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Falklands : 20th June 2013 Statement by The Honourable Mike Summers
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 20.06.2013 (Article Archived on 04.07.2013)

20th June 2013 Statement by The Honourable Mike Summers Member of the Legislative Assembly Mr Chairman, Ambassadors and Members of the UN Decolonisation Committee.





20th June 2013 Statement by The Honourable
Mike Summers Member of the Legislative Assembly
Mr Chairman, Ambassadors and Members of the UN Decolonisation
Committee.



 



You have
heard from my colleague, MLA Sharon Halford, about the referendum held recently
in the Falkland Islands, to set out clearly and unequivocally the views of Falkland
Islanders about their political status.



 



I would
like to expand a little on why you, as Members of this Committee, should take heed
of this message.  Throughout the many years
Falkland Islanders have attended this Committee, we have put the case for the collective
voice of our people to be heard and respected.



 



To be
heard and respected is what each of the NSGT's might reasonably expect from a Committee,
charged by the UN with assisting those few remaining territories who have not yet
reached independence, to achieve a political status that is acceptable to them.  But this Committee has failed to deliver on that
responsibility.  Why? Because this Committee
seems to prioritise the interests of certain Member States over the wishes of
the peoples it is supposed to be assisting. If this Committee is to remain
relevant that has to change.



 



The
call by Cuba and others at the recent C-24 Seminar in Quito, for a decade of
solidarity with the NSGT's might begin to show the way forward, but only if the
Members of the C24 examine their collective conscience, about where their
responsibilities lie as a Member of the C24, and put first those people for
whom they have assumed responsibility, the NSGT's.



 



I
would like to pay special tribute here to those Members of this Committee who
have stood firm in protecting the important principles entrusted to you.  For reminding the Committee, year on year, in
the face of increasing pressure, that the right to self-determination is sacred
to the decolonisation process, that the right to self-determination is a
universal human right not to be denied, and that the people of the NSGT's have
an absolute right to be involved in any and all discussions about their country,
and their future.



 



To
those members, thank you.



 



In
contrast we have heard a number of other countries come here, and raise issues
about the Argentine claim to sovereignty to our Islands, and on the back of
that seek to deny us our basic human rights.



 



Sovereign
countries have the right to take whatever views they wish on whichever topics
they wish, however correct or misguided those views might be.  That is your right, and indeed your duty as
an Ambassador to the UN, to represent your countries views. But it is not the
purpose of this Committee to hear, or discuss, or have any opinion on the
sovereignty of a territory.



 



This Committee
is not charged by the Secretary General or the General Assembly with discussing
or resolving sovereignty disputes.  And to
advance, or support, claims to the Falkland Islands, or any other territory, in
this forum, is an abuse of this Committee’s purpose.  Nor Is it this Committee’s responsibility to
judge whether or not any particular territory on the C-24 list is entitled to
self-determination.  According to UN
Resolutions 1514 and 1654 every territory on the list is entitled to
self-determination. That was set down by the GA in 1960, reaffirmed in 1961 and
reaffirmed again by resolution 2625 In 1970, and has not changed since.



 



So to
argue here, as certain members do, that Falkland Islanders do not have the right
to self-determination, is to contradict the founding principles of this
Committee.  You do not have that
discretion.  The only responsibility and
duty of this Committee is to the peoples of the NSGTs.



 



In
the case of the Falkland Islands this Committee is not required or empowered to
choose in a sovereignty dispute between the UK, the administering power, or Argentina
the aspiring colonial power. The duty of this Committee is to assist the people
of the Falkland Islands to achieve a political status that is acceptable to
them, free of coercion and harassment from other parties.



 



If
some Committee members are unable to exercise this duty, either because they
have been instructed to support the Argentine claim, or because they believe
that they have some other moral justification to deny us our basic human
rights, then so be it.  But in advancing
such a view in this Committee, you are not acting in accordance with the purpose
of this Committee.



 



This Committee
has one purpose, and one purpose only. To end colonialism by helping to achieve
a just and lasting settlement for the people of the NSGT's, under whatever
political solution they choose for themselves.



 



So I
would once again strongly urge you, in discharging your duties in respect of
the Falkland Islands, to listen to the wishes of the Falkland Islanders
expressed so clearly and democratically in our referendum, namely that we wish
to maintain our current status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.



 



We
have generally avoided in this Committee discussing the history of the Falkland
Islands, not because we do not have faith in our research and conclusions, but
because it is simply not relevant.  The
people of the Falkland Islands have the right to self-determination by virtue
of being on the list of NSGT's agreed by the General Assembly in 1961. However
that position was arrived at, the history that preceded it is irrelevant.



 



But I
thought it might be worthwhile trying to correct some misconceptions, given
that those countries which offer support to Argentina in its demands for negotiations
with the UK over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, do so on the basis of
a wilfully distorted version of historical events, and in apparent ignorance of
Argentina’s relinquishment of its claim to the Falklands, over 160 years ago.
The British sovereignty claim dates to 1765, several decades before the Republic
of Argentina was established. That claim has never been renounced.



 



An Argentine
military garrison was sent to the Falkland Islands in 1832 In an attempt to
impose Argentine sovereignty over what was already, and had been for 67 years,
British territory.  The United Kingdom
Immediately protested, and expelled the Argentine garrison, in Jan 1833. But
the civilian population, including some Argentines, was encouraged to remain,
and most of them chose to do so.



 



Compare
these facts to the Argentine rhetoric, which claims that “an Argentine native
civilian population was expelled in 1833”. 
The difference between rhetoric and reality is stark, and we would urge
you to check the facts for yourselves.  But
the Argentine version of history not only conveniently ignores those 67 years
of British sovereignty prior to its first invasion in 1832.



 



It
also conveniently ignores the Convention of Settlement, ratified in 1850 by the
British Government and the Republic of Argentina, which comprehensively settled
all existing differences, and established what was called a “perfect
friendship” between the two states, a position which endured for 90 years until
the infamous decade of military rule in the 1940's, when the claim again
resurfaced in Argentina, arguably for domestic political reasons.



 



So
Honourable Ambassadors, please be clear. 
If it is the position of your Government that it does not support the
right to self-determination of the people of the Falkland Islands, It does so
not only in direct contravention of UN Resolution 1514 (XV) which states that
“all peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they
freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic,
social and cultural development”, but your position is also based on a series
of inaccuracies, untruths and obfuscations. Argentina never owned the Falkland
Islands, though clearly it aspired to do so. 
Our Islands had no indigenous population, and in that respect we are
unlike most colonial situations of the 18th and 19th centuries.



 



This
is unlike the Argentine situation where the indigenous population was routinely
slaughtered by the invading European colonists, the forefathers of todays’
Argentine citizens. The reality is the Falkland Islands has been British
Territory for very nearly 250 years, and has been continuously and peacefully
settled under British administration for over 180 years.



 



I am
a sixth generation Falkland Islander, I have 8th generation
grandchildren, and there are now families in the Islands who can trace 9 generations.  Settlers arrived and departed of their own free
will, and arrived from many different parts of the world.  At recent censuses Islanders have identified
themselves as coming from 57 different ethnic backgrounds.



 



Until
the second illegal invasion of the Falklands by Argentina in 1982, in breach of
two UN Security Council resolutions, there were effectively no immigration
restrictions. Those that exist now under Falklands’ law are non-partisan and
non-discriminatory.  We are very clearly
a people in our own right, who have the right to be heard, and demand to be heard.



 



No
Member of the UN can reasonably deny that right, and for that reason alone, you
should not support the expansionist Argentine agenda.  Any suggestion that the people of the
Falkland Islands do not have the right to self-determination is a denial of
basic human rights.  Any resolution
before this Committee that does not specifically acknowledge the basic human
rights of our people is a resolution that should not be here.  In this Committee you are expected to set
aside your geo-political alliances and friendships, and to concentrate on the
issue in hand, which is the will of the people of the NSGT's.



 



And
let me be absolutely clear, in this session on the Falkland Islands, the Committee
is not being asked by Falkland Islanders to support the UK position against the
Argentine position, it is being asked to do what the C-24 Mandate requires of you,
and support the right of Falkland Islanders to choose the Government they wish
for themselves, irrespective of competing sovereignty claims.



 



Mr Chairman,
this Committee has, by its own admission, failed in its duty and it mission for
the past two decades.  I encourage the Committee
to examine what has caused that failure and remedy it.  Above all get out to the territories that are
in your care, talk to the people, see how they live, test the extent of their
self-government, and ask them what they want for themselves. That Is the way to
discharge your duty, and to have real success going forward.



 



We
have formally invited the Committee of the C-24 to send a visiting mission to
the Falkland Islands on at least six occasions before.  We have not even had the courtesy of a response.



 



Mr Chairman,
you are reported recently as having said “Visiting Missions were critical not
only in terms of hearing the concerns of the people in Non-Self-Governing Territories,
But also in terms of arriving at informed conclusions through the collection of
data”.



 



In my
capacity as a petitioner, and as a representative of my Government, I now
formally extend yet another invitation to the Committee to visit the Falkland
Islands.  Come to the Islands and see who
we are and how we live, and respect our wishes.



 



We
have been assured that the UK as administering power has no objections to this
invitation, and nor do we or the UK set any conditions on the makeup of the delegation.  If Argentina objects it can only be that it
is afraid of the truth, of openness and transparency, and of the power of basic
human rights.



 



I
referred in my opening remarks to the Falklands referendum, and I have
explained why the wishes of our people should be your guide.



 



As
the Secretary General said to you in his opening remarks this year “we no
longer have the luxury of indulging in rhetoric and rituals.  Concrete action and tangible results are essential”.



 



I urge you to discharge your duty
to all the NSGT's In accordance with the Secretary General's urgings, and
listen to us to provide the way forward. 
To do otherwise is to risk making this Committee an irrelevant anachronism.



 

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