David Moss, partner, Lovells

Opinion: The future of the Falklands: could it be compromise?

  • Print
  • Comments (27)

Readers' comments (27)

  • I fail to understand why anyone takes Argentina's claim seriously.
    Argentina was not even a country when British settlers took occupancy. The Islands have never been part of Argentina in any way, shape or form except imagination. They have never had an Argentine population, ever.
    The USA is doing it's usual poor job of forgetting who its friends are, if tensions develop over this issue again I would advocate the immediate and complete withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan to re-inforce our presence in the south Atlantic since that piece of territory and the security of it is far more important to Britons than the dust bowl of Afghanistan.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I do not understand the author's assertion that the UK's historical claim is based on very 'little' On the contrary, the historic claim has been sufficient to keep Argentina away from pursuing sovereignty through the ICJ. And Argentina cannot contend that the right to self-determine does not apply as they are themselves descendants of Spanish settlers. As for a ' joint development zone' - it was Argentina who broke away from talks in 2007, not the UK.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I dislike this talk of 'compromise'. Why? The Falklands were discovered by the English and if it were a clear-cut case of belonging to what was joined to you then the French would own Britain, Britain would own the Channel Islands, etc. We fought and won these islands and we populate them. End of.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • A fact often dismissed by the British is that the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht signed by the UK and Spain (among other European powers), gave Spain continued control of her colonies in the Americas, including all adjacent islands. Simply put, the UK gave up any claims to the Malvinas/Falklands Islands to Spain by signed treaty. The islands then became part of Spain's Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata. When Argentina declared independence from Spain and became The United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata, it claimed all territories previously administered by the Viceroyalty. In 1825, the UK recognized the newly formed Republic, which included territorial recognition. In 1833 the UK takes over the Malvinas/Falklands not because it retained some form of claim at that time, but rather because it could. The UK was at the height of imperial expansion and it went around the world taking whatever it wanted. That simple. Argentina never gave up its claim to the islands. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Argentina and the UK became very close allies and it was expected by both nations that the islands would be returned to Argentina somewhere along the line. In fact, until the early 1970s, the UK proposed the return of the islands to Argentina to the islanders, who did not want to become part of Argentina. Who could blame them? Does anyone want to join a country often ruled by military dictators? But still, the UK was proposing this to the islanders. In 1976 the UK decided not to return the islands after becoming aware of vast deposits of oil on the Malvinas/Falklands basin. The UK claims that they are simply looking after the interest of the islanders. Well, this is coming from the same nation that expelled all inhabitants out of Diego Garcia and gave the islands to the USA to build a military base. Bottom line, this is one of the many front lines in the battle over natural resources. If there was no oil and no strategic access to Antarctica, I truly believe that UK would have returned the islands by now. As for the islanders, I'm sure they would be welcomed in the UK.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In 1520, Esteban Gómez of the San Antonio, one of the captains in the expedition of Magellan, deserted this enterprise and encountered several islands, which members of his crew called "Islas de Sansón y de los Patos" ("Islands of Samson and the Ducks"). Although these islands were the Jason Islands, a group northwest of West Falkland, the names "Islas de Sansón" (or "San Antón", "San Son", and "Ascensión") were used for the Falklands on Spanish maps during this period

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The Falkland Islands have been British Sovereign territory since 1892 which is before the creation of the UN and the UN definition of "peoples" and "right to self-determine".

    In 1982 the Argentines, lead by an unpleasant military junta, made their move against the Falkland Islands in the mistaken belief that Great Britain had become a mickey mouse tin-pot country.

    The Royal Marines restored the Union Jack and thereby respected the democratic wishes of the peoples of the Falkland Islands to remain British.

    If the Argentines had any moral claim on the Falkland Islands and the waters that surround it then this died when they lost the unjust war they started.

    If it was down to me I would not let the Argentines have a single barrel of oil or the steam off my p***.!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So, "Malvinas", Argentina was only dragged into the Falklands issue when it became an independent state from Spain purely by chance, not because it became independent because it WANTED them. Yeah, says it all really. And as to all this talk of colonisation by the English it is merely Argentinian sour grapes. Every continent and country on this Earth has been colonised at one stage or another, including Argentina, whose 'native' peoples were diven out brutally by the Spanish, probably "Malvinas" ancestors. Give it a rest. There is nothing to discuss and there'll be no compromise. We have nothing to compromise ABOUT. The Falklands are BRITISH and staying that way. Try it on and you'll get short shrift shipmates! We're ready for you. :)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Malvinas, the only reason Argenina is interested in the Falklands is because of the natural resources and oil deposits. If the place had no resources useful to your failing economy you wouldn't give two hoots about the place, you wouldn't care it was British and you certainly wouldn't give a monkeys about the welfare of the islanders on a day to day basis. So you can cut that out, pretending to care out of human compassion because we all known why you are interested in it. Your people burn British flags in the streets. That's how much you care about offending the Falkland Islanders, by burning their flag and insulting their nationality. Then you talk about it in humanitarian terms of Britain no caring for the islanders. Have we insulted them? Ask them. Have we burned YOUR flag? Not one person has even bothered. I am glad we simply ignore you.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What a load of old nonsense. In the end it will be international development that suffers? Please. I am only surprised the writer didn't call for world peace a la Miss World.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • To Malvinas at 2.40pm.

    As regards your comment "As for the islanders, I'm sure they would be welcomed in the UK", implicit in your statement is that:

    (a) the islanders' opinion as regards sovereignty should be ignored in favour of some historical claim by Argentina (who are presumably only interested in the resources, as opposed to also protecting the existing inhabitants' interests) contrary to the UN Charter and ICJ rulings;

    (b) once the Argentinians have taken the island they will kick out the residents or they will want to leave, presumably because they don't want to be part of Argentina; and

    (c) after having fought and died for the land, the rest of the population in the UK is just going to be happy to welcome them back.

    Your treatment of the issue, while clearly well informed, is disgracefully narrow minded. You underestimate the significance of the Falklands War in the mind of the British and the respect for self-determination (something Argentina clearly does not understand).

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Well Mr Moss, you demonstrate about as much moral principle as an Argentine dictator, and like so many of your ilk would compromise on just about anything when there is some money to be made.
    The truth is that the Argentines have never had any sustainable title to the Falklands, and peddle a highly distorted version of history to anyone who will listen, to whip up old anti-colonialist sentiment to support their claim. There was no native population on the Falkland Islands, and various expeditions and traders from Europe and the US set up here during the 1700's, including the British, French and Spanish, much of it long before Aregntina even existed. When Britain commenced its permanent settlement of the Islands in 1833 there was no other resident population.
    Many of us here can count back up to 9 generations of direct family descent in these Islands, and have as much right as any settled population to choose our own destiny. UN doctrine on self-determination is variously interpreted by many to suit their needs, but since Argentina never occupied these Islands (other than illegally in 1982), we are some 400 miles from the Argentine coast, way outside any modern territorial limits, and we are historically, culturally and geophysically separate from Latin America our cliam to self determination is as strong as any.

    There have been attempts before by appeasers and apologists to try to fudge the issue through joint administration. It will not work and has never worked.

    So let us stick to our moral principles and rely on the proper method of determination of political allegiance, and that is self determination for the people of our Islands. Basic human rights are not conditioned by how many people there are in a particular group, as you should very well know.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "Malvinas" writes:-
    "In 1976 the UK decided not to return the islands after becoming aware of vast deposits of oil on the Malvinas/Falklands basin."
    Vast deposits? To date the prospecting has produced approximately one litre of oil: that may be all that is there, there may be more, there may be none economically recoverable, there may be a little of limited value (just as places in England have oil), but to assert that there are "vast deposits " makes it sound like Texas, Saudi or Alaska, which on present knowledge it plainly is not.
    If someone is spinning stories of "vast deposits" maybe they know something the oil companies don't...all detected with a hazel twig?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I, for one, think Malvinas has presented the facts quite well. The rest of you are spouting subjective, nationalistic trash in your greedy quest for oil. Lets get it straight - BOTH Argentina and the UK couldn't care less about the Falklands (including its inhabitants). The only reason they do is due to the natural resources they would both like to exploit. At the end of the day - WHO CARES? When the world is facing shortages of clean water and food (both are in grave peril - perhaps not immediately, but in 10-20 years we have a real problem) no one will give a toss about oil...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Another point to this un-balanced article which bothers me (aside from the lack of valid claim Argentina has and its complete ignoring of the wishes of the people of the Falklands): Argentina is also attempting to interfere with and influence the future of Kosovo purely in order to advance its own greed-based claims to the Falklands. Why should the people of Kosovo continue to suffer and be denied the right to self-determniation? Was Argentina interested in the region historically? It would appear not. It would further appear that the Argentines have based their position on whether to recognise Kosovo or not purely based on the way it would affect their claim to the Falklands. In February 2008, Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana was quoted as saying "if we were to recognize Kosovo, which has declared its independence unilaterally, without an agreement with Serbia, we would set a dangerous precedent that would seriously threaten our chances of a political settlement in the case of the Falkland Islands". Nice to know the decision was made in consideration of the issues at hand, then, not for reasons of self-advancedment.... oh wait....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In reply to Malvinas
    Irrespective of the Treaty of Utrecht 1713 the Falkland Islands had not been settled by anyone apart from French seal hunters at that date and certainly were not a colony of Spain or anyone else.
    Fuller facts must be considered:
    The Falkland Islands were proclaimed a colony of Britain in 1765 and were settled by the British in 1766 at Port Egmont.
    In 1767 the French handed over their interest in the Islands (if any) to the Spanish in exchange of a sum of money who appointed a governor.
    In 1770 6 Spanish ships and 1400 men sailed to Port Egmont and demanded that the British leave.
    In 1771 the Spanish agreed to allow the restoration of the the British Settlement at Port Egmont but proclaimed that this act "cannot or should not in any way affect the question of the prior right to Sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands also called the Falklands."
    In 1774 the British withdrew their settlement at Port Egmont for Economic reasons but left a plaque claiming sovereignty of over the Islands- which was later removed by a Spanish naval officer and taken to Buenos Aires.
    Betweeen 1774 and 1811 a chain of Spanish governors "ruled" the Islands from Puerto Soledad.
    In 1810 Spanish rule in the La Plata Royalty was overthrown.
    In 1811 Spanish Settlements in the Falklands were withdrawn. The Spanish left a plaque claiming "This Island, together with its ports, buildings and outbuildings and everything in them belongs to Ferdinando VII king of Spain."
    In 1816 Argentina was established.
    Between 1811 and 1826 the islands were unoccupied.
    In 1820 Argentina claimed the Islands.
    In 1826 it established a settlement/fort at Puerto Soledad under protest from the British.
    The Argentine fort was destroyed by the Americans in 1831 after the Argentinians prevented them from hunting seals in the Islands.
    In 1833 HMS Clio landed her men, once again proclaimed British sovereignty and forced the Argentinians to leave.
    It seems to me that the United Kingdom and perhaps Spain have far earlier and stronger claims to the Falkland Islands than Argentina. The United Kingdom has never conceded that position and that the Islands have been British for longernthan Argentina hs existed. It might further be said that Argentina's claim is somehow based on its dubious usurpation of a possible Spanish claim to Sovereignty of the Islands.
    It is very difficult to see how any Argentinian claim to the Falklands Islands has any proper basis.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is one of the most interesting sequences of messages I've ever seen on the Lawyer - infinitely more so than the usual drivel about partners we have no interest in leaving or joining firms we've even less interest in.

    It is deeply insulting to the memory of those who died protecting the Falklands to say, as Julie Smethwick does, that "the UK couldn't care less about the Falklands".

    I've often said we should find some technical flaw in the Treaty of Paris, by which we conceded sovereignty to the USA.

    We should then declare war on them, but surrender almost immediately.

    They would then flood us with Marshall Aid, solving our economic problems forever!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I do genuinely feel for those who fought [foolishly] for a cause not worth their lives, and do not wish to detract from the loss BUT to make my point clear - which is obviously lost on those not capable of independent thought and who only regurgitate what their national press or idiotic sense of patriotism dictates - the UK is ONLY interested in the Falklands for the oil so those who try to bash Argentina on those grounds are blatantly hypocritical. Your argument flops obviously and stupidly before it's even started.

    The more important point is that our society and species as a whole is in big trouble if we allow our politicians (yes, most of them are lawyers - perhaps the problem?) and media to distract us with petty arguments about land, greed and wealth, which draws attention away from real issues that threaten our very survival - like courts issuing decisions allowing corporations to patent living organisms. This threatens our food supply and therefore our very existence. Get a grip people.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Give the Malvinas back and then Gibraltar

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Freedom for the back bedroom of No. 34 Accacia Avenue!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am really surprised by the comments made by Julie Smethwick. At first I thought it was to be a calm, reasoned and thoughtful argument. Then, after her second comment, I realised that she is as narrow-minded as those she accuses.
    She clearly has an agenda that ignores Falkland Islanders as simple pawns.
    The biggest and most important consideration is that any oil found around the Falklands will belong to the Islanders not to the United Kingdom. Of course, Britain has spent a fair amount of money both in developing the lives of the Islanders and their defence. But then the Falkland Islands have indicated their wish to make a greater contribution to their defence if oil revenues appear. This strikes me as a fair and free arrangement, unlike Argentina's imperialist/colonialist wish to rape the area. Given Argentina's human rights record, can anyone imagine that the Islanders could continue any lifestyle they wished under Argentine rule? I think not.
    Julia needs to deal with the world as it is, not through some suitably-tinted glasses. And what about Senor Chavez of Venezuela? A 21st century Hitler if ever there is one. What happens when he realises that if he can threaten the UK, he can certainly take over Argentina?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Actually, I found the tone of the article to be quite measured and refreshing given that most of what one normally reads is highly partisan.
    What we tend to overlook in the UK is how deeply ingrained in Argentinians this "slight" in 1833 was to this new nation. I am putting aside whether this view is objectively justified as the historical claims and counter claims are equally unsatisfactory.
    That said, history tends to create its own history and I find the Argentine position in treating what is now about 6 generations of the local population as nothing more than "planted colonists" (and thus ignoring them in negotiation) as rather offensive and the implication from Argentines that the islanders can "go back" to the UK to be rather sinister.
    As for the legal issues, the Kosovo case is rather important as the question as to how far and when self determination can take precedence over sovereignity.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Pretty well researched this article... the population of Jersey voting to "become independent of the UK"? The States of Jersey are NOT part of the UK!

    The Falkland Islanders right to self determination prescribed because they are the "descendants of British settlers" on the insistence of the Argentines (who happen to descend from Spanish and other "settlers"). Oh how just that would be!

    If Argentina has a case, then why oh why does it not take it to the ICJ and be done with it?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • To agent0060: So the UK is some kind of benevolent protector only interested in the greater good? Tell that to the numerous societies you have raped and pillaged over the centuries. The "we're the better bogeyman, than Argentina" hardly warms me on a cold night.

    The problem is lawyers are often left to debate important issues (whether as politicians or advisors) and lets be real, most lawyers have no morals or values. They take the side of whomever is paying them acting like greedy whores who will play each side off the other if it benefits them (hmm, much like every country around the world, most of whom are run by, what's that, LAWYERS!).

    Lawyers are largely trained to blindly look at specific issues in isolation and aren't capable of seeing the big picture, never mind actually taking into account what is RIGHT. Not right from a profit point of view, but right as in The Right Thing to Do. But alas, lost on all of you who willingly shovel whatever crap your client is paying you to.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • you really are a stupid person julie. no doubt an apologist or a bleeding heart. stand up for your countrymen & women. the argentinians are lapping up your ridiculous comments. they have no morals at all. they want to enslave or expell the islanders & rub Britains nose in it. the Falklanders have more right to the Falklands than the argies have to argentina. wake up!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Easy to say stand up and fight when you don't have to do the fighting, isn't it?

    Learn some history you boob - try reading something that isn't totally slanted towards the UK.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So, even though there's no reasonable basis for your comments we should all just stand behind Britain because we live here?? It's okay for Britain to enslave or expel people (or appropriate land), because it's Britain?

    THIS is what's wrong with our country - the dumbed down idiots not capable of independent, critical thought. What don't you run to be head of the Tories mg2? You'd fit right in.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Surerly a compromise can be reach, the UK must remember that not to long ago Gandi march in India because the Brits had a monopoly in salt and it could only be sold by Brits, guys get real if you want to be Pom in South America I am afraid you never will be liked.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (27)