The Falkland Islands – History & Timeline

Falkland Wars 1480 – now!

1966 – 1981 Negotiation

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1966 – in January, Argentina raises its claim with Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart when he visits Buenos Aires. Stewart tells his hosts that Britain does not recognise any claim and he emphasises the importance of the Islanders’ views; “In our experience, no good is served by keeping unwilling subjects under one’s flag, but when the inhabitants’ wishes are clear, as in this case they are clear, then the wishes of the Falkland islanders are more important than those of either the Government of the United Kingdom or that of Argentina….”

In compliance with Resolution 2065, Stewart agrees with Foreign Minister Zavala Ortiz to initiate negotiations with regard to the future of the archipelago; “… This, in itself, represented an important change for a power that since 1833 had denied that there was anything to discuss at all.”  (Gonzalez 2009)

At the Colonial Office’s instigation, the brief constrained the foreign secretary to the position set in 1965: Britain wished that the dispute should not damage Anglo-Argentine relations and accepted the talks with this in mind, but it had no doubt about its sovereignty. Consequently, far from Zavala Ortiz’s subsequent pompous claim that a deal had been within reach at the summit, the record shows both sides restating their respective titles and positions.” (Gonzalez 2014)

Argentina’s Government founds the Instituto y Museo Nacional de las Malvinas y Adyacencias to; “stimulate the national conscience.”

In London, the MOD chiefs recommend that the Royal Marine detachment be removed and the defence of the Islands handed over to the Voluntary Defence Force consisting of less that two dozen men.

February 25th, the Colonial Office accept the MOD’s recommendation regarding the troops on the Falklands.

In April, a number of Argentine historians, intellectuals and leading military officers call for for a monument to commemorate the gaucho Antonio Rivero as a revolutionary hero. Notable academics including Ricardo Caillet-Bois and Humberto Berzio sign an open letter criticising the call; stating that the documentary record did not support a project founded – “… with more good faith and patriotic enthusiasm that historical truth.”

At Stanley, 6 Royal Marines, the only regular troops on the Islands, start training the Local Defence Force.

May 18th, in Madrid, the Spanish Government proposes that the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht be cancelled and the UK hand Gibraltar over to Spain. Britain rejects the proposal.

June 2nd, referring to an imminent financial crisis in the Falklands, brought about by a sharp drop in the price of wool, Foreign Office under-secretary Henry Hohler, says in an internal memo; “.. (there) is now a much better prospect of reaching agreement over the Falklands since the islands are losing population and ceasing to be self-supporting. … the islanders may themselves come to desire union with the Argentine.”

June 28th, in Argentina, President Illia is overthrown in a coup led by General Juan Carlos Ongania.

July 19th, during a preliminary meeting in London, Argentina’s Ambassador submits a formal demand for the “restitution” of the Falkland Islands and provides a list of “guarantees” with regard to the Islanders’ “interests” as demanded by Resolution 2065. Henry Hohler rejects both the demand and the implication that British possession is illegal; “.. what the Foreign Office had in mind for the July round was not what Buenos Aires interpreted. .. Henry Hohler, .. strove to convince his guests that the Falklanders’ needed to be in a position to fully appreciate the benefits of Argentine citizenship in order to change their mind. For this to occur, Buenos Aires had to remove the restrictions of movement between the islands and the mainland.”

An agreement is reached that there should be a detailed examination of ways to decrease friction and limit the scale of the dispute.

July 21st, Hohler writes to Ambassador Creswell in Buenos Aires; “Our aim should be to get shot of the Falkland Islands in an honourable manner, with a transition period long enough to enable the younger Islanders either to settle down under Argentine rule or to emigrate, and the older Islanders to live out their lives under British rule where they now are.”

July 23rd, a BBC broadcast suggests that Anglo-Argentine relations are more important than the Falkland Islands; causing outrage amongst the Islanders.

That such a broadcast should come from London rather than Buenos Aires was the first public indication that the British Government were inclined to appease Argentina.” (Tatham 2008)

England-Argentina 1966Following a controversial defeat in the quarter-finals of the World Cup football competition, Argentine newspapers report; “First they stole the Falklands from us, and now the World Cup.”

August 1st, in a merger the Colonial Office becomes the Office of Commonwealth Affairs.

In September, the UK offers to take the question of Gibraltar to the International Court of Justice.

.. an offer that Argentina did not want to see re-enacted in the Malvinas case.” (Gonzalez 2014)

September 7th, in a note, the new Dependent Territories Division gives its opinion; “.. policy since 1945 has been not to accept any specific and binding international commitment which could limit the freedom of the British government to decide on the most suitable constitutional goal for any territory when the time had come to do so. This policy has taken account of two major aims: to do the best we can for the people of any territory in their ‘particular circumstances,’ and to ensure that the government of the day remains free to decide how best to safeguard essential or important British or Allied interests.”

September 9th, from Buenos Aires, Ambassador Creswell writes to Henry Hohler arguing that Britain should accept Argentina’s proposal, perhaps via some lease-back arrangement. Creswell says he believing that; “… the chances that Argentina will be prepared to make some advance towards the removal of obstacles to freedom of movement between the islands and the mainland are slight, unless we are willing to talk seriously about sovereignty.”

While Creswell was convinced that Britain should pick up and exploit Argentina’s own proposal, agreeing to concede sovereignty immediately in exchange for an extended list of guarantees for the islanders, there were voices, such as that of John Bennett – head of the Gibraltar and South Atlantic Department – which raised the opposite alternative of putting a brake on Buenos Aires’ diplomatic offensive at the UN by submitting the dispute to the International Court of Justice. The ambassador was thinking in terms of the islanders’ interests; the Colonial official was fixated on their wishes.” (González 2009)

September 22nd, in London, discussions within the Commonwealth Affairs Office continue; The Governor firmly expressed his view that Creswell’s proposal would generate a political storm in the islands, and that at a minimum what was needed was a long period of time for the older generation to pass away under British rule and for the younger islanders to plan ahead their future in a changed situation. Bennett added that disregarding the islanders’ wishes would weaken Britain’s Gibraltar policy vis-à-vis Franco’s Spain; hence his preference was for the submission of the controversy to the International Court as a time and face-saving move. Robin Edmonds, the head of the American Department, reminded Bennett that even if Britain were to win the case in The Hague, “Argentina would refuse to accept the referee’s decision and we would still have the dispute on our hands”.

September 27th, the Commonwealth Office propose that an offer should be extended to Argentina to take the case of the Falklands to the ICJ, in line with the proposal to Spain. The reasoning is that the offer, which was bound to be rejected by Argentina, would; “ .. gain us some support in the UN, … give us an advantage in our negotiations, and buy some time.”

The Foreign Office are not enthusiastic as, if Britain won; “ .. we should be saddled with an indefensible group of islands with a declining population that is of no possible use to us.”

September 28th, an armed group of 19 Argentines, from the extremist Condor group, hijack an Aerolíneas DC4  and force it to fly to the Falklands. The plane has 26 passengers on-board, including Admiral Jose Guzmán.

When the aircraft lands on the race-course at Stanley some Islanders go to assist but are seized as hostages. Arms are issued to the Defence Force and police officers, who surround the aircraft. The hostages are released later in the day in an exchange for Marines’ Captain Ian Martin, and the local Police Sergeant – Terry Peck.

Ambassador Creswell is summoned to the Argentine Foreign Ministry where under-secretary Mazzinghi disassociates his Government from the hijackers actions which he calls “piracy.”

September 29th, following a cold night and mass with Father Rudolph Roel, the hijackers surrender.

There are demonstrations in Buenos Aires and shots are reported being fired towards the British Embassy where Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, is staying during an official visit.

September 31st, the hijackers are repatriated on an Argentine transport plane.

October 5th, in Spain, the Franco regime issue a Decree for the closure of the border between Spain and Gibraltar.

the mounting domestic and international tension over Gibraltar was tying Britain more and more to the principle of respecting the wishes of the populations of its remaining colonies.” [González 2009]

Following a review, the Royal Marines detachment on the Islands is restored to platoon strength ( NP8901 ).

October 23rd, an executive of Baring Brothers Bank advises the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to let Argentina infiltratethe Falklands by selling them the Falkland Islands Company.

In November, the British Treasury gives its opinion; “There is no British strategic or commercial interest in the Falkland Islands. .. Therefore the sooner we can reach a settlement with the Argentinians, preferably with a complete transfer of responsibility for the Islands, the better.”

November 22nd, the Overseas Policy & Defence Committee of the Cabinet review the forthcoming negotiations.

November 29th, the negotiations requested by Resolution 2065, commence with the UK putting forward its proposals; Firstly, Argentina and Britain would agree to a 40-year freeze of their legal position in respect to the islands. Secondly, during that time Britain would continue administering the territory, but since nothing done by either side would prejudice their claims, the parties would not be inhibited from taking measures that would contribute to solve the problem in the long-term: in particular, the restoration of normal freedom of movement in all fields and the realization of studies on the possibility of promoting economic cooperation between the Argentine mainland and the Falklands. Finally, at the end of the period the islanders would be free to choose between Argentine and British sovereignty.”

The Hohler-Beltramino talks were conducted in secret and were clearly predicated on an eventual transfer of sovereignty. The chief concern was to find a means of protecting the rights and way of life of the islanders and to secure the continued development of the islands’ economy.” (Jenkins & Hastings 2010)

In Ushuaia, the September hijackers are charged with carrying arms and depriving citizens of their freedom, but not air-piracy as the British Government had demanded.

December 9th, Argentina rejects the British proposals.

December 16th, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is adopted by General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI) and states that; ” 1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.”

December 17th, at the UN, the Fourth Committee consider Falkland Islands’ decolonization.

During the discussions on the question which took place at the twenty-first session of the General Assembly in the Assembly’s Fourth Committee, many Members, including Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Uruguay, welcomed the information that talks between Argentina and the United Kingdom were continuing. Uruguay and Venezuela emphasized that the solution arrived at in the talks called for in the General Assembly’s resolution of 16 December 1965 should be compatible with the paragraph (paragraph 6) in the Assembly Declaration of 14 December 1960 on the granting of independence which stated that any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. Iran considered it essential that the views not only of the people of the territory but of the people of Argentina should be taken into consideration, while India expressed concern at the leisurely rate at which the talks were proceeding and said that the two powers concerned should be urged to give the question all due attention.”

December 20th, at the UN, theGeneral Assemblyapproved a consensus, recommended by the Fourth Committee, which urges;… both parties to continue with the negotiations so as to find a peaceful solution to the problem as soon as possible, keeping the Special Committee … duly informed about the development of the negotiations on this colonial situation, the elimination of which is of interest to the United Nations…”

1967 – January 12th, in London, an internal memo considers the prospects for a deal with Argentina.

There was a point of fundamental disagreement. The British Government could not give a fixed date, however remote, on which the islands would be ceded to Argentina. The Argentine Government could not, for juridical as well as political reasons, abandon the restrictions on communications (which they would regard as a great concession) simply in return for an undertaking that, at some given date, the islanders should be given the option of joining Argentina.”

In February, Foreign Secretary George Brown instructs his American Department to prepare a cabinet paper with fresh ideas.

The American Department took advantage of both the perceived Argentine openings and its firmer hold on Falklands policy to recommend, for the first time, that Britain should make a statement manifesting its readiness in principle to cede sovereignty over the islands, though only if cession could be shown to be in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants. These would be determined by means of a referendum to be held before 1991, because the Antarctic Treaty would come up for review from that year onwards and if the Falklands question was still alive, the continuity of international cooperation in the white continent – of far greater importance for British interests- could be threatened.”

Two Member of Parliament visit the Falkland Islands. On their return they report the Islanders’ “disgust” that Her Majesty’s Government should even consider a cession of sovereignty.

March 10th, in an internal memo, the Commonwealth Department of the FO states; “.. we should be willing to cede sovereignty over the islands after a transitional period provided it can be shown to be in accordance with the wishes of the islanders.”

March 17th, the British Government informs Argentina that it is prepared to consider a cessation of sovereignty under certain conditions and provided that the wishes of the Islanders are respected.

Ambassador Creswell warns London thatCosta Méndez may be prepared to concede an extended period of transition if such was required but that the involvement of the Islanders could still pose problems.

Near Stanley, a satellite tracking station is built for the European Space Research Organisation.

In April, at a further meeting the Argentine Ambassador complains that the potential veto by the Islanders; “ .. “could be interpreted as the equivalent of a referendum.” Foreign Minister Brown responds that; “ .. great countries could not hand over other peoples as though they had no part to play in their own destiny.”

May 31st, at a Foreign Office meeting it is made clear that; “ .. because of Gibraltar, we could not budge from our condition about the transfer of sovereignty being acceptable to the people.”

June 13th, in a working document handed to Argentine diplomats, Britain proposes that; “… her Britannic Majesty will be prepared to transfer sovereignty over the Falkland Islands to Argentina provided that the change is acceptable to the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands.” (Freedman 2005)

June 14th, the British Government announce the holding of a September referendum in Gibraltar.

(Whatever) the justification for the British decision, its consequences, as seen from Buenos Aires, were overtly negative. Argentina would have to fight fiercely – perhaps .. more fiercely than Spain itself – to prevent the UN from granting any measure of legitimacy to the referendum, since this would seriously weaken the case against using this instrument in the Falklands. As a result, Argentine diplomats would be even more reluctant to reach any settlement with Britain that sanctioned or appeared to legitimate the islanders’ veto powers.” (Gonzalez 2014)

June 23rd, in New York, Foreign Secretary George Brown meets Costa Méndez and José Ruda to discuss the British proposal.

Méndez emphasises that making any transfer of sovereignty subject to the will of the islanders would not be acceptable to Argentine public opinion while Brown stresses that he could not carry either parliamentary or public opinion if he attempted to act against the wishes of the Islanders. Méndez reminds Brown that Resolution 2065 had referred to ‘interests‘ and not ‘wishes‘ to which Brown responds that 2065 merely called for talks, not a transfer of sovereignty.

July 20th, Hohler holds further talks with Ruda, during which Argentina’s UN representative says; “ .. for Argentina, the problem (is) not really of economic, territorial or strategic importance; it was essentially an emotional problem, in which Argentine feeling was in some respects similar to the British feeling about Gibraltar.” Ruda rules out any possible acceptance of a Gibraltar-style referendum.

Negotiations remain stalled over the issue of Islander agreement.

September 1st, invited to the referendum in Gibraltar, the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization declares that the planned plebiscite violates UN Resolutions and declines to observe the proceedings.

September 10th, in a referendum, the people of Gibraltar overwhelmingly vote to remain British.

September 21st, Brown and Mendez meet again at the UN.

The Argentine foreign minister told Brown that he simply wanted to make sure that Britain would somehow or other give the islands to Argentina. Brown replied that the islanders would have to be able to express a view in one form or another. In order to break the stalemate, and under pressure from Ruda to seize the historical opportunity to recover the islands, Costa Méndez made .. concessions. …, he agreed that the two delegations should informally explore the modalities to open communications, so that British Ministers could be reassured that all the related procedures would be in place once an agreement on sovereignty had been finalised.” (Gonzalez 2009)

October 2nd, Costa Mendez makes a further concession; .. he told Caradon that Argentina was ready to accept the British government’s obligation to consult the islanders, although he emphasised that such a consultation could only be limited to the Argentine guarantees (not to the transfer itself) and that it should be conducted in an informal manner so as not to imply that the Falklanders’ had been granted a veto power.”

Caradon writes to London; “We may have hit on the right answer …. we shall not get anything better from the Argentinians. … the best opportunity we are likely to have to deal with…”

November 18th, in Buenos Aires, the US Embassy writes to its State Department with information on the talks; “As the British Embassy Officer sees it, the most difficult problem in transferring the Islands to Argentina still remains gaining the acquiescence of the Islanders themselves. The Argentines have always tended to think this was relatively unimportant, apparently believing that the British were using this problem simply as a device to avoid coming to terms with the sovereignty issue. However, even though the British are willing to accept Argentine sovereignty over the Islands, they cannot transfer Island administration to the Argentines against the will of the Falkland Islanders …”

October 21st, Governor Haskard complains; “ .. Our links, sentimental and economic, bind us firmly to England. Argentina, seen through Falkland eyes is unknown, foreign, aloof, disdainful, corrupt, feared …”

October 26th, an FCO minute notes; .. any process of consultation with the islanders will have to be a genuine one… we will be asked in Parliament to do the same as we have just done in Gibraltar.”

October 27th, a Defence and Overseas Policy Committee meeting rejects the course that the Foreign Office is taking.

Prime Minister Harold Wilson then observed that Britain could not compromise its stand on the principle box_168_20111017205233_00042A.jpgformulated in the Rhodesian context that “the British Government would need to be satisfied that any basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole”; a Falklands policy even at small variance with this principle could have “awkward implications”. Lord Shepherd, the Minister of State for Commonwealth Affairs, backed this view and added that “we had also to bear in mind our policy in the case of Gibraltar and British Honduras.”

November 30th, the Argentines reject the proviso of a Falkland Islands veto.

In December, negotiations continue but without result.

December 16th, at the UN, the Fourth Committee consider the question of the Falkland islands.

December 19th, the General Assembly adopt a consensus, proposed by Uruguay and approved by the Fourth Committee, which states; The General Assembly, having regard to its resolution 2065 (XX) of 16 December 1965 … approves a consensus in favour of urging both parties to continue with the negotiations so as to find a peaceful solution to the problem as soon as possible.”

December 31st, the population of the Islands is put at 2,122.

1968 – in January, David Summerhayes of the British Embassy in Buenos Aires notes; However well the Argentine government play their hand .., I do not see any likelihood that the present generation of Falklanders would voluntarily wish to be transferred.”

February 2nd, in London, Governor Cosmo Haskard warns the FCO that the Islanders are determined to resist any change to their status; noting that they were “completely English.”

… now two years into the negotiations and not a word had been said about them either to Parliament (apart from a brief ‘written answer’) or in Port Stanley. The Foreign Office policy had been to prepare a satisfactory package of safeguards as well as economic benefits, to be presented to the islanders in such a way that the good news outweighed the bad. Aware of the sensitivity involved on both sides, officials wanted to avoid publicity ‘until ministers were ready.’ This could not last. The islands’ governor at the time was Sir Cosmo Haskard, …. He travelled to London, was told of the Costa Mendez-Brown talks and permitted to inform his executive council of them but only under oath of secrecy. His taciturnity on returning to Port Stanley … predictably aroused widespread alarm.” (Jenkins & Hastings 2010)

February 22nd, the Islanders are informed of events in a broadcast.

February 24th, when informed that Islander reaction is to plan an ‘open letter’ to MP’s publicising what is happening, the Commonwealth Affairs Office advises Haskard to issue a veiled threat; “You might well suggest indirectly that the broad sheet by making difficulties for Government in Parliament may not contribute to a solution to the problem or be in their best interests.”

Sir Cosmo did nothing of the kind. Instead he asked for a Minister to visit – to see local reaction for himself. But the FO didn’t want this until the MOU was agreed. Islanders wanted the Queen to come on her planned Latin-American tour – but both Argentina and the Falklands were deliberately left out.” (Pepper 2002)

On February 27th, Members of the British Parliament receive an open-letter:

“To Members of Parliament

From Unofficial Members of Falkland Islands Executive Council (A.G. Barton – R.V. Goss – S. Miller – G.C.R. Bonner)

Negotiations are now proceeding between the British and Argentine Governments which may result at any moment in the handing-over of the Falkland Islands to The Argentine.

The Inhabitants of the Islands have never yet been consulted regarding their future – they do NOT want to become Argentines – they are as British as you are, mostly of English and Scottish ancestry, even to the 6th generation – five out of six were born in the Islands – many elderly people have never been elsewhere – there is no racial problem – no unemployment – no poverty, and we are not in debt.

The people of these Islands do not wish to submit to a Foreign Language, Law, Customs, and Culture because for 135 years they have happily pursued their own peaceful way of life, a very British way of life, unique in fact, when you consider that the Islands are 8,000 miles from the Country which they still call ‘Home’ in spite of the Immigration Act.

Lord Caradon said to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1965: “The people of this territory are not to be betrayed or bartered.  Their wishes and their interests are paramount and we shall do our duty in protecting them.”  British Ministers have said the same until 1967 since when there has been silence.

Is our tiny community to be used as a pawn in Power Politics?
Do you not feel ashamed that this wicked thing may suddenly be foisted on use?
What can you do to prevent it?
What are you doing?


In March, the Falkland Islands Emergency Committee, an lobby group, is formed to promote the wishes of the Islanders regarding their future; Chalfont complained that Barton and Sid Miller communicated by phone with the Falklands Emergency Committee nearly every day.”

In Parliament, Foreign Secretary Lord Chalfont is asked whether negotiations are underway with Argentina over the Falklands. Chalfont admits that they are, but declines to elaborate stating that the talks are; “confidential between Governments.” He refuses to deny that the talks are concerned with sovereignty.

March 27th, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Chalfont, is forced to defend his Government’s position in the Lords; “Her Majesty’s Government’s object in conducting these talks was to secure a satisfactory and lasting modus vivendi between the Falkland Islands and Argentina, and that Her Majesty’s Government have thought it right in pursuance of this objective that the question of sovereignty should be discussed in these talks. Her Majesty’s Government believe that a transfer of sovereignty could be considered only as part of an agreement which would secure a permanently satisfactory relationship between the Islands and Argentina, and one which would fully safeguard the special rights of the Islanders. That is one condition. The cession of sovereignty could be considered only as part of an agreement of this nature.

While the power to decide over a transfer of sovereignty lies with Her Majesty’s Government, they would agree to such a cession first on the condition I have mentioned, that it must be part of an agreement fully satisfactory in other respects, and, secondly, only if it were clear to us, to Her Majesty’s Government, that the Islanders themselves regarded such an agreement as satisfactory to their interests… My Lords, the legal question of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands resides with Her Majesty’s Government. It will be for Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate and arrive at decisions with the Argentine Government. We shall do so on the basis of the two principles I have already outlined, ….”

Bonbarded with adverse comments, Lord Chalfont responds; “There is no question of bartering over the heads of anybody here. All I have said is that we regard the wishes of the Islanders as being of great importance; and, of course, we have studied those wishes constantly in the course of the negotiations. There is continuing consultation all the time with the Governor of the Falkland Islands about this matter; and, as I say, in all this we shall regard their interests as paramount.”

Chalfont is subjected to further criticism in the British press.

The Government had entered into the negotiations with Argentina with the implicit assumption that it was the best judge of the interests of the islanders and that they could be brought to share its judgement. They were soon disabused.” (Smith 1991)

March 28th, Michael Stewart admits to an almost empty House of Commons, that the British Government was discussing a transfer of sovereignty with Argentina. He adds that; .. you had to allow sovereignty on to the agenda to continue good relations with Argentina.” (Cawkell 1983)

April 1st, in response to the criticism, the British Government publicly states that there will be no cession of sovereignty against the wishes of the Islanders.

April 22nd, an editorial in The Guardian asks; Are the Falklands for sale?”

Why have British Ministers taken to being so devious about the Falkland Islands? The Government’s policy was laid down quite clearly by Mr Michael Stewart before the negotiations with Argentina began. In January, 1966, he told the Argentine Foreign Minister, Dr Ortiz, that the islands’ sovereignty was British and was not negotiable. … Last year Mr Fred Lee confirmed this on behalf of the Commonwealth Office in a letter to the Falkland Islands Company. Lately the Foreign Office has confirmed it again, to the extent that they agreed that Mr Stewart had made the original remark. Yet in the past four weeks of questioning in Parliament no Minister has ventured to repeat what Mr Stewart said in the beginning. Not even Mr Stewart himself. What is the Government up to? The people who matter are the Falkland Islanders and both Governments have rejected all proposals for a referendum. If they really want a just solution this rejection is incomprehensible. The principle of self-determination should come first …. The Argentines, who seem to fear that the vote would go against them, will not countenance self-determination either (notwithstanding the fact that they claimed this same right for themselves when they threw the Spaniards out). Secret diplomacy is sometimes useful but in the Falklands’ case it is doing only harm. The two Governments should explain what they are talking about. Otherwise they will be suspected of doing a deal behind the Falklanders’ backs.”

April 25th, Lord Shepherd answers a question on the suitability of a referendum in the Falkland Islands; “My Lords, a plebiscite appears to be unnecessary and unsuitable in the circumstances of the Falkland Islands, particularly as we regard consultation with the people as a continuous process. .. a plebiscite is an unusual process within the British Commonwealth. The situation in the Falkland Islands is that there are some 1,200 electors, some 800 of whom are householders. We believe that the type of consultation we have in mind, which may take place over a period of years, is quite suitable and will be democratic. We believe that by this process —and I give the noble Viscount this assurance—not only Her Majesty’s Government, but Parliament also, will be satisfied that the wishes of the people of the Falklands are clearly understood.”

May 1st, Stewart meets with the Argentine Ambassador, Eduardo McLoughlin, in London.

Stewart strove to convince McLoughlin that the British proposal already went a long way to meet Argentine needs, since “it does not say explicitly that the islanders will be consulted in some particular way about sovereignty”. However, he admitted that in reality “Her Majesty’s Government would have to take into account the islanders’ views on both aspects of the question [the guarantees and the transfer] since they are virtually inseparable”, even though he hoped that “given time, the emphasis in any consultation with the islanders may naturally move to the Argentine offers”

In July, the attachment of Marines on the Falklands is up-graded to a year round commitment.

July 5th, Minister Costa Mendez offers to talk about improving contacts between the Falklands and the mainland in order to break the deadlock, and negotiations resume.

August 14th, unpublicised, a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MOU) is agreed stating that; ” The Government of the United Kingdom, … will recognise Argentina’s sovereignty over the Islands from a date to be agreed. This date will be agreed as soon as possible after (i) the two governments have resolved the present divergence between them as to the criteria according to which the United Kingdom Government shall consider whether the interests of the Islanders would be secured by the safeguards and guarantees to be offered by the Argentine Government, and (ii) the Government of the United Kingdom are then satisfied that those interests are so secured.”

During September, the British press reveal that discussions have taken place and some agreement reached.

September 24th, the Cabinet discuss the merits of making public the position reached in the talks.

Really the problem of winding up the last outposts of empire is almost ludicrously difficult. I thought to myself that this is a classic example of how on these so-called moral issues one can’t win. Which should be our parliamentary priority? To defend to the last ditch the rights of a small group of people to remain Britishers? To do nothing which would increase defence expenditure? Or to observe UN resolutions?” (Castle 1984)

The biggest stumbling block was Britain’s wish that any MOU should say that Islanders must consent to any transfer of sovereignty. Foreign secretary, Michael Stewart, was adamant about this… This was bitterly opposed by Argentina. Their insistence and British weakness got it removed from the draft memorandum – but not from British policy. So the MOU itself just said that Britain had to be satisfied with the Argentine “safeguards and guarantees” to secure Islander consent. But to put Islander approval back Britain planned to publish a “Unilateral Statement” at the same time as the MOU stating it would not cede sovereignty without Islander consent.” (Pepper 2002)

.. the parties had so little confidence in the common ground they had attained that they “agreed” to complement the Memorandum with unilateral statements that each would make in order to lay out their diametrically different interpretations of the text – namely, the British commitment to the principle of acceptability by the islanders, and the Argentine refusal to grant them a veto power over what it regarded as the restitution of its territorial integrity. Not surprisingly, there ensued a futile battle over the content and status of any such statements, with Argentina seeking to ensure that they were legally inferior and did not contradict the concept of the transfer as announced in the main document, and Britain determined to balance the memorandum’s failure to include the islanders’ wishes by directly annexing her own interpretation and/or by formally communicating it to the UN.” (Gonzales 2009)

September 26th, both Argentina and the UK send letters to the UN’s Fourth Committee to the effect that; .. in accordance with the General Assembly’s resolution of 16  December 1965 and its consensuses of 20 December 1966 and 19 December 1967, their Governments had continued negotiations for the purpose of reaching a solution to the problem of the dispute over the Islands. They were proceeding with the talks with a view to reaching a peaceful settlement as soon as possible, and hoped to report on the subject during the course of the twenty-third session of the General Assembly.”

October 17th, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes over responsibility for the Commonwealth Affairs Office, amongst others, in a civil service reorganisation.

In November, Lord Chalfont travel to the Islands to explain what is happening.

Chalfont used his considerable negotiating skill in an attempt to persuade Councillors and the public that it was in their long term interest to come toLord Chalfont an accommodation with Argentina. He explained in detail to council members the proposed contents of a memorandum of understanding with the Argentine Government and also of a unilateral statement which could be made in Parliament stressing that sovereignty would not be ceded without Islander consent. However, Chalfont failed to reassure his audiences.”

Miguel Fitzgerald, in a publicity stunt paid for by the Argentine newspaper Cronica, attempts to repeat his 1964 landing of a Cessna aircraft at Stanley Racecourse. Finding obstructions on the track, he crash lands in Eliza Cove Road. Fitzgerald is unhurt.

Returning via Buenos Aires, Chalfont meets with Mendez, who tells him that Argentina will not sign the MOU if Britain is committed to the proviso of Islander consent.

After Chalfont has left, the Argentine Foreign Ministry issue a statement; An agreement with Britain would only be signed if … it included recognition of Argentine sovereignty. It could not provide for recognition of sovereignty being made subject to an expression of will of the inhabitants.”

December 5th, Chalfont, on his return to London, submits his report; “I do not believe that the Falkland Islands can continue to exist for many years, as they are presently constituted. I believe one day that the Falkland Islands may be prepared to choose Argentine sovereignty. We must at all costs avoid giving the impression that we want to get rid of them, since that would set up precisely the reaction we would want to avoid.”

The British Government is informed that Argentina is not prepared to accept any ‘Unilateral Statement’, linked to the ‘Memorandum’, which enshrines the requirement of Islander consent.

December 11th, in London, the Cabinet decides not to continue in its attempt to reach a settlement on the basis of the MOU. Foreign Secretary Stewart makes a statement in Parliament later in the day; In their talks with the Argentine Government, H.M. Government have been trying to reach an understanding with Argentina with the object of securing a satisfactory relationship between the islands and the nearest continental mainland. Since that time, the talks have continued and the two Governments have reached a measure of understanding although this is not yet complete. There is a basic divergence over H.M. Government’s insistence that no transfer of sovereignty could be made against the wishes of the Falkland Islanders.”

He also assures the House that negotiations with Argentina do not include the Dependencies.

The paramountcy of the islanders’ wishes as reflected in Parliament had been established, and the question of sovereignty over the Falklands had become an issue of domestic politics rather than foreign policy.”

The Daily Express, which had exposed much of the process, called it “one of the most squalid and discreditable chapters in British history .” The Sunday Times called the Argentine claim ludicrous. But the Argentines had been led to believe that they could get what they wanted.” (Pepper 2002)

December 12th, in Buenos Aires, Minister Méndez states; “ .. After more than two years of talks, both countries have reached some understanding on substantive issues. Argentine sovereignty over the islands is an essential topic in the dispute. After refusing for a century even to discuss this matter, the United Kingdom has finally accepted to discuss it. This new willingness to hear our reasons is in itself sufficient reason for continuing the negotiations and for believing that they will lead to their logical conclusion: recognition of Argentine sovereignty over the Malvinas, which recognition, moreover, the United Kingdom has not categorically refused to proclaim. .. Major differences still exist, of course. The United Kingdom insists on making recognition of Argentine sovereignty subject to the wishes of the inhabitants, a condition which the Republic cannot possibly accept.”

He also declares that his Government’s position in the negotiations with the UK is based on five fundamental principles.

(1) The United Kingdom Government must recognize as a definite solution Argentine sovereignty over the Islands and return them to the Republic; (2) such recognition must not be made subject to the agreement of the present inhabitants of the Islands; (3) the Republic will take into account and protect the interests of the inhabitants of the Islands by means of safeguards and guarantees to be agreed upon. The Argentine Government, in keeping with the principles traditionally underlying its policy in this matter, will welcome these inhabitants with open arms. It is prepared to protect their interests satisfactorily and is confident that the ending of their present isolation will constitute a genuine advantage for them and their descendants; (4) the conclusion of the comprehensive treaty will naturally result in the development of free communications between the Islands and the rest of the Argentine National Territory and in forging of definite links between them; (5) The negotiations and resulting agreements must be consistent with the principles laid down in General Assembly resolution 2065.”

December 17th, at the UN, Argentina’s Ambassador complains about; “..recognition of the Argentine sovereignty, as a definite solution, [being] subject to the wishes of the islanders.”

December 19th, in further letters to the UN, both Argentina and Britain inform the General Assembly that negotiations are continuing and that progress is being made towards, “narrowing the area of divergence” between the two countries. During the debate Argentina demands that its sovereignty be recognised, and states that the principle to be applied is not that of self-determination but that of national unity and territorial integrity.

Britain responds that it has no doubts about its sovereignty and that no transfer of sovereignty can be made against the wishes of the inhabitants. The General Assembly decides to defer consideration of the issue for another year.

Pathe News1969 during a dispute between Uruguay and Argentina over islands in the Rio de la Plata, the delegate from Montevideo reminds his opposite number of Uruguay’s own potential claim to the Falklands based on ‘inheritance‘ from Spain, and that; “… if he got on to historical precedents, Uruguay would establish her claim to the Falklands and, when she did, would acknowledge British sovereignty.”

March 19th, British Pathé News films in the Falklands for the 21st anniversary of the inter-island air service.

September 25th, in a speech to the General Assembly, Argentina’s representative states; We repeat what we have said so many times, to the effect that if we frame our controversy strictly within the terms of resolution 2065 (XX), and if the United Kingdom is willing to consider this question without preconceived ideas, making a wide evaluation of the material circumstances surrounding the islands, it will be easy to reach a definite settlement which, at the same time, may satisfy and guarantee the interests of the inhabitants. ….”

September 26th, in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General, the UK responds that; “.. the United Kingdom and the Argentine Governments have been engaged in talks on this subject in accordance with resolution 2065 (XX) of the General Assembly, … I am, however, obliged to state that the United Kingdom Government does not accept the statement of the distinguished Foreign Minister of the Argentine Republic in so far as it disputes the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Government over the Falkland Islands. …”

November 21st, Lord Caradon writes to theSecretary-General;“ Your Excellency,  … I now have to inform you that, although divergence remains between the two Governments regarding the circumstances that should exist for a definitive solution of the dispute, it has been agreed that, within the general framework of these negotiations, special talks with a view to reaching agreement on practical measures for the implementation and promotion of free communications and movement in both directions between the mainland and the Islands, will take place early next year at a mutually convenient time.”

November 24th, in London, asked whether the future discussion mentioned in the letter will only be about communications, Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart responds; “No. Sir. That is not exactly the position. For some time we have been continuing discussions with the Argentine on the whole, including what I call the central issue, but now, within the framework of those negotiations, there will be these special talks which will be concerned solely with the promotion of communications and movement.”

November 27th, the Daily Express prints a claim that there is oil to be found near the Falkland Islands.

December 11th, at the UN, the General Assembly approves Resolution 2548 (XXIV) on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

Art. 13 invites the Special Committee to; “.. continue to pay particular attention to the small Territories and to recommend to the General Assembly the most appropriate methods and also the steps to be taken to enable the populations of those Territories to exercise fully their right to self-determination and independence.”

December 12th, the Fourth Committee approve a consensus proposed by Uruguay and Venezuela, urging the negotiating parties to continue their efforts.

December 16th, the General Assembly, “ .. having regard to its resolution 2065..,” notes the progress achieved.

Hull of SS Great Britain 19701970 – February 23rd, in Parliament, the Foreign Secretary states; We are in continuing touch with the Argentine Government and the Governor of the Falkland Islands. The talks on communications are still in the preparatory stages, and the time and place of a special meeting on this question have not been fixed.”

Britain’s Ambassador to Argentina visits the Falklands – .. to prepare the way for the talks.”

In May, the hull of the SS Great Britain is lifted onto a pontoon and taken to Bristol by a British and German team of restorers.

May 11th, a statement is made to the House of Commons; .. exchanges have continued between the representatives of my Department and the Argentine Government. The Falkland Islands Government have been kept fully informed throughout. It has been possible in these exchanges to identify some ways in which free communications and movement in both directions might be promoted, and both sides believe that these deserve detailed study. I expect the talks to proceed on a continuing basis. Meetings will be held from time to time with appropriate participation from the Falkland Islands.”

June 18th, a General Election in the UK sees a change of Government with Edward Heath as Prime Minister.

July 14th, in London, negotiations on communications start with two Falkland Island Councillors present.

July 24th, the final communique announces; “Several proposals and ideas for the promotion of free communications were considered. The two delegations discussed problems relating to the movement of persons in both directions, to the establishment of sea and air communications, to postal and telecommunication services, to the development of trade and to the promotion of cultural exchanges. Both sides agreed in principle that there appeared to be considerable scope for the promotion of free communications and that every effort should be made to try and reach agreement on practical measures to that end. .. Both sides agreed .., that there should be further meetings, .., that the next meeting should take place in Buenos Aires, and that thereafter a meeting should be held at Port Stanley.”

September, Governor Haskard retires; .. much to the relief of the Latin American Department of the FCO.” [Dodds 2002]

September 30th, at the UN, Argentina’s Foreign Minister tells the General Assembly that his country had; “.. agreed to negotiate with the United Kingdom regarding the dispute over the sovereignty of the islands. In so doing, we were interpreting the spirit and the letter of resolution 2065 (XX) and at the same time, we declared our irrevocable decision .. that the Malvinas islands should be restored to our territorial heritage.”

October 12th, UN Resolution 2621 (XXV) states, inter alia; “(5) Member States shall carry out a sustained and vigorous campaign against all military activities and arrangements by colonial Powers in Territories under their administration, as such activities and arrangements constitute an obstacle to the full implementation of resolution 1514 (XV).”

October 24th, UN Resolution 2625 (XXV)” … By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right freely to determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter…. Every State has the duty to promote, through joint and separate action, realization of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, (through the)

* establishment of a sovereign and independent State,
* free association, or
* integration with an independent State, or
* the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people…

Every State has the duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives peoples referred to above in the elaboration of the present principle of their right to self-determination and freedom and independence. In their actions against, and resistance to, such forcible action in pursuit of the exercise of their right to self-determination, such peoples are entitled to seek and to receive support in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter…

The territory of a colony or other Non-Self-Governing Territory has, under the Charter, a status separate and distinct from the territory of the State administering it; and such separate and distinct status under the Charter shall exist until the people of the colony or Non-Self-Governing Territory have exercised their right of self-determination in accordance with the Charter, and particularly its purposes and principles…”

In November, a 3 member delegation from the Falklands visit Atlantic ports in Argentina with the purpose of reviewing trading opportunities.

December 12th, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee, the General Assembly decides to defer consideration of the Falkland Islands till 1971.

December 23rd, Sir Ernest Gordon Lewis takes over as Governor.

1971 – January 8th, Governor Lewis arrives at Stanley.

January 11th, in a display of their frustration at the unwillingness of the Special Committee to consider any other option for a NSGT but independence, the UK and the USA – which had been members of the Committee since its inception – withdraw from the Special Committee in letters addressed to the Secretary-General. Britain stated that its relationship with its remaining territories was a modern one in which the people of the territories had expressed their wish to remain associated with the UK.

“The withdrawal from membership in the General  Assembly’s Special Committee on the Situation  with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration  on the Granting of Independence to Colonial  Countries and Peoples of the United Kingdom  and the United States was noted with regret by a  number of members when the Committee convened  in 1971. Both States, it was observed, had served on the Committee since its inception and together were responsible for the administration of the majority of the remaining dependent territories. In the view of some Committee members, the withdrawal of the administering powers impeded the full and speedy implementation of  the General Assembly’s resolution of 14 December 1960 concerning the granting of independence.”

The Uruguayan Consulate in Stanley, opened in 1924, closes.

In May, the new Governor reassures the Legislative Council on proposals for a communications agreement between Britain and Argentina; “ Her Majesties Government (HMG) is insisting that any agreement on communications shall be conditional upon an arrangement such as the ‘sovereignty umberella’… HMG sees the whole communications exercise as a way of defusing the sovereignty issue and helping the Islands without any concession on sovereignty or their Britishness. I was not appointed Governor and Commander in Chief of these Islands with a view to assisting in disposing of part of the Queen’s realm.”

June 21st, the advisory opinion of the ICJ in the Namibia case, includes a statement that; “.. the subsequent development of international law in regard to non-self-governing territories, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, made the principle of self-determination applicable to all of them.”

On the same day, a delegation including Islanders and led by D. A. Scott, and under-secretary at the Foreign Office, resume talks on communication issues in Buenos Aires.

June 22nd, Argentina and Chile sign an Arbitration Agreement under which they commit to place their dispute over the Beagle Channel to international resolution. It is agreed that Queen Elizabeth II should act as arbitrator; that the judges should be drawn from the Hague and that the arbitrator can only accept or reject the panel’s decision without any option to modify it. Both nation’s also agree to abide by the decision.

July 1st, in Buenos Aires, negotiations regarding communications conclude an agreement establishing reciprocal air and sea services between the Falkland Islands and Argentina. AJoint Statement announces:-

  • the provision by Argentina of a travel document (the ‘white card’), which guarantees freedom of movement within Argentina for residents of the Islands and serves as the only documentation necessary for Argentine residents visiting to the Islands;
  • certain reciprocal exemptions from duties and taxes;
  • exemption for residents of the Islands from any obligation to Argentine military service;
  • the harmonization of postal, telegraphic and telephone rates with the rates obtaining in the country of origin;
  • provision of school places and scholarships in Argentina for children in the Islands;
  • and the establishment of a special consultative committee in Buenos Aires to consist of representatives of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the British Embassy, to deal with any questions arising over communications.

August 5th, charge d’affaires Peters writes to the Argentina Government confirming that the UK is prepared to ratify the agreement of July 1st, provided that nothing in the Joint Statement shall be interpreted as renouncing, or supporting, any right of sovereignty by either Government.

October 1st, speaking to the General Assembly, Argentina’s Foreign Minister refers to the results of the negotiations, declaring; “This does not, however, close the chapter of negotiations. These negotiations should continue until full implementation is achieved of the terms of resolution 2065 and the objectives or decolonization carried out by the United Nations are duly attained. …, the problem will soon be definitively solved with the restoration of the Malvinas to the national territory of the Argentine Republic.”

November, on trying to enter Argentina, three Islanders’ are forced to accept Argentine ID cards before being allowed in – contrary to the agreement concerning ‘white cards’.

December 20th, at the UN, the General Assembly adopt a consensus noting with “satisfaction” the progress achieved on communications, and urge the parties to continue their negotiations.

1972 – January 8th, Argentina’s state-owned airline, LADE, initiates twice-monthly amphibious flights between Comodora Rivadavia and the Falkland Islands.

The first back-sliding was a British one. Whatever Scott may have signed in Buenos Aires, he was not plenipotentiary over the Treasury. There was no sign of the promised maritime link to a port to replace Darwin. … The Foreign Office had not secured the necessary finance from the Overseas Development Agency, and were thus unable to honour the British side of the agreement.” (Jenkins & Hastings 2010)

The Argentine Government calls for renewed talks on sovereignty.

In London, a Briefing Note is prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO); “At present the Islands are something of a liability to Britain; they no longer have a strategic value and they are difficult and expensive to defend, while remaining a constant source of friction in relations with Argentina and with Latin America as a whole.”

The population of the Islands is put at 1,957 following the census.

In early May, Argentina agrees to construct a temporary air strip near Stanley; to replace the sea-plane service provided by LADE. The steel mesh strip is to be provided by Britain at a cost of $1 million, while Buenos Aires provides the workforce and construction equipment.

May 14th, an Argentine transport ship, Cabo San Gonzalo, sails from Buenos Aires with 40 workmen and technicians. On watching them sail, the local correspondent for the Financial Times writes; “The Argentines have finally established a beach-head on the Falklands.”

Governor Lewis applies to the British Government for a grant of £1615 million for the construction of a permanent airport.

On signing the Treaty of Rome the UK  joins the European Community. As residents of an Overseas Territory of Great Britain, the Islanders become citizens of the European Union. The European Space Research tracking station on East Falkland ceases operations.

In July the Falkland Islands Company is acquired by Dundee, Perth and London Securities Ltd. The new owners give the Falkland Islanders’ Sheep Owners Association the right of first refusal should they decide to sell.

The Falklands Islands’ Emergency Committee founded in 1968 is re-designated the United Kingdom Falkland Islands Committee at the request of the Islanders. The Committee’s objective is ‘To assist the people of the Falkland Islands to decide their own future for themselves without being subject to pressure direct or indirect from any quarter.’

July 6th, Argentina protests against the inclusion of the Falkland Islands in Annex 4 of the Treaty of Rome.

September 27th, Argentina tells the General Assemby.. the Argentine Government is conducting negotiations with the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, within the framework of resolution 2065 (XX) of the General Assembly, in order to find a final solution to the dispute over the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands. In order to encourage ties between the Islands and the mainland and as a result of instruments approved by both countries, efforts have been made to allow communications, to increase mutual knowledge and to benefit the population of the Malvinas. Despite these practical steps of undisputed importance, there still are differences outstanding between the two Governments regarding the circumstances that should exist for a final solution to be arrived at over the question of sovereignty. Further talks on the matter are to be held and we trust that they will be fruitful. The result can, in any case, be none other than the return of the Malvinas Islands to the Argentine territorial heritage”

October 23rd, the UK, in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General responds that; .. the efforts of our two Governments to solve our differences should, be pursued in a climate of mutual understanding based on the traditional and close ties of friendship which unite us.”

November 9th, tenders for the construction of a permanent airfield are received by the Government.

November 16th, on the Falklands, the temporary air strip comes into operation with a weekly air service between Port Stanley and Comodoro Rivadavia.

November 21st, further negotiations over communications issues take place in Port Stanley.

November 24th, Governor Lewis notifies London of Islander’ concerns regarding plans to make Argentina the sole supplier of fuel to Stanley.

December 11th, in London, the Government assures Parliament that; .. there had been no discussion of any change in the sovereignty of the Islands.”

December 18th, the General Assembly defer consideration of the question of the Falkland Islands till 1973.

1973 – in March, the Peronists triumph in Argentine elections produces; “ .. an immediate hardening of the Argentine line. …” (Tatham 2008)

April, during preparatory discussions regarding further talks, the Argentine delegation indicate that they wish to move forward on the basis of the 1968 Memorandum proposals. British negotiators respond that they are only prepared to discuss practical matters and not sovereignty; and that Islanders must again be represented. Argentina refuses to accept Islander participation and negotiations stall.

It was the intention of the United Kingdom Government not only to downgrade the negotiations, but also to change their true Character.” [Letter from Argentina to Sec.-General]

May 14th, at the UN, in a petition addressed to the Special Committee;.., Mr. Jose Ramon Cornejo maintained that the Argentine claim to the Islands had been based on their proximity to Argentina and the inheritance of title from Spain. He added that the Argentinians did not believe that talks like those recently held between the two Governments could make any progress towards resolving the question of the transfer of the sovereignty of the Territory to Argentina.”

May 25th, following his official swearing-in, the new President of Argentina, Hector J. Campora, says that the one preoccupation of his Government will be the; recovery of the Malvinas.”

August 15th, in a letter addressed to the Special Committee, Argentina’s representative says; “ .. that his Government regretted to report that the negotiations had been virtually paralysed as a result of the attitude adopted by the United Kingdom, whose position, he said, had changed substantially from that which it had taken since contacts were first established in 1966. When,.. efforts were made to reactivate the negotiations, postponed since 1968, the United Kingdom took the position that the round of meetings could not be called negotiations on sovereignty since in its opinion they involved only talks or discussions, and it was willing to discuss only the collateral question of communications rather than the basic issue of sovereignty over the territory… This position, Argentina considered, was not in conformity with the provisions of the Assembly’s resolution of 16 December 1965. Argentina called on the United Kingdom Government to take measures to continue the negotiations without further procrastination, within the framework of that resolution and subsequent decisions, so as to bring about the speedy elimination of the territory’s colonial situation.”

In response the UK’s representative denies; “ ..  that there had been any change in its consistently upheld position on the scope of the discussions. It reiterated its readiness to renew discussions, bearing in mind that in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Declaration on the granting of independence, it was essential that any solution should recognize the right of the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands to self-determination and should provide for them to express their wishes in this connection.”

August 17th, at the UN,the Special Committee meets to consider the Falkland Islands. Argentina’s Ambassador tells the meetingthat; “.. that failure to settle this dispute within a short and reasonable time will necessitate a thorough reappraisal of the policy it has pursued until now…”

August 21st, the Committee adopts a Venezuelan draft-Resolution calling for negotiations to be accelerated.

Britain writes to the Secretary-General; “It has been the common purpose of the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX) to explore in accordance with that resolution all possible means of finding a peaceful solution to the problem defined in that resolution. The letters addressed to you and your predecessors in successive years, … constitute a record of progress endorsed by both Governments … there have been no grounds for supposing that there has been any change in the consistently upheld position of the United Kingdom Government. At the meeting in London in April 1973, … after a restatement of the views of the United Kingdom Government, the Argentine delegation declined to continue the meeting … The United Kingdom Government note the desire of the Argentine Government for an early solution of the problem. For their part the United Kingdom Government reiterate their readiness to renew discussions bearing in mind that in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of resolution 1514 (XV) of the General Assembly it is essential that any solution should recognize the right of the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands to self-determination and should provide for them to express their wishes in this connection.”

October 3rd, in a speech, Argentina’s Foreign Minister tells the General Assembly; “My country has adhered – and continues to adhere – to the path of negotiation with the occupying Power, but is forced to state that the procedure cannot be indefinitely prolonged,…

October 19th, in a response, the UK’s representative informs the Secretary-General that; “ .. his Government was reluctant to believe that Argentina would wish for any solution of the differences between the two Governments which was contrary to the expressed wishes of the inhabitants of the territory.”

November 5th, on learning of the UK’s letter, Argentina reacts by quoting the first paragraph of Resolution 2065 and pointing out that it makes “no reference” to the wishes of the population or the right of self-determination. Their representative adds that he considers; “.. this tardy and misplaced concern for respect for the right to self-determination would be praiseworthy and legitimate if the United Kingdom had consulted the original population of the Malvinas Islands about their wishes before displacing them by force and replacing them by British settlers in 1833 as a result of its annexation of that territory.”

In December, the Sheepowners Association on the Falklands negotiate the sale of carcasses to Corporacion Argentina de Productores de Carnes.

December 5th, the Fourth Committee approve the text of the draft Resolution.

During discussion of the question .., Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and Spain were among those supporting the contention of Argentina that the negotiations should be resumed with a view to finding a solution based on recognition of Argentine sovereignty over the islands. Argentina considered that the conflict of sovereignty, which dated from 1833, was the basic point to be resolved if an end was to be put to the colonial situation prevailing in the territory. The United Kingdom did not accept that interpretation; the essential problem was one of self-determination, complicated by a claim to the territory by another Government. The United Kingdom considered that any settlement of the differences between the two Governments must recognize the right of the inhabitants to self-determination and must be in accordance with their expressed wishes.”

December 14th, taking up the Fourth Committee’s recommendation, the General Assembly adoptResolution 3160 declaring their concern that eight years had elapsed; “.. since the adoption of Resolution 2065 (XX) without any substantial progress having been made in the negotiation..,”

1974 – January 4th, a meeting of the Falklands’ Legislative Council adopts a motion stating; “That this House objects strongly to any negotiations or talks being held with the Argentine Government without the prior full knowledge of the Falkland Islands people, which would involve the transfer of sovereignty of this Colony against the wishes of its inhabitants.”

A Select Committee is appointed from the elected members of the Falkland Islands Legislative Council to ascertain the views of the electorate on possible changes to the Constitution and to make recommendations on the form such changes might take.

January 25th, in the House of Commons, the Government announce that they expect the contract for a permanent airfield to be awarded “shortly” and that the work will be complete within two years.

Professor Griffiths of Birmingham University leads a team to explore the possible  oil resources in the Falklands.

In March, the newly elected British Government suggests a ‘joint-sovereignty’ arrangement as a possible answer to the impasse recognised by Resolution 3160.

In June, Dundee, Perth and London Securities Ltd is taken over by Charington, Gardner and Locket.

Johnston Construction win the contract for the new Falklands Airport with a tender of £4.2 million.

June 11th, in Buenos Aires, Ambassador James Hutton outlines the British position to Foreign Minister Alberto Vignes; “… I have now received instructions from Her Majesty’s Government to propose that the discussions between Britain and the Falkland Islands should be resumed on the basis of the safeguards and guarantees to be extended to the Islanders in the hypothesised event of a condominium. These discussions would be without prejudice to the respective positions of the United Kingdom and the Argentine Governments with regard to territorial sovereignty over the Falkland Islanders. I am to explain that the main aim of Her Majesty’s Government in entering into negotiations on the basis of a condominium would be to settle the dispute about sovereignty by accepting Argentine co-sovereignty over the Islands, …… the two parties would accept shared sovereignty over the Islands.

The co-domini would be Her Majesty The Queen and His Excellency the President of the Argentina Nation. There are several forms which a condominium might take but the basic elements might include the following:

1) The British and Argentine flags would fly side by side and the official language would be English and Spanish;

2) All ‘belongers’ of the Islands would possess dual nationality;

3) Existing colony passports would be replaced by travel documents issued in the co-domini;

4) The present constitution, administration and legal system would have to be adapted to the needs of a condominium. The Governor might be appointed alternatively by the Queen and the President of Argentina;

5) Further constitutional change would require the agreement of the co-domini.

I also have to inform you that a Joint Session of the Executive and Legislative Councils of the Islands have informed the Governor that they had no objection to talks being held with the Argentine Government on the safeguards and guarantees required in a condominium. However, I am to state that Her Majesty’s Government would feel free to invite representatives of the Islands to form part of the British delegation, and that before final agreement the Islanders would have to be formally consulted and their acceptance sought by some form of popular representation. … if the Argentine Government agree, official or preliminary official talks should take place in Buenos Aires as soon as possible.”

On seeing the proposal, Argentina’s President, Juan Peron, is reported as saying; “Let’s accept. Once we have one foot in the Malvinas nobody will get us out and before long Argentina will have full sovereignty.”

June 26th, in Parliament, the Government announces; With the agreement of the Falkland Islands Executive Council, we have been in touch with the Argentine Government about the possible resumption of discussions between our two Governments in connection with United Nations resolution 3160. If discussions are resumed, representatives of the Islanders will be invited to join the United Kingdom delegation.”

July 1st, President Peron dies of a heart attack.

Argentina responds to the proposal of joint-sovereignty by insisting that any talks must be preceded by a British recognition of Argentine sovereignty. This being unacceptable, no direct talks are held.

At the UN, Britain resumes cooperation with the Decolonization Committee under the terms of Art. 73 of the Charter but does not rejoin; only reserving the right to speak on matters concerning the Falkland Islands.

In London, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, suggests that Buenos Aires be informed that talks would be useless unless Islander participation could be assured.

August 22nd, Argentina informs the UN’s Secretary-General that contacts with the UK have been established with regard to resuming negotiations.

September 5th, at the UN, the Special Committee decides to defer consideration of the Falklands until 1975.

September 13th, an agreement is reached for the Argentine State Oil Company, to supply petroleum products on the Islands at mainland prices.

September 24th, in a speech to the UN, Argentina’s Foreign Minister tells the Assembly; “ .. that  although contacts existed for resuming negotiations, a solution had not yet been reached.”

In October, the Governor states that any; “.. case for dialogue with Argentina has gone by default.”

October 24th, the UK writes to the UN affirming that contact regarding the Falklands has been re-established with Argentina.

October 30th, Argentina’s response is that; “ ..  the only possible solution is simply the return of the Islands to the Argentine Republic, to whose sovereignty they are subject. … Howeverthe Government of the United Kingdom insists that the solution must be consonant with the ‘wishes’ of the inhabitants of the Malvinas… the Argentine Government wishes to reiterate that, .. the negotiations must take place exclusively between the Governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom. There can thus be no presumption or claim that the settlers of the Islands should participate in the negotiations ~ with the proviso that during the negotiations the interests of the islanders must be duly taken into account – … Resolution 2065 (XX) makes specific provision for this by inviting the Governments to negotiate and reach a peaceful solution ‘bearing in mind… the interests – not the wishes – of the population of the Falkland Islands.”

In November, a proposal is submitted to the Argentine Congress calling for the termination of the transport agreement, and the stopping of the supply of fuel.

In December, in Buenos Aires, the newspaper Cronica, mounts a campaign advocating an invasion of the Falklands. The Government publicly dissociates itself from the campaign although, during a conversation with David Ennals in Lima, Minister Vignes says that there are only two options; negotiation or invasion.

December 4th, a Legislative Council meeting in Stanley considers the issue of oil exploration licences, concluding; “ … that the Colonial Government should take immediate steps to invite interested parties to apply for licences to examine the possibilities of drilling for oil, both on-shore and within territorial waters.”

December 13th, theGeneral Assembly decides, without a vote, to ask the Special Committee to keep the question of the Falkland Islands under review.

1975 – January 28th, Neville Arthur Irwin French is appointed Governor.

In February, a Mr. B. Wilson, representing 6 oil companies, visits Port Stanley to discuss the issue of exploration licences for an off-shore area known as Burwood Bank.

In March, Minister Vignes again intimates that Argentina is contemplating an invasion.

March 18th, in Parliament, the Government confirms that it has received Professor Griffith’s report into the potential for oil exploration around the Falklands; but provides no other details.

March 25th, Argentina writes to the UN; According to cabled information published in the press, the United Kingdom Foreign Office has received a scientific report, prepared on the instructions of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, concerning the possible existence of petroleum deposits under the Argentine continental shelf near the Malvinas Islands. Since the Malvinas Islands and the above-mentioned areas constitute an integral part of the national territory, the Government of Argentina wishes to state that it does not and will not recognize the right of any foreign Government to explore for or extract minerals or hydrocarbons. Consequently, the Argentine Government does not and will not recognize and will deem irrevocably null and void any activity or measure undertaken, or any agreement concluded by the United Kingdom in connection with this question, which the Argentine Government considers to be of the utmost gravity and importance.  Furthermore, the Argentine Government will regard the carrying out of activities of the kind referred to above to be contrary to United Nations resolutions and consensuses on the Malvinas Islands, the clear purpose of which is to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute between the two countries through bilateral negotiations. The Argentine Government therefore reaffirms once again its inalienable rights of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands and reiterates that the dispute with the United Kingdom can be settled only by the restoration of the islands to the national heritage of the Argentine Republic.”

In Buenos Aires, Ambassador David Ashe, is told to issue a warning that any military action will be met by force.

April 3rd, a Financial Times articles says that progress towards greater contact between the Falklands and Argentina have been temporarily halted because of the possible existence of oil deposits in off-shore areas.

April 7th, the Falklands Government (FIG) submits its report concerning proposed constitutional changes.

April 10th, in the House of Lords, Lord Goronwy-Roberts answers a question; “ Yes, my Lords. It has always been our policy that representatives of the islanders should be present at all substantive talks, and this will continue to be our unchanging policy.”

April 14th, Ambassador Ashe delivers Britain’s warning to the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires.

May 5th, Britain informs the UN that it has no doubts about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, nor any doubts about its exclusive sovereign rights to explore for, and exploit, the natural resources of the continental shelf there.

During July, Britain proposes further discussions with regard to some joint Anglo-Argentine development of the resources of the south-west Atlantic. Argentina counter proposes that such discussions should be linked to the possibility of a transfer of sovereignty followed by simultaneous leaseback for a period of years, as a means of settling the dispute. Argentina also proposes that they should occupy the uninhabited Islands of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and that this occupation should be accepted without condemnation.

Britain’s response is that such action is unacceptable and Argentina immediately rejects economic co-operation.

July 14th, in Parliament, the Government announce that the Falkland islands association of the European Community has been approved by the FIG and awaits the decision of the European Communities Council.

Argentina announces, in defiance of the ‘white card’ arrangements under the 1971 agreement, that air passengers from the Falkland Islands are now required to obtain prior clearance before embarking.

August 20th, at the UN, the Special Committee refers the Falklands to the General Assembly.

In September, in New York, Foreign Secretary Gallaghan tells the new Argentine Foreign Minister, Snr. Robledo that there can be no discussions on sovereignty and that any attempt by Argentina to take the Islands by force will be resisted. Robledo assures him that there is no; “.. question of an Argentine invasion of the Islands, nor of an attempt to solve the problem by force.”

Gallaghan also informs the Minister of plans for a survey, at the request of the Islanders; “ … I informed him that we were setting up an economic survey of the Falkland Islands. Its purpose is to quantify the options for future economic development…”

September 9th, at a meeting of the International Parliamentary Union in London, Argentina accuses Britain of an act of ‘international piracy’ in establishing a colony on the Falklands. The meeting is picketed by Islanders.

September 23rd, at the opening session of the UN General Assembly, Argentina’s Foreign Minister, says; We are a people convinced of the merits of negotiation. We apply this to what concerns us most directly. As is well known, my country suffers from the usurpation by a foreign Power of a part of its territory, namely the Malvinas Islands. For that question to be settled, there is no solution other than the return of those islands to the territorial patrimony of the Republic, since their occupation by force was carried out against every law…”

He adds that his country has the support of the Non-Aligned Movement and that the application of self-determination; “.. was excluded, in view of the fact that the British occupation constitutes a violation of the principle of territorial integrity specifically laid down in resolution 1514.”

October 16th, the British Government announces a comprehensive, economic survey, under the leadership of Lord Shackleton, to inquire into the development possibilities of the Falkland Islands and its Dependencies.

From Edinburgh, the firm of Christian Salvesen writes to the FCO to inform them that they own two old whaling harbours on South Georgia and are trying to acquire two more: “It is a long shot, but I think that sometime in the future there may be use for these bases, either for fishing or for oil. I hope that HMG will not absentmindedly hand it over to Argentina.”

The whaling station, King Edward Cove, where Shackleton died, Grytviken, Cumberland Bay, South Georgia, 1922 (b/w photo)On the same day, the ICJ presents its advisory opinion on two questions concerning Western Sahara; The validity of the principle of self-determination, defined as the need to pay regard to the freely expressed will of peoples, is not affected by the fact that in certain cases the General Assembly has dispensed with the requirement of consulting the inhabitants of a given territory. Those instances were based either on the consideration that a certain population did not constitute a ‘people’ entitled to self-determination or on the conviction that a consultation was totally unnecessary, in view of special circumstances”

The Court also states; The Charter of the United Nations, in Article 1, paragraph 2, indicates, as one of the purposes of the United Nations: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples . . .”  This purpose is further developed in Articles 55 and 56 of the Charter. Those provisions have direct and particular relevance for non-self-governing territories, which are dealt with in Chapter XI of the Charter. As the Court stated in its Advisory Opinion of 21 June 1971 on The Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970): “. . . the subsequent development of international law in regard to non-self-governing territories, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, made the principle of self-determination applicable to all of them”

Judge Dillard, in his explanation, adds; .. it is for the people to determine the destiny of the territory and not the territory the destiny of the people.”

Argentina’s Ambassador to London returns to Buenos Aires.

October 22nd, Argentina issues a press statement; In response to the proposal made by the British Government to send a mission to the Islas Malvinas with the object of carrying out an economic and financial survey of the archipelago and the surrounding areas, the Ministry of External Relations and Worship states:

  1. It reiterates in full the communique issued by the Foreign Ministry on 19 March 1975.
  2. Contrary to a report appearing in a London newspaper, the Argentine Government has on no occasiongiven its consent to the mission in question.
  3. Since the question of the MalvinasIslands is subject to the procedure recommended by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 2065 (XX) and 3160 (XXVIII), the parties to the dispute must abstain from any new unilateral action affecting the basic aspects of the question. Any such action will undermine the clear objective of the resolutions in question and will be contrary to the spirit which has prevailed in all the dealings so far between the two countries concerning the archipelago, and also is unacceptable to the Argentine Government.
  4. The mission which Great Britain proposes to send would not be welcome because investigations to assess the possibility of the economic exploration of the natural resources of the Malvinas Islands – resources which therefore belong to the Argentine Republic – would violate the principle of not undertaking new action. Consequently, the sending of this mission constitutes an inconsiderate act which the Argentine Foreign Ministry would not wish to interpret as an attitude of provocation because this would imply that Great Britain does not accept the normal continuation of bilateral negotiations, a fact which could have unforeseeable and certainly serious consequences for which Great Britain alone would be responsible.
  5. The essential factor in the process of reaching a final settlement of the dispute is negotiation between the two Governments and hence the initiation of acts which may prejudice this process will upset relations between the Argentine Republic and Great Britain and will impede the achievement of a peaceful settlement of the Malvinas question.
  6. Once more, Argentina urges Great Britain to take the view that negotiations to settle the dispute concerning sovereignty over the archipelago is the best procedure and is in conformity with the decisions of the United Nations and the recognized standards of the civilized world.”

In November, an intelligence report suggests that, whilst unlikely, an invasion of the Falklands by Argentina remains a possibility. Ministers approve some minor constitutional changes for the Islands’ Legislative Council which will make it 100% elected. Two British MP’s, one an oil expert, travelling under the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, arrive in Buenos Aires for wide-ranging talks.

November 14th, in Buenos Aires, the British Embassy is informed that the research ship, RSS Shackleton, will require Argentine permission to carry out any activity within 200 miles of the Argentine coast, and that ‘Argentine waters’ is being interpreted to include the area around the Falklands Islands.

December 5th, at the UN, the Fourth Committee recommend that the Falklands question be deferred till 1976.

December 8th, at the General Assembly, Britain states; “… exchanges between the United Kingdom Government and the Argentine Government have continued over the past year with a view to finding a settlement of the differences between us. In seeking a solution. my Government has said repeatedly that we wish to observe the terms of resolution 1514 (XV). It is therefore the wishes of the people of the island which must be paramount, not an arbitrary idea of what their interests might be…

The British spokesman also informs the Assembly that all information regarding possible oil deposits around the Falklands have been shared with Argentina and that the UK has no intention of acting unilaterally.

He adds; My Government has similarly informed the Argentine Government, as a courtesy about its proposal for a survey of the economy of the island, and we regret that this survey is apparently regarded by the Argentine Government as an unacceptable innovation. The mission which consists of economists and technical experts, and is to be led by Lord Shackleton, has been appointed in complete consistency with the spirit of co-operation which we wish to foster between the islanders and their Argentine neighbours.”

Argentina’s Ambassador also speaks; “We are prepared to continue our efforts, but the limits of our patience and tolerance should not be underestimated if we should have to face an obstinate and unjustified refusal to negotiate by the other party …. The Argentine Government reserves its position regarding the responsibility which rests with the British Government for the breaking-off of negotiations and will not fail to assert its rights in the form which it deems most appropriate.”

The UN General Assembly defers any consideration of the question until 1976.

December 10th, Argentina prohibits the Shackleton team from travelling to the Falklands via Argentina. The British the defenceattaché is warned that RRS Shackleton will be seized if found in Argentine waters

December 16th, Cronica sponsors a public subscription to finance an invasion of the Falkland Islands.

December 17th, James Callaghan and Foreign Minister Arauz Castex meet in Paris. Callaghan indicates his belief that progress can be made with economic co-operation. Castex suggests that Argentine scientists should be added to Shackleton’s team. He offers a retired Admiral who must be given the position of ‘deputy leader’ and  says that Shackleton’s conclusions should be followed by sovereignty negotiations.

Prior to his departure from the UK, Lord Shackleton declines to accept any Argentine representative as part of his team. Argentina immediately protests.

1976 – January 2nd, in a press release, Argentina’s Government claims; “… that the United Kingdom representatives had finally stated that they were not in a position to accept the reopening of negotiations aimed at solving the dispute on sovereignty; … the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina considered it inappropriate to agree to discuss subjects which were of no substance in relation with the real problem, and therefore non-conducive to its solution.”

Shackleton’s inquiry team arrives in the South Atlantic – “.. the mission was composed of five experts entrusted with assessing and making recommendations concerning the prospects for development in oil, minerals, fisheries, wool and alginates. The mission was further requested to advise on the need for capital expenditure over the next five years, and to assess the financial and social implications of any recommendations.”

January 3rd, in Montevideo, Shackleton boards HMS Endurance for the journey to the archipelago.Foreign Minister Castex, describes the timing as “unfriendly and unthoughtful.”

Castex adds that, if the British Government refuses to resume negotiations, “.. we were rapidly moving towards a head-on collision … in the end he could only see one course open to Argentina irrespective of what Government might be in power … Fortified by the support of the entire Argentine nation as well as all the other nations of the world assembled in New York, his Government could accept no responsibility for such a disastrous outcome”.

On the same day, his Ministry issues a statement, ” The people of the Republic should take note that its Government, together with the armed forces and the other institutional organizations which make up the Argentine State, share an unbreakable zeal for the defence of the dignity and rights of the nation, and that they will act without precipitation but with all the persistence, prudence and energy which may be necessary to achieve justice.”

Argentine military aircraft overfly the Islands.

January 8th, in London, intelligence reports suggest that an invasion remains unlikely but that Argentina will increase political pressure; possibly by officially withdrawing its Ambassador who has already returned to Buenos Aires.

January 13th, following an exchange of notes between Foreign Secretary Callaghan and Foreign Minister Castex the Argentine Government issue a statement; .. that the Argentine Government had received a message from the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in which the latter had insisted on discussing economic co-operation but, instead of abandoning the United Kingdom attitude of unilaterally breaking the negotiations, had described the dispute concerning sovereignty over the Territory as “sterile”, which was obviously unacceptable to the Government of Argentina.”

The United Nations, which cannot take sides in the dispute, is urging the two parties to negotiate on the subject of the sovereignty of the islands, according to the interests of the islanders. Great Britain, however, contrary to the letter and the spirit of Resolution 2065, at the beginning of 1976, insisted upon the right of self-determination of the Malvinas, refused to discuss the problem in-depth and attempted to replace the subject of sovereignty with Argentine-British economic cooperation in the region of the south-western Atlantic.” [Gugliamelli 1977]

Argentina suggests that the British Ambassador to Buenos Aires be withdrawn.

In a press interview the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina said that the decision to request the recall of the United Kingdom Ambassador did not mean a break in diplomatic relations with that country.”

January 14th, James Callaghan makes a statement to the Commons; Our traditional friendship with Argentina is marred only by issues arising from the Argentine claim to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, whose inhabitants wish to remain British. Successive British Governments have undertaken to respect their wishes. … As the House is aware, the Argentine Government have stated that the Argentine ambassador, who returned to Argentina in October, will remain in Buenos Aires until further notice and that, in view of the present state of affairs over the Falklands question, it would be advisable for the British Government to withdraw our Ambassador. … I shall shortly be recalling Her Majesty’s ambassador for consultations.”

Mr. Callaghan noted that the HMS Endurance of the Royal Navy was in the vicinity of the archipelago and that two other vessels were ready to proceed there,…”

In February, the constitutional amendments agreed in November, 1975 are put on hold to avoid sending the wrong message to Argentina. This is not well received in the Falklands.

RRSSHACKLETONFebruary 4th, an Argentine destroyer, Almirante Storni, attempts to ‘arrest’ the unarmed RRS Shackleton when she is 78 miles south of Port Stanley. The action is observed by helicopters from HMS Endurance.

.. an instruction was given for the vessel Shackleton to be intercepted for the purpose of inspecting the vessel. On 4 February the Argentine naval destroyer Almirante Storni approached the Shackleton and told it to stop its engines and to permit boarding for inspection, as is customary in these cases. The captain of the United Kingdom ship continued his course, disregarding the instruction and thus endangering the lives of the crew and the safety of the ship. In accordance with existing rules, warning shots were fired from small arms, but, in the knowledge that the United Kingdom vessel was carrying explosives and in order to exercise maximum prudence, the commander of the Argentine vessel was instructed not to use force., as would have been appropriate in the circumstances. The reckless and provocative attitude of the British captain is clearly indicative of the intention to conceal the activities in which the Shackleton had been engaged.”

Britain immediately protests the Argentine action.

February 5th, the incident is reported to Parliament by Edward Rowlands; At 12.30 GMT on 4th February, an Argentine destroyer, the “Almirante Storni”, fired shots across the bows of the Royal Research Ship “Shackleton”. The Argentine destroyer threatened to fire into the hull of the“Shackleton” if she did not heave to. Subsequently the destroyer ordered the “Shackleton” to proceed to the port of Ushuaia near Cape Horn. The Governor of the Falkland Islands instructed the captain to continue steaming towards Port Stanley, which he did …”

Argentina counters the UK’s protest with a note verbale; The Ministry of Foreign Affairs .. has the honour to refer to the activities of the British ship Shackleton in maritime areas under the jurisdiction of the Argentine Republic. The Argentine Government is aware of the fact that the said ship has been engaged in scientific research activities geophysical and geological surveys – on the Argentine continental shelf, without having complied with the prior requirements of Argentine legislation on the matter, which is in conformity with existing international law. In view of these activities an Argentine naval vessel told it to stop, with a view to exercising the right to inspect and board. This order was disregarded by the British vessel, which thus incurred another violation of the pertinent law. …  The situation is all the more serious in that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship had already reminded the Embassy, in its note of 14 November 1975, that if the planned research activities were to be conducted, the requirements of Argentine law must be respected, Which was not done. In view of the foregoing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship lodges the most formal and vigorous protest of the Argentine Government and demands, without prejudice to the continued exercise of the rights on which it is relying, that the British Government take measures to punish those responsible and to prevent the recurrence of such acts.”

February 6th, the UK writes a letter to the President of the Security Council complaining of; .. an unlawful, and dangerous action by a warship of the Republic of Argentina against the Royal Research Ship Shackleton peacefully in passage on the high seas … engaged in scientific research connected with the theories of the continental drift and was a British contribution to the International Geodynamics Project.”

The UK’s letter calls upon Argentina; .. to refrain fr0m further harassment on the high seas of peaceful vessels in contravention of recognized international law, and reserved the right to request at a later stage appropriate action by the Security Council on this matter.”

In Buenos Aires, the newspaper, La Nacion, reports; “In spite of a request by the Command of Naval Operations, the Navy was not allowed to take more drastic action.”

February 9th, on completing their mission, the Shackleton team return to the UK.

February 10th, Argentina also complains to the Security Council of a; .. serious violation of the legislation concerning Argentine maritime jurisdiction committed by the United Kingdom vessel Shackleton in consequence of the scientific-geophysical and geological researchactivities undertaken by that vessel on the Argentine continental shelf which were clearly directed towards geological surveying, with a view to the exploitation of hydrocarbons, if found.”

February 11th, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Edward Rowlands, flys to New York with instructions to inform the UN that the British are fully prepared to defend the Islands.

February 12th, Rowlands meets the new Argentine Foreign Minister, Sr. Quijano, who assures him that no repeat of the attack on RRS Shackleton will occur.

February 17th, La Nacion reports that the British Government, in a quid pro quo, has promised that RRS Shackleton will not operate in Argentine waters; a report immediately denied by London, although the vessel does sail towards Antarctica.

March, the British Cabinet approves proposals for a fresh dialogue with Argentina on all aspects of the dispute, including the possibility of Anglo-Argentine economic co-operation in the South West Atlantic and “the nature of a hypothetical future constitutional relationship”.

March 3rd, in a letter to the Special Committee, the UK states that it does; “.. not accept that resolutions 2065 and 3160 entail a commitment … to transfer sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. They have worked within the spirit of those resolutions to resolve their differences with the Government of Argentina over the future of the Falkland Islands. But they cannot agree to any settlement of those differences which is not in accordance with the wishes of the Islanders… The resident population of the Islands is entirely British and has been so for many years. It is the view of the Government of the United Kingdom that respect should be accorded to the wishes of the Islanders, in accordance with the principle of self-determination which is enunciated in the Charter of the United Nations and in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, and which my Government have consistently applied in their dealings with all their dependent Territories…

It may also be helpful if I comment on the incident in 1833, which is referred to in the Preamble to the Declaration, when British sovereignty was confirmed. In January 1833, a British naval vessel peaceably reasserted British sovereignty, which was first established in 1765. There is no substance in the suggestion that a British corvette “ousted by violence” the Argentine authorities established in the Islands. The only persons sent back to Argentina under duress were the ringleaders of a mutiny that had occurred at the small Buenos Ayrean settlement. The mutineers had killed their commander. The commander of a Buenos Ayrean schooner, which was there at the time, had placed these mutineers in irons aboard a British schooner, and they were, at his request, taken to Buenos Aires. Some of the civilian inhabitants elected to be repatriated and some chose to stay behind. Not a shot was fired on either side.

But the essential point in this matter, in the view of the Government of the United Kingdom, is easily verifiable. It is a demonstrable fact that since 1833, that is to say for nearly a century-and-a-half, a period which, coincides very closely with the period during which the nation States of Latin America have been able to assert their own right to self-determination, the United Kingdom has maintained an open, continuous, effective and peaceful possession of the Falkland Islands. There have been, of coursenumerous diplomatic exchanges between my Government and that of Argentina during this period, but thesehave not affected the continued exercise of British sovereignty.”

March 4th, Foreign Secretary Callaghan, on the recommendation of Lord Shackleton, suggests that the runway on the Islands is extended. Reg Prentice, the Minister for Overseas Development, from whose budget the costs are likely to come, delays any decision on the basis that further study is required.

On March 23rd, a military Junta takes control in Argentina in another coup .

On the same day, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the UN in 1966, comes into force. Britain ratifies the Covenant but Argentina does not due to the Covenant’s emphasis that; “all peoples have the right of self-determination…” [Argentina finally ratified in 1986]

April, the Junta introduce a compulsory course on geopolitics in Argentine secondary schools designed to teach students about; ‘Argentine National Sovereignty’.

In May, elections are held for seats on the Legislative Council; Some 1,119 persons voted, representing 13.8 per cent of the electorate. In the final results it was announced that the following had been elected: L. G. Blake (West Falkland), A. B. Monk (East Falkland), W. E. Bowles (Port Stanley) and J. Smith (Port Stanley). Following the elections, the Governor nominated H. L. Bound and A. B. Hadden as members of the Legislative Council.”

Shackleton presents his report which, contrary to the assertions of the FCO, reveals that the Islands make a profit for the Exchequer and are self-supporting; in that they balance their own budget. The report also criticises the powers that the Falkland Islands Company has to make decisions affecting the lives of the Islanders, without any requirement to consult with them first.

Speaking in Parliament, Viscount Boyd refers to the rights of the Islanders and quotes a Canadian newspaper article; Somewhere in the Third World there must be hidden away the secret rules about who is entitled to self-determination. One suspects that they consist of just one rule and one exception. The rule seems to be that any colonial territory, however minuscule, is not only entitled to independence but obliged to demand it. The exception simply states that European populated territories are different.”

June 22nd, Shackleton acknowledges that his report is “not palatable” and comes at an “awkward moment.”

In August, Argentina proposes a gradual transfer of sovereignty with a provisional administration lasting no longer than eight years and alternating British/Argentine Governors. Britain does not respond.

September, in the South Sandwich Islands, Argentina lands a military expedition on Southern Thule comprised of 20 soldiers under the command of a Major.

September 17th, the Special Committee consider the Falklands at their annual meeting in New York. The Committee adopt a draft-Resolution calling for the UK and Argentina to expedite negotiations concerning the dispute over sovereignty.

November 15th, at the UN, the Fourth Committee considers the draft-Resolution from the Special Committee.

Argentina’s representative tells the Committee; “ .. that General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 established quite clearly, in paragraph 6, that in certain circumstances – including without any doubt, those deriving from acts of territorial usurpation against a country – the applicable principle was territorial integrity and not self-determination. …”

Britain’s representative argues; “..  The United Kingdom delegation was told that the Falkland Islands was a special case. It did not accept that. … The people of the Falkland Islands had the right to be consulted and to have their wishes about their own future taken into account. Yet, the draft which was before the General Assembly deliberately set those wishes aside as though the views of the people of the Falkland Islands were of no account.”

Referring to the ICJ’s 1975 opinion with regard to Western Sahara, Argentina’s representative tells the Fourth Committee; “ .. that the Court, while recognizing the important role of the principle of self-determination, had pointed out that on a number of occasions the General Assembly had given priority to the principle of territorial integrity, particularly when the colonial Territory had been created to the prejudice of the country to which the Territorybelonged originally. Furthermore, in paragraph87 of the opinion, the Court had affirmed quite clearly that in all cases the “special characteristics” of the Territory should borne in mind……

[Author’s note: this is an ‘interesting’ interpretation of the ICJ’s opinion. – Western Sahara, Advisory Opinion, ICJ Reports 1975 para.87 states – Western Sahara (Rio de Oro and Sakiet El Hamra) is a territory having very special characteristics which, at the time of colonization by Spain, largely determined the way of life and social and political organization of the peoples inhabiting it. In consequence, the legal régime of Western Sahara,including its legal relations with neighboring territories, cannot properly be appreciated without reference to these special characteristics. The territory forms part of the great Sahara desert which extends from the Atlantic Coast of Africa to Egypt and the Sudan. At the time of its colonization by Spain, the area of this desert with which the Court is concerned was being exploited, because of its low and spasmodic rainfall, almost exclusively by nomads, pasturing their animals or growing crops as and where conditions were favourable. It may be said that the territory, at the time of its colonization, had a sparse population that, for the most part, consisted of nomadic tribes the members of which traversed the desert on more or less regular routes dictated by the seasons and the wells or water-holes available to them. In general, the Court was informed, the right of pasture was enjoyed in common by these tribes; some areas suitable for cultivation, on the other hand, were subject to a greater degree to separate rights. Perennial water-holes were in principle considered the property of the tribe which put them into commission, though their use also was open to all, subject to certain customs as to priorities and the amount of water taken. Similarly, many tribes were said to have their recognized burial grounds, which constituted a rallying point for themselves and for allied tribes. Another feature of life in the region, according to the information before the Court, was that inter-tribal conflict was not infrequent.”]

….. However, the most decisive paragraph on the subject was paragraph 162, from a reading of which it was perfectly clear that in those situations where there was a dispute regarding sovereignty over a colonial Territory, whether or not the principle of self-determination should be applied depended on the nature of the link between the Territory in questionand the State in question at the moment of colonization.”

[Western Sahara, Advisory Opinion, ICJ Reports 1975 para.162 states – The materials and information presented to the Court show the existence, at the time of Spanish colonization, of legal ties of allegiance between the Sultan of Morocco and some of the tribes living in the territory of Western Sahara. They equally show the existence of rights, including some rights relating to the land, which constituted legal ties between the Mauritanian entity, as understood by the Court, and the territory of Western Sahara. On the other hand, the Court’s conclusion is that the materials and information presented to it do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity. Thus the court has not found legal ties of such a nature as might affect the application of resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara, and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory.]

After the vote, Argentina’s representative bemoans the change in stance adopted by some countries on the issue of self-determination; “ .. While his delegation respected the right of every delegation to change its position on a particular question when and for whatever reasons it deemed appropriate, he said that his delegation was surprised at the decision of certain countries which, having voted in favour of resolutions 2065 (XX) and 3160 (XXVIII), had, on the current occasion, taken a different position. ..

December 1st, theGeneral Assembly adoptsResolution 31/49 (XXXI).

This Resolution approves the conclusions of the Special Committee and requests the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to expedite their negotiations concerning the dispute over sovereignty.  The Resolution also calls upon the two parties to refrain from; “..taking decisions that would imply introducing unilateral modifications in the situation.”

December 16th, Sir James Roland Walter Parker is appointed Governor.

On December 29th, a helicopter from HMS Endurance, visiting Southern Thule to retrieve scientific equipment left there earlier in the year, discovers the Argentine military presence there.

1977 – January 5th, Argentina’s charge d’affaires in London is summoned to the FCO in order to explain the presence of the military base on Thule.

On January 14th, the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs responds that the purpose of the Thule operation is to establish a scientific station within the jurisdiction of Argentine sovereignty. They express the hope that nothing will cloud the, “auspicious perspectives” for negotiations. News of the landings is not made public in the UK.

January 19th, the British Government formally protest, complaining of the violation of British sovereignty.

February 1st, a Joint Intelligence Committee assessment describes the South Thule occupation as a political act that may be considered so successful by Argentina as to encourage further displays. Intelligence also suggests that the Argentine Navy is preparing contingency plans for an invasion of the Falkland Islands.

February 2nd, in a statement to Parliament, Foreign Secretary Anthony Crosland, announces his Government’s decision that; “…the time has come to consider both with the Islanders and the Argentine Government whether a climate exists for discussing the broad issues which bear on the future of the Falkland Islands, and the possibilities of co-operation between Britain and Argentina in the region of the South West Atlantic…. I must make certain things absolutely clear. First, any such discussion, which would inevitably raise fundamental questions in the relationship between the Islands, Britain and Argentina, would take place under a sovereignty umbrella; that is, Her Majesty’s Government would wholly reserve their position on the issue of sovereignty, which would in no way be prejudiced. Secondly, any changes which might be proposed must be acceptable to the Islanders, whose interests and well-being remain our prime concern. In consequence, thirdly, there must be full consultation with the Islanders at every stage; nothing will be done behind their backs.

February 16th, Edward Rowlands arrives in the Islands to hold talks with the Islanders. He persuades the Legislative Council to co-operate in working out terms of reference for formal negotiations.

February 17th, the Council issues a statement; “We understand that the Minister will have to have discussions on the sovereignty question while in Argentina. We realise that these discussions will take place under the sovereignty umbrella and so the stand of all parties concerned will remain unaffected… ”

On February 18th, in London, the arbitration panel considering the Beagle Channel dispute between Chile and Argentina gives its decision in favour of Chile. On the issue of uti possidetis juris, the panel says; ” .. the Parties were agreed in principle that their rights in the matter of claims or title to territory were governed prima facie  by the doctrine of the uti possidetis juris of 1810. This doctrine—possibly, at least at first, a political tenet rather than a true rule of law—is peculiar to the field of the Spanish-American States whose territories were formerly under the rule of the Spanish Crown, — and even if both the scope and applicability of the doctrine were somewhat uncertain, particularly in such far-distant regions of the continent as are those in issue in the present case, it undoubtedly constituted an important element in the inter-relationships of the continent.”

[The decision here is notable in that it clearly recognised uti possidetis juris as a political arrangement which suited the emerging South American States by identifying the borders with their neighbours. The original agreement had been made at the Conference of Lima in 1848, but was ‘backdated’ to each country’s date of independence. In Argentina’s case this is 1816, but then also ‘backdated’ to 1810 which they deem the first act that eventually resulted in the Republic.]

In violation of the original agreement signed in 1971, Argentina refuses to accept the result, arguing that it is under no obligation to comply with any decision that damages its “vital” national interests. Argentina’s Government declares the arbitration panel’s decision ‘null and void,’ while Chile considers the matter as being, “settled.”

Reviewing the situation, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office conclude that Argentina’s failure in its dispute with Chile has increased pressure on the Junta to gain some success over the Falkland Islands. Edward Rowlands travels from the Falklands to Buenos Airies, in order to gauge the Argentine attitude.

In April, it is reported that two prominent Argentine businessmen are prepared to pay $US 10 million for the Falkland Islands Company. In response to a question in the House of Commons, Rowlands states that; .. no land can be alienated on Falkland Islands without the permission of the FalklandIslands Government itself; the British Government would not support such a move.”

April 20th, in Parliament, Lord Goronwy-Roberts states; “ There is absolutely no doubt in this country in legal or Government circles about where sovereignty lies. It is here, in the United Kingdom.”

April 26th, Foreign Secretary, Dr Owen, tells the Commons; ” The Governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have agreed to hold negotiations from June or July 1977 which will concern future political relations, including sovereignty, with regard to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and economic co-operation with regard to the said territories, in particular, and the South West Atlantic, in general. In these negotiations the issues affecting the future of the Islands will be discussed and negotiations will be directed to the working out of a peaceful solution to the existing dispute on sovereignty between the two states, and the establishment of a framework for Anglo-Argentine economic co-operation which will contribute substantially to the development of the Islands, and the region as a whole. A major objective of the negotiations will be to achieve a stable, prosperous and politically durable future for the Islands, whose people the Government of the United Kingdom will consult during the course of the negotiations. The agreement to hold these negotiations, and the negotiations themselves, are without prejudice to the position of either Government with regard to sovereignty over the Islands. …”

July 13th, delegations from Argentina and the UK meet in Rome for two days of talks.

In August an expedition from Cambridge University arrive in the Falklands to collect data regarding the numerous wrecks that can be seen around the archipelago.

Auigust 17th, the Special Committee refers the Falklands issue to the Fourth Committee for its consideration.

In September, Argentine Navy vessels fire on Russian and Bulgarian fishing boats working in Falklands waters.

September 23rd, in The Sunday Times; “ The Falkland Islands have undoubtedly suffered from the amalgamation of the Commonwealth Office with the Foreign Office; passing under the control of the Latin American department whose main care is to foster easy relations with those states, not to defend a handful of people’s rights to self determination.”

Port Stanley Airport’s fuel supply is cut off by Argentina.

October 28th, the Joint Intelligence Committee reports its concern regarding Argentina’s increasingly hostile attitude and, in particular, the belligerence of the Argentine Navy.

November 10th, the Fourth Committee consider the report of the Special Committee with regard to the Falklands question. During the debate Ghana and Zaire assert the right of the inhabitants of the territory to self-determination. Argentina asserts that 3 General Assembly Resolutions had established that the dispute could only be resolved through negotiations between itself and the UK and while those Resolutions took into account the ‘interests‘ of the inhabitants, they made no mention of the principle of self-determination.

DreadnoughtNovember 21st, British Ministers decide to establish a military presence in the area of the Falklands before negotiations with Argentina resume in December. A nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought and the frigates Alacrity and Phoebe are directed to the South Atlantic. The frigates stand-off about a thousand miles distant while the submarine heads to the immediate vicinity of the Falklands.

November 28th, the General Assembly defer consideration of the Falkland Islands until 1978.

December 1st, the Financial Times reports that major international oil companies”  will carry out seismic exploration for oil in the waters around the archipelago.

December 13th, a further two days of talks commence in New York.

The two sides recognized that there was a wide range of issues involved which would require detailed study. They accordingly agreed to establish at official level two parallel working groups on political relations, including sovereignty, and on economic co-operation, to pursue these studies in depth and to report back to the heads of delegations. The venue, composition and timing of the meetings of the working groups will be settled through diplomatic channels. …. A further round of negotiations will be held within the second quarter of 1978.”

December 18th,  Edward Rowlands meets Falkland Island Councilors in Rio de Janeiro to update them on the progress of the negotiations while the small British task force quietly retires.

1978the Falkland Islands Association forms the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission to campaign for a fishing zone around the archipelago. Seismic surveys take place around the Falklands’ continental shelf.

February 15th, talks continue in Lima, but little progress is achieved. Argentina refuses to acknowledge that the Islands have any continental shelf.

February 17th, the Lima talks end; No joint communique was issued at the close of the meeting, which was characterized as preparatoryto plenary round discussions scheduled to be held at a ministerial level during the second quarter of 1978. According to the press, the delegations were headed by Mr. Medina Munoz of the Argentine Ministry of External Relations and Worship, and Mr. George Hall Under-Secretary of State at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”

The Argentine military base on Southern Thule is noticed by passengers aboard the Antarctic survey ship RRSBransfield. Information of this is quickly relayed to London where Foreign Secretary David Owen, fearing a back-lash once the occupation becomes public knowledge, passes it on to the British Embassy in Buenos Aires for the information of the delegations in Lima; “ … the crew might talk about this on their arrival in Port Stanley on February 20th.”

Ministers were informed and it set in train a series of urgent messages between London and negotiators in Lima highlighting a possible plan to legitimise the base as a joint scientific station before it came to light. Officials warned the Argentines of the “danger of a leak” and urged them to agree quickly. … In the event of a leak … the British Government would need to make it clear publicly that they had protested to Argentina about a violation of British sovereignty. It would be a complicating factor in our negotiations.”

May, news of the Argentine base on Southern Thule situation appears in the British press.

A storm destroys parts of the Argentine built runway at Stanley.

In June, Governor James Parker makes a speech to the Legislative Council; The Governor .. said that the people of the Territory would wish negotiations on the question of the Falkland Islands to bear fruit so that they could continue their way of life in peace and mutually beneficial development. He was sure, he said, that “we are sincerely appreciative of the help we are given by Argentina in hospital and medical care” in the much improved external air service,in fuel and other supplies. The Governor pointed out, however that “any extension into a wider co-operation will only be possible on the basis of an acceptance of the principle that the wishes of the Islanders as regards their future must be fully recognized as the main concern, ... Finally he noted with satisfaction that “those sentiments were so fully endorsed, on all sides, in both houses of the United Kingdom Parliament, where our final safeguard lies.”

June 22nd, in Parliament, Lord Goronwy-Roberts makes a statement regarding the Shackleton Report; “… wehave made further progress. We are financing the construction of an all-weather road from Darwin to Stanley and of a new school hostel in Stanley. We are also … carrying forward our urgentdiscussions with the Falkland Island Government on expanding the internal air service. ..”

July 5th, in the Commons, Edward Rowlands addresses the situation of Southern Thule; “We are not dealing with an illegal occupation of the Falkland Islands themselves. But our estimation, Thule is… about 1,200 miles south-east of the Falklands. It is an inlet in the Southern Thule group of islands, which are in turn the southernmost of the South Sandwich Islands, themselves one of the Falkland Islands Dependencies, as opposed to the Falkland Islands themselves. … Nor are we dealing at this time with a military occupation. It is important to say that. Although the Argentines use service personnel for logistic support in their Antarctic work, their activities on Thule are purely scientific. I do not think that anybody has challenged that assumption. We have a dialogue with the Argentines about scientific work in this area, and they have both explained to us and given details publicly of the scientific work that has been carried on. …

We object to the fact that they are being carried out on British territory without our permission. That is the bone of contention … What the Argentines are doing there does indeed constitute a violation of our sovereignty, and, as hon. Members are already aware, we have firmly protested to them about this. Our sovereignty position has thus been protected fully and explicitly. .. When we learnt of it, we pursued the matter immediately. We are going back 18 months, but at that time we had reason to believe that the dispute would be resolved speedily and satisfactorily. I had a difficult decision to make on how to handle the issue. I thought that it would be wrong for us to have a slanging match with the Argentine Government. The original presence of the Argentines on the island had become known earlier and it had been mentioned in the Falkland Islands. … it was my view that we should not enter into a public slanging match on an issue which, I firmly believe, can and should be resolved by diplomatic and political action.”

Constantino Davidoff, a Buenos Aires scrap metal merchant, approaches Christian Salvesen seeking a contract to remove the old equipment from the whaling stations at DavidoffLeith, Stromness and Husvik on South Georgia. Christian Salvesen seeks advice before proceeding. Governor Parker advises against allowing Davidoff onto South Georgia, but the FCO has no objections.

September 1st, the Special Committee refer the question of the Falklands to the General Assembly.

Foreign Secretary David Owen and Vice-Admiral Oscar Montes, the Argentine Foreign Minister, discuss the possibility of further negotiations.

December 13th, the General Assembly defers consideration of the Falkland Islands to its 1979 session.

December 18th, in Geneva, a further round of talks take place resulting in an agreement over scientific activities on Southern Thule and within the Dependencies; The Argentines accepted that, under such an agreement, these activities – including their station on Thule, would have no implications for sovereignty…. We rejected the idea that the aim of  the negotiations was simply to transfer sovereignty to Argentina.”

1979 – January 7th, Falkland Island Councillors are informed of the agreements reached at the Geneva negotiations.

January 8th, Argentina and Chile agree to Papal mediation over the Beagle Channel dispute.

January 13th, the agreements achieved at Geneva are rejected by Islands Councilors.

March 21st, three days of talks start in New York; “There is no question of any decisions being taken in New York this month; our intention is to pre-empt trouble and continue talking.”

Argentina issues a stamp set celebrating the 150th anniversary of the ‘Civil and Military Command of the Malvinas’.

May 1st, a refurbished airport opens at Cape Pembroke with 4,000 ft of paved runway.

May 3rd, there is a change of Government in Britain. Mrs Thatcher becomes Prime Minister.

May 10th, John Ure of the South American Department minutes Nicholas Ridley, the new FCO Minister responsible for the Falkland Islands; There is a vociferous and highly organised Falkland islands lobby in this country with the capacity to enlist considerable support in Parliament and the media. Its function, in the name of the Falkland Islanders, is to monitor and oppose any attempt by the British Government to establish closer links between the Falkland Islands and Argentina. The lobby is now beginning to turn its attention also to the Dependencies and to the maritime zones where, because of possible fish and oil resources, it perceives an additional threat by Argentina to a British and Falkland Islander interest….  The Argentines seek full sovereignty over the Falklands but are prepared to offer residual  safeguards for the Islanders’ after transfer of sovereignty…. The Argentine claim enjoys widespread international support….”

May 14th, Minister Ridley responds to Ure; .. I would hope to preserve the Falklands as British – maybe its not possible – in return for helping Argentina to carve up the Antarctic with us as a partner. I do think its important for me to go a) to the Falklands, b) to Argentina.”

May 24th, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher invites Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington and Home Secretary William Whitelaw to a working lunch at Chequers; “… Carrington mentioned that one of the problems he faced was what to do about the Falklands. “I think we will soon be in trouble if we go on having meetings about them with the Argentines without saying anything at all, “ Carrington said. “One of the options which seems to me worth exploring is a leaseback arrangement similar to what we have in Hong Kong.” Lady Thatcher “erupted in anger,” Carrington tells Jonathon Aitken … She spent the next ten minutes denouncing the very idea of exploring a Hong Kong solution. “That’s the trouble with your Foreign Office,” she said. “Everyone in it is so bloody wet!” (Telegraph 2013)

HMS Ashanti visits Stanley.

June 4th, Ridley minutes Carrington, seeking a decision as to the policy to be adopted; I have been looking at the various options open to us. These seem to be: (a) thumbing our noses at the Argentines and provisioning and defending the Falkland islands – the “Fortress Falkland” option: (b) selling out the Falkland Islanders: (c) negotiating with Argentina. I think that negotiation is the only valid option. The Argentines will not negotiate unless the negotiations include questions of sovereignty so, although I am much more interested in negotiating with them about economic co-operation, we will have to agree to discuss sovereignty. If we are going to do this we must keep the Falkland islanders with us. If we do not they will complain and we will have a blow up in Parliament and in the press. I am therefore proposing to go out to the Islands in July. I cannot go to the Islands without also going to Buenos Aires and having a preliminary talk with the Argentines. For this I need to have the backing of the Government for the general lines of a negotiation with the Argentines.”

June 7th, in Buenos Aires,  La Prensa reports that a further meeting is due later in the month between Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Cavandoli and Nicholas Ridley and that the topics for discussion include; .. an analysis of the state of negotiations on theFalkland Islands, the establishment of the basis for a formal meeting to be held at Buenos Aires in July 1979 following Mr. Ridley’s visit to the Territory, and the resumption of bilateral relations at the ambassadorial level.”

June 12th, Minister Comodoro Cavandoli, indicates that his Government would require sovereignty to be a part of any negotiations with the new British Government.

June 14th, the Foreign Secretary responds that the British Government is willing to continue with “dialogue.”

June 26th, Dr. Carlos Helbling, in a speech in Cordoba, calls for; “The reconquest of the Malvinas; effective control of the Antarctic and the reoccupation of the geopolitical area belonging to the nation.”

In July, Minister Ridley, visits the Falklands. When he proposes a ‘leaseback’ system, the Islanders are not enthusiastic.

Ridley then travels to Buenos Aries for preliminary talks where an agreement is reached on the reinstatement of Ambassadors, but little else. As he is about to depart, the Argentine Foreign Minister delivers an aide-memoire to Ridley stating that Argentina will find it unacceptable for the Islanders to become ‘third parties’ to the negotiations and that they demand that negotiations move; “at a more dynamic pace”.

August 16th, the Special Committee refers the question of Falkland Islands’ decolonization to the General Assembly in order to; “.. facilitate consideration of the item.”

August 17th, an internal Foreign Office minute raises the issue of negotiations; .. we need to clear our lines with Cabinet on the next moves in our dispute with Argentina on sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. I recommend that the Secretary of State write to the Prime Minister and his OD colleagues seeking their agreement to resume negotiations with Argentina in the autumn, to see whether an overall solution involving a leaseback, or some other special status, is possible. … No solution stands any chance of success if  we do not take the Islanders with us.”

September 19th, Davidoff, signs a contract with Christian Salvesen Co., giving him an option to purchase the equipment still on South Georgia. The option is to be exercised during 1980 with a condition that any equipment remaining after March 1983 reverts to Salvesen. The contract is notarised by Ian Roger Frame, Notary Public of the City of London.

Lord CarringtonSeptember 20th, Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary, attempts to gain a concensus on Falklands policy with the Prime Minister and other members of the Defence Committee. In a minute to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, he puts forward three options:

1. ‘Fortress Falklands’;

2. protracted negotiations with no concession on sovereignty; and

3. substantive negotiations on sovereignty.

Carrington recommends the last option and again suggests that, in his opinion, the best solution is some kind of  leaseback arrangement with a preferred term of 99 years. He highlights that it will be necessary to ensure that the option has the support of the Islanders, and of Parliament, and asks for an answer before his meeting with the Argentine Minister scheduled for the following week.

September 21st, asked to comment, the Lord Chancellor says; “It would be a sorry business to give over British subjects of UK origin to the whims and changes of a South American dictatorship.”

On the same day, John Hunt also minutes Prime Minister Thatcher regarding the proposals; Lord Carrington’s minute to you of 20 September proposes that in the margin of the UN general Assembly meeting next week he should suggest to his Argentine Foreign Minister that negotiations should start soon between Mr Ridley and his Argentine opposite number over the Future of the Falkland Islands. In these negotiations we should, for the first time, formally put to the Argentine the suggestion that we might concede sovereignty over the Falklands and the Dependencies in return for a leaseback to ensure continued British rule for as long as possible, ie at least 30 years….”

Margaret Thatcher writes on the top of the minute; I cannot possibly agree to the proposed course of action.”

September 22nd, David Howell, the British Energy Secretary writes to Thatcher; “I have seen Peter Carrington’s paper to you on the subject of the Falkland Islands … I am, however, rather uneasy about the proposed arrangements for the maritime zone outside territorial waters. It is true that the presence of oil (or gas) has yet to be proven, but the continued interest of the oil companies and the results of recent geophysical surveys .. lead us to think that there is at least a good chance that hydrocarbons are there. We ought to be very careful about adopting a course which could lead to British oil companies losing a favourable position … before we agree to the course he has proposed, we should have a full discussion on its implications.”

September 25th, Lord Carrington informs Nicholas Ridley that the Prime Minister declines to be rushed into making any decision on his proposals and that Ridley should inform the Argentines that the British Government were still considering this; “complex problem.”

At the UN, Argentina’s Foreign Minister proposes a “programme of work” in which Ridley meets with Argentina’s Deputy Foreign Minister informally twice a year with an open agenda.

October 12th, the Foreign Secretary seeks a decision from the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee; I .. invite my colleagues to agree that the FCO should resume talks with the Argentines at Ministerial level. The purpose of the talks in the first instance would be to explore, without commitment, political and economic solutions…. We would seek not to rush matters: so long as the Argentines believe we are negotiating seriously, they will desist from precipitate action. Publicly, we would merely announce that we were continuing a series of talks already in being.”

October 15th, a confidential letter from the Prime Minister to the FCO simply states; The Prime Minister has seen the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary’s memorandum of 12 October… She has asked that discussion of the Falkland Islands by OD should be postponed until after the Rhodesia issue has been settled.”

November 2nd, Argentina’s charge d’affaires in London invites Minister Ridley to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Commodore Cavandoli. Ridley turns down the invitation.

November 21st, the General Assembly defer consideration of the Falklands until 1980.

1980 – January 9th, Governor Parker gives his response to the proposal of a lease-back arrangement; … maybe I have been here too long but after even only three years among the Islanders I would instinctively find it as difficult to accept as they would.”

January 29th, the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee meets at Downing Street and discusses the Falkland Islands. During the meeting it is noted that; The Argentine’s legal claim to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands was very weak. That was why they did not wish to let the matter go to arbitration. Any agreement to discuss sovereignty might damage Britain’s strong legal position.”

Summing up the debate, the Prime Minister says; .. said that the nub of the problem lay in the danger that any resumption of talks might appear to foreshadow a surrender of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands at some time in the future. There was no legal basis for such a surrender.”

The meeting agrees that a new round of talks should be arranged, and asks Lord Carrington to seek written confirmation from the Falkland Islands Council that it is its wish that talks with the Argentine Government resume.

February 7th, the Penguin News publishes an editorial; “We can trust the British Government as little as we trust the Argentina Government and feeble cries of ‘Keep the Falklands British’ and other cliches will win us no support. Instead we should look to ourselves and proclaim the Falklands belong to us, and not to Britain, Argentina or any other foreign country. We could set ourselves the greatest goal that a people could have – independence.”

A population census is conducted in the Islands showing 1,813 people are present, excluding persons aboard visiting vessels.

February 13th, the Islands Council agrees to talks between Britain and Argentina provided that they remain ‘general’, ‘exploratory’ and ‘without commitment.’ They also agree to send a representative.

April 28th, a British delegation led by Mr Ridley and an Argentine team led by Minister Cavándoli, meet in New York.

April 29th, on the second day of talks, Cavándoli states that;  “ Sovereignty was a sine qua non, an underlying condition, for progress on the other questions.” He makes it clear that sovereignty must be discussed at the next meeting.

A sticking point is reached during the discussion on a joint communique, with the British wishing to refer to the two days of meetings as ‘discussions’; and the Argentines wanting to call them, ‘negotiations’.

April 30th, the final communiqué  states that; ‘the discussions were of a comprehensive and wide-ranging nature, and were conducted in a cordial and positive spirit.’ It concludes by saying that the two governments, ‘intend to hold future meetings in order to continue these exchanges.’

June 6th, a piece appears in The Times newspaper entitled ‘New Moves over the Falklands’; New moves are taking place between Argentina and Britain over the disputed Falkland Islands colony in the South Atlantic. Yesterday, Dr Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz , the Argentine Minister of the Economy, who is on an official visit to Britain had discussions with ministers and officials and called on Mrs Thatcher, the Prime Minister. Dr Martinez de Hoz said he would be discussing the possibility of Anglo-Argentine ventures in offshore oil exploration and the development of fishing off the Falklands. He said in an interview: “For the first time some progress has been made and there is a little light on the horizon . . . and I think the economic side can help. We have two common interests, which could be oil and fishing. So long as some sort of discussions on sovereignty can go on at the same time we might be able to reach some kind of agreement on joint oil exploration or fishing which would be the beginning of a get-together on this issue. … Dr Martinez de Hoz also talked with, among others, Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, the Chancellor, Mr Peter Walker, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. and Mr John Nott, Trade Secretary.”

June 27th, Lord Carrington proposes to the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee an agreement involving a transfer of title over the Falklands and the Dependencies, including the continental shelves and the maritime areas, provided that these were immediately ‘leased back’ to the UK for an indefinite period. In addition agreements could then be reached regarding co-operation on fishing and oil exploration.

July 2nd, the Committee consider Carrington’s proposals; In discussion there was general agreement with the practical advantages of the course of action proposed although considerable misgivings were expressed about its domestic political implications. The following points were made – a. Argentina had a very weak legal claim to the Falkland Islands. Unfortunately the United nations ignored this fact and sided with her over this issue. … The Prime Minister, summing up the discussion, said that although the decision had difficult political implications, the balance of advantage lay in the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office being authorised to go ahead on a confidential basis to hold exploratory talks to establish the possibilities for a solution… including a surrender of sovereignty and a simultaneous lease back arrangement.”

Carrington is authorised to initiate ‘exploratory’ and ‘confidential’ talks with Argentina.

July 10th, a telegram is sent to Minister Cavándoli via the British Ambassador suggesting that a lease-back arrangement be explored.

August 7th, Rex Masterman Hunt takes over as Governor of the Falkland Islands.

August 27th, Christian Salvesen Co. notify the Falkland Islands of its contract with Davidoff.

September 10th, Ridley and Cavándoli hold secret talks near Geneva; “Mr Ridley opened the proceedings by saying that he had the authority of his Ministerial colleagues to put forward the ideas which he was about to explain but that anything agreed at this meeting would have to be ad referendum and would be subject to endorsement by the British Cabinet and, no less important, would have to be acceptable to the Islanders.”

Ridley suggests a 200 year lease. Minister Cavándoli responds that; “The only difficulty he saw was in the length of the lease … a period of, say, 20 years would have to be ruled out as being much too short for the Islanders. We ought to think of some median figure (Comandante Bloomer-Reeve suggests 75 years).”

Cavándoli goes on to suggest that the British Government remove the Royal Marine detachment as part of any agreement to underline to the Islanders that Argentina was no longer viewed as a threat, and to please Argentine public opinion. He also suggests that the terms of any lease should include an Argentine right to buy or rent land on the Falklands.

It is agreed that both parties should report back to their respective Foreign Ministers.

On his return to London, Ridley reports to Carrington; “So we are left with a clear option to decide what to do on the merits of the problem. We can either seek a solution by negotiation along the lines of the Geneva talks (to which I think we could get Argentina to agree), or we could say that the concessions are beyond our political ability to deliver, and break off the talks (with all the obvious consequences). I do not think that there is much to gain by attempting to find a different package: both sides are close to their rock bottom positions. … I believe it can be sold to the Islanders, but I am not certain.”

November 5th, Ambassador Williams in Buenos Aires reports that the Junta have endorsed the concept of lease-back but will wish to negotiate over the length of the lease.

November 7th, the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee invite the Foreign Secretary to arrange for Mr. Ridley to visit the Falkland Islands in order to assess the likelihood of acceptance of some lease-back arrangement.

November 11th, the General Assembly defer the issue of the Falklands until 1981.

November 18th, an article in The Times notes; . … it is stressed in London that British policy towards the Falklands remains as it has always been, that no solution would be acceptable that was not agreed by both the islanders and the British Parliament.”

November 21st, Minister Ridley, en-route to the Falklands, stops over in Buenos Aires, however the Argentine authorities have not received prior warning of the visit to the Islands and appear irritated. Speaking to the press doesn’t help matters. (Bound 2002)

Argentine feathers have been ruffled by the remarks of Mr Nicholas Ridley, …, who passed through Buenos Aires on his way to a week’s visit to the Falkland Islands, over which Argentina claims sovereignty. Mr Ridley told reporters, “if the islanders were to accept total change in favour of Argentine sovereignty or economic control we would be very surprised,” Such a statement may seem self-evident to British ears or those of the islanders, but it is like a red rag to a bull for a nation whose educational system is designed to convince itself that it is the best. The local press enjoyed an orgy of indignation, and the Foreign Ministry replied in a communiqué that the British Government had not made one positive move to solve the sovereignty question. Mr Ridley told reporters that he had come to meet the islanders on whose total acceptance depended any solution to the dispute.”

He made it clear that the Islanders’ wishes would be paramount and that their readiness to contemplate lease-back could not be taken for granted. He also made it clear that the concept was not regarded with any enthusiasm in London and it would not be easy to satisfy Parliament… “

November 22nd, Mr Ridley arrives at Stanley to put forward several possible futures, including a freeze on Argentina’s claim for a set period followed by a transfer of sovereignty, some kind of joint-administration and the FCO favoured concept of ‘lease-back.’

November 24th, a first meeting between Ridley and Island Councillors is convened in the Town Hall in Stanley; Mr. Bennet asked if the question could be taken to the ICJ. Mr. Ridley said that internationally, we were in a minority of one on the issue. The Argentines would not accept ICJ arbitration…”

Nicholas RidleyAt a public meeting, Minister Ridley puts forward his three proposals but these are met with annoyance and anger and he is shouted down. Clearly not expecting this response, Ridley is reported to lose his temper and respond that the Islanders’ would be to blame for the consequences.

November 25th, a further meeting takes place in Stanley between Ridley and the Islands Council.

November 26th, in The Times newspaper; Britain is suggesting that the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands be transferred to Argentina, according to a report reaching London last night… This is said to be one of a number of options which are being put to the islanders by Mr Nicholas Ridley, Minister of State in the Foreign Office, responsible for Latin America, who is now in the Falklands…. Air Commodore Frow said that the lease-back solution, which has. been raised before, is the one which is preferred by Whitehall…. A spokesman at the Foreign Office said last night that he could neither confirm nor deny the reports… When asked if Britain intended to cede the sovereignty of the islands to Argentina the spokesman said they were looking for a solution which everyone could live with. …  no solution can be finally agreed without the endorsement of the islanders and Parliament… During his meeting with the Sheep-owners, Mr Ridley said that another option would be to break off talks altogether but he felt that this might antagonize the Argentine Government.”

November 27th, the issue is raised in both Houses of Parliament with MP’s calling for a statement.

Following an alarmist headline in The Times on 26th November, … soothing answers were given to questions in Parliament.. These answers made clear that any solution to the dispute over the Islands would have to be endorsed both by the Islanders and by Parliament.”

Ridley’s staff send a telegram back to London; “It will take time for a clear reaction to emerge and one cannot be optimistic on the prospects for leaseback.”

November 29th, Ridley’s final meeting with the Islands Council fails to result in any decision.

Interviewed by Penguin News, Ridley is asked whether Argentina was prepared to make life difficult for the Islanders. He replies; “I am a man of peace. I would feel that I had failed if that happened. I can’t foresee what Argentina would do, your guess is as good as mine, because you live near them and know them perhaps better even than I do. I merely say that in the long term one has to come to terms with one’s neighbours and one has to live in peace with them. What one cannot do is live in a perpetual state of siege and antagonism, suspicion and bellicosity.”

As Minister Ridley departs on the LADE flight back to Argentina, he is jeered by an angry crowd of Islanders.

December 2nd, Nicholas Ridley makes a statement to the House of Commons; “We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Islands. The Argentines, however, continue to press their claim, The dispute is causing continuing uncertainty, emigration and economic stagnation … Following my exploratory talks with Argentina in April, the Government have been considering possible ways of achieving a solution which would be acceptable to all the parties. … we should be guided by the wishes of the Islanders themselves…. The essential elements of any solution would be that it should preserve British administration, law and way of life for the Islanders while releasing the potential of the Island’s economy and of their maritime resources… I have asked them to let me know their views in due course.”

During the debate, Parliament overwhelmingly rejects the lease-back proposal. The attitude of the FCO towards the Islanders is heavily criticised.

Minister Cavándoli is sent a message stressing the need for patience; “Islander distrust of Argentines acute. Even if agree to lease-back being explored, eventual acceptance will depend on very long lease, no Argentine presence, international guarantees and probably financial assistance to develop economy.”

In Buenos Aires, La Prensa comments; … 15 years of useless negotiation: London’s proposals are unacceptable from every point of view.”

December 3rd, The Times notes; The House of Commons came together in total concord yesterday to voice its deep suspicion of the intentions of the Foreign Office and of Mr Nicholas Ridley, a Minister of State, for the future of the Falkland Islands and their relationship with the Argentine. Seldom can a minister have had such a drubbing from all sides of the House, and Mr Ridley was left in no doubt that whatever Machiavellian intrigues he and the Foreign Office may be up to, they will come to nothing if they involve harming a hair on the heads of the islanders. … Mr Ridley, who has just returned from a visit to the Falklands, could, not have received a colder welcome…. From the Conservative benches, Mr Julian Amery told the minister that his statement was profoundly disturbing. For years the Foreign Office had wanted to get rid of this commitment, although the islands had an important part to play in the future of the South Atlantic… A few moments later, Mr Ridley floundered into deeper water. when he was asked whether the Government would accept the views of the islanders if they opted for the maintenance of the status quo. The minister seemed to many to be dodging the issue…”

A further meeting of the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee takes place at 10, Downing Street.

The Prime Minister, summing up the discussion, said that the Committee would wish to resume consideration of the subject when the Islanders’ leaders had reported further on local opinion. Unfortunately, Parliamentary hostility to the idea of a settlement was now so strong that, even if the islanders considered view was that one should be sought, this might be regarded as merely the result of pressure from Government. It should therefore be made clear that, if the islanders favoured maintaining the status quo, they would be fully supported. Further thought would need to be given to the way in which the proposed nationality Bill would affect the Islanders…”

December 11th, Ambassador Ortiz in London, speaks to Ridley, urging more talks

In New York, the General Assembly adopt Resolution 35/118 – ‘Plan of Action for the Full Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.’

Annex – 8. ‘Member State shall adopt the necessary measures to discourage or prevent the systematic influx of outside immigrants and settlers into Territories under colonial domination, which disrupts the demographic composition of those Territories and may constitute a major obstacle to the genuine exercise of the right to self determination and independence by the people of those Territories.’

December 18th, Britain protests to Argentina about proposals for oil exploration in Falklands waters.

1981 – January 7th, in Stanley, Councillors issue a press statement; “While this House does not like any of the ideas put forward by Mr. Ridley for a possible settlement of the sovereignty dispute with Argentina, it agrees that Her Majesty’s Government should hold further talks with the Argentines at which this House should be represented and at which the British delegation should seek an agreement to freeze the dispute over sovereignty for a specified period of time.”

January 13th, Foreign Secretary Carrington sends a message to Minister Cavandoli in Buenos Aires; Ministers will need to give careful consideration to the Islanders’ response and to next steps before any decision can be taken on a meeting… we may be unable to present firm proposals before the end of the month.”

January 27th, Argentina demands that negotiations on sovereignty are resumed, “sooner, rather than later,” and object to a group of Saints from St. Helena emigrating to the archipelago.

January 29th, a meeting of the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee authorises carrington to arrange talks with Argentina.

February 23rd, in New York, representatives from Argentina and Britain meet for two days of talks; Adrian Monk and Stuart Wallace represent the Islanders. Britain proposes a ‘sovereignty freeze’, but no discussion on the issue of sovereignty itself; Comodoro Cavándoli … could not understand or accept that Argentina’s one requirement, sovereignty, should be ignored permanently. The British side had said that Islander wishes had to be taken into account; why could not Argentine wishes be taken into account? … any progress had to include the question of sovereignty…. The two sides could not go on endlessly meeting in New York. Time for Argentina had now run out; these meetings could not continue year after year simply expressing views…. the freeze proposal was totally unacceptable, since it ignore the central Argentine wish…

Mr. Ridley wanted to make it quite clear that the British Government had no doubt at all of the legality and strength of their title to the Islands. He had always said to the Islanders that the legal position was not in doubt. It would indeed be possible to go on resting on that position for all time… Mr. Monk emphasised that he and Mr. Wallace had no mandate to enter into any discussion of the cession of sovereignty…. Mr. Monk pointed out that one of the UN’s basic principles was the right to self-determination. Why were the Argentines not prepared to accept the Islanders’ rights to determine their own future?

Sr. Ortiz de Rozas said that the relevant UN resolutions referred to the principle of territorial integrity. Argentina’s had been harmed. Mr. Ridley said that the principle of self-determination was nevertheless overriding; … ”

February 24th, on the second day of talks Cavandoli speaks directly to the Islanders’ representatives; “.. He offered them ‘most pampered region status’ within Argentina; they could keep their laws, local government, language and customs, yet receive roads, school, television. Just let him have the one word: sovereignty.” (Jenkins & Hastings 2010)

February 26th, a final communique is released, but a dramatically shorter version than that agreed following a last minute intervention by the Argentine Embassy which wishes to restrict the amount of information being released to the public in Argentina.

February 28th, Island representatives Adrian Monk and Stuart Wallace hold a press conference to outline their views of the talks.

The way in which the Councillors’ statements were relayed by the international news agency has upset Comodoro Cavandoli – in that it has made it more difficult for him to try and keep a lid on public debate here… He did not expect their account of New York to be broadcast so widely …”

March 6th, Argentina’s Foreign Ministry issue a statement; “… The Argentine claim for the restitution of sovereignty had not changed and any proposal which did not give priority to this Argentine right of restitution had been completely rejected. ….”

An editorial in La Prensa discusses British motives in proposing a ‘freeze’; The paper concluded that the proposal was a front behind which we were deliberately trying to obstruct and postpone indefinitely a final solution to the dispute. The attempt to put it into hibernation was a natural position for us to take as the party that had to give way but did not wish to do so. The victor in the sterile talks had been Britain, since she had won time.”

March 13th, Lord Carrington  tells the Prime Minister that there is little point in further talks while the Islanders remained hostile to the leaseback proposal; “ … We can reach no conclusions now; … If in the end the Islanders decide that they would prefer the status quo to any deal involving cession of sovereignty, then we must prepare for the possibility of a deterioration of our relations with Argentina: we might have to supply the Islands with essentials if the Argentines cease to do so (and perhaps even to defend them against physical harassment). The cost of such a stalemate could be considerable.”

March 17th, the Papal arbitration panel, considering the Beagle Channel dispute, concludes with another decision favouring Chile. Argentina once again rejects the result.

In April, the Argentine Government announces a sale of oil exploration licences for an area called, ‘Magalenes Este’, which extends to within 96 miles of the Falkland Islands and crosses the median line between Argentina and the archipelago.

May 5th, Ambassador Williams urges a further round of talks, to include sovereignty, in order to keep diplomatic channels open. London answers that substantive negotiations without Islander consent runs contrary to the Government’s public commitment that the wishes of the Islanders are paramount.

May 18th, following interest by the Shell oil company in an Argentine licence, the FCO take out advertisement space in the International Herald Tribune threatening legal action against any oil company which attempts to operate in ‘disputed waters’.

May 29th, General Galtieri, Commander-in-Chief of Argentina’s Army, refers to the dispute in a speech to mark ‘Army Day’; “ … Neither are we prepared to allow those who are discussing with us the return of island territories that are Argentine by historical inheritance and legal right to interfere in the slightest way with the search for and exploitation of the wealth of our continental shelf… Nobody can or will be able to say that we have not been extremely calm and patient in our handling of international problems, which in no way stem from any appetite for territory on our part. However, after a century and a half they are becoming more and more unbearable.”

June 7th, the base commander at Grytviken, South Georgia reports that an Argentine C130 Hercules aircraft, with military markings, has flown over the base; It would seem that despite our protests Argentina overflights of Falkland islands and Dependencies are increasing. Such incidents only harden the Islanders’ resolve to stand firm against any proposal to have closer links with the Argentines.”

On the same day, Assistant Under-Secretary John Ure arrives in Buenos Aires where he has talks with Foreign Minister Camilion and Ambassador Enrique Ros; “In Argentina, I found the Ministers and officials with whom I spoke reasonably relaxed about the progress – or lack of progress – on the Falklands negotiations and well disposed towards the lease-back idea… while they themselves appreciated the constraints on our progress in the Falklands negotiations, their military masters were less patient …”

June 9th, Ure arrives at Port Stanley; I formed the impression that opinion was not yet irrevocably hardened against the lease-back proposal and that many of the better informed and more progressive islanders recognised that an accommodation with Argentina was necessary …”

June 18th, First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Henry Leach, has a meeting with PM Thatcher; “The point he wished to emphasise was the most serious miscalculation which we would be making is [if] we disregarded the deterrent effect of a major maritime capability in peacetime.”

June 30th, a review of policy takes place at the FCO in a meeting chaired by Minister Ridley. Falklands’ Governor Rex Hunt is present, as is Ambassador Williams. Hunt makes it clear that the Islanders wish to have nothing whatsoever to do with Argentina, and that they do not believe that a leaseback settlement can provide the guarantees they want. The meeting concludes that the British Government should play for time; that the new Legislative Council, when elected, should be persuaded to allow negotiations to continue; that the Islanders should be educated as to the various pros and cons; and that contingency plans should be updated.

On the same day in the House of Lords, Lord Trefgarne confirms, on behalf of the Government; ..that HMS “Endurance” will be paid off in 1982 on her return to the United Kingdom, following her deployment in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic Region later this year. There are no plans to replace her.  However, the Royal Marines garrison in the Falkland Islands will be maintained at its present strength, and from time to time Her Majesty’s ships will be deployed in the area.”

In Stanley, the Islanders’ response is transmitted to the British Government; The people of the Falkland Islands deplore in the strongest terms the decision to withdraw HMS Endurance from service. They express concern that Britain appears to be abandoning its defence of British interests in the South Atlantic and Antarctic at a time when other powers are strengthening their position in these areas. They feel that such a withdrawal will further weaken British sovereignty in this area in the eyes not only of islanders but of the world. They urge that all possible endeavours be made to secure a reversal of this decision.”

July 9th, in the Cabinet, intelligence threat assessments suggest that Argentina is more likely to pursue diplomatic and economic measures than any use of force. Although an attempt to establish a foothold on one of the Dependencies, or even on one of the more remote Falklands Islands, is considered a possibility.

The British Embassy in Buenos Aires reports to the FCO that several Argentine newspapers are carrying articles about the withdrawal of HMS Endurance from the South Atlantic, claiming that Britain is; “abandoning the protection of the Falkland islands.”

On July 20th, Minister Ridley warns Lord Carrington that, if Argentina concludes, possibly by early 1982, that the British Government is unable or unwilling to negotiate seriously, retaliatory action must be expected.

July 27th, Dr. Camilion, in Buenos Aires, writes to the British Ambassador expressing his Government’s concern at the lack of progress at the last round of talks. Referring to the fact that ten years had passed since the agreements on communication, he states that in the Argentine Government’s view it is not possible; “to postpone further a profound and serious discussion of the complex essential constituents of the negotiations – sovereignty and economic co-operation – in a simultaneous and global fashion with the express intention of achieving concrete results shortly. A resolute impetus must therefore be given to the negotiations. The next round of negotiations cannot be another mere exploratory exercise, but must mark the beginning of a decisive stage towards the definitive termination of the dispute.”

That same day, the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs declares negotiations to have become; “… an unpostponable priority for its foreign policy …. it is not possible to defer this question which affects territorial integrity and national dignity.”

August 19th, the Special Committee defers consideration of the Falklands’ question to the General Assembly.

Constantino Davidoff applies to the Argentine navy for permission to use one of their Antarctic transport ships to get to South Georgia so that he can inspect the whaling stations to assess what needs to be done in fulfillment of his contract to recycle the equipment there.

“Ministry officials, acting on the perceptions of the moment regarding the need to reaffirm an Argentinian presence on all South Atlantic islands, enthusiastically recommended Davidoff to the Transportation Bureau of the Navy (auxiliary ships). The legal presence of Davidoff’s men would prevail long after the British Antarctic Survey left the place, … In international forums this action would reassert Argentina’s interests in the sub-Antarctic.” (Gamba-Stonehouse 1987)

In early September, Admiral Jorge Anaya, Commander-in Chief of Argentina’s Navy – convinced that Davidoff’s commercial venture on South Georgia provides an opportunity – instructs staff to come up with a plan to secrete marines amongst Davidoff’s workers so as to establish an official presence on the island – ‘Project Alpha.’

Davidoff receives permission to use a Naval ice-breaker, the Almirante Irizar, from the Antarctic Squadron.

September 7th, Carrington asks the FCO to consider the possibility of taking the dispute to the ICJ.

September 14th, he Ministry of Defence announces that HMS Endurance will be withdrawn from the South Atlantic before the end of March, 1982. An intelligence report quotes an Argentine diplomatic view that; “.. the withdrawal of HMS Endurance had been construed .. as a deliberate political gesture.”

September 15th, Lord Carrington writes to PM Thatcher; “… the Argentines are showing renewed impatience for an accelerated rate of progress. They have sent a Note and circulated a Communique at the United Nations deploring the hitherto slow speed of negotiations and the lack of results and making clear that, if progress is not made soon, they may have to look to other means of achieving their purpose… I remain convinced that leaseback, … provides the most likely, and perhaps, the only, basis for an agreed solution … In short, the present outlook is not good.”

September 22nd, Dr Camilion, addresses the UN’s General Assembly;  “It is a strange paradox that our country, which was in the vanguard of the struggle for national independence, should still suffer from a breach of its territorial integrity, and anachronistic persistence of colonialism. The Malvinas Islands have not been restored to Argentina in spite of the long time elapsed since this General Assembly adopted Resolution 2065 (XX) in 1965. The Malvinas are still a colony to this day, with a formal status of one, basically exploited by a company built on the pattern of those of the times of the mercantilist states. …. Obviously, Mr. President, the Malvinas cannot remain a colony, nor can Argentina passively accept that part of its territory be one of the last colonies. I would also like to inform this assembly that Argentina has addressed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to propose a decisive impetus to the negotiations regarding sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Sandwich and South Georgia islands. The Argentine Republic hope to be able to report in due course to the General Assembly that this series of negotiations concerning the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, which we hope will begin soon, was the last one.”

September 23rd, at the UN, Lord Carrington informs Camilion that the British Government cannot coerce the Islanders and that, therefore, it would be preferable if Argentina put forward proposals when talks resumed. Camilion emphasises that the key question remains that of sovereignty, which can only be negotiated between the UK and Argentina; and that the Islanders cannot be allowed a veto.

September 24th, in the Argentine press, Dr. Camilion is quoted as saying that, in a “significant advancement”; “Lord Carrington advanced to the point of saying that the present status quo is difficult to sustain today.” He is also reported as dismissing the forthcoming Island elections as being of no importance to Argentina.

When questioned, Carrington responds that the Argentine Minister; “.. can have been left in no doubt about our commitments to respect the wishes of the Islanders.”

October 2nd, the British Ambassador in Buenos Aires writes to London highlighting his opinion that there is now a clear risk that Argentina will conclude that talking is a waste of time. He believes that it would be better to speak frankly, and face the consequences.

October 14th, in elections on the Islands, a new Legislative Council takes over. Talks scheduled to be held in Geneva in December are postponed, at the request of Argentina.

In London, regarding a submission to the ICJ,  the FCO concludes; The question of British sovereignty in the area has not been submitted to the ICJ or to any other international tribunal. In 1947 and subsequently HMG offered to submit the dispute over Argentine claims in the Dependencies to the ICJ; and in 1955 HMG applied unilaterally to the Court against encroachments on British sovereignty in the Dependencies by Argentina and Chile. However, the matter could not be pursued since both Argentina and Chile declined to submit to the Court’s jurisdiction in the matter.

In 1966 the question arose as to whether in the course of negotiations with the Argentines, the UK should offer to refer the dispute over the Falkland Islands to the ICJ. … The question was not, however, pursued further. This was partly because reference to the Court would have had no attraction for Argentina (as Argentina does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ, any reference to the Court could only be made with the agreement of the Argentine Government.)…

If for political reasons it seemed advisable to offer international adjudication or arbitration to the Argentines again as a method of resolving the dispute, the Law Officers would first need to be consulted. Legal Advisers also consider that reference to an ad hoc arbitration tribunal might be preferable to reference to the ICJ since the composition of the former would have to be agreed between us and the Argentines. But given the Argentines repudiation of the award made by an arbitration tribunal in the Beagle Channel case, despite their prior agreement to accept its findings, no reference to international arbitration is likely to help solve the dispute. The Argentines would be unlikely to accept a ruling that the Islands were British and it would be politically very difficult for the UK to hand them over to Argentina, if the ruling went the other way. If arbitration went in our favour we might gain some advantage at the UN, but this would be only temporary as the great majority of UN member-states will continue to see the dispute as a colonial problem.”

October 30th, the British Nationality Act receives Royal Assent.

[The Act was not due to come into force until 1983, but had the effect of removing British nationality from any Falkland Islander who did not have a parent or grandparent born in Britain. This legislation was not aimed specifically at the Falklands, but was part of a larger review dealing with immigration and a right of abode in the UK.]

The British Antarctic Survey announces the closure of their base at Grytviken on South Georgia due to budget cuts.

November 10th, in the Lords, Lord Murton argues against the proposed withdrawal of HMS Endurance; “ … Argentina continues to press her claims to the Falkland Islands. The recent argument put forward is that they form part of the Argentinian continental shelf…. Against the general background of uncertainty in the region it seems improvident of the Ministry of Defence – one presumes with the tacit acceptance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – to withdraw the Royal Naval Ice Patrol Ship HMS “Endurance” from Antarctica in 1982 as part of the wider decision to reduce the size of the active fleet. … Could this decision not be interpreted by all other involved nations as a sign of declining interest in the Antarctic by Great Britain? Obviously there can be no such intention. But the best and most obvious way to prove it, in my view, is to reverse the decision to scrap HMS “Endurance.”

November 25th, at the UN, the General Assembly, defer consideration of the Falklands’ question until 1982.

December 2nd, Lord Carrington writes to the Prime Minister; “ … talks are due to be held on 17 and 18 December in Geneva; Richard Luce will head our delegation, which will include two Island Councillors. Islander opinion is even more strongly opposed to any ‘deal’ with the Argentines over sovereignty. We have reiterated that the wishes of the Islanders are paramount. We therefore have little room for manoeuvre, … The Argentines have requested this meeting, so we can allow them to make the running.”

December 8th, in a palace coup, a new Junta takes over in Buenos Aires led by Army Commander General Leopoldo Galtieri, Admiral Jorge Anaya and Air Force General, Lami Dozo. Galtieri, in a deal with Anaya becomes President-elect whilst retaining his position as head of the Army.

It is said by associates of both men that this agreement … involved assurances on a number of policy issues. One of these was an understanding that the recovery of the Falklands should be achieved within the two years of Galtieri’s presidency term, preferably before January 1983…”(Jenkins & Hastings 2010)

Dr. Nicanor Costa Mendez is appointed Foreign Minister.

December 15th,  Argentina’s Foreign Ministry requests a postponement of the talks due to start on the 17th.  Britain agrees.

December 16th, Constantino Davidoff leaves Argentina for South Georgia on board the Argentine Navy ice breaker, Almirante Irizar, intending to assess the whaling station. His letter informing the British Embassy of his proposed visit is only delivered after his departure.

December 18th, the Junta meet to discuss the Falkland Islands.

On December 20th, the Almirante Irizar arrives off South Georgia but fails to apply for entry clearance from the British Antarctic Survey station at Grytviken.

December 21st, Davidoff lands and inspects the whaling station at Leith.

December 22nd, in his inauguration speech, President Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri makes no reference to the Falkland Islands.

December 23rd, after the Argentine vessel has left, a member of the BAS checks the Leith station and finds the phrase  – ‘Las Malvinas son Argentinas’ – scrawled on the walls.

On December 31st, the unauthorised visit by the Almirante Irizar, is notified to London.

Written by Junius

October 22, 2011 at 8:01 am

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