Argentina has made protests to the United Nations over United Kingdom’s militarization of the Malvinas Islands, also known as Falkland Islands in the rest of the world, this February 2013. The conflict has been going on since the beginning of the month, when rumours started spreading all over Britain stating that one of the most sophisticated submarines in the U.K. was going to be sent to the islands. This was supposed to be anticipating any actions on the part of the Argentinian government on what will be the 30th anniversary of the war which began on 04/02/1982. To this accusation, the U.K. Ministry of Defence answered that they “do not comment on submarine deployments,” disregarding the Argentinian accusations.
Both the United Kingdom and Argentina claim sovereignty over the islands. The former bases its claims on the fact that the British government has been administering what they call the Falkland Islands since 1833 and on the islanders’ right to self-determination. Argentina, on the other hand, believes to have gained the right to what they call the Malvinas Islands from Spain, when the country achieved independence in 1816. In 1982, the conflict between the countries peaked, turning into a war which lasted seventy four days and ended when Argentina surrendered in June that same year. The islands have remained under British control since then, but Argentina has kept asserting they are part of their own territory until today.
The Conflict Today
The conflict has now escalated to a new level after the British Ambassador to the U.N., Lyall Grant, acknowledged yesterday the presence of nuclear weapons in the islands. He affirmed the action is not purposefully trying to aggravate the situation, but rather is working as a cautionary measure to defend British possessions. He added that what did aggravate the issue was Argentina’s 1994 Constitution, which included a duty to obtain sovereignty over the islands.
Argentina’s current protest to the U.N. relies on the belief that the United Kingdom is violating the Treaty of Tlatelolco, also known as the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean. Argentina also criticizes the fact that the islands are one of the most highly militarized territories in the world, with more than 1,500 military personnel in a territory with about 3,000 civilians.
A referendum on political status will be held in the Falkland Islands on the 11th and 12th of March. The United Kingdom is confident about the outcome and asserts that the support to self-determination is a key part of the U.N. Charter. Argentina, on the other hand, believes that as a Security Council permanent member, Britain should set an example on how to resolve conflicts peacefully. Hopefully, 2013 will see the peaceful outcome of a perennial conflict.