I thank the Presidency for allowing the United Kingdom to make a further statement. I wish to respond to some of the statements made in relation to the Falkland Islands. I note the very questionable relevance of this issue to the theme of today’s debate and regret the fact that some participants have used this debate, in which we have seen a very valuable and timely discussion of UN cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations, as a platform for expressing positions on a range of unrelated issues.
Several Ministerial participants referred in their statements to Argentina’s so called “legitimate” claim on the Falkland Islands. The United Kingdom does not accept that Argentina has any legitimate claim to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. The historical facts and legal position are quite clear. The United Kingdom has administered the Falkland Islands peacefully and effectively for more than 180 years. In 1850, by ratifying the bilateral Convention on Settlement of Existing Differences, Argentina acknowledged that there was no territorial dispute between the two countries.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba on behalf of CELAC said that respect for self-determination was a founding principle of CELAC. The United Kingdom also attaches great importance to this principle, which is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. In March of this year, the people of the Falkland Islands exercised their right of self-determination in a referendum which established overwhelmingly their wish to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.
In her national statement, President Kirchner said that the United Kingdom and Argentina should bilaterally discuss the Falkland Islands. The United Kingdom is clear that any such discussion is not just a matter for the two governments. The views of the people of the Falkland Islands cannot simply be ignored. There can be no discussion of the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands against the wishes of the Islanders.
Finally, Madame President, I reject the suggestion of the Foreign Minister of Uruguay that “illegitimate oil activities” are being conducted in Falkland Islands’ waters, which constitute unilateral measures by the United Kingdom, contrary to a General Assembly resolution. The decision to exploit its natural resources was made by the Falkland Islands Government for the benefit of the people of the Falkland Islands and in accordance with the right of self-determination of the people of the Falkland Islands under international law. All activities related to hydrocarbons on the continental shelf of the Falkland Islands are regulated by legislation of the Falkland Islands Government, in strict accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
I thank you.