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Home | June 2013 Please tell us what you think of this article. Tell a friend Print Friendly

Falklands : Statement by the Honourable Sharon Halford Member of the Legislative Assembly
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 20.06.2013 (Article Archived on 04.07.2013)

United Nations Committee of 24 (Special Committee on Decolonisation) 20th June 2013 Statement by the Honourable Sharon Halford Member of the Legislative Assembly





 



United Nations Committee of 24 (Special Committee
on Decolonisation) 20th June 2013 Statement by the Honourable Sharon
Halford Member of the Legislative Assembly



 



Mr Chairman,
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, I am Sharon Halford, a democratically
elected Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands and although
pleased to be here to once again represent my country I am somewhat disappointed
that the need to do so remains 16 years on from my first appearance before this
committee. However I note that by comparison to the Honourable Joe Bossano from
Gibraltar who has been coming here for nearly half a century my time has been short.
Under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 1514 (XV)
of 1960, people from Non-Self-Governing Territories can exercise
self-determination and reach full measure of Self-Government either by Free Association,
by Integration or by becoming Independent.



 



Building
on this, UNGA Resolution 2625 (XXV) of 1970 offered a fourth option as an
outcome of a people’s excise of right of self-determination; “any other
political status freely determined by a people.”



 



With
this in mind the people of the Falkland Islands exercised their right to
self-determination in March this year when a referendum was held to seek the
views of the people as to the way forward. 
This referendum was proposed and organised by the Falkland Islands Government,
not the United Kingdom.  The United Kingdom
was prepared to accept the outcome, whatever that was, unlike the Government of
Argentina which continues to refuse to recognise our basic human rights.



 



The
Preamble to our referendum question stated:



 



“The
current political status of the Falkland Islands is that they are an Overseas Territory
of the United Kingdom.



 



The Islands
are internally self-governing, with the United Kingdom being responsible for
matters including defence and foreign affairs. 
Under the Falkland Islands’ Constitution the people of the Falkland Islands
have the right to self-determination, which they can exercise at any time.



 



Given
that Argentina is calling for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland
Islands, this referendum is being undertaken to consult the people regarding
their views on the political status of the Falkland Islands.



 



Should
the majority of votes cast be against the current status, the Falkland Islands Government
will undertake necessary consultation and preparatory work in order to conduct
a further referendum on alternative options.”



 



And
the question asked of Islanders was:



 



“Do
you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an
Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?”



 



With
a simple YES or NO answer required.



 



A
team of 8 independent, experienced international observers were deployed to
monitor our Referendum.  The Independent
Referendum International Observation Mission included current and retired
legislators, civil society leaders, journalists and international observation
experts from Brasil, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Uruguay and the United States
of America.



 



In their
final report they stated:



 



"It
is the conclusion of this independent team of international election observers
that the Falkland Islands referendum process was free and fair, reflecting the
democratic will of eligible Falkland Islands’ voters."



 



92%
of the electorate voted and of these, an overwhelming 99.8% voted to remain an
Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. Only 3 people voted for some
alternative political status.  The
message is clear.  We, the people of the Falklands,
are happy with our current relationship with the UK.  It is not an anachronistic colonial situation
as characterised by Argentina, but a modern relationship where the UK listens
to our wishes and we are responsible for our own internal self-government.  The right of Falkland Islanders to determine their
own future is unequivocal.



 



The
principle of self-determination is enshrined in Article 1, Paragraph 2, of the Charter
of the United Nations.  Article 1 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 1 of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights affirm the right of all
peoples to self-determination, and lay upon States Parties, including those
having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing Territories
and Trust Territories, the obligation to promote the realisation of that right
and respect it, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter.  At no point has the United Nations ever
explicitly denied this right to the Falkland Islanders. In the weeks following
the referendum I, along with all of the elected members of the Falkland Islands
Assembly travelled extensively throughout Latin America, the US and Europe to
seek support for our right to self-determination and to explain why we had held
our referendum.



 



We
were warmly received by the people we met, and we were very pleased by the
interest we encountered in life in the Falkland Islands.  We found public support for the rights of the
Islanders to decide their own future everywhere we went and we are succeeding
in loudly broadcasting our voices on our rights.  I personally met with Government Figures and
young people in a number of Caribbean states, some of which are represented on
this Committee today.



 



In St
Lucia I enjoyed a lively session with thirty or so young people at a local
Community College where I was asked about life in the Islands and our
relationships with our Latin American neighbours.  As two Island peoples we have an awful lot in
common.  In Antigua I met many people who
agreed that our referendum result could not be ignored by the world and should
be respected, as the principle of self-determination was too important to ignore.
Both visits gave me much hope that Argentina’s one-sided narrative of the
Falkland Islands is beginning to be dispelled and that many around the world
view the Islanders as a legitimate people with the legitimate right to have
their wishes respected. I hope that this Committee can come to the same view.



 



Unfortunately
the Government of Argentina does not appear to have moved on or made progress
since I first spoke here, on the contrary it appears to have taken retrograde
steps.  Argentina continues to spread
misinformation worldwide; an example of this being the call for other countries
to support their right to negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.



 



Since
Argentina amended its constitution in 1994 in which it states that the Falklands
are Argentine, the scope for negotiations have been severely limited as the Government
of Argentina can, and will, only accept one outcome - that the Falklands are Argentinean.  This is not the basis for negotiation, when
one party has already pre-determined the outcome.



 



Argentine
Foreign Minister Timerman insists that the UK complies with non-binding UN
resolutions on negotiations over the Falklands yet continues to ignore the fact
that Argentina rejected two binding UN Security Council Resolutions in 1982
which called for the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of Argentine
armed forces from my homeland.



 



Repeated
calls for the UK to adhere to UN resolutions that were in place prior to Argentina’s
illegal invasion of the Falkland Islands do not take into account the impact
that this action has had on the sovereignty issue – an impact sadly measured by
the great human cost to both Argentina and the United Kingdom.



 



The
figures in our most recent census in 2012 show that our population is not one
implanted by Great Britain, as the Government of Argentina continues to claim,
but instead our inhabitants have arrived from as many as 57 different countries
with some of the largest concentrations being from St Helena, Chile, Argentina,
the Philippines, Germany, Russia, and New Zealand.  Interestingly over half of our population
consider themselves Falkland Islanders first and British second, which strongly
suggests that we have our own unique identity and way of life; we are a people
in our own right and should be recognised as such. 



 



In
the Falklands we are continuing to develop our economy and unique society
despite the actions of our aggressive neighbour and continued efforts to
disrupt our way of life, such as Argentina’s Presidential Decree 256, which
seeks to severely restrict legitimate economic activity and shipping in our
waters. However, we are an island population and as such thrive on such challenges
- where there is a will there is always a way and we have repeatedly shown that
we certainly have the will.



 



We
desire to live in peaceful co-existence with all of our neighbours, including Argentina,
and remain disappointed that the Government of Argentina has walked away from
co-operation with the Falkland Islands Government on a range of issues which we
would both benefit from, fisheries management in the South Atlantic being a
good example.



 



This
is not how a responsible nation should be behaving and I am saddened that the
progress we had achieved together during the 1990s has not resulted in a more
positive relationship between our two countries. It is also sad to see that the
Government of Argentina continues to celebrate the invasion of the Falklands
each year with rallies and military parades whilst also denouncing the actions
of the Military dictatorship in 1982 as undemocratic and against the will of
the Argentine people.



 



For Islanders,
my friends and family, the events of 1982 were hugely devastating and whilst we
have a duty to commemorate the sacrifice of those young men who fought bravely
for our freedom we have no interest in celebrating the conflict.



 



Mr
Chairman I believe our wishes have been expressed very clearly.  I hope that the Islanders have spoken loudly
enough for people to hear them around the world.  I do however realise that people will only hear
our message if they are prepared to listen and on this occasion I would hope
that the members of this committee are prepared to listen and take note.



 



On
behalf of the Falkland Islands Government I once again invite the Members of
this Committee to visit our Islands, to meet our people and listen to the views
and wishes of the people. Thank You Mr Chairman.



 



 



 

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