Malvinas 40 years: It’s time to end colonialism
By Daniel Filmus, Argentina’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, published in Nodal.
Every April 2, we Argentines pay tribute to the compatriots who fought valiantly for the recovery of the exercise of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, other archipelagos of the South Atlantic and their corresponding maritime spaces.
On the 40th anniversary of the heroic deed carried out by our young men and women, the memory and recognition of their dedication must go hand in hand with a firm commitment to continue fighting for the cause for which many of them gave their lives. The permanent increase of the military presence and the refusal during these four decades of the United Kingdom to resume the dialogue for sovereignty in the terms proposed by the United Nations in its resolution 2065 (XX), show the illegality and illegitimacy of the usurpation that took place in 1833 and reveal the economic, geopolitical and military interests that drive the British to try to perpetuate the usurpation of an important portion of the Argentine territory. It should be noted that, after the 1982 war, on November 4 of the same year, the UN General Assembly approved Resolution 37/9 which stated: “the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are urged to resume negotiations in order to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands as soon as possible”. At the same time, it instructed the Secretary General to initiate a new good offices effort to comply with this resolution.
The current global situation, marked by the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, once again showed the double standard with which the United Kingdom conceives its international policy. On the one hand, it condemns the rupture of the territorial integrity of Ukraine by Russia and, on the other hand, it maintains the occupation of a vast territory in the South Atlantic that prevents our country from exercising its sovereignty over its entire extension. This is not the only case. The United Kingdom is the administering power in 10 of the 17 colonial situations pending before the United Nations Decolonization Committee.
After its independence from Spain, Argentina exercised full sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands. On January 3, 1833, the United Kingdom, in full colonial expansion, violently evicted the representatives of the Argentine government and its settlers and established another population, coming from the metropolis itself.
It should be noted that from the very moment of their usurpation, Argentine governments have been uninterruptedly demanding the restitution of the full exercise of sovereignty over the Islands. Even with different emphases and strategies, since 1833 no Argentine government has consented to or legitimized the colonial occupation. In 1994 this claim was unanimously incorporated into the National Constitution.
Early on, Latin American countries expressed their solidarity with Argentina and affirmed that it was a colonial aggression that attacked the sovereignty of the whole region. Bolivia was perhaps the country that expressed it most immediately and forcefully. Shortly after the usurpation took place, its government issued a declaration addressed to the Argentine Republic in which it pointed out that: “The conduct of the British cabinet in the Malvinas, although essentially prejudicial to the government that feels deprived of its possession, is offensive and too injurious to all the American republics and, in the opinion of the Bolivian government, is a highly continental matter”. Since the middle of the 20th century, support for the Malvinas Cause was incorporated in the resolutions of the OAS and all the multilateral organizations of the region.
Mercosur, Unasur, Celac, Olade, ALADI, the Rio Group, the Ibero-American Summits, the Summit of African and Latin American countries, the Summit of Arab and Latin American countries, the South Atlantic Peace Zone (ZPCAS), Parlatino, Parlasur, among others, are some of the regional organizations that expressed their support to Argentina’s claim on the Malvinas Question. Many of these organizations also condemn the usurpation of the natural resources of the South Atlantic by the colonial power. The demand for dialogue is also supported by the most important multilateral organizations on a global scale. The United Nations Decolonization Committee and the G 77 + China, among others, annually demand the return of the United Kingdom to the negotiating table.
The British Government has failed to comply with UN resolutions and has ignored all the statements of multilateral bodies. Despite trying to base its position on respect for the “self-determination” of peoples, the economic and geopolitical interests underlying its claim to perpetuate the colonial situation are becoming increasingly evident. The United Kingdom is trying to force the interpretation of the principle of self-determination for the Malvinas question when the United Nations does not consider it applicable because it is not a question of a colonized or dominated indigenous population. Those who originally lived there were the Argentines who were expelled by the British. The implantation of a population brought from the metropolis was precisely one of the mechanisms of colonization.
In the case of the Malvinas, the real motives seem evident: military control of the South Atlantic situation, exploitation of the natural resources existing in the region, the need to maintain a bridgehead for logistical support of their pretensions in the Antarctic and control over the strategic bioceanic passage.
The British military presence contradicts General Assembly Resolution 41/11 (Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic) which, among other provisions, calls upon States of all other regions, especially militarily important States, to scrupulously respect the South Atlantic region as a zone of peace and cooperation.
On the other hand, the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in a vast area of the Southwest Atlantic – extremely rich in hydrocarbon, fish, mineral and biodiversity resources – openly violates UN Resolution 31/49.
Another aspect by which the United Kingdom asserts its colonial presence in the Malvinas Islands is their proximity to Antarctica. Taking into account the strong British presence in the sixth continent and its claim to sovereignty -which includes the entire Argentine Antarctic sector and part of the Chilean sector- its position in the Islands constitutes a strategic situation.
The commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the war must include, among others, three fundamental objectives. On the one hand, and as we pointed out at the beginning of this article, the recognition, homage and permanent material support to those who fought heroically on the Islands and their families. They will always be in the hearts of all Argentines. On the other hand, it must reaffirm the need to form a true State policy, beyond electoral calendars, to give continuity to the claim and to the strategies that promote it. In this sense, the creation of the Malvinas National Council and the laws passed unanimously in the National Congress in 2020, have been a great step forward. As the slogan put forward by the national government states: “MALVINAS NOS UNE”. Finally, as stated in our Constitution, we commit ourselves to make the imprescriptibility of the claim a reality, always through peace and dialogue. The best way to honor those who fought in the Islands is to keep their cause alive, not to stop working every day until our flag flies again in the Malvinas.
By Daniel Filmus, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation of Argentina and former Secretary of Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic Affairs of Argentina – Previously published in Nodal.