1982 – 1982 74 Days of Trial by Combat

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Link – 1982 – 74 Days

On April 2nd, 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands.

The causes have been much debated, but appear, in the final analysis, to be founded in frustration. Argentina had railed against British sovereignty from 1833 until 1850; reopened the question on an informal basis, without success, in the late 1880’s and then come to it again with the creation of the United Nations in 1945. In particular, Argentina saw an opportunity in the early 1960’s to raise the question of sovereignty as a part of the UN’s drive to decolonize what remained of the old Empires, and, in particular, the British Empire.


Commandos from 40 Commando Anti-Tank Troop march towards Port Stanley

Britain found itself outnumbered and on the back-foot in 1965, succumbing to the UN’s demand for negotiations with Resolution 2065 of 1965. Having considered the matter closed since 1900, the UK suddenly found itself in the awkward position of having to defend its titles to the Falklands archipelago whilst discussing a way of settling Argentina’s pretensions. Balancing Argentina’s demands for sovereignty over the Islands with the need to address the wishes and aspirations of the people who lived there, these talks were always headed for failure.

The result was protracted negotiations between 1966 and 1982. Discussions that always foundered on the effective veto that the people of the Islands had. A veto given strength by Resolution 2625 of 1970 which assured them, and all other colonized peoples, that only they could decide their future. Before 1970, the UK had considered self-determination to be just a principle. After 1970, Britain was forced to recognise self-determination as a human right.

At the outset of negotiations, Argentina really believed that it could gain something it had never truly owned, the Falkland Islands. Seventeen years later, all Argentina had gained was frustration. Option 2

So Argentina chose to stop talking, and opted for Trial by Combat.


Relevant Resources:

James Rentschler’s Falklands diary 1 April – 25 June 1982

Margaret Thatcher’s Speech to House of Commons April 3rd 1982

Argentine Assessment of Falkland Islanders Dated April 1982

Briefing by the Hon. Alexander Haig before the House Foreign Affairs Committee April 29 1982

Security Council: Question concerning the situation in the region of Falkland Islands May 21 1982 & Decision of May 26, 1982

Citation – Lt. Colonel Herbert Jones London Gazette (Supplement) No. 49134

Citation – Sgt Ian McKay London Gazette

Margaret Thatcher’s Speech to the House of Commons June 14th 1982

Instruments of Surrender 1982

The Falklands Crisis in the United Nations 31 March – 14 June by Anthony Parsons (International Affairs) 1983

Yale-UN Oral History Project: Sir Anthony Parsons April, 1991

Institutions and Cooperation: Sanctions during the Falkland Islands Conflict  by Lisa L. Martin 1992

The Falkland Islands War: Diplomatic Failure in April 1982 by Joseph Mauro (undated)

1982 galtieri in the plaza de mayo

General Galtieri April 2, 1982