exploration, sustainable management of fish stocks and transportation links. However, cooperation has proved impossible in recent years. Despite the Falkland Islands upholding its side of the agreements, Argentina has unilaterally withdrawn from almost every element.
More recent Argentine actions – such as attempts to ban our ships from entering South American ports, Decree 256 which seeks to restrict innocent passage of vessels transiting to and from the Falkland Islands, the banning of charter flights in support of our tourism industry, laws taking sanctions against companies involved in peaceful commerce in both countries – all point to a desire by Argentina to frustrate our international trade and an attempt to isolate us. We live under constant threat and harassment from Argentina, and are currently experiencing its attempts at an economic blockade. We would ask that our rights, our points of view, and above all our wishes are respected and considered as enshrined in the UN Charter.
The Falkland Islanders are a peaceful, hard-working and resilient people. Our society is thriving and forward-looking. All we ask is to be left in peace to choose our own future, and responsibly develop our home for our children and generations to come. We would strongly encourage you to come and visit our home, and to see for yourself our community and our heritage born of nine generations before supporting negotiations that do not take account of our right of self-determination, thus helping Argentina to justify its politically and economically aggressive actions against our home and people. We would be happy to host you at a time of your convenience and arrange a programme to enable you to meet our people and explore our Islands.
Sharon Halford MLA
On behalf of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands