Argentina should obey international law

Argentina discovered that the Falkland islanders are British and wish to remain British. Many countries aorund the world have islands close to their shores that are not under their control. Truly democratic countries accept the right of peoples to self determination. If the offshore islanders wish to remain independent, they should be allowed to do so in peace.

Yesterday we learned that Argentina wishes to claim the seas around the Falklands, pressurising the Falkland islanders yet again over sovereignty. The international community with one voice should say “No”. The UK government should make clear its resolve to look after the Falkland islanders, who are united in wishing to remain under British protection.

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39 Comments

  1. Colin D.
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Hague & Cameron need to make unequivocal statements NOW that they will defend the sovereignty of The Falklands, come what may.
    Sadly, as he does this, Cameron will discover the extent to which he has been compromised by the words 'cast iron promise', now and for all time.

  2. alan jutson
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Another Argentinian election, another Argentinian President in trouble, what a surprise, another distraction for their voters.

    Have we enough service personel to send to the Falklands again, whilst we are fighting another war, on the other side of the World ???.

    Do not scrap the Harriers (planned) we may need them to take off vertically if our single runway is Bombed !!!!!!!

    Aircraft carriers, still on the drawing board. !!!!

    Defence cuts whilst still fighting one war !!!!!

    I fear "LESSONS WILL BE LEARNED" phrase again.

  3. DavidL
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I was bemused about this again yesterday. The Falklands are not really “close to their shores”: they are 300 miles away. I am not an expert on the law of the sea but my understanding is that the maximum claim for national waters would be 200 miles. Where countries are in closer proximity the mid point is usually used which would mean the boundary would be 150 miles off the Argentina coast. I say this because someone on the BBC Drive program was expressing the view that Argentina had an effective blockade of the Falklands because ships had to go through “their” waters. I am sure that is not correct and any interference with shipping in the Falkland’s waters or in international waters should not be tolerated.

    • Eotvos
      Posted February 19, 2010 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      David, during the Falklands' War I remember one BBC announcement that started, "British forces, if they are to be believed, today claimed that……….."

      Argentina did not need a propaganda outfit.

  4. Norman
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I've been following this as I work in the Oil & Gas industry (I actually was in the Falklands around 10 years ago for Amerada Hess during the last bout of exploration – I still have maps showing which beaches to avoid due to minefields!).

    There is a drilling rig en-route to the area now to do some more drilling and it is a very expensive business if anything holds the programme up. The hire of the rig is around $250k per day and the auxilliary vessels required, such as anchor handlers, drives this even higher so I imagine everyone involved wants a fast solution to this.

    Argentina actually has a long standing policy of not allowing oil & gas exploration equipment to the Falklands so there is nothing new in this, just that nothing has happened for 10 years. I dare say at the end of it all there will have to be negotiations over who gets what percentage of any future revenue – the question will be will the UK government of the day be willing to sit down to this.

  5. A
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    MALVINAS NO DE ARGENTINAS!
    (Falklands ARE NOT Argentina's)

    • Luis A. F. v. Wetzle
      Posted February 18, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      Read please the United Nation's resolutions since 1967, and you will read that according with International Law the islands are "in dispute". But we know in Buenos Aires that we will not recover the islands after what happened in 1982, unless Argentina changes a lot and we follow the path of the European Union. Is the same case than Gibraltar, the Kingdom of Spain has historical rights to that portion of the realm, and one day His Catholic Majesty's Government will recover the land, in spite of the people, which Gibraltar was settled for centuries coming from all the lands of the former British Empire, more or less the same mix that you find in the streets of London in these days and cause so many problems for all British governments.

  6. Stuart Fairney
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    The sad thing is, if they took military action now and were able to gain a foothold, learned by the mistakes of last time, we would not have the immediate available capapcity to kick them out as the army is rather busy elsewhere.

    • Andrew Johnson
      Posted February 18, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      You're right, but even if the army was available, we no longer have the Naval warships and seaborne harriers to protect any task force we assembled.
      As at the end of 2009 the British Navy had – 12 Submarines, 3 Aircraft Carriers, 3 Assault ships, 7 Destroyers and 17 Frigates.
      NB Not all these ships are available for active duty, due to refits, decomissioning, other commitments etc.
      Only 1 carrier is available.
      The RAF have no long range bombers.
      Britain simply does not have the Naval resources to repeat the Falklands Conflict, or in the view of some, defend Britain and British interests.
      I agree with John – the international community has to bring pressure to bear on Argentina to abide by International Law.
      Britian's politicans must stand up and speak up for the rights of Falkanders to democratically determine their own future and not be bullied by Argentina. But this isn't about that, it's about oil!
      It will be interesting to see what President Obama will do.
      A deal with Argentina or a deal with Britain? Mmmm

    • Lola
      Posted February 18, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      It's not the lack of an army, it's a lack of bloody ships that would screw us!

    • Brigham
      Posted February 18, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      We also have a pigmy of a PM now instead of a Lion.

  7. Richard Manns
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    @ Stuart

    But surely, this time, the question is "if". We have 4 Typhoons, over 1,000 troops and a ship there, and even Galtieri didn't try until we removed the ship and had practically no troops there.

    This is overinflated bravura, identified by the flagrant breaches of international treaty law. Argentine presidents rant on about the Falklands whenever they need to prop themselves up, like many Arabian states rant on about Israel; something to rouse the rabble.

    Perhaps we should remind them what happened the last time they tried to play soldiers? By diplomatic channels. Although, thanks to Obama, we should expect even less help from our American friends.

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Richard

      The argument is over area's of sea. Not land.

      I would suggest we do not have enough ships to protect our commercial interests over a vast ocean.

      If they did decide to try and invade we only have one runway, which if out of action means our aircraft are of no use, as they could not take off or land.

      Very old Harriers are due to be scrapped, and we have no similar alternative. The Americans have developed a new breed of Harrier type aircraft, we decided vertical take off were of no more use, and went for the Typhoon which is still unproven.

      New carriers on the drawing board do not yet have aircraft designed to use on them.

      I would suggest we do not have enough of the right type of surface fleet to protect them in any case.

      Let us hope diplomacy wins the day, because we do not have much else. Other than to give in to demands, which seems to be par for the course given the last 13 years.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      A determined and well planned assault in sufficient numbers could and would surely overwhelm these forces as I am sure you would agree. I do not comment on the probablity of attack, merely that if such an attack were successful it would be seriously difficult to dislodge this time, if they they learned lessons of last time.

  8. Robert
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    @ Stuart Fairney

    Submarines. We should have no qualms about repeating the Belgrano or military supply ships should it come to it….

  9. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Agreed.

  10. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    A very good friend of mine fought in the 1982 war when Argentina last tried to violate the sovereignty.You would have thought that should have been the end of the affair.Democracy should mean that the islanders rights of self-determination are respected- simple as that.I do not want what was defended in 1982 to be signed away.That would be disrespectful to those who fought & died defending British subjects and British territory.

    The regime in Argentina is a political off-shoot of Juan Peron & Evita's mob which is resorting to the same anti-English populist antics as it predecessor.It is picking fights with its neighbors as well.This is the time honored trick of trying to distract attention from its miserable failure on the domestic front.That worries me because that is why the Junta waged war in 1982 – they also underestimated the brilliance of the British Army and the willingness of her people to support the liberation of the Falklands.Oh and the generals also underestimated Margaret Thatcher as well.

    So the Argentine Government should be sorting out the domestic situation rather than picking fights for no reason.If we have to send a Royal Navy destroyer armed with planes and an armored division for a few ahem training missions then so be it.

    I think that if our troops trained there for a bit that a reinforcing of our military presence might just convince that ham-fisted Argentine Regime to behave better.

  11. A.Sedgwick
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    This confirms my view that we need a strong Royal Navy.

  12. Surreptitious Evil
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    If they could just start with Part II, Section 3 (Innocent Passage) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that would be a fine start :).

    Articles 24 and 26, as a pointer.

  13. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I have been expecting this for some time. Britain is broke and its armed forces are overstretched in the Middle East. Another fine mess you have led us into Brown.

  14. Kenneth
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I agree John that all truly democratic countries accept the right of self-determination.

    Where does that leave the UK?

    Scotland has not been allowed a vote on Independence in over 300 years and its people weren't given a vote in signing up to "The Union."

    • Andrew Johnson
      Posted February 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Neither have the Northern Irish, the Welsh or the English.
      Universal suffrage was not given till 1928.
      Given that arguably, England subsidises the other three countries it would be interesting to see what results an independence referendum for the four home countries making up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland might produce.
      After that, perhaps we could have a referendum for in or out of the EU! Yes to the implementation of the democratic right of self-determination please!!! But who will give it to us?
      Personally, I am in favour of the Union, but it needs redefinition, renegotiation and renewal legitimised by the democratic wishes of a majority of the electorate in each country.

      • Eddie
        Posted February 26, 2010 at 1:27 am | Permalink

        I find it somewhat difficult to believe that there is anyone who after investigating the situation believes that England subsidises Scotland. The reality suggest that independent Scotland would be better off. England would be in a very poor situation if not for their northern cousins and their oil.

  15. DominicJ
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Retaking the Falklands would be a difficult task for the RN.

    But we dont need to retake them.

    The Falklands have basing facilities for 16 Eurofighter Typhoons, the worlds second best fast jet behind the F22 Raptor.

    The Argentinians have 36 upgraded Skyhawks, ground attack aircraft from the 60's with air to air capablities limited to two short range missiles and a radar downgraded from the one on our training jets.
    Added to that they have a fleet defended from air attacks mostly by machine guns, a few ships with missiles not much better than the T42 had in 82.

    We could happily fly into their port and sink their fleet if they tried to blockade.

  16. B.O.F.
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    to Kenneth @12:12
    I don't recall any plebiscite here in England either at time of "The Union". Surely any future vote regarding Scottish independence must include the population of England, there being two sides to the current arrangement. The result would probably be the same except that Scotland instead of being independant could then be more accurately be regarded as rejected.

  17. JohnRS
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    The UK should very publically send additional forces to the Falklands now as a matter of urgency. Words count for nothing.

    The key is making it too costly for the enemy to land rather than to have to retake the islands having let them be invaded again. The old military adage of needing a 3:1 advantage before attacking plays well for us if we do something now.

    Short term (ie in the next week) send troops, ground to air missiles and light armour which can go by air. If we do this now they would not be involved in any fighting as the enemy would back off. It further (over)stretches the Army but we have to defend our interests. The numbers would not need to be large if we do it early.

    We aren't using all of the RAF's (diminished under NuLieBore) fast jet capability in Afghanistan, so send a squadron there asap along with appropriate ground to air capability, also not needed in the current conflicts. It's a long way from the mainland giving the dfenders the advantage. That will stop the air cover for enemy vessels, paratroop landings etc.

    Naval vessels, including submarines, need to be sent to ensure no mass troop landings, aircraft carrier or heavy equipment reinforcements can be undertaken.

    It's not hard, it just requires political will….which, with this PM, is of course the problem.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 18, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      All good ideas, more troops, armour and fighters, (plus submarines policing the obvious routes in) would really scare off any hostile actions. And just imagine, their presence would probably be enough as a deterrent, the local population would support the mission, British interests would actually be defended, and likely not a shot would be fired (only really this time).

      And I have to say, I care a good deal more for actual British people like the Falklanders, then for every Afghan in Helmand.

  18. Luis A. F. v. Wetzle
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    When I read the hysteric reaction of some loyal subjects of Her Majesty regarding the dispute about oil drilling in the Malvinas/Falklands Islands, I must remind them that this country, Argentina, has been ruled in the last six years by a very horrendous couple, the Kirchner’s, we don’t have any army left, our officers has to work in other jobs to survive, the weapons are so old that they are useless, the navy doesn’t have enough ships, and those that we still have, are old fashion and they never participate in any manoeuvre, even with the fleets of our neighbours like Chile and Brazil. The Argentine Air Force has old Mirage from the 1970’s or American planes, but in the last years many pilots found their death in accidents because the shortage of spare parts. The budget for all the Armed Forces is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. So what kind of threat this ludicrous government can represent to the islands? Totally inexistent, thanks God there are people in high places in London that know quite well this reality, and they will not allow and escalate to the point of sending a Task Force. We aren’t any in the early 1980’s and Argentina had bankrupted in 2001 and 2002, a country in default cannot represent any real threat to a naval power as the UK still is. So please in this discussion use some common sense, the less common of all senses. We cannot even take care of our territorial waters, even foreign fleets are catching fish just few miles off shore of our Patagonia and nobody can stop them. The British community in this country is totally shocked with certain reactions like the ones that I am reading right here, and we are speaking about the largest community in the Americas immediately after the USA and Canada.

    • Fernando C.
      Posted February 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      It´s the best reply that i have read.
      I think many of these guys behind a computer should do some reading. It get´s really boring to read/talk with someone that doesn´t know what has beeing going on.

    • gwl
      Posted February 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      We know that Argentina has the worst Government in years, its something that happens quite a lot over in Argentina. However we British must at all times protect our citizens, when some one threatens our citizens there is nothing wrong in showing the bully our strength, in doing just that it might just stop a bloodbath that I am sure Argentina would once more come worse off. Argentina when they attacked and invaded the Falkland Islands the last time were like now worse off than Britain in the military stakes, but it did not stop them, they sent conscripts that did not want to be there, along with brutal officers that left there men starving in their bunkers. This must be nipped in the bud once and for all.

  19. adam
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    oil again, is it

  20. Y Rhyfelwr Dewr
    Posted February 19, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Argentina's political elite doesn't consider itself subject to its own domestic law. It's pie in the sky to expect it to care about international law. Not unless we've got an awfully big stick to smack them very hard with.

    It was a struggle mustering the resources to do it in 1982. In fact, the state of our military hardware was one of the factors that encouraged Argentina to invade, having concluded that an effective military response was beyond our abilities.

    They were wrong that time, but our military power, and the size of our merchant navy, was greater than it is now. And back then, we could rely on American intelligence, being a democracy (whereas Argentina was a military dictatorship), and being a more-valuable ally than Argentina in the cold war. Oh yes, and President Reagan and Maggie were genuine bosom buddies.

    Today, Iraq and Afghanistan have revealed precisely how limited our ability to wage war is, there is no cold war any longer, Argentina is democratic (well, sort of), and the US president is so furious with Brown for releasing the Lockerbie bomber, he can't even be bothered to give him a photo op.

    And Argentina is almost bankrupt (probably not quite as bad as Britain), and the Falklands are sitting on top of 60 billion barrels of oil.

    • Citizen Responsible
      Posted February 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      As you say- it’s estimated there are 60 billion barrels of high grade oil in the seas surrounding the Falklands, which would make it one of the worlds’ largest oil reserves.

  21. Peter MacFarlane
    Posted February 19, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    "Truly democratic countries accept the right of peoples to self determination."

    Well that rules out Britain, doesn't it?

    Or did we self-determine that we were to become a vassal state of the EU?

  22. Richard
    Posted February 19, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Are we sure its really up to us to decide how to react to potential Argentine aggression in the Falklands? Under the Lisbon treaty hasn't Brown committed us to a common security and foreign policy? It might now be up to the European Commission – and specifically to the Labour quangocrat & former CND activist Baroness Ashton – to decide how to react. Perhaps this is why the Argentine Govt thinks its worth raising the threat. (As I recall CND opposed the 1982 war). Some MP should ask a question in the Commons clarifying that we do still have the sovereign right to defend the islands if need be.

  23. Arron Paddock
    Posted February 19, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Argentina is a young country (founded 1810) made up predominately of Spanish (& a few Welsh in Trelaw) immigrants. They had a few seal hunters’ shelters on the islands between 1820 and 1832 – until the US blew them up in retaliation for sinking one of their fishing boats. The UK had a base on The Falklands in 1765 before Argentina even existed as an entity. Besides a few months in ’82, we’ve had permanent possession of the islands since 1833. The islands are almost 500km from Argentina’s shores whereas France is approximately 45km from ours. The islands are as much Argentin’s as the computer you’re reading this text from belongs to me. They are aggressors and we have every right to defend and do whatever we like in our territory!

    • gwl
      Posted February 28, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      The problem is that the young people that live in Argentina have been fed a diet of British imperialism, they still call the British Pirates a throwback I am sure to when the English fought the Spanish on the high sea's way back in the 1500s, along with the arrogant Macho image that they have this serves their Governments well. To see how arrogant they are you have only got to go back to the Falklands war in the early 80s, papers exist that tell of a planned invasion of Chile after they won the war with Britain. It never crossed their arrogant minds once that they would lose the Falklands war, and now that arrogance once more shines through. They might have the backing of all the other Latin American countrys, But I wonder how many will once more stab them in the back like they did the last time.

  24. Adrian Peirson
    Posted February 19, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    How many wars are we involved in now, if I were a cynic, I might be tempted to say that our armed forces are being deliberately overstretched so that personnel will decline.
    Of course if we also coined our own money, we’d have enough funding to fully equip all of our services.
    We are deliberately being run down, my guess is this is no accident, Globalist interests want Britain brought to her knees.
    Any sensible strategist might send reinforcements now to deter agression.
    More than likely though, they will be allowed to invade, then, having concluded we can’t do it on our own the EU will send a task force, a little skirmish and ‘Sovereignty’ will be restored.
    So we all end up giving three cheers for the EUropean Union, what a fabulous Idea the EU was after all.
    All a bit predictable really, You’ve got to laugh haven’t you, the EU coming to our rescue to protect British Sovereignty.

    Hope I haven’t give the game away.

  25. Luis v. Wetzler
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    I this moment I don’t want to continue with a nonsense discussion about the islands, is just “à mise en scene” which both governments are trying that their own public opinions forget about the big mistakes and crimes committed since 2003 in Iraq, Afghanistan, which are costing hundreds of young British lives, when they were able to defeat the Taliban, Tony Blair withdraw troops from Central Asia to start an illegal invasion to Iraq, even taking into account the crimes committed by Saddam using chemical weapons in the 1980’s hand over by the Western powers, mainly the USA and the UK. In fact what I have in mind is our owns family lost of lives in Chile due to the earthquake, and we are mourning at home our cousins and my aunt Mrs. Chadwick plus hundreds or maybe thousands of victims of the quake and the subsequent tsunamis. So I am not in the mood to answer silly comments from people who knows nothing about history and facts, just they repeat lies, and they don’t pay attention to the extremely dangerous crisis that we are facing today in our world not in 1982, that’s history and nobody here are thinking in the islands, except as political propaganda Mrs. Kirchner and her government, but our citizens have much more important issues in mind.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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