Editor's Column June 24 - Lisa Watson

WHILE attendance at the C24 must feel like an annual exercise in heads and brick walls, the yearly requirement to produce a speech outlining our position is probably an invaluable (if dreary) undertaking. 

OK so the meeting itself is our politicians’ equivalent of Ground Hog Day and the indifference with which their arguments are met by the majority of attendees, is probably trying. But as someone who has been obligated to read the speeches for close on 20 years it feels quite a heartening commentary, not only on our political and economic development, but our evolving perspective and state of mind. Many of the basic arguments haven’t changed ‘we’re not a colony’ ‘we’re not an implanted population’ ‘we deserve self determination’, but as time has gone on, we have become less denying and more asserting.

(According to PN we decided to start being more ‘robust’ about 2001). Now we use hard facts about our cultural diversity, our constitutional and political development and our economic successes. There just seems to be a whole lot less pleading and a lot more telling. We will never have much support from C24 members; our story doesn’t sit neatly enough with their guiding principles. We’re an untidy reminder of colonial history - something that prevents them from patting each other on the back, packing up and going home.

However I suppose we must continue the diplomatic dance, but if it’s any consolation, with our every passing year and expansion of independent conduct, we slip further away from any kind of easy classification by the C24. The more we move forward, the more obvious it is the Committee is entangled in its own outdated dogma.

I DO wonder how aware the visiting ICRC delegation is of its organisation’s reputation in the Falklands. The truth is they’ve never covered themselves with glory. 1982 surgeon Rick Jolly was less than complimentaryabout their conduct when they rocked up at Ajax Bay, and as Tim Miller points out in the Letters Page, Falklands civilians weren’t exactly dazzled

That said I think it only right we hear the delegation’s plans, and just as importantly impress on them our own questions and concerns. We need assurance not only of their neutrality as intermediaries but that they are absolutely certain about the wishes of the families of the Argentine fallen. If identified, should the parents wish to take the remains of their child home, then it must be allowed by the Argentine government. If they (and not the Argentine government) wish for the remains to stay then so be it - let’s respect that.

I hope that our treatment of this issue is not influenced by politics. If the Argentine government wishes to behave so that’s their choice, but there are no good arguments why we should behave similarly. And I don’t think we will.

Executive Council Summary June 29 2016

MEMBERS of Legislative Assembly noted at this week's meeting of Executive Council that the survey of Camp radio services has been completed, and that the acceptable level of service needs to be agreed by MLAs. MLA Mike Summers said they also noted the new Charter Party for the Concordia Bay is due to be in place by 8th July. Four FI representatives will attend the MoD Industry Day at Abbey Wood on 15 July, and the interim project manager for the Old People’s Service Development project has been appointed and will arrive shortly.

Departure arrangement for the Argentine yacht San Martiniana were noted, together with the costs to be reclaimed from the owners.

Read more: Executive Council Summary June 29 2016

Evolution not revolution say Falklands politicians at UN

EVOLUTION not revolution will be the Falklands path for political change MLA Gavin Short told the Decolonisation Committee of 24 (C24) at the United Nations on June 23

He told the Committee, which has the aim of ending colonialism: “We are pragmatic enough to realise that we are only a small country and as such may not be able to go for full independence due to size.”

He reminded the gathering that  the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “had only recently stated that ‘according to the Charter of the United Nations and relevant General Assembly resolutions, a full measure of self-government can be achieved through independence, integration or free association with another State. The choice should be the result of the freely expressed will and desire of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.’

“Nowhere in his address to the gathering did he mention that these ideals did not apply to the Falklands nor was he heard to mention that we should become an Argentine colony nor did he say that self-determination does not apply to the Falklands.”

MLA Short and MLA Mike Summers both delivered an address to the C24.

MLA Summers concentrated on outlining key facts about the Falklands economy, developments in agriculture, fisheries, tourism and hydrocarbons and on constitutional development and emphasising Islanders political choices. He said: “Falkland Islanders are comfortable with the constitutional relationship with the UK. 

“We have the right to move away from it if we so wished, but there is no current wish to do so. Our wish to maintain our current status was amply demonstrated in March 2013 by a referendum, in which Falkland Islanders resolved to remain an OT of the UK...”

He and MLA Short both invited the Committee to visit the Falklands and better understand it. MLA Summers said: “...you could see for yourselves the democratic processes and the extent of internal self-government, and that we are very clearly not a colony of the United Kingdom.”

Debunking Argentine claims that Islanders are an implanted population he noted: “Our Islands when first discovered had no native population, and in that respect we are unlike most colonial situations of the 18th and 19th centuries. No ethnic population was either absorbed, suppressed or extinguished.”

He spoke of the long ancestry in the Islands adding: “Settlers arrived and departed of their own free will, and arrived from many different parts of the world, including Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany and North America. In more recent years we have citizens originating from Peru, St Helena, Zimbabwe, Russia, Thailand and the Philippines. At recent censuses Islanders have identified themselves as coming from 57 different ethnic backgrounds. 

“So if you have heard before, or hear again today that we are an implanted British population, the facts simply do not support such a claim.”
Both MLAs touched on an NGO’s right to develop its economy, and noted Argentina’s attempts to thwart it.

MLA Short said, “over many years and up to this present day,” Argentina, “is still trying to wreck the Falklands economy and thus force us to subjugate to their unwelcome and uninvited attempts to return us to a colonial situation.”

He indicated it was the responsibility of the C24 to find fresh and creative approaches for, “quite a few of the non self-governing territories still on your list...” but that way should be arrived at, “by listening to the wishes of the people in those territories rather than attempting to impose something upon them.”

He said the committee needed to modernise,  and reprimanded members for an, “awful, colonial way of looking at things.” They had planned to speak  to the UK and Argentina about the Falklands, “the old colonial master and one that has designs on being the new colonial masters,” said MLA Short.

He concluded: “No person, no group of people, no organisation or committee will ever be permitted by the people of the Falkland Islands to undermine or bypass our right to self-determination or put them back into a colonial situation - ever.”

Argentina was represented by Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, former Falkland Islander Alec Betts and others.

ICRC schedule confirmed

A DELEGATION from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will hear the views of the Falklands public next week, on the subject of the ICRC’s possible future humanitarian mission to identify the remains of fallen Argentine soldiers at Darwin Cemetery.

This first visit is described as a scoping mission to enable assessment of the logistical and technical requirements for carrying out the task.
Within the schedule planned for the four members of the group, they will have the chance to chat with Islanders at a public meeting at Goose Green at the club at 1630 on June 29, and in Stanley at the Chamber of Commerce on June 30.

They arrive in the Islands on June 27 and will reside at Malvina House Hotel and that night will meet with Members of the Legislative Assembly and the Governor.
Their first meeting the next day (June 28) will be with the Director of Public Works and then with MLAs, the Chief Executive, the Argentine cemetery caretaker and later with Eric Goss MBE, farm manager at Goose Green in the 1982 war.

They will travel to Darwin on June 29 and June 30 and have technical and logistical discussions with FIG and landowners  on July 1 and logistical discussions with the private sector.
The group, comprising Laurent Corbaz, Edmond Corthesy, Morris Tidball-Binz and Oran Finegan are scheduled to depart on July 2.
MLAs have stated that all parties concerned recognise, “this is a sensitive subject for all involved.”

FIG Statement Regarding Brexit

THE Falkland Islands Government will be working with the public and private sector to further investigate the impact of Brexit on the Islands.

Falklands representatives congratulated all involved in campaigning on both sides of the debate, adding: "As with the referendum on our political future in 2013, the impressive turnout and widespread engagement with the referendum reflects well on our respective democracies."

Read more: FIG Statement Regarding Brexit