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Debate: Falkland Islands, return of

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 +===1982 War: Were Britain's actions in the 1982 war illegitimate? ===
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 +====Yes====
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 +*'''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.
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 +====No====
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 +*'''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.
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==='''Legality: Is it legal for Britain to occupy Falkland Islands?'''=== ==='''Legality: Is it legal for Britain to occupy Falkland Islands?'''===
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-===1982 War: Were Britain's actions in the 1982 war illegitimate? === 
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-====Yes==== 
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-*'''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. 
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-====No==== 
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-*'''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. 
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===Strategic Value: Is it necessary for Britain to continue its occupation of the islands?=== ===Strategic Value: Is it necessary for Britain to continue its occupation of the islands?===
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Revision as of 00:52, 6 August 2008

Should the United Kingdom return the Falkland Islands to Argentina?

This article is based on a Debatabase entry written by George Molyneaux. Because this document can be modified by any registered user of this site, its contents should be cited with care.

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

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), demands that Britain return the islands. Many British commentators think that Kirchner has 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 Argentinean settlers and permanently colonised the islands.

Self-determination: Do the indigenous want to be ruled by Argentina?

Yes

  • Contemporary Falkland inhabitants are not aboriginal; no right to self-determination. Argentina does not recognize the right to self-determination of the inhabitants, 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. The United Nations have called on both countries to begin dialogue over the sovereignty claim.
  • Argentina built public facilities on the 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

  • The Islanders consider themselves 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.
  • Falkland Islands should not be returned without a popular vote.


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

Yes

  • Spanish explorers were first to discover the Malvinas. Magellan in 1520 and Camargo in 1540.

No

History of control: Did Spain or Britain control the Malvinas?

Yes

  • Spain had purchased the Islands from France in 1767. It thus acquired the right to France's prior occupation.
  • Spain peacefully occupied the 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.


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.[1]

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.


No

"...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

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



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.


No


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 did not affect Britain's claim to Falklands. "The Argentine Seizure Of The Malvinas (Falkland) Islands", History and Diplomacy. Global Security. 1987 - "The British insist that mutual agreements made between Spain and England during the Nootka Sound Convention of 1790 did not affect existing claims to sovereignty. The agreement stipulated that in the future neither party should establish any settlement on the eastern or western coasts of South America or on adjacent islands to the south of those already held by Spain."


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

Yes

  • The Malvinas are 300 miles from Argentina; 8000 from Britain. 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). Argentina's geographical claim to the Falkland islands are far stronger than Britain's.


No

  • The Malvinas are not considered part of South America. Hugh McManners. Forgotten Voices of the Falklands - "There is an obvious geopolitical dimension to the Falklands/Malvinas dispute. 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."


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

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

  • 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.


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

Yes

  • 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."[2]
  • 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."[3]


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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • UN General Assembly resolutions calling for negotiations "are flawed because they make no reference to the Islanders' right to choose their own future."


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."[4]
  • 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 the position of the international community?

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."
  • Peru vocally supports the Argentinian claim to the Falklands. It provided material aid during the Falklands War.
  • Brazil and Mexico have also spoken in favour of the Argentine claim. Chile supported the United Kingdom during the Falklands War, but the post-Pinochet democratic governments have given greater support to the Argentine claim [31] [32]. Also, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has publicly supported the Argentine claim saying, "Those islands are Argentina's. Return them, Mr. Blair, those islands are Argentina's." [33]
  • Spain, 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. Argentina, for its part, supports


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

References:

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 on Debatepedia:

External links and resources:

Books:

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