Special Committee Approves Draft Resolution Restating Need for Peaceful, Negotiated Settlement to Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Question, Text on Status of Tokelau

GA/COL/3338
25 June 2019
2019 Session, 7th & 8th Meetings (AM & PM)

Special Committee Approves Draft Resolution Restating Need for Peaceful, Negotiated Settlement to Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Question, Text on Status of Tokelau

Argentina Promoting Bilateral Cooperation in New Atmosphere of Trust, Says Foreign Minister, Urging Frank Dialogue with United Kingdom

The Special Committee on Decolonization today approved a draft resolution reiterating that the only way to end the special and particular colonial situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)* is through a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

Jose Marcelo Faurie, Argentina’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship, said that in the case of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, the object of decolonization is not the population, but the Territory itself.

“The time that has passed has not diminished the validity of our claim, nor modified our conviction that this protracted controversy must be solved peacefully, through bilateral negotiations,” he said.  The United Kingdom, he added, has continued to carry out unilateral acts in the disputed area, disregarding the provisions of General Assembly resolution 31/49.

In an effort to foster trust between the two sides, President Mauricio Macri has promoted a renewed, constructive relationship with the United Kingdom, through reciprocal visits of high-level authorities in both countries, commercial and business missions and resumed cooperation in fisheries and transport, he said.  The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has facilitated the important humanitarian task of identifying Argentine soldiers buried in unmarked graves in Darwin cemetery in the Malvinas.  “President Macri’s Government is convinced that, through a frank, substantive and constructive dialogue with the United Kingdom, we can deepen cooperation in all those areas that are of mutual interest and represent opportunities for both,” he said, calling it “a necessary condition for generating a climate of trust between both parties.”

Also addressing the Special Committee — formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples — were four petitioners, who offered their views on the matter.

Roger Edwards, Legislative Assembly, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said the desire of the islanders to retain the status quo was amply demonstrated by the March 2013 referendum in which 99.8 per cent of those who voted — in a turnout of 92 per cent — wanted to remain as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.  Contrary to the views of some Special Committee members, Falkland islanders do not consider themselves to be part of a colony or an implanted population, but rather as a people from more than 60 ethnic background groups who live together in peace, he said, stressing that Argentina’s claim to the islands is without foundation.

Luis Gustavo Vernet, a great‑great grandson of Luis Vernet, the first Argentine Governor of the Malvinas Islands, said that in 1833, a British war frigate arrived, occupied the islands by force and replaced the Argentine flag with a British flag.  In the case at hand, there is no “people” subject to colonial domination, but a settlement of United Kingdom citizens who illegally occupy a portion of territory that belongs to another State.

Guillermo Raimundo Clifton, a veterinary doctor in Argentine Patagonia, said that eliminating colonialism is essential to fully realize the Territory’s development potential, stressing that the main obstacle is the refusal of the United Kingdom to resolve the dispute.

Roger Spink, Legislative Assembly, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said the Territory is internally self-governing and economically self-sufficient, save for the cost of defence.  “We are not a colony of the United Kingdom, but an overseas territory that has progressed well beyond colonial status,” he said, adding that Argentina’s claim that the United Kingdom expelled the population of the islands in 1833 is a falsehood that has been used to mislead the United Nations since the 1960s.

Delegations from the Latin American and Caribbean region expressed resounding support for Argentina’s claim to the Territory and the surrounding maritime area, calling for the resumption of negotiations to end the sovereignty dispute.  Several cited the outcomes of regional meetings attesting to that need. 

Bolivia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), underscored that organization’s strong support of the legitimate rights of Argentina on the question of the Malvinas Islands and the interest of its member States in resumed negotiations.  Speaking in his national capacity, he said that “invasions do not grant rights”.

The speaker for Ecuador rejected any attempts to apply to this question the principle of self-determination, which is incompatible with the territorial integrity of Argentina.

Uruguay’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said its joint communique in 2018 reiterated the legitimate rights of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  Speaking in his national capacity, he welcomed efforts to improve bilateral relations, such as identification of the remains of Argentine soldiers on the islands.

Syria’s representative said that all resolutions adopted on this question are now “dead letters” due to non-implementation, urging the United Kingdom to resume negotiations while also calling on the Secretary-General to exercise his good offices to help find a peaceful solution.

The speaker for Sierra Leone said that no two Non-Self-Governing Territories are the same and it is incumbent on the Special Committee to address their situations accordingly.  “Primacy must be given to the wishes, aspirations and well-being of the peoples of the Territories,” she said, adding that any solution short of that will not be durable or sustainable. 

Also today, the Special Committee approved without a vote a draft resolution titled “Question of Tokelau” (document A/AC.109/2019/L.23).  By its terms, the General Assembly would acknowledge the decision of the General Fono in 2008 that consideration of any future act of self-determination by Tokelau will be deferred and that New Zealand and Tokelau will devote renewed effort and attention to ensuring that essential services and infrastructure on the atolls of Tokelau are enhanced and strengthened, thereby ensuring an enhanced quality of life and opportunities for the people of Tokelau.

The Special Committee also heard the Premier of Montserrat on the question of that Territory, as well as the representatives of Burundi, Bahrain, Gambia, Gabon and Comoros on the question of Western Sahara.

Also speaking today on the question of Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were representatives of Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Indonesia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Paraguay, Guatemala, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica.

The Special Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 27 June, to continue its work.

Question of Tokelau

The Special Committee on Decolonization opened the meeting by approving without a vote a draft resolution titled “Question of Tokelau” (document A/AC.109/2019/L.23).  By its terms, the General Assembly would acknowledge the decision of the General Fono in 2008 that consideration of any future act of self-determination by Tokelau will be deferred and that New Zealand and Tokelau will devote renewed effort and attention to ensuring that essential services and infrastructure on the atolls of Tokelau are enhanced and strengthened, thereby ensuring an enhanced quality of life and opportunities for the people of Tokelau.

The Assembly would acknowledge Tokelau’s need for continued support from the international community and its desire to become part of the discussions on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the impacts of climate change and the protection of the environment and oceans.  It would also acknowledge the efforts of the administering Power to include in its national reporting to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change the climate mitigation action taken by Tokelau.  Further, the text would have the Assembly call upon the administering Power and United Nations agencies to continue to provide assistance to Tokelau as it further develops.

Question of Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

ROGER EDWARDS, Legislative Assembly, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said the desire of the islanders to retain the status quo was amply demonstrated by the March 2013 referendum in which 99.8 per cent of those who voted — in a turnout of 92 per cent — wanted to remain as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.  “There can be no dialogue on sovereignty unless the Falkland islanders so wish and unless they are directly involved in any such dialogue,” he said, adding that the Special Committee is not charged by the Secretary-General or the General Assembly with discussing or resolving sovereignty disputes nor can it advance or support claims to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) or any other territory.  Contrary to the views of some Special Committee members, Falkland islanders do not consider themselves to be part of a colony or an implanted population, but rather as a people from more than 60 ethnic background groups who live together in peace.  Argentina’s claim to the islands is without foundation, as they have never been legitimately administered, or formed part of, that country’s sovereign territory. 

He went on to say that for the first time in 37 years, under the presidency of Mauricio Macri, there are possible early signs of a new relationship, giving hope that some sanctions could be lifted.  Scientists from Argentina and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) have exchanged important fisheries data, talks have taken place on an additional weekly flight to the South American mainland, and relatives of Argentine soldiers have been invited to pray at the gravesides of their lost sons.  Search and rescue assets in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were mobilized to help locate the Argentine submarine Santa Fe.  Reiterating an invitation to the Special Committee to visit the islands, he asked its 29 members to ignore Argentina’s unjust and false claims and acknowledge that the right of Falkland islanders to be recognized as a people and, as such, their right to self-determination.

ROGER SPINK, Legislative Assembly, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), said the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is internally self-governing and economically self-sufficient, save for the cost of defence.  “We are not a colony of the United Kingdom, but an Overseas Territory that has progressed well beyond colonial status.”  Argentina’s claim that the United Kingdom expelled the population of the islands in 1833 is a falsehood that has used to mislead the United Nations since the 1960s, he added.  The economic blockade and bullying of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) by the Government of Argentina has caused great concern to many families, particularly those with close ties with Chile, and the actions of the Government of former President Cristina Kirchner taught a new generation of Falkland islanders not to trust Argentina.  However, there is no doubt that humanitarian efforts, assisted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to identify the remains of Argentine servicemen, combined with two visits by Argentine families and the tragic loss of the Santa Fe, means that people on both sides can look past their differences, he said, pointing also to joint efforts by Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Argentine scientists on fish stocks.  He told representatives of Argentina to “stop behaving like an envious and greedy colonial power wishing to conquer and subjugate the people of the Falkland Islands” and to behave like a twenty-first century member of the world community that respect democratic rights.  He also asked the members of the Special Committee to cast aside preconceptions and see the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) for themselves.

GUILLERMO RAIMUNDO CLIFTON, a veterinary doctor in Argentine Patagonia, said that he is the descendent of a large family who settled in the Malvinas in 1880.  His grandfather was born there in 1902 and settled in the Argentine Patagonia after the First World War.  Today, about 50 relatives live in the Malvinas, with whom he maintains regular contact by electronic means.  The Malvinas and Argentine Patagonia face similar problems in the primary sector, such as the deterioration of natural resources, low productivity and remote access to markets.  The exchange of skills through training is one of the best ways to address these agricultural problems, he said, noting that in 2018, an agronomist from Tierra del Fuego travelled to the Malvinas to give lectures about native grasses that had practically disappeared from the area.  For his part, he has maintained permanent contact with different Malvinas partners in the last 20 years, including producers and researchers, with whom he shares professional interests and challenges.  These examples are proof that it is possible to work together to sustainably develop the area.  Unfortunately, the potential for cooperation has been limited largely by the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  Eliminating colonialism is essential to fully realize the Territory’s development potential, he said, stressing that the main obstacle is the refusal of the United Kingdom to resolve the dispute.

LUIS GUSTAVO VERNET, a great‑great grandson of Luis Vernet, the first Argentine governor of the Malvinas Islands, said that his family’s history is living evidence of the Argentines who inhabited the Territory and were then forcibly expelled.  In 1823, the Argentine Government granted a concession to Luis Vernet, who had created a prosperous leather export company in 1819, to exploit Soledad Island in the Malvinas archipelago.  By the end of 1824, the permanent settlement of Argentine citizens in the Malvinas began.  In the 1825 Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between Argentina and the United Kingdom, the latter raised no objection to the 1823 concession nor to the public acts of sovereignty carried out five years earlier.  Until January 1833, the Malvinas were a flourishing community with a prominent future linked to the young Argentine nation.  The effort by Luis Vernet and the Argentines who accompanied him had enabled him to domesticate numerous herds, develop hunting, and build factories and houses.  On January 3 that year, a war frigate arrived, occupied the islands by force and replaced the Argentine flag with a British flag.  From that moment Argentina’s claims over the Malvinas began and continue to this day.

He said he came before the Special Committee to invoke the right of self-determination.  In the case at hand, there is no “people” subject to colonial domination, but a settlement of United Kingdom citizens who illegally occupy a portion of territory that belongs to another State.  Argentina and the United Kingdom need to sit down and negotiate a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute, and those who claim to represent the islands need to cease their intransigent attitude.

MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile), speaking also on behalf of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua, introduced the draft resolution titled “Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)” (document A/AC.109/2019/L.8).  Emphasizing that a final solution to that question is a matter of fundamental importance for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, he said the text recognizes that the issue is “special and particular” due to the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  It recognizes and determines that a negotiated solution between the Governments of the two countries is the only way to resolve the question.  It also calls on the parties to strengthen the dialogue process and cooperation through the resumption of negotiations.  Chile and the other co-sponsors of the text support Argentina’s legitimate sovereign rights in this matter and consider that the only way to resolve the controversy is through bilateral negotiations that should resume as soon as possible.

JORGE MARCELO FAURIE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina, said that the dispute with the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas remains of utmost importance to Argentina.  “The time that has passed has not diminished the validity of our claim, nor modified our conviction that this protracted controversy must be solved peacefully, through bilateral negotiations,” he said.  The recent advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 confirmed the customary nature of the principles reflected in resolution 1514 (XV).  It reaffirmed the crucial role of the General Assembly, and of the Special Committee, as leading and supervising organs of the decolonization process.  The conclusions of this case, including that in some cases a population does not constitute a “people” with the right to self-determination, are fully relevant to the Malvinas question.  In short, in the case of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, the object of decolonization is not the population, but the Territory.

Since taking office, President Mauricio Macri has promoted a renewed, constructive relationship with the United Kingdom, with reciprocal visits of high-level authorities in both countries, as well as commercial and business missions, he said.  In 2018, Mr. Faurie said he received the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson in Buenos Aires, and he met with United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.  Within the framework of the G20 Leaders’ Summit, President Macri received Theresa May, in the first visit of a United Kingdom Prime Minister to Buenos Aires.  In November 2018, both countries, aiming to achieve a greater link between the islands and the mainland, agreed to establish a weekly flight, departing from Sao Paul Brazil and making two monthly stops in Cordoba.  After 14 years, the two countries have resumed scientific cooperation in fisheries.

Within the framework of this new atmosphere of trust, the important humanitarian task facilitated by the ICRC has been carried out to identify Argentine soldiers buried without identification in Darwin cemetery in the Malvinas, he continued.  At present, 113 of the 122 families with relatives in unmarked tombs can finally pay homage to them in their final resting place.  “President Macri’s Government is convinced that, through a frank, substantive and constructive dialogue with the United Kingdom, we can deepen cooperation in all those areas that are of mutual interest and represent opportunities for both,” he said, calling it “a necessary condition for generating a climate of trust between both parties”.

His Government firmly believes in the value of sitting around a table to constructively analyse and discuss all differences.  Regrettably, despite the progress made in many areas, it has not yet been able to resume negotiations over the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  Likewise, the United Kingdom has continued to carry out unilateral acts in the disputed area, disregarding the provisions of General Assembly resolution 31/49.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), underscored that organization’s strongest support of the legitimate rights of Argentina on the question of the Malvinas Islands and the standing interest of its member States in the resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom on the question.  He also recalled CELAC’s request for the Secretary-General to continue his good offices to achieve a peaceful solution to the dispute.  Speaking in his national capacity, he said the issue is one of regional and global importance.  Emphasizing that “invasions do not grant rights”, he said the Special Committee has adopted more than 40 resolutions, in addition to those of the General Assembly, calling for a definitive solution to the question, based on the principle of equality between States.  The United Kingdom has systematically disregarded those solutions, but if other States were to do likewise, they would be facing condemnation and sanctions.

HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), associating herself with CELAC and the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), noted that more than five decades have passed since the first resolution on the Malvinas Islands was adopted at the United Nations.  Ecuador rejects any attempts to apply to this question the principle of self-determination, which is incompatible with the territorial integrity of Argentina.  It also rejects any unilateral measures so long as the question is awaiting resolution.  Recalling a Ministerial Declaration of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China in 2018 on the issue, she said that only bilateral negotiations in line with international law, the Charter of the United Nations and resolutions of the Special Committee and the General Assembly will bring a peaceful and lasting solution to the matter.

Mr. SKOKNIC (Chile), associating himself with CELAC and MERCOSUR, expressed support for the legitimate sovereign rights of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, also welcoming the progress made in bilateral relations in recent years.  He called for the two sides to resume negotiations to find a peaceful and definitive solution.

Ms. RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with CELAC, said that the international community has constantly attached importance to the question of the Malvinas Islands, with the Special Committee and the General Assembly adopting many resolutions on the issue.  Latin America and the Caribbean is a zone of peace, she said, warning against military activities conducted by the United Kingdom and calling for resumption of bilateral negotiations over the sovereignty dispute.

JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with CELAC, said his Government unwaveringly supports Argentina on the issue of the Malvinas Islands, which are territories occupied by the United Kingdom.  Latin America designated 10 June as the Day of Solidarity with Argentina over the Malvinas.  His delegation co-sponsored the draft resolution tabled by Chile.

Ms. SULIMANI (Syria) said colonization is a crime that undermines the United Nations Charter and international law, calling for the adoption of the draft by consensus.  His Government always defended the principle of self-determination, rejecting unilateral measures by the United Kingdom, which undermine constructive efforts.  Noting that all resolutions adopted are now “dead letters” due to non-implementation by the United Kingdom, he called on the Secretary-General to exercise his good offices to help find a peaceful solution.

ALEXANDER V. REPKIN (Russian Federation), welcoming Argentina’s constructive attitude, and urging the United Kingdom to demonstrate responsibility and wisdom, expressed concern at the militarization of the South Atlantic in the context of the Malvinas dispute.  The parties must adhere to their obligations under the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (the Treaty of Tlatelolco) and its Standing Protocol, he added.

GARETH BYNOE (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) commended Argentina and the United Kingdom for their efforts on such issues as the identification of Argentine soldiers buried in Darwin and the resumption of scientific cooperation on fisheries.  Despite this, he said his country is deeply apprehensive about the lack of progress on the longstanding sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands.  The Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom must resume meaningful negotiations, he said, underscoring his country’s deep commitment to a prompt, just and peaceful resolution.

VICTORIA MANGAY SULIMANI (Sierra Leone), welcoming the delegations of Argentina and the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), emphasized that no two Non-Self-Governing Territories are the same.  Each has its own needs, aspirations and concerns, and it is incumbent on Special Committee members to address their situations accordingly.  “Primacy must be given to the wishes, aspirations and well-being of the peoples of the territories,” she said, adding that any solution short of that will not be durable or sustainable.  She added that much could be gained by dispatching a field mission to the Territory that would assess the situation on the ground.

Mr. ALI WARDANA (Indonesia) encouraged the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume dialogue and cooperation leading to a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute relating to the Malvinas.  He also expressed full support to the good offices efforts of the Secretary-General to help the parties comply with relevant Assembly resolutions.

HAN XU (China) said the issue of the Malvinas is an issue of decolonization.  China always supported Argentina’s claim of sovereignty over the islands and hopes a solution will be found through peaceful and constructive dialogue.

LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said its joint communique in 2018 reiterated the legitimate rights of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  He also underscored the climate of trust being generated through bilateral cooperation.  Speaking in his national capacity, he said that his delegation’s position is based on historical, geographical and legal criteria.  The Malvinas Islands are an integral part of Argentina.  Welcoming efforts to improve bilateral relations, such as identification of the remains of Argentine soldiers, he expressed his delegation’s commitment to contribute to the climate of trust.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with CELAC and MERCOSUR, reiterated support for Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  Respecting the territorial integrity of Argentina is essential and resolving the issue requires direct negotiations and the good offices of the Secretary-General.  He welcomed bilateral cooperation, such as identification of the bodies of Argentine soldiers who died in the line of duty, the greater number of flights connecting the Malvinas Islands to South America, and joint scientific cooperation on fishery.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) reiterated his delegation’s unwavering support for the sovereign rights of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  Its position is based on historical, geographical and legal criteria.  There is no solution other than direct negotiations, he said, calling for a lasting and definite solution.  Both parties should refrain from moves that lead to unilateral changes to the current status.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), associating himself with CELAC, said his country recognizes the legal and historic validity of Argentina’s position vis-à-vis the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas and the surrounding maritime areas.  It is essential for the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations as swiftly as possible with the goal of finding a peaceful solution to this long-running dispute.

The representative of Paraguay, associating himself with CELAC and MERCOSUR, reaffirmed Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas and underscored the need for the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations as soon as possible.  Paraguay takes note of the Government of Argentina’s readiness to resume dialogue and the steps it has taken to resolve the dispute, he said, underscoring also the region’s interest in a negotiated settlement.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC, said the United Kingdom is unlawfully hanging on to the Malvinas with no legitimacy to its claim other than force.  To date, the islands are populated by subjects of the occupying Power who have no claim to the right of self-determination.  While the United Kingdom demonstrated a marked lack of good faith, Argentina has shown its determination to resolve the dispute through negotiation and dialogue, he said, adding that it is high time to make use of the tools of multilateralism to address this matter.

FRANCISCO ALBERTO GONZALEZ (Colombia), associating himself with MERCOSUR, reiterated strong support for the rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  Colombia wishes to see the two Governments resume negotiations that would find a peaceful and definitive solution.  He emphasized the importance of refraining from decisions that would lead to unilateral changes in the situation.

RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador), associating himself with CELAC, said that Assembly resolution 2065 (XX) called on Argentina and the United Kingdom to resolve their dispute through negotiations, citing subsequent Security Council and Special Committee resolutions on this matter.  His country is a staunch supporter of Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  He warned against unilateral moves to change the status of the Territory while the dispute remains unresolved.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), expressing its support for Argentina, recognized that country’s sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.  In a meeting in 2017, CELAC stressed the need to make the region free of colonialism.  Commending Argentina for its effort to resume dialogue with the United Kingdom, she said it is essential to avoid unilateral modifications to the current situation.

RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica) declared that the Malvinas Islands are part of Argentina, reiterating its full support for the mandate of the Special Committee.  Despite his delegation’s hope that colonialism become a relic of the past, 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remain.  The recent advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 is a clear indication that it is possible to make headway in decolonization.  He cited a humanitarian project by the Red Cross to identify the unknown remains of Argentine soldiers, stressing it is an important step towards reconciliation.

The Special Committee then approved the draft resolution A/AC.109/2019/L.8, by which it reiterated that the way to put an end to the special and particular colonial situation concerning the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom.

Also by the text, the Special Committee expressed regret that, despite widespread international support for a negotiation between the two sides, implementation of General Assembly resolutions on this question has not yet started, and requested the two sides to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation through the resumption of negotiations.

Mr. FAURIE (Argentina) thanked the members of the Special Committee, especially those who introduced and co-sponsored the resolution as well as those delegations that took the floor to express support for its adoption by consensus.  The resolution renews the historical call of the United Nations, issued through the Special Committee and endorsed by the General Assembly, for the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations and to find a solution as soon as possible to this sovereignty dispute, he said.

Question of Montserrat

DONALDSON ROMEO, Premier of Montserrat, said Montserratians continue to live with the man-made consequences of the volcanic eruption that occurred 22 years ago today, killing 19 people.  While many people left for Antigua and the United Kingdom, those who remained struggle on a regime of aid that is relentlessly kept at survival level.  Recently, the United Kingdom agreed to fund a £30 million capital programme, but only after a 22-year struggle, with no commitments to address shortfalls or parallel development needs.  Thanking the General Assembly for its resolution of 7 December 2018 on Montserrat, and welcoming the Special Committee’s upcoming visit, he asked the Special Committee, through the good offices of the United Nations, to assist the Government of Montserrat, in coordination with the Government of the United Kingdom, in several ways.  Those include a charter of good governance setting the framework for democratic self-government; a constitutional review aimed at resolving Montserrat’s status as a Non-Self-Governing Territory; a timeline and funding to house 400 evacuees still awaiting decent housing; a repopulation programme for overseas Montserratians wishing to return; the development of affordable geothermal power; a comprehensive education and health programme; decent welfare for the aged and vulnerable; and a neutral United Nations-supported facilitator on the island to assist with negotiations and project implementation. 

Volcanic activity has declined significantly and Montserrat’s emerald hills, sparking springs, green forest trails and sandy beaches are as beautiful as ever, but “what about us humans”, he wondered.  “Twenty-two years have taught us the hard way that handouts of fish are not enough,” he said, asking the Special Committee to help Montserratians — a peaceful, warm, friendly, resilient and hardworking people — acquire the equipment, infrastructure and good governance they need for generations to come.  He requested that the Special Committee visit Montserrat in August or early September and that it also travel to Antigua and the United Kingdom to meet Montserratians living in exile in those places.

WALTON ALFONSO WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda) assured the Premier of Montserrat of the Special Committee’s intention to hear his voice.  The planned visiting mission is a direct response to his request.  His delegation recognizes the plight of the people of the Territory.  Antigua and Barbuda is a recipient of citizens of Montserrat.  The Territory remains a partner in the region, he said, highlighting its oneness with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.  The Special Committee will work with the administering Power on the matter, he added.

STANISLAV S. ALEKSAEV (Russian Federation), regarding the second request made by the Premier, asked him to submit a letter to the Chair of the Special Committee outlining details.

In response, the Premier said he will prepare the letter.  To Antigua and Barbuda’s delegate, he expressed his appreciation for hosting 3,000 evacuees from Montserrat.

Situation of Western Sahara

The Special Committee then resumed its consideration of the question of Western Sahara.

ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi), underscoring the human and political dimensions of the dispute, welcomed Morocco’s efforts to resolve it as well as the fresh impetus provided by two round-table talks involving Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Frente Polisario).  A political solution and strengthened cooperation between members of the Arab Maghreb Union would contribute to security and stability of the Sahel, he added.

Ms. AYSHA HAMAB (Bahrain), drawing attention to Morocco’s new development model for the region, said her country will stand side-by-side with Morocco in confronting any attempt to undermine Moroccan sovereignty and territorial integrity.

LANG YABOU (Gambia) said the question of Western Sahara must be resolved through political negotiations.  Gambia is optimistic that a third round table will lead to more progress.  Morocco’s autonomy initiative for the Western Sahara is a viable and credible solution that takes into consideration the desire for self-determination, he added.

LILLY STELLA NGYEMA NDONG (Gabon), expressing full support for the political process under United Nations auspices, said the Moroccan autonomy initiative offers a pragmatic compromise solution to the dispute.  It has been recognized in Security Council resolutions as credible and in accordance with international law.  Dialogue is the only way towards a swift political solution, he said, encouraging the parties to participate in a third round table.

KADIM OUSSEIN (Comoros), recalling that small island States in the Indian Ocean have come up against the refusal of certain States to resolve outstanding disputes, strongly encouraged the political process on Western Sahara under United Nations auspices to continue.  The Moroccan autonomy initiative, which conforms with international norms on devolution, creates the possibility of a positive outcome.  Stability and development in Western Sahara can only go hand-in-hand with scrupulous respect for human rights.  Voicing concern about worrying living conditions in the Tindouf camps, he said the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) must be free to carry out its mandate and to assist vulnerable populations.

* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.