Learning about the Falkland Islands

Unsurprisingly, most Australians don’t know much about the Falkland Islands, so visiting Legislative Assembly member Mike Summers faced lots of questions during his trip to Melbourne this week.

Mike Summers with the Speaker of the Victorian Parliament

At 51 degrees south, it’s further south than Australia, and is often perceived as being almost polar. But maps can be deceptive. In the northern hemisphere the landmasses stretch much closer to the pole, so in fact the Falklands are only at the equivalent latitude to England.

Mike described the healthy economy, based on a strong fisheries industry, sheep farming and tourism, and the excellent prospects for oil and gas development. He set out such an attractive picture of the tourist opportunities that many who heard him expressed an interest in visiting.

People were keen to know how the 3,000 islanders lived and how they connected to the rest of the world. 3AW Radio interviewer Tom Elliott said it sounded perfect: a budget surplus, zero unemployment and only eight politicians!

Mike explained that the islands’ leaders had decided to engage more actively internationally, to explain their situation, in the face of increasingly assertive efforts by Argentine authorities to inhibit their economic development. He argued that the rights of the Falkland islanders to self-determination, a right enshrined in the UN Charter, should be paramount.

In a referendum last year 99.8% had voted in favour of remaining a self-governing overseas territory of the UK. The Islanders had sent a clear message to the world that they wanted to remain British. You can read an article he wrote prior to his visit.

Mike was here just after Australia Day which commemorates the arrival of the first western settlement in 1788. In recent years the annual event has given rise to much reflection here on the impact of that arrival on Australia’s Aboriginal inhabitants. Australians were interested to learn from Mike that the first British settlement on the Falklands had been even earlier, in 1766, and that there had been no indigenous population prior to their arrival.

There has been continuous British settlement on the Falklands since the 1830s, and some of the current population are 9th generation islanders. Mike suggested that whilst accusations of colonialism were being bandied about, it was actually the Argentine who were seeking to be colonisers, against the will of the Falklands people.

A number of the people Mike met reflected on their memories of the Falklands conflict in 1982. We had a fascinating dinner with Malcolm Fraser who had been Prime Minister at the time. Many of Mike’s interlocutors expressed genuine understanding and sympathy for his message about the importance of respecting the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination.

5 Responses

  1. Devolverislas says:

    MLA Mike Summers in Australia doesn’t beat about the bush. “Mike Summers is in the region to speak about the Falkland Islanders’ campaign to ensure their right to self-determination is recognized internationally”, reads the prelude of the news article which is linked to HMA Paul Madden’s blog. By way of parenthesis it is interesting that Mike Summers, a legislative councillor, now writes on behalf of UKGov.

    Summer’s mission is a loser. The General Assembly denied the right of self-determination to the Falkland Islanders when it passed resolution 2065 (XX) Question of the Falkland Islands/ Malvinas in December 1965. Here the inhabitants are referred to as a “population” to distinguish them from a “people”. All “peoples” do indeed enjoy a right of self-determination as per Article 1(2) of the UN Charter. Why does the United Nations make this vital distinction? Because when the Fourth Committee first studied the Question of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas they found that the majority of the islanders were descendants of settlers who arrived from Great Britain, following the seizure of Port Louis/Puerto Soledad in 1833. These British settlers usurped territory which had previously been administered and settled from Buenos Aires. In the context of the dispute over the sovereignty between Argentina and the UK, the colonists from the latter had no more right to be considered the “people”of the territory than the Argentine settlers whom they supplanted. So the islanders are deemed a “population”. Ergo, no right of self-determination.

    Nearly 50 years have gone by since this crucial finding and the Falkland Islanders and the UK government have done their best to erase the distinction. Last year’s referendum on the islands was a clever gambit, but the rest of the world and certainly the UN were not taken in. The Falkland Islanders are basically isolated. Now Summers goes whimpering to the Antipodes. “In an uncertain world, this is, sadly, not a future we are currently able to realize freely and without threat,” he writes in conclusion. The current situation is strictly of the islanders’ own making. Argentina has done everything by the book (UN resolutions). The UK govt. acts stupid. So the Argentine government applies pressure. Australia has bigger fish to fry than the Falkland Islanders. There is good trade or the potential thereof between Argentina and Australia. There are more Argentines living and working in Australia than there are islanders and British expats living in Stanley and the camp.

  2. Hans Niesund says:

    There are just a few minor fallacies in devolverislas’ comments as follows :

    UN resolution 2065 does not deny the right of self-determination.
    The UN has repeatedly voted that the right of self-determination is inviolable.
    The attempted distinction between ‘population’ and ‘people’ is neither explicit nor defined in any UN document whatsoever.
    No territory was ever usurped from Buenos Aires. An attempt to usurp British territory on the port of Buenos Aires was rebuffed without the loss of life, when an attempted Argentine garrison which was only present for a few weeks was invited to leave. Unfortunately, the invitation to depart did not arrive until the said garrison had murdered their commander and raped his wife, and several of them were executed on their return to Buenos Aires.
    It is a clear indication of the depth of Argentina’s neurosis that they consider it acceptable to travel the world denying a basic human right to a tiny and peacable population on the basis of a tissue of lies such as these. It is hard to think of any other country which would not be ashamed of such an irrational and ignoble vendetta.

    No territroy was ever usuroed from

  3. Roger Lorton says:

    Resolution 2065 is dead. Murdered. Stabbed in the back in 1982 by its best friend. A dead Resolution.

    There are no current ‘relevant’ resolutions concerning the Falkland islands as confirmed by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his interview for the Argentine press in November, 2012.

    The UN also annually recognises that the right to self-determination is a right held by both ‘peoples’ and ‘populations.’ That the Kelpers are a people in international law is only denied by Argentina and its cronies. The human right of self-determination cannot be removed by one country’s twisted interpretation of the UN’s commitment to the concept. There is, after all, no alternative to self-determination in decolonization cases. A phrase oft-heard at the UN.

    There was no seizure in 1833. This is an Argentine myth. A trespassing garrison was asked to leave – nothing more. They did so.

    Far more important are the warnings issued to BA in 1829 and 1832 – particularly the first as it sets the ‘critical date’ for sovereignty dispute purposes. Vernet’s settlement had British permission granted under art.3 of the 1825 Treaty.

    The referendum was perfectly legal and a clear expression of the people’s will. The world has given it tacit, if not direct, acknowledgment. The people have spoken and Argentina’s spurious claims have become irrelevant.

    Australia has historically supported the Islanders as has New Zealand. Mike Summers is a little like preaching to the converted however, and the message should be taken to those audiences which are more inclined to accept Argentina’s distorted view of history and international law.

  4. Deanstreet says:

    Devolverislas

    What a load of rubbish when you say:

    “The General Assembly denied the right of self-determination to the Falkland Islanders when it passed resolution 2065 (XX) Question of the Falkland Islands/ Malvinas in December 1965. ”

    Where on earth did you get that rubbish from..?

    Folks, If you wish to see exactly how wrong this fool actually is, then may I suggest you visit the actual UN General Assembly resolution 2065 –

    http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/2065(XX)&Lang=E&Area=RESOLUTION

    Now if you read it, you will see that devolver is clueless..

    The right to self determination is nowadays enshrined in International Law, especially those passed by the United Nations..

    Additionally, regarding 1833, what Devolver additionally omits to mention, that in 1829 and again in 1833, the argentines were officially warned by the United Kingdom about not sending a military unit to the Falkland Islands.
    Something which argentina ignored..
    Only the military detachment was required to return to Buenos ayres..
    The population of the Falkland Islands remained, and some of them, their descendants still reside here on the Falkland Islands.

    Another point, Mike Summers does not write nor speak on behalf of the British Government..

    He speaks on behalf of me and my government, the Falkland Islands Government..

    For those readers interested, I would recommend you challenge/request this devolver to present his evidence, and I reckon you will either not get a response, or he will direct you to some obscure website that will not give any original sources.

    For readers who are interested in the history and background of my country, then perhaps you should visit:
    http://falklandstimeline.wordpress.com/
    and
    http://www.falklandshistory.org/

    Many thanks, and best wishes from the Falkland Islands

  5. Mr Falkland says:

    “The General Assembly denied the right of self-determination to the Falkland Islanders when it passed resolution 2065 (XX)”.

    What utter tripe and rubbish..

    That particular resolution says nothing of the sort..

    Perhaps this argentine should read said document which because he doesn’t provide a link to, I WIL..
    http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/218/28/IMG/NR021828.pdf?OpenElement

    In fact it mentions UN GA Resolution 1514 (Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples)..

    That very resolution again re-affirms the basic human right of SELF DETERMINATION.
    And the link (which he conveniently doesn’t mention) for this is to be found:

    http://www.un.org/en/decolonization/declaration.shtml

    Additionally, for those interested in my country’s history (The Falkland Islands) perhaps I can suggest the following..

    The Falkland Islands – History & Timeline
    http://falklandstimeline.wordpress.com/

    or/and:

    False Falklands History at the United Nations
    How Argentina misled the UN in 1964 – and still does
    by Graham Pascoe and Peter Pepper © 2012

    http://www.falklandshistory.org/

    Folks read the history and the International law.. Then make up your own minds..

    Best wishes to one and all from the Falkland Islands

Leave a Comment