What follows is a chronology of the Falkland Islands and the politics surrounding the history of those Islands and their old Dependencies.
I believe that historical events must be viewed in context – and, in this case, that larger view of history places in sharp contrast the narrow version adopted by Argentina in its claims for these very British Islands.
What is not included here is conclusion – for the simple reason that there is unlikely to be one.
Argentina’s claims have little merit being based far more upon faith than facts. That puts their claim on a similar level to a religion where what is believed is far more important to the faithful than any supporting evidence and, as with many religions, this one has its zealots. Nothing therefore, is likely to change in the near or indeed foreseeable, future.
As regards Argentina’s claim, my own conclusion is that three statements can clearly be made:-
1. There was no inheritance from Spain. A myth upon which so much political capital has been invested by the old Spanish colonies of South America, and within which so little real substance has ever been found. Revolted colonies did not establish sovereignty over any more territory than the rebels could hold by the strength of their arms and those in Buenos Aires never held the Falkland Islands. Spain’s history is fascinating and it held its own claim until long after Ferdinand’s death in 1833 but, in terms of Argentina’s claims, Spain’s involvement is now wholly irrelevant.
2. Neither Buenos Aires nor the (mostly dis-) United Provinces established a claim over any part of the archipelago for modern day Argentina. They didn’t do enough, and – in any case – didn’t exist as a sovereign State with the power, under what was then international law, to make such claims. Statehood is about recognition – sufficient recognition from established powers – and the discordant parts that would come to form Argentina in the 1850’s didn’t exist as a recognised nation in the 1820’s.
3. Self-determination is now the only option. While Argentina has never held a realistic claim to the Falkland Islands, the right of the Islanders to determine their own future, as laid down and protected as a human right by the United Nations, has now limited the sovereignty held by the United Kingdom. Where territory is wholly owned then the owner has the right to do much as they wish. In the case of the inhabited Falklands this is no longer the case, and the UK has responsibilities and duties laid down by the UN in respect of all its non-self governing territories. These the UK appears to have now fully recognised and accepted with the result – the reality – that sovereignty over this archipelago now lies with the Falkland Islanders.
Their future is their own.
Roger Lorton June 2014
Full version of the History/Timeline in a pdf format is here – Falklands History