The Malvinas Islands became part of an area under Spanish jurisdiction with the entry into force of the first international instruments to delimit the “New World” soon after the discovery of the Americas in 1492. The Papal Bulls and the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 were the first instruments that conferred titles on Spain in accordance with the international law of the time.
Since the early 16th century and for most of it, only navigators at the service of Spain travelled the maritime routes along the South American coast, advancing southwards in their search for an inter-oceanic passage. In this process, the Malvinas Islands were discovered by members of Magellan’s expedition in the year 1520. From then on they were recorded on European maps under a variety of names and remained as part of the spaces under effective control of the Spanish authorities.
During the 17th century, the Malvinas Islands were sighted by navigators from other nations who had ventured into Spanish domains at the risk of provoking reactions and protests from Spain whenever it received news of such expeditions. But the whole southern region of the Americas, with its coasts, seas and islands, was indisputably preserved under Spanish sovereignty through the different treaties signed in that period, such as the “American “ Treaty of 1670 between Spain and England.
The Peace of Utrecht, signed in 1713, assured the integrity of Spain’s possessions in South America and confirmed its exclusive right to sail in the waters of the South Atlantic. As a signatory of the Utrecht agreements, and of later 18th century treaties ratifying it, England accepted these clauses. However, towards the middle of that century, the Malvinas Islands provoked the interest of Great Britain and France, which were seeking to establish a strategically located settlement opposite the Magellan Strait.
In 1749, Spain received news of a British project to settle in the Malvinas Islands, and strongly protested to the Government of the United Kingdom, which as a consequence, gave up on it.
When in 1764 France established Port Louis on Soledad Island, Spain objected and won the recognition of its right to the islands from France. The French Government ordered the evacuation and handover of the settlement to the Spanish authorities. The handover was made in 1767 and, from then on, there was always a Spanish governor residing in the Malvinas Islands who reported to the authorities of Buenos Aires.
The year after the French settlement, a clandestine British expedition arrived in the archipelago and later, in 1766, English sailors established a fort at a place they named Port Egmont, on an island to the west of Gran Malvina. Despite the secrecy of the Government of the United Kingdom, Spain became aware of this and repeatedly protested by invoking its rights. As it did not receive any acceptable response, it set out to find the illegal settlement, and, in 1770, expelled its settlers by force. As a result of that act, both countries were on the verge of war, which was averted by a bilateral agreement signed in 1771. This agreement consisted of a Declaration by which Spain returned Port Egmont to the British in order to save the honour of the King of England, making express reservation of its sovereignty over the whole of the Malvinas Islands, and an Acceptance of the Declaration in which Great Britain remained silent as to the reservation of Spanish rights. As part of the agreement, it was verbally agreed that the English would withdraw from Port Egmont, which they did in 1774. From then on, the Spanish authorities in Puerto Soledad continued to exercise their jurisdiction and control over the whole archipelago.
In 1790, with the signing of the Treaty of San Lorenzo del Escorial, Great Britain undertook not to establish any settlements on either the eastern or the western coasts of South America or on the adjacent islands already occupied by Spain, which was the case with the Malvinas Islands.
Spain appointed a succession of thirty-two governors in the Malvinas Islands up until 1811, when the garrison at Puerto Soledad was required from Montevideo to defend the monarchy at the beginning of the War of Independence. The first autonomous governments of the United Provinces of the River Plate referred to the Malvinas Islands in various administrative acts, considering them an integral part of their territory, inherited from Spain by succession of States under the uti possidetis juris principleof 1810.
In 1820, amongst the difficult circumstances imposed by the internal struggles faced by the Argentine state in formation, Naval officer David Jewett took possession of the Malvinas Islands on behalf of the United Provinces of the River Plate at a public ceremony in Puerto Soledad, which was attended by sealers and whalers of different nationalities, including Americans and British, who had happened to disembark on the islands in the course of their work. The news was published in the media in the United States and the United Kingdom but there was no official comment from either of the two countries, nor did Great Britain stake any claim to the Malvinas Islands in the process of recognition of the Argentine State, which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Trade and Navigation in 1825.
During the 1820s, successive Argentine Governments took various actions in support of their sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, including the appointment of governors, legislation on fishing resources and the granting of territorial concessions. As a result, Puerto Soledad grew and its inhabitants worked in stockbreeding, sealing and providing services to the boats which came into port.
On 10 June 1829, the Argentine Government enacted a decree creating the Political and Military Command of the Malvinas Islands. After having remained silent for over 50 years, in the course of which there had been successive uncontested Spanish and Argentine administrations in the Malvinas Islands, in November 1829 the United Kingdom objected to that decree against the backdrop of renewed strategic interest in the South Atlantic.
At the end of 1831, a United States warship razed Puerto Soledad as reprisal for the capture by the Argentine authorities of sealing vessels found to be infringing fishing laws. The Argentine Government immediately began attempts to obtain reparations from the United States and at the same time sent a navy schooner to restore order in the islands, upset by the arrival of the American vessel.
Origin of the sovereignty dispute
Once order had been restored in Puerto Soledad, a British Royal Navy corvette, with the support of another warship in the vicinity, threatened to use greater force and demanded the surrender and handover of the settlement. After the expulsion of the Argentine authorities, the commander of the British ship left one of the settlers of Puerto Soledad in charge of the flag and sailed back to his base. In 1834, the British Government assigned a Navy officer to remain in the islands, and only in 1841 did it decide to “colonize” the Malvinas Islands by appointing a “governor”.
The act of force of 1833, carried out in peacetime without prior communication or declaration by a government friendly to the Argentine Republic, was immediately rejected and protested. On 16 January 1833, the Argentine Government demanded explanations from the British Chargé d’Affaires, who was unaware of the actions carried out by the vessels of his country. On 22 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs presented a protest to the British government official, which was renewed and extended on several occasions by the Argentine representative in London. The Argentine presentations were rejected by the British Government.
The issue remained unsettled and this was recognised by the British Foreign Secretary in 1849. Argentina, meanwhile, continued to raise the issue at different levels of government and it became a subject of debate in the Argentine Congress. In 1884, in view of the lack of response to the repeated protests, Argentina proposed to take the issue to international arbitration, which was also rejected by the United Kingdom without any reasons being provided.
Ever since then, the Argentine Republic has constantly reiterated its legitimate claim at a bilateral level, by filing the relevant protests whenever it has learnt of British acts which contradict its sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, as well as at several multilateral fora, including the United Nations and the Organization of American States, where it promoted the adoption of resolutions calling upon both Parties to resolve the dispute and the issuance of declarations in support of the Argentine position.
There are only two parties to the sovereignty dispute: the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom
Within the framework of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2065 (XX) of 1965 –stating that the dispute between the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom over the sovereignty of the Islands must be resolved through negotiations in accordance with the provisions and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, General Assembly Resolution 1514(XV), and the interests of the inhabitants of the Islands- a bilateral negotiation process was initiated during which several ways of resolving the dispute were discussed, without the parties reaching an agreement.
In 1982, the South Atlantic conflict took place, along with the breaking off of diplomatic relations, which were resumed in February 1990.
The resumption of diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom – as from the Joint Declarations of Madrid in 1989 and 1990 – was only possible due to the adoption of a sovereignty and jurisdiction safeguard formula with regard to the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. In pursuance of the Joint Declaration of 19 October 1989, such formula applies to all bilateral meetings on practical aspects connected to the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, as well as to any declarations and acts of the parties and of third parties which might take place as a result of the agreements made at the meetings.
As from the Joint Declarations of Madrid with the United Kingdom, various provisional understandings were adopted regarding practical matters related to the South Atlantic, under the sovereignty safeguard formula, through different joint declarations and exchanges of notes.
Summary of Joint Declarations – provisional understandings as from 1989:
1. Joint Declaration of 19 October 1989 (Madrid I): Regarding the adoption of the sovereignty safeguard formula, the reaffirmation of both countries’ commitments to fully comply with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the end of hostilities and both countries’ commitment not to file any claims for the damage caused by the hostilities and free access by Argentine merchant vessels to the Exclusion Zone. The Joint Declaration also contains other measures connected to the Argentine-British bilateral relation. In force with respect to some aspects and already fulfilled with regard to others.
2. Joint Declaration of 15 February 1990 (Madrid II): Regarding the lifting by the United Kingdom of the Exclusion Zone surrounding the Malvinas Islands, the adoption of the first military confidence-building measures in the South-West Atlantic, the establishment of a Working Group on South Atlantic Matters and the visit to the Malvinas Islands by the relatives of the Argentine soldiers buried in the cemetery at Darwin (which took place in March 1991). The Joint Declaration also contains other measures relating to the Argentine-British bilateral relation. In force with respect to some aspects and already fulfilled with regard to others.
3. Joint Declaration of 28 November 1990: Regarding the conservation of fishing resources in the South Atlantic. The continuous unilateral acts of the United Kingdom led to the suspension, as from December 2005, of bilateral cooperation on the conservation of fishing resources, that is to say, the organization of new meetings of the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission, the coordination of joint research cruises and the exchange of information on the composition of fishing fleets and the capture of the most significant species. Suspended.
Furthermore, on 20 June 2008, Law No. 26,386 (“Federal Fisheries Regime”, amending Law No. 24,922) was published in the Official Gazette. That Law sets forth penalties for the persons who own fishing vessels which carry out fishing operations in waters under Argentine jurisdiction without the relevant fishing permit or who have a legal, economic or beneficial relationship with any individuals or corporations which own fishing vessels that carry out fishing operations within waters under Argentine jurisdiction without the relevant fishing permit.
4. Joint Declaration of 25 September 1991: Regarding the reformulation of military confidence-building measures in the South-West Atlantic. Replaced by the Joint Declaration of 12 July 1993.
5. Joint Declaration of 12 July 1993: Regarding the reformulation of the military confidence-building measures in the South-West Atlantic. The military confidence-building measures include a direct communication system between the Argentine military authorities in Comodoro Rivadavia and Ushuaia and the British in the Malvinas Islands; a mechanism for advance communication of the approach of military vessels to the coasts controlled by the other party; security measures for air and naval units operating nearby; the exchange of information and the coordination of activities in cases of search and rescue at sea; the provision of sea-related information by the British party to the Argentine Party, which is in charge of Navarea 6 of the IMO (International Maritime Organization); and the Letter of Operational Agreement for controlling air traffic in the South Atlantic, as the Monte Agradable airport (Malvinas Islands) reports to the Comodoro Rivadavia Flight Information Region, in pursuance of ICAO rules (International Civil Aviation Organization). In force.
6. Joint Press Release of 18 July 1994: Regarding partial reformulation of the military confidence-building measures in the South-West Atlantic. In force.
Although the confidence-building measures are still in force, the South Atlantic Working Group has not met since 1994.
7. Joint Declaration of 27 September 1995 on Cooperation over OffShore Activities in the South-West Atlantic: Regarding the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons (oil and gas). The Joint Declaration established a programme of coordinated activities and provided for the creation of six special cooperation areas. At the same time, the Argentine Government issued another declaration stating, among other things, that the understanding was not to affect Argentina’s rights and that neither such understanding nor the implementation thereof involved could be interpreted as an acceptance of the pretended British right to call for bids for the development of hydrocarbons in the maritime areas surrounding the Malvinas Islands.
The British unilateral acts uninterruptedly performed since 1995 in spite of Argentina’s repeated protests led the Argentine Government to terminate the Joint Declaration, which was notified to the British Government on 27 March 2007. Terminated by Argentina.
On the other hand, on 2 February 2010, the Argentine Government submitted a protest note to the United Kingdom, rejecting its pretence to authorize hydrocarbon exploration activities in the areas surrounding the Malvinas Islands by means of the Ocean Guardian platform. That protest note has circulated as an official document of the United Nations and the OAS.
In this respect, the Special Communiqué on Hydrocarbon Exploration on the Continental Shelf, approved by the Heads of State and Government, on the occasion of the Latin American and Caribbean Unity Summit held in Cancun, Mexico, on 22 and 23 February 2010, should be highlighted.
The Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs also submitted protests to the countries in whose territories the companies which contributed to the transportation of the Ocean Guardian platform or which received concessions for the exploration works are domiciled. At the same time, discouragement letters were sent to the companies involved in such activities.
Furthermore, in the context of the specific measures aimed at discouraging and
avoiding the exploitation of its natural resources, the Argentine Government issued Presidential Decree No. 256/2010, which applies to the circulation of vessels and naval artifacts between continental ports and ports located in the islands subject to the dispute, and whose Enforcement Regulations were published on 26 April 2010 in the Official Gazette. That Presidential Decree is currently in the course of implementation.
Meanwhile, active participation in the exploration and potential exploitation of energetic resources by Argentine companies or other companies related thereto on the undisputed continental shelf is being promoted.
8. Joint Declaration of 14 July 1999: Regarding the reestablishment of regular direct flights between Punta Arenas (Chile), Río Gallegos and the Malvinas Islands; access to the Malvinas Islands by holders of Argentine passports; increase in cooperation on preservation of fishing resources in the South Atlantic; construction of a Memorial to the Argentine War Dead in the cemetery at Darwin, Malvinas Islands; and analysis of the toponymy (geographical names) in the Malvinas Islands. In force with respect to some aspects and already fulfilled with respect to others.
9. Agreement by Exchange of Notes of 23 February 2001: Regarding the application of the sovereignty formula to private navigation and air navigation between the Argentine mainland territory and the Malvinas Islands. The United Kingdom honours this agreement only in part, because, since November 2003, it does not authorize non-regular flights between Argentine mainland territory and the Malvinas Islands. Partially in force.
10. Agreement by Exchange of Notes of 8 and 20 June 2001: Exchange of information concerning the activities of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom in relation to their respective submissions before the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, established by the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Under this agreement, Argentina was able to perform part of the scientific data collection task in the area illegitimately occupied by the United Kingdom. Performed.
On 21 April 2009, the Argentine Republic, after 12 specific campaigns and after invoking the scientific information available in pursuance of Argentine Law No. 20,489 and the Convention on the Law of the Sea, submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf the documents supporting its submission on the outer limit of the continental shelf of the entire Argentine territory.
Argentina thus performed an act of sovereign affirmation of its rights over a vast 1,782,645-km2 territory of Argentine continental shelf stretching beyond its exclusive economic zone and all throughout the natural area of its mainland territory, the islands of the South Atlantic and the Argentine Antarctic Sector, in addition to the 4,799,732 km2, up to 200 miles.
The Commission will not analyze submissions referring to the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands made by Argentina and by the United Kingdom under the provisions of ANNEX I to the Rules of the Commission, establishing that such body will not consider or qualify the submissions referring to areas subject to a sovereignty dispute.
11. Agreement by Exchange of Notes 11 October 2001: Regarding the conduct of a Feasibility Study on Demining of the Malvinas Islands, within the context of the Ottawa Convention Banning Anti-Personnel Mines. Performed.
12. Agreement by Exchange of Notes of 3 May 2002: Regarding access to the South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands by the holders of Argentine passports. In force.
13. Agreement by Exchange of Notes of 3 August 2006: Additional agreement on the conduct of a feasibility study on demining of the Malvinas Islands, establishing a mechanism for comparing prices between private entities for the performance of certain tasks provided for in the main phase of the study, including the field work in the Malvinas Islands. This took place in December 2006 with the participation of two Argentine officers who monitored those tasks. On 5 October 2007, both Governments approved the actions taken by the Joint Working Group, including the Final Report regarding the Feasibility Study on Demining of the Malvinas Islands. In December 2009, the Second Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention Banning Anti-Personnel Mines (Cartagena, Colombia) granted the request for a 10-year extension submitted by Argentina in order to remove the land mines present in the Malvinas Islands. Performed.
14. Inauguration of the Memorial to the Argentine War Dead in the cemetery at Darwin: As a result of the confidential negotiations held by the Argentine and British Governments for the five preceding years, on 3 and 10 October 2009 relatives of the Argentine War Dead travelled to the Malvinas Islands, for the purpose of inaugurating the Memorial to the members of the Argentine Armed Forces who died in action in 1982, which had been erected in the cemetery at Darwin in 2004 to honour one of the commitments made by Argentina and the United Kingdom through the Joint Declaration of 14 July 1999.
In total, 320 relatives and 55 companions travelled by means of the regular weekly flight operated since 1999 by the Chilean company LAN AIRLINES between Punta Arenas (Chile) and the Malvinas Islands, with two monthly stopovers in Río Gallegos, one in each direction. Performed.
Sovereignty, the Key Issue of the Dispute
Notwithstanding those provisional understandings and in spite of the various calls from the international community requesting a definitive solution of the dispute, the United Kingdom is still reluctant to address the issue of sovereignty and carries out unilateral actions in relation to the disputed area. This attitude is in violation of the spirit and the letter of those understandings and is contrary to resolution 31/49 of the United Nations General Assembly urging both parties to refrain from adopting decisions involving the introduction of unilateral modifications into the situation while the islands are undergoing the process recommended in the relevant resolutions.
Transitional Provision I of the Argentine Constitution of 1994 provides that: “The Argentine Nation ratifies its legitimate and non-prescribing sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and over the relevant maritime and insular areas, as they are an integral part of the National territory. The recovery of said territories and the full exercise of sovereignty, with respect for the way of life of their inhabitants and according to the principles of international law, are a permanent and unrelinquished goal of the Argentine people.”
In this respect, Argentina constantly reiterates to international and regional organizations and to the international community in general its call upon the United Kingdom to agree to the international request to resume the sovereignty negotiations in pursuance of the relevant resolutions and declarations issued by the United Nations and the OAS, and expresses its permanent willingness in that regard. At the same time, the Argentine Government reaffirms its respect for the lifestyle of the islanders as guaranteed by the Argentine Constitution, as well as its commitment to take their interests into consideration. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Argentine Republic rejects and protests against the British unilateral acts in the area subject to the dispute.
On 14 December 1960, the General Assembly approved Resolution 1514 (XV) “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”, which proclaimed “the necessity of bringing to a speedy and unconditional end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations”, enshrining two fundamental principles that were to guide the decolonization process: that of self-determination and that of territorial integrity.
The principle of self-determination is not applicable to the Question of the Malvinas Islands
The specificity of the Question of the Malvinas Islands lies in the fact that the United Kingdom occupied the islands by force in 1833, expelled the original population and did not allow their return, thus violating Argentine territorial integrity. Therefore, the possibility of applying the principle of self-determination is ruled out, as its exercise by the inhabitants of the islands would cause the “disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity” of Argentina. In this respect, Resolution 1514 (XV) “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” sets forth in paragraph six that “[a]ny attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”.
As regards the Question of the Malvinas Islands, the United Nations General Assembly included this doctrine – involving the application of the principle of territorial integrity by referring to the interests and NOT to the wishes of the inhabitants of the Islands – in resolution 2065 (XX) of 1965, subsequently ratified by other resolutions in 1973 (3160, XXVIII) 1976 (31/49), 1982 (37/9), 1983 (38/12), 1984 (39/6), 1985 (40/21), 1986 (41/40), 1987 (42/19) and 1988 (43/25). They all declare the existence of a sovereignty dispute and reaffirm the invitation made in resolution 2065 (XX) to the Parties (Argentina and the United Kingdom) “to proceed without delay with the negotiations recommended by the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples with a view to finding a peaceful solution to the problem, bearing in mind the provisions and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations and of General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) and the interests of the population of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)”.
As from 2004, and by virtue of a process of revitalization of the General Assembly, the Argentine Government managed to include the Question of the Malvinas Islands in the permanent agenda and in the Document of the General Assembly Bureau. The issue may be addressed subject to prior notification by a member State.
United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization
This Committee, currently comprising twenty-nine States, adopts a resolution every year which – among other considerations – requests both Governments to consolidate the present process of dialogue and cooperation through the resumption of negotiations, with a view to finding a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute as soon as possible.
The draft resolution had been traditionally co-sponsored by the Latin American countries which are members of the Committee: Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela. Ever since 1996, the draft has been submitted by Chile.
Since 1993, the relevant resolutions are adopted by consensus. These resolutions are referred to the Fourth Committee, where they are adopted together with the Committee’s report which is adopted by consensus without any discussion on the merits. The most recent resolution was adopted on 24 June 2010.
It should be noted that the “Question of the Malvinas Islands” figures as a permanent issue on the UNGA agenda and may be considered upon notice being given by a Member State, whereupon it is automatically incorporated into the General Assembly agenda for the next year.
In this regard, the UN Secretary-General said in his 5 April 2005 report on the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism that, in the case of the Malvinas Islands, there is a sovereignty dispute and that the Special Committee on Decolonization and the General Assembly have constantly urged the Governments in question to continue to carry out negotiations in order to find a definitive solution to this issue.
Organization of American States
The General Assembly of the Organization of American States passed a resolution every year between 1982 and 1992, and since 1993, it has also adopted a declaration every year establishing that the Question of the Malvinas Islands is of permanent hemispheric interest, and calls upon Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful and definitive solution to the sovereignty dispute; expresses its satisfaction at the reaffirmation of the Argentine Government’s willingness to continue exploring all the possible ways to reach a peaceful solution to the dispute, and, especially, its positive considerations on the inhabitants of the Malvinas islands; and decides to continue to examine the question at its subsequent sessions until a definitive settlement has been reached thereon. The most recent Declaration was passed on 8 June 2010.
On 25 June 1996, MERCOSUR Member Countries, Bolivia and Chile, expressed in the Declaration of Potrero de los Funes their full support for Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute related to the Question of the Malvinas Islands, thus conveying a clear message from the sub-regional bloc on the need to reach a solution to the dispute. This support was reiterated in the Asunción Declaration on 15 June 1999 and continues to be expressed through the Joint Communiqués of the Presidents of MERCOSUR States Parties and Associated States issued every six months on the occasion of the meetings of the MERCOSUR Common Market Council.
The most recent Joint Communiqué of the MERCOSUR States Parties and Associated States was issued in San Juan, Argentine Republic on 3 August 2010. Since 2005, those communiqués also reiterate that the pretence to consider the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands as countries and territories to which Part Four of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Decisions of the Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories implementing it apply is inconsistent with the existence of a sovereignty dispute over such archipelagos.
In addition, on the same date, State Parties of MERCOSUR and Associated States issued a Special Declaration rejecting the exploration of non-renewable natural resources by the United Kingdom on the Argentine continental shelf, by which they undertook, pursuant to international law, the law of the sea and their respective national regulations, not to facilitate the activities of ships aimed at directly supporting hydrocarbon-related activities that affect the rights of the Argentine Republic on its continental shelf.
South American Summits
The First South American Summit adopted the following Declaration on the Malvinas Islands: “The Meeting of South American Presidents, held in Brasilia between 31 August and 1 September 2000, confirms that the colonial situation in the Malvinas Islands subsists in the South Atlantic. Convinced that the maintenance of colonial situations is inconsistent with the ideals of peace, security and cooperation in the subcontinent, the Meeting of Presidents agrees on the need for both Parties to resume negotiations in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute, in accordance with the relevant UN and OAS Resolutions.” The Third South American Summit, which took place in Cuzco on 8 December 2004, reiterated in similar terms their support for Argentina’s legitimate rights.
South American Community of Nations. The Presidents assembled in the Second Summit of Heads of State of the South American Community of Nations, held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, on 9 December 2006, reiterated their support for the Argentine Republic’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the Question of the Malvinas Islands and emphatically encouraged the parties to resume negotiations in order to find as soon as possible a fair, peaceful and definitive solution to the sovereignty dispute on the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, pursuant to the relevant resolutions and declarations of the General Assembly, the Special Committee on Decolonization and the Organization of American States.
First South American Energy Summit. The Argentine Government’s decision to terminate the provisional agreement on hydrocarbons was supported by the twelve countries that participated in the First South American Energy Summit held in Margarita Island, Venezuela, in which Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Guyana, Surinam, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia signed on 17 April 2007 the “Presidential Declaration on the Malvinas Islands” for the purpose of reaffirming their support for the Argentine Republic’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom and endorsing the decision of the Argentine Government with regard to the provisional agreement.
Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). The Presidential Summits of UNASUR, an organization set up in 2008 to replace the South American Community of Nations, have issued since 2009 communiqués reiterating their support for the Argentine Republic’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland regarding the Question of the Malvinas Islands and recalling the permanent regional interest in seeing the Governments of the Argentine Republic and of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland resume negotiations in order to find a peaceful and definitive solution to the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and their surrounding maritime areas, pursuant to the relevant resolutions and declarations of the United Nations and of the Organisation of American States. In that regard, they highlight the permanent constructive attitude and willingness of the Argentine Government to reach, through negotiations, a definitive solution to this outdated colonial situation in the Americas. The most recent communiqué issued by UNASUR is the “Declaration on the Question of the Malvinas Islands,” issued on 4 May 2010 in Los Cardales, Province of Buenos Aires.
Latin America and Caribbean Unity Summit. The summit was held in Cancun, Mexico, on 22-23 February 2010, where a declaration was issued by which the member countries reaffirmed their support for the Argentine Republic’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the Question of the Malvinas Islands. At the same time, a special communiqué was signed with regard to hydrocarbon exploration on the continental shelf, urging both parties to refrain from adopting decisions that entail the introduction of unilateral modifications to the situation while the islands undergo the process recommended by the General Assembly.
Central American Integration System (SICA). At the Extraordinary Meeting of the President of the Argentine Republic and the Heads of State and Government of Central America, the Dominican Republic and Belize, held in San José, Costa Rica, on 4 December 2000, a Joint Declaration was issued, which reaffirms in paragraph 27 the need for the Governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to resume, as soon as possible, negotiations towards finding a prompt solution to the sovereignty dispute related to the Question of the Malvinas Islands, pursuant to the provisions, objectives and resolutions of the United Nations and the Organization of American States, including the territorial integrity principle.
Summit of Latin America and the Caribbean (CALC). The Heads of State and Government of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, assembled in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, on 16-17 December 2008, on the occasion of the Summit of Latin America and the Caribbean on Integration and Development reiterated that the Question of the Malvinas Islands is an issue of permanent hemispheric importance and reaffirmed the need for the Governments of the Argentine Republic and of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to resume, as soon as possible, negotiations on the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, for the purpose of finding a peaceful solution to this prolonged dispute, in the context of the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly and Special Committee on Decolonization, as well as the repeated resolutions and declarations on the same issue approved by the OAS General Assembly.
In the Joint Declaration on the Argentine Republic’s Legitimate rights in the Sovereignty Dispute over the Question of the Malvinas Islands, adopted at the Ministerial Meeting of the Summit of Latin America and the Caribbean on Integration and Development held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 6 November 2009, the CALC reiterated the terms of the summit of Heads of State and Government and stated that the inclusion of the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands in the Association regime of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the UE is inconsistent with the legitimate rights of the Argentine Republic and with the existence of a sovereignty dispute over such archipelagos.”
The Rio Group has expressed its opinion on the Question of the Malvinas Islands since 1993. It has issued declarations supporting Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas and also expressing that the inclusion of the South Atlantic islands in the association regime of the European Union is inconsistent with the existence of a sovereignty dispute over such islands.
On the occasion of the discussion of the Question of the Malvinas Islands by the UN Decolonization Committee and the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly, the Representative of the country in charge of the Secretariat of the Group in the relevant year participates in the discussions on behalf of the group.
Second South America-Africa Summit
The summit was held in Margarita Island, Venezuela, on 26-27 September 2009, where a declaration was issued urging the United Kingdom and Argentina to continue negotiations in order to find a fair, peaceful and final solution to the dispute over the sovereignty of the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, pursuant to the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and other regional and international organizations.
Summit of South American- Arab Countries
Since 2005, the declarations of the Summit of South American-Arab Countries have included a paragraph calling on the parties to resume negotiations in order to find a peaceful and final solution to the sovereignty dispute related to the Question of the Malvinas Islands and expressed that the inclusion of the South Atlantic islands in the association regime of the European Union is inconsistent with the existence of a sovereignty dispute over such islands.
The Ibero-American Summits that gather the Heads of State and Government of the 19 Ibero-American countries, Spain and Portugal, have reiterated every year since 2000, through a special communiqué, the need for Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume, as soon as possible, negotiations towards a prompt solution to the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, pursuant to the resolutions of the United Nations and the Organization of American States, and the provisions and objectives of the UN Charter, including the territorial integrity principle.
South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone
The South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone was established in 1986 by the countries of the western coast of Africa and those bordered by the South Atlantic in Latin America. The 24 countries seek forms of regional integration and cooperation. At the meeting held in Luanda, Angola, on 18-19 July 2007, they made a statement calling upon Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations pursuant to Resolution No. 2065(XX) of the General Assembly and other relevant UN resolutions in order to find as soon as possible a peaceful and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute.
The Group of 77 and China
A declaration was issued by the Heads of State and Government of the Group of 77 Member Countries and China, assembled in Doha, Qatar, on the occasion of the Second South Summit held on 14-16 June 2005, reaffirming the need for the Government of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to resume negotiations, pursuant to the principles and objectives of the UN Charter and the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute related to the “Question of the Malvinas Islands”, which seriously strains the Argentine Republic’s economic capabilities.
The Question of the Malvinas Islands in the context of the European Union (EU)
The Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the Argentine Antarctic Sector are not EU overseas territories.
The 1957 Rome Treaty, which established the European Economic Community (EEC), laid down in its Fourth Part special provisions regarding the association of certain non-European overseas countries and territories (OCT) listed in the then-current Annex 4 (Annex II in subsequent Treaties).
The United Kingdom Accession Treaty to the European Community, which entered into force on 1 January 1973, incorporated the British overseas countries and territories into the Annex, including the Argentine territories “Malvinas Islands and their dependencies” (South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands) and the so-called “British Antarctic Territory.”
Argentina’s initial complaint was made on 6 July 1972 before each of the signatory States of the United Kingdom accession treaty to the European Communities (EC), expressing its reservation with regard to the inclusion of parts of the Argentine territory in Annex 4 of the Rome Treaty.
The aim of this association, which has remained the same to date, is to promote the economic and social development of the overseas countries and territories and the establishment of close economic relations between them and the European Union as a whole.
This association regime is only applicable to non-European countries and territories that maintain special relations with Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. OCTs (including the Argentine territories unlawfully occupied by the United Kingdom) are not part of the European Union, nor of its territory, and, therefore, they are not subject to EU law. They are only associated with the EU by virtue of the special relations they maintain with the above-referenced countries.
The “Treaty of Lisbon” introduces certain modifications to the existing treaties (i.e., the EU Treaty and the Treaty establishing the EC), which are still in force. The reformed treaties are respectively known as the Treaty on European Union and Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and are not constitutional in nature.
With regard to the treatment of the “Association of Overseas Countries and Territories”, the Treaty of Lisbon only introduced non-substantive modifications to bring the text of those articles into line with the rest of the articles. Therefore, there were no changes in the treatment or in the list of OCTs and that is why Argentina’s complaint subsists.
On the occasion of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, on 1 December 2009, Argentina made new submissions rejecting the pretence to include portions of the Argentine national territory – the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the Argentine Antarctic Sector – in the list of territories to which the association regime provided for in the Fourth Part of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union apply (Annex II of such Treaty).
Argentina intends for the European Union institutions to take into account that the Argentine territories that are subject to the sovereignty dispute acknowledged by the United Nations are in a special situation, which differs from that of other Overseas Countries and Territories and must therefore be reflected in the treatment given by the European Union, because their future is inextricably linked to the settlement of that sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
The EU’s position on the Question of the Malvinas Islands. The EU, as the European Community did in the past, refrains from taking any position on the sovereignty dispute, since it considers the issue to be a bilateral matter that falls outside its scope of competence.