EVOLUTION not revolution will be the Falklands path for political change MLA Gavin Short told the Decolonisation Committee of 24 (C24) at the United Nations on June 23
He told the Committee, which has the aim of ending colonialism: “We are pragmatic enough to realise that we are only a small country and as such may not be able to go for full independence due to size.”
He reminded the gathering that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “had only recently stated that ‘according to the Charter of the United Nations and relevant General Assembly resolutions, a full measure of self-government can be achieved through independence, integration or free association with another State. The choice should be the result of the freely expressed will and desire of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.’
“Nowhere in his address to the gathering did he mention that these ideals did not apply to the Falklands nor was he heard to mention that we should become an Argentine colony nor did he say that self-determination does not apply to the Falklands.”
MLA Short and MLA Mike Summers both delivered an address to the C24.
MLA Summers concentrated on outlining key facts about the Falklands economy, developments in agriculture, fisheries, tourism and hydrocarbons and on constitutional development and emphasising Islanders political choices. He said: “Falkland Islanders are comfortable with the constitutional relationship with the UK.
“We have the right to move away from it if we so wished, but there is no current wish to do so. Our wish to maintain our current status was amply demonstrated in March 2013 by a referendum, in which Falkland Islanders resolved to remain an OT of the UK...”
He and MLA Short both invited the Committee to visit the Falklands and better understand it. MLA Summers said: “...you could see for yourselves the democratic processes and the extent of internal self-government, and that we are very clearly not a colony of the United Kingdom.”
Debunking Argentine claims that Islanders are an implanted population he noted: “Our Islands when first discovered had no native population, and in that respect we are unlike most colonial situations of the 18th and 19th centuries. No ethnic population was either absorbed, suppressed or extinguished.”
He spoke of the long ancestry in the Islands adding: “Settlers arrived and departed of their own free will, and arrived from many different parts of the world, including Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany and North America. In more recent years we have citizens originating from Peru, St Helena, Zimbabwe, Russia, Thailand and the Philippines. At recent censuses Islanders have identified themselves as coming from 57 different ethnic backgrounds.
“So if you have heard before, or hear again today that we are an implanted British population, the facts simply do not support such a claim.”
Both MLAs touched on an NGO’s right to develop its economy, and noted Argentina’s attempts to thwart it.
MLA Short said, “over many years and up to this present day,” Argentina, “is still trying to wreck the Falklands economy and thus force us to subjugate to their unwelcome and uninvited attempts to return us to a colonial situation.”
He indicated it was the responsibility of the C24 to find fresh and creative approaches for, “quite a few of the non self-governing territories still on your list...” but that way should be arrived at, “by listening to the wishes of the people in those territories rather than attempting to impose something upon them.”
He said the committee needed to modernise, and reprimanded members for an, “awful, colonial way of looking at things.” They had planned to speak to the UK and Argentina about the Falklands, “the old colonial master and one that has designs on being the new colonial masters,” said MLA Short.
He concluded: “No person, no group of people, no organisation or committee will ever be permitted by the people of the Falkland Islands to undermine or bypass our right to self-determination or put them back into a colonial situation - ever.”
Argentina was represented by Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, former Falkland Islander Alec Betts and others.