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Debate: Falkland Islands, return of

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 +YES - there really is no debate about this. Some of the historical facts can be picked over but the reality is that the islands have been British, soley British, since 1833. Can't get much more legal than the reality of that.
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*'''Britain’s occupation of the Falklands was/is illegal.''' Both Argentina and the islands were ruled by Spain. Spain ruled the islands from Argentina – they were therefore part of the same territory. Upon independence from Spain, Argentina rightfully asserted sovereignty over the former Spanish territory. Britain did not claim sovereignty over the islands when Spain left them in 1811. Nor did Britain immediately challenge Argentina’s assertion of sovereignty in 1816. For these reasons, Britain's invasion and occupation of the Falkland Islands in 1833 was illegal under international law; Britain could not make a legitimate claim to the country. *'''Britain’s occupation of the Falklands was/is illegal.''' Both Argentina and the islands were ruled by Spain. Spain ruled the islands from Argentina – they were therefore part of the same territory. Upon independence from Spain, Argentina rightfully asserted sovereignty over the former Spanish territory. Britain did not claim sovereignty over the islands when Spain left them in 1811. Nor did Britain immediately challenge Argentina’s assertion of sovereignty in 1816. For these reasons, Britain's invasion and occupation of the Falkland Islands in 1833 was illegal under international law; Britain could not make a legitimate claim to the country.

Revision as of 08:23, 30 March 2010

Should the United Kingdom return the Falkland Islands to Argentina?

Background and context

The Falkland Islands are a British Overseas Territory in the south-west Atlantic Ocean. They are about 300 miles from Argentina and lie just above the Antarctic circle. Their population is about 2500 with an economy based upon agriculture, fishing, tourism and oil exploration. The islands are claimed by Argentina, where they are known as ‘Las Malvinas’.
Attempts by Britain and Argentina to reach a diplomatic agreement in the mid-twentieth century failed. Argentina’s military junta launched an invasion of the islands in 1982 but this was defeated after a major British military operation. About 500 British military personnel are now stationed on the islands. Britain and Argentina restored diplomatic relations after Carlos Menem became President of a democratic Argentina in 1989. Argentina agreed not to press its demands for sovereignty, in return for cooperation on fishing, oil exploration and transport links. There has been less cooperation since Nestor Kirchner became President of Argentina in 2003. For example, flights between Argentina and the islands have been stopped. Kirchner, supported by Hugo Chavez (President of Venezuela), demanded that Britain return the islands. Many British commentators think that Kirchner adopted his tough stance to gain domestic political support. Some understanding of the islands’ history is important in this debate. The islands first appear on European maps in the early-sixteenth century. This suggests that Spanish explorers may have spotted them. John Strong, an Englishman, is the first European known to have actually landed, in 1690. The first European settlement of the islands was by France in 1764. A British settlement was established separately the next year. The islands appear to have been uninhabited at this time, but archaeology shows some previous human activity. Spain purchased France’s rights in the islands in 1767. Britain voluntarily abandoned its colony in 1774, but left a plaque asserting its sovereignty. Spain ruled the islands from Buenos Aires (now the capital of Argentina) without opposition until 1811. Spain then withdrew, leaving the islands uninhabited. A significant reason for the dispute is that Britain and Spain simultaneously held claims to sovereignty over the islands from 1767. Argentina gained independence from Spain in 1816 and asserted its sovereignty over the Falklands/ Las Malvinas, organising some settlement of the islands in the 1820s. In 1833, Britain militarily evicted the Argentine garrison but did not evict the settlers and did not colonise the islands till 1841.

Contents

Self-determination: Do the islanders have a right to self-determination?

Yes

Argentina's historical and territorial/geographical claims to the islands are spurious.

Argentina has only ever achieved effective control of the islands, as invaders, for 2 months in 1832 and 2 months in 1982. On each occassion they were ejected by the rightful owners. There has never been a population of 'Argentines' on the islands, nor was there any indigineous indians there before the British claimed the islands in 1765.

The islanders are therefore the rightful people of the islands and their rights of self determination are fully potected under the UN Charters and Resolutions.


  • Brits now dominate the Malvinas; self-determination cannot apply Argentina does not recognize the right to self-determination of the inhabitants of the Malvinas/Falklands, citing that they are not aboriginal and were brought to replace the Argentine population that Argentina claims was expelled after the re-establishment of British rule in 1833. In other words, Britain illegitimately settled the Falklands and now is trying to give these settlers the right to determine their future, which would obviously favor keeping the Malvinas under the British flag. It is illegitimate, therefore, to use "self-determination" to settle this dispute. Argentina's historical and territorial/geographical claims to the islands are paramount.
  • Argentina can claim Malvinas and uphold the way of life of inhabitants. Embassy of Argentina in Australia - "The Argentine Nation ratifies its legitimate and imprescriptible sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich and the corresponding maritime and island spaces, as they are an integral part of the national territory. The recovery of said territories and the full exercise of sovereignty, respectful of the way of life of their inhabitants and in accordance with the principles of International Law, are a permanent and irrenounceable objective of the Argentine people."



No

  • Falkland Islanders have a right to self-determination Dr. Lyubomir Ivanov. "The Future Of The Falkland Islands And Its People". Feb. 2003 - "The Falklanders are a nation same like the Scots, the Welsh or the English -- or the people of Tokelau for that matter. Moreover, their right to self-determination has already been officially and formally recognized and guaranteed by the British Government through the process of enacting the 1985 Falklands Constitution. This act of transfer of prerogatives from London to Stanley entails that any future decisions regarding the sovereignty of the Islands would be up to the Falklanders alone to make, and this is irreversible. Once recognized/granted, the self-determination cannot be taken away."
  • Falkland Islands adopted a motion to remain British in 1977. In 1977 the Falkland Islands Legislative Council adopted a motion that conveyed the will of the inhabitants to remain British. Therefore, the people of the Falkland Islands and their representatives have already excercised their right of self-determination, and determined to remain British.
  • The vast majority of Falkland Islanders want to remain British. The wishes of the current inhabitants of the islands should be paramount. The islanders overwhelmingly consider themselves British and do not want to be ruled by Argentina. In an Argentine-inspired poll in 1994, 87% of the island's population rejected any form of discussion of sovereignty under any circumstances. Their right of self-determination should be respected. Unless and until the islanders want to be ruled by Argentina, Britain should not abandon them.
  • Britain expelled the military garrison in 1833, but did not expel the colony. There is ample evidence that Vernet's colony was not expelled during the British take over and not a shred of evidence that it was. Population Evolution for links regarding the evolution of the population from 1826 - 1834, before and after British takeover.
  • Rights to self-determination not limited to aboriginal peoples. There is nothing in international law or in any UN resolution that limits the rights of self-determination to territories with aboriginal peoples. In fact several territories that are or were on the UN's list of Non Self-Governing Territories do not have aboriginal populations:
Currently on the list: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena (inc Tristan da Cunha), Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands.
Formerly on the list: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Cabo Verde, Cocos Islands, Guadaloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Mauritius, Réunion, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Seychelles
  • Spain's prerogative to complain about Britain's actions in 1833 not Argentina's. In 1833 Spain had not relinquished her own claim to the Falklands, in fact she did not begin to relinquish any of her territories in the Americas till 1836, did not recognise Argentina till 1859, and when she recognised Argentina no transfer or cession of sovereignty over the Falklands took place, so it was Spain's prerogative to complain about what Britain did in 1833 not Argentina's. And Spain never did.

Geography: Do the Falklands belong to Argentina on the basis of geography?

Yes

Geography is irrelevant.

Just because somewhere looks close on a map of the world does not mean that they should belong to the nearest greater land mass. A childish argument that has no relevance to any serious debate about the islanders rights and freedoms.


  • The Malvinas are far closer to Argentina (300m) than Britain (8000m). The Malvinas are closer to Argentina than any other country in the world (300 miles). They are, however, on the other side of the Earth from Britain (8000 miles away). Modern nation states should not have territorial claims on the other side of the Earth, particularly when a modern nation state directly adjacent to the territory under consideration claims the territory. In this sense of the relative distance of the Malvinas islands from Britain and Argentina, Britain's claim to the islands is reminiscent of Britain's colonial past, is wrong, and should be ended.
  • The Malvinas Islands are part of the South American continental shelf. Argentina claims the islands partly on the basis of the fact that the Malvinas are on the South American continental shelf, adjacent to the Argentinian coast. Because the islands are geographically contiguous with the South American continent, they should be either owned by Argentina or become entirely independent. Again, British ownership of these South American islands is reminiscent of its colonial past, is wrong, and should be ended.[1]


No

  • The Malvinas are not considered part of South America. Hugh McManners. Forgotten Voices of the Falklands - "At their closest to Argentina, the Falklands are some two hundred and fifty miles from the tip of Tierra del Fuego, and over three hundred and fifty miles from the nearest Patagonian coast, and are not considered to be joined to South America’s continental shelf"
  • It is irrelevant whether the Malvinas are part of South America. Hugh McManners. Forgotten Voices of the Falklands - "International law regards various offshore distances as being of significance to territorial disputes: three miles, seven miles and twenty-one miles, with two hundred miles as an absolute limit. Territorial contiguity (via an undersea continental shelf) does not seem to have much force in international law; otherwise presumably the Canaries would belong to Morocco."

Discovery: Did Spain or Britain first discover the Falklands/Malvinas?

Yes

A few notable dates :-

1690 – the waterway between the two islands is named ‘Falkland Sound’ by Captain John Strong from the ship Welfare.

1712 – the name ‘Falkland Islands’ is used in a publication describing the Welfare’s journey.

1716 – a French map refers to the islands as ‘Les Isles Nouvelles’.

1722 – a new French map refers to the islands as ‘Les Iles Malouines’.

1764 – France founds a settlement on the Falkland Islands at Port Loius but makes no formal claim.

1765 – Captain John Byron explores the islands and claims them for King George III as the Falkland Islands.

1766 – Captain John MacBride founds the settlement of Port Egmont , named after the sponsor of the Byron expedition. Cattle, goats, sheep and pigs taken to the islands.

1767 – France cedes Port Louis to Spain in exchange for compensation. Port Louis is renamed Puerto Soledad. Captain John McBride of HMS Jason is Military Commander of Port Egmont.


Spain only seems to have noticed the islands in 1767 ??


  • Spanish explorer Megellan was first to discover the Malvinas Islands. Embassy of Argentina in Australia - "For most of the 16th century only navigators in the service of Spain traveled the maritime routes along the South American coast, advancing southwards in their search for an inter-oceanic passage. In this process the Malvinas Islands were discovered by members of Magellan’s expedition of 1520. From that moment on they were recorded on European maps under a variety of names and remained under effective control of the Spanish authorities."


No

History of sovereignty: Had Spain controlled the Malvinas more than Britain?

Yes

  • Spain's discovery and control of Malvinas was recognized in treaties. Embassy of Argentina in Australia - "For most of the 16th century only navigators in the service of Spain travelled the maritime routes along the South American coast, advancing southwards in their search for an inter-oceanic passage. In this process the Malvinas Islands were discovered by members of Magellan’s expedition of 1520. From that moment on they were recorded on European maps under a variety of names and remained under effective control of the Spanish authorities."
  • Spain had purchased the Islands from France in 1767. France was the first country to establish a settlement on the Islands. By international law, mere sightings of new territories are considered insufficient to establish legal claim to them. On the basis of the Treaty of Utrecht, signed in 1713, England and France formally agreed to Spanish sovereignty over its traditional territories in the Americas, including the Islands, Spain had objected. France, Spain's ally, was willing to negotiate and sold Port Louis to Spain in 1767.
  • Spain peacefully occupied Malvinas until Argentinian independence in 1816. The Islands were peacefully occupied and administered by 19 Spanish governors from 1774 until Argentina declared independence in 1816.
  • Argentina built public facilities on the Malvinas Islands. Permanent settlements were built by Argentina in the 1820s. Previous settlements by France, Spain and Britain had been impermanent. Britain did not protest when the Argentinean settlements were first established. The Argentinean settlements were only ended by illegal British military force. Britain’s subsequent settlement of the islands was therefore illegal.


No

  • Britain has peacefully controlled the Falklands for nearly two centuries. Having peacefully controlled the Falkland islands for nearly two-hundred years now (since 1833), Britain has upheld the doctrine of prescription, which states that sovereignty of a territory can be established by peaceful occupation over a period of time.[2]
  • Argentina's historical claim to the Falklands is too outdated. Nations often can claim that they, or their ancestors, once controlled a territory. But, if all of these claims were recognized, the world's boundaries would be in turmoil, as many separate peoples would have a legitimate claim to some territory. To get around this problem, we must give precedent to more modern and contemporary historical claims. Since Britain has controlled the Falklands for nearly two-hundred years, its claim takes precedence. Moreover the arguement is backed by the unanimous support of the islanders themselves claiming to be British citizens


Abandoned claims: Did Britain ever abandon its claim to the Falklands?

Yes

  • Britain abandoned the Malvinas between 1774 and 1833. British did not claim the Islands when Spain left them in 1811. Britain recognized Argentina's independence in 1825 but made no claim at that time to the Islands which were then governed by Argentina.
  • UK planned to give the Falkland Islands to Argentina. "1968 Secret History- The Falklands War of 1982 might never have been necessary"The UK Government prepared a secret deal in 1968 to give Argentina ownership of the Falkland Islands, it has been revealed. An Argentine draft Memorandum of Understanding, largely accepted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is one of the documents released after 30 years of being locked in government vaults. Dated 5 July 1968, it reads: "The government of the United Kingdom will recognise Argentine sovereignty over the islands with effect from a date to be agreed."

No

Britain did not abandon its claim, it evacuated the settlement. The islands were regularly settled for short periods of time by English whalers and sealers. Evacuating the islands but visiting regularly can hardly be seen as 'abandonment'. When Jewett made his 'claim' on behalf of Argentina, there were already 50 U.s. and British ships at anchor.


"...Britain had protested the Government of Buenos Aires' 1828 appointment of Louis Vernet as governor of the Islands and asserted at that time that the British Crown had not permanently abandoned the Islands when they left them in 1774."
  • Spain vacated her settlement in 1811. Any argument against Britain allegedly abandoning its claim to the Falklands is negated by the fact that Spain abandoned its settlements in the Malvinas in 1811. If both abandoned there claims for some period of time, neither can use the other's abandonment of the islands as evidence for their side. If Spain was the only one to abandon its claim to the Falklands, Britain can use this argument in its favor.


1833: Did Britain acquire the Falklands by illegitimate means then?

Yes


No

Britain acted entirely legally. Vernett's settlement was with the permission of the British Consul who had been approached by Vernett. There is some evidence that Vernett was playing both sides against the middle. Not that Vernett's settlement was affected by the British actions in 1833. HMS Clio required only the trespassing Argentine garrison to leave and that garrison had only been on the islands 2 months. Charles Dawin's diary clearly shows that on his visit on 1st March 1833 there were 22 'settlers' most of whom were Argentine workers for Vernett. He also mentioned one Englishman who had been on the islands "for some years". Vernett added 7 more workers to the settlement shortly afterwards.

In ejecting the illegal Argentine garrison, HMS Clio was asserting the British claim of 1765. Jewett's claim of the islands for 'Argentina' in 1820 cannot stand because :

a)the claim was for the United Provinces of South America which had ceased to exist as a unified 'nation' that same year, and went on to become Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay

b) the islands already had two claimants neither of which had 'abandoned' their claims, and

c) in the eyes of the two existing claimants, Spain and Britain, there was no such place as 'Argentina' (recognised by the British in 1825 and Spain in 1859). As such Jewett was merely restating the Spanish claim



Argentinian independence: Did Argentina inherit the Malvinas upon gaining independence?

Yes

  • Argentina properly inherited the Islands from Spain in 1816. The Malvinas Islands were formerly ruled by Spain from Buenos Aires. When Argentina gained independence in 1816, it naturally inherited the Malvinas Islands from Spain.


No

Spain did not recognise Argentina until 1859, 26 years after Britain had reasserted its earlier claim. It is highly debatable whether a revolting colony can inherit anything and in Spain's recognition of Argentina it failed to provide for any inheritance. Indeed how can anyone inherit something that's long been lost?


  • Unilateral secession does not confer rights of territorial inheritance. A territorial inheritance or succession requires a territorial cession. Argentina achieved its independence by violent means against the opposition of Spain who did not begin the recognise the independence of any of her American colonies till 1836. When she recognised Argentina in 1859, no cession of sovereignty over the Falklands took place. Argentina can no more inherit what Spain never ceded to her, than a man can inherit from his father what his father never left him in his will.


Secret deal: Did Britain secretly agree to give the Malvinas to Argentina?

Yes

  • Britain secretly promised to abandon its claim before 1771. Britain made these promises during negotiations leading to the peace declarations of 1771.
  • UK planned to give the Falkland Islands to Argentina. "1968 Secret History- The Falklands War of 1982 might never have been necessary"The UK Government prepared a secret deal in 1968 to give Argentina ownership of the Falkland Islands, it has been revealed. An Argentine draft Memorandum of Understanding, largely accepted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is one of the documents released after 30 years of being locked in government vaults. Dated 5 July 1968, it reads: "The government of the United Kingdom will recognise Argentine sovereignty over the islands with effect from a date to be agreed."


No

Actually it went something like this :-

1769 – Captain Anthony Hunt, HMS Tamar is Military Commander of Port Egmont. (Nov) Hunt requires a Spanish schooner seen surveying the area, to leave. The Governor of Puerto Soledad objects, stating that the islands are Spanish. Captain Hunt responds by indicating that the islands are British by right of first discovery and settlement.

1770 – Hunt returns to Britain leaving Captain Farmer in command of the garrison. (June) Hunt brings the first message of Spanish claims to the government. (4th) 5 frigates, 1600 men, 27 cannon, 4 mortars and 200 bombs under the command of Madariaga arrive from Buenos Aries to force the British to leave. (10th) A few shots are exchanged and the outnumbered British commander capitulates. (Aug) Madrid receives notice of the action. (Oct) Britain confirms the information and prepares for war. Negotiations between the British and Spanish courts commence.

1771 - Without French support the Spanish back down and the Ambassador to Britain, Prince Masseran, delivers a declaration stating that the Spanish King "disavows the violent enterprise of Buccarelli," and promises "to restore the port and fort called Egmont, with all the artillery and stores, according to the inventory." The injury was acknowledged and satisfied. The Spanish stated that their ‘satisfaction’ did not “ … preclude the question of prior right …” This preservation of a Spanish claim caused an outcry in Britain in answer to which Samuel Johnson prepared his ‘Thoughts on the Late Transactions Respecting Falkland’s Islands 1771’. The British return to Port Egmont. Spain also maintains its settlement at Puerto Soledad, administered by Buenos Aries.

There is no evidence of any agreement to hand the islands over to the Spanish. Indeed, as Spain had backed down, there were recriminations within Britain as to why more concessions had not been demanded. Suggestions of any agreement is a fantasy. The 'satisfaction' demanded, and granted, was a return to the status quo.



Nootka Sound Convention: Did Britain renounce its claim to South American islands?

Yes

  • Argentina always claimed the Falklands; Britain once renounced its claim. Great Britain abandoned its settlement in 1776, and formally renounced sovereignty in the Nootka Sound Convention. Argentina has always claimed the Falklands, and never renounced its claim.


No

  • Nootka Sound Convention does not apply to UK in Falklands It is debatable that it applies to the Falklands. It refers to adjacent islands. The Falklands at 300 nautical miles from Argentina are not adjacent to Argentina. Second, it was suspended in 1795 due to war between the two countries. It may or may not have been renewed in 1814 after the war. Third, it's a reciprocal treaty. Both countries, Spain as well as Great Britain (the respective subjects), were forbidden to form establishments on the coasts mentioned. Spain, by forming settlements late 18th -early 19th century in what is now San Clemente del Tuyú (directly south of the Banda Oriental -now Uruguay), was in breach of the Convention. See the argument page for an extension of this argument.

1982 War: Were Britain's actions in the 1982 war illegitimate?

Yes

  • Britain sent its soldiers to fight an unjust war in the Falkland Islands. Their sacrifices do not make British occupation of the islands legal. Indeed, Britain’s conduct of that war has been much questioned, in particular the sinking of the Argentine ship General Belgrano when it was many miles from the combat zone and heading away from it, and the mysterious deaths of some surrendered Argentine soldiers.


No

NO - the Argentines invaded British territory. They were removed just as they had been when they invaded in 1832. As with their restution of claim in the 1940's the Argentine Government acts when it thinks that Britain is weak and unprepared to defend its outposts. They were wrong on two occassions. It remains to be seen whether they'll go for a hat trick!


  • Returning the Falkland Islands would be an insult to dead soldiers. 6. If Britain returned the islands, it would be a profound insult to the soldiers who fought and died to liberate them in 1982. The campaign was honourably fought in defence of the rights of the people of the Falkland Islands to determine their own future. It was fought against a military dictatorship which used the campaign in a cynical attempt to divert domestic attention away from its oppressive, corrupt and incompetent rule. One of the positive consequences of British victory was that the military junta fell from power and Argentina became democratic. So Britain, Argentina and the Falkland islanders all have cause to celebrate the outcome of the 1982-83 war.


Decolonization: Is returning the Malvinas consistent with decolonization?

Yes

  • British occupation of Malvinas Islands perpetuates colonialism Britain's control over the Falkland islands, a group of islands thousands of miles away, appears colonial in nature. This is bad for Britain's image and its post-war policy of decolonisation, which has seen it withdraw from almost every other colonial possession since 1945. Not only has Britain withdrawn from India, Africa, Malaysia and much of the Caribbean, it has also handed back Hong Kong to China – surely a similar case to that of the Falkland islands and Argentina.


No

Taking a 'colony' from one coloniser and giving it to another can hardly be right. The islanders have a right to self determination under the UN Charters and Resolutions. Independence is the only alternative.


Legality: Is it legal for Britain to occupy the Falkland Islands?

Yes

YES - there really is no debate about this. Some of the historical facts can be picked over but the reality is that the islands have been British, soley British, since 1833. Can't get much more legal than the reality of that.


  • Britain’s occupation of the Falklands was/is illegal. Both Argentina and the islands were ruled by Spain. Spain ruled the islands from Argentina – they were therefore part of the same territory. Upon independence from Spain, Argentina rightfully asserted sovereignty over the former Spanish territory. Britain did not claim sovereignty over the islands when Spain left them in 1811. Nor did Britain immediately challenge Argentina’s assertion of sovereignty in 1816. For these reasons, Britain's invasion and occupation of the Falkland Islands in 1833 was illegal under international law; Britain could not make a legitimate claim to the country.
  • Spain gave Argentina sovereignty over the Falkand Islands. Sovereignty of the islands was transferred to Argentina from Spain upon independence, a principle known as uti possidetis juris.
  • The "Falklands" are the Malvinas and are part of Argentina. President Kirchner - "The Malvinas are Argentine and they will return to Argentina by peaceful means."[3]
  • Legitimate negotiations over the Falklands must be done through UN. Argentine Vice-President Daniel Scioli said in 2007, "Once again, we urge the United Kingdom to heed international calls and resume negotiations in the appropriate manner, through the United Nations."[4]


No

  • Britain first claimed the Falklands in 1690 and never renounced the claim. Britain never accepted the Spanish claim to sovereignty, based on the purchase of the islands from France. Britain asserted sovereignty when it left the islands in 1774, leaving a plaque. It therefore had no need to re-assert sovereignty when Spain left in 1811. Britain’s claim far predates Argentina’s. Argentina had no right to assert sovereignty over the islands in 1816.
  • Britain offered to take Argentina's claim to the Falklands to the ICJ. Following the Argentine claim, the United Kingdom offered to take the dispute to mediation at the International Court of Justice in the Hague (1947, 1948 and 1955), on each occasion Argentina declined.
  • The Falklands have been continuously occupied by the UK since 1833. The exception to this long period of nearly two centuries of British occupation of the Falkland Islands was a two month illegal occupation of the islands by Argentina.
  • Argentina never really attempted to colonize the Falklands. Its attempts to colonize the Falklands 1820-33 were "sporadic and ineffectual".
  • The British were the first to settle in the Falkland Islands. There was no settlement, indigenous or otherwise, before the British came to the Falklands.


Strategic Value: Is it necessary for Britain to continue its occupation of the islands?

Yes

  • Economically, the islands will be an energy asset to Britain.If military costs are excluded, the islands are self-supporting. They are of great value because they bring rights to fishing and oil exploration. If the oil that has been detected in the islands’ territory can be extracted economically, the islands will be an even greater asset to Britain.
  • Strategically, the islands is a NATO airbase in the south Atlantic.


No

  • The islands no longer has strategic value to Britain. The islands are of minimal value to Britain. In an era of satellites and long-range ships and aircraft, the islands no longer have strategic value. Maintaining a garrison there is an unnecessary expense. Jorge Luis Borges (an Argentinean writer) likened the 1982 conflict to ‘two bald men fighting over a comb’.


Diplomacy: Will returning the islands UK-Argentina-South American relations?

Yes

  • Argentina-UK relations will be strained until the Falklands are returned. Former Argentinian president Nestor Kirchner declared on 2 April 2006, that Argentina's claim to the Falklands is "permanent and cannot be renounced."[5] In 2008, pressure by the Argentinian government was ramped up even more on the issue. Until the Malvinas are returned, it would appear that the issue will continue to be a major source of strain between the UK and Argentina.
  • Returning the Falklands to Argentina would improve US-relations with the region. Returning the islands would vastly improve Britain’s relationship with Argentina and Latin America as a whole. This would help Britain’s diplomatic and economic ties with the region.
  • British possession of the Falklands causes tension and risks war. The British possession of the Falklands resulted in a war with Argentina over the islands in 1983. There is a real possibility that another war could break out in the coming decades. If Britain returns the islands to Argentina, this risk will be entirely eliminated.


No

  • Relations with Argentina are not important to Britain.Britain already has a working relationship with Argentina. In 2001, Tony Blair became the first British prime minister to visit Argentina since the 1982 conflict. The agreements made with the Menem government show the potential for peaceful cooperation without returning the islands. Kirchner’s sabre-rattling will probably decline after the presidential election in 2007. In any case, direct relations with Argentina are of little strategic or economic importance to Britain, except where they affect the Falkland Islands. Trade policy is handled on both sides at a supra-national level, through the EU and Mercosur respectively. The Falkland Islands are simply not like other examples of decolonisation. Elsewhere Britain has given independence to the indigenous peoples of its former colonial possessions, responding to their desire for self-determination. The Falklands have no indigenous population – their inhabitants regard themselves as British in identity and have no desire to be ruled by Argentina.


Precedent: Would returning the Falklands set a bad precedent?

Yes

  • Returning the islands would not be a sign that violence and threats are legitimate. It would be recognition of the justice of Argentina’s claim and the illegality of Britain’s occupation of the islands. In fact, it would show that illegal acts of violence, like that of 1833, will eventually be overturned.


No

  • Returning the islands would imply that violence and threats are legitimate ways to conduct diplomacy. Britain would be giving in to the invasion of 1982 and Kirchner’s more recent rhetoric. This would set a dangerous precedent that Britain will abandon its interests if threatened.


International: What is international opinion regarding the Falkland Islands?

Yes

  • South American support for returning the Falklands to Argentina is growing. Richard Gott. "Argentina's claim on the Falklands is still a good one". The Guardian. 2 Apr. 2007 - "because much of Latin America is now falling into the hands of the nationalist left, the government in Buenos Aires will enjoy growing rhetorical support in the continent (and indeed elsewhere, from the current government in Iraq, for example), to the increasing discomfiture of Britain. All governments in Argentina, of whatever stripe, will continue to claim the Malvinas, just as governments in Belgrade will always lay claim to Kosovo."
    • Mercosur supports Argentina's claim to the Malvinas
    • The Rio Group has supported Argentina's claim to the Malvinas
    • Peru vocally supports the Argentinian claim to the Falklands. It provided material aid during the Falklands War.
    • Brazil has favored Argentina's claim to the Falklands.
    • Post-Pinochet Chile has supported Argentina's claim to the Falklands. democratic governments have given greater support to the Argentine claim .
    • Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez supports Argentina's claim to the Malvinas. He has said, "Those islands are Argentina's. Return them, Mr. Blair, those islands are Argentina's." [33]
  • Spain supports Argentina's claim to the Malvinas islands., although part of the European Union, has given tacit support to the Argentine claim, voting in the Argentine interest in UN Security Council votes during the Falklands War.


No

  • The European Union classes the Falklands as a special overseas territory, subject to EU law in some areas, and eligible for some European funding initiatives. The inclusion of the islands in an appendix to the proposed European constitution provoked a hostile Argentine response.
  • France has been particularly supportive of the British position, and provided invaluable help to the British military on the French supplied aircraft and missiles of the Argentine military during the Falklands War. France is also motivated by the fact that it, like the UK, retains many overseas territories that are subject to rival sovereignty claims including the Glorioso Islands, Mayotte and Tromelin.
  • The Commonwealth of Nations recognises the Falklands as British territory. The Falkland Islands are not represented in the Commonwealth as they are not an independent state, but they do participate in the Commonwealth Games.

Pro/con resources

Yes

No



Pro/con videos

Yes

No

Motions:

  • This House believes Britain should return the Falkland Islands
  • This House would let Argentina say ‘Gotcha’ about the Falkland Islands
  • This House believes that one bald man should give the comb to the other
  • That Britain should cede control of Las Malvinas to Argentina

In legislation, policy, and the real world:

See also

External links and resources:

Books:

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