Who legally owns the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands)
Barak – “Listen up, I can’t take sides on this issue as we have huge investments in Latin America”
Barak – “May I suggest you get a couple of our oil big boys such as Anadarko involved and maybe you can drag us into a potential conflict as we would have to protect our own citizens”
Cameron – “What a fantastic Idea – You know I get good backhanders from Rockhopper, Desire Petroleum and Falklands Oil & Gas so adding another expert fraudster could really make it work”
Barak – “Please be careful with this David. You know these companies are virtual companies and the fact that there is no oil and gas of commercial value down there and if this gets out my investments in Latin America could be in jeopardy so lets both get involved but do it under the radar”
Cameron – “Don’t worry my old chum, our British companies know how to stitch up their investors and we both can benefit from this little conflict…….you know what I mean….the brushing of the palm”
Barak – “Great concept David let’s do it…….I can throw in maybe an AWAC aircraft, possible help with some in flight refuelling and you can use my military spy satellites”
“You know that the Malvinas were handed over to us by the original settlers, France, and there is clearly no question about the true sovereignty of these islands so bring it on Mr. Cameron – We are much better prepared than before and we have the whole of Latin America behind us – “as we say “Que la corrida de toros comienzan” – “tenemos los mejores toreros” (let the bullfight begin – we have the best Matadors)
Excuse my typically British humour…..just couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a little fun!!
It is historically clear to me, having studied marine navigation and some aspects of Maritime Law, that under International Maritime Law these islands do belong to Argentina.
We all understand that apart from Brazil most of Latin America was colonised by the Spanish be that right or wrong it is fact. The only British and American involvement was that of “Piracy” and you know we have always been good at stealing something that belongs to someone else. It is hard to be critical of anyone now days when we reflect on the days when we established the “Great British Empire” and raped and pillaged so many countries all under the good name of “Queen Victoria”
I know that Spain committed some terrible autrocities in Latin America but what country didn’t in those early days! One cannot forgive what we the “Brits” did to India the scars of which remain there to this day. I remember talking to an academic in Southern India during one of my visits to help those in poverty. He told me how the British ripped up vast tracts of native forest for the high quality timber and in search for gold. When they realised there was no gold of commercial value they decided to fill the empty spaces with tea……you know that true British tradition “Let’s have and Earl Grey old chap” etc.
Locals picking tea in Southern India – Photographed by myself
Let’s just take a look at the history on these islands and then look at what the Maritime Laws says about such situations:
On this British based map you will not see any reference to Port st Louis
Louis Antoine de Bougainville
French government conceived the project of colonising the “Malouines” (Falkland Islands). These islands were at that time almost unknown. Bougainville undertook the task at his own expense. He set out with the frigate “Eagle” (Captain : Nicolas Pierre Duclos-Guyot ) and the sloop “Sphinx” (Captain : Francois Chenard de la Giraudais). This expedition included the naturalist and writer Dom Antoine-Joseph Pernety) and the engineer and geographer Lhuillier de la Serre.
But the settlement he established in 1763, Port St. Louis, excited the jealousy of Britain and the Spanish government. Even if the French colony was no more than 150 people, for financial motivations (he himself paid for many expeditions) and diplomatic reasons (Spain feared that the Falklands would become a rear base to attack her Peruvian gold), Bougainville was ordered by the French government to dismantle his colony, to sell the islands to the Spanish (the King of Spain paid him 603,000 pounds for the islands). On 31 January 1767, he met in Rio de la Plata Don Felipe Ruiz Puente, commanding the frigate La Esmeralda and La Liebre (the “Hare”) and future governor of the Malvinas Islands (Falklands), to take possession of the islands, and to evacuate the French population. During this time, British sailors tried to settle in the of Port de la Croisade in 1766, that they renamed Port Egmont. Bougainville wrote: – In December 1766, the frigate HMS Japan dropped anchor in Port Louis opposite to the fort. Captain Mac Bride landed, uttered threats and went away on the same day.”
The map below shows clearly the french named Port St. Louis which was named after Louis Antoine de Bougainville the person who discovered it and created the first settlement.
On this British map one can clearly see reference to Port Louis and Port Louis South
The islands were transferred to Spain in 1767 under a Governor subordinate to the Buenos Aires Colonial Administration and renamed Puerto Soledad (In Spanish, East Falkland is known asIsla Soledad).
What happened in the interim period and just prior to this formal handover of sovereignty was a very tactful and conniving move by the “Good old Brits” under the command of Capt Byron who in 1765 claimed the West Island Group. Byron claimed the island group for King George III and was totally unaware the French colony on the East Island Group.
In 1766 this was followed up by another sneaky visit by Captain MacBride who established what to all intents and purposes was clearly an illegal colony……..remember this was in the Western Islands and not the East where the main settlement remains to this day. In 1770, Spain attacked Port Egmont and expelled the British presence…….and rightfully so!!
Before moving on I should point out that all of the above settlements were clearly not the first settlers on this island group. Archaeological finds have revealed that some primitive settlers arrived on the islands many years before from Tierra Del Fuego which we all know is a Province of Argentina and so it remains clear to me that the rightful owners of the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) is Argentina beyond a shadow of doubt. However in order to prove if my understanding is correct I will later show you how, internationally speaking, one can legally claim the rights of sovereignty over a specific coastal or island area.
The British again returned to the islands in their defiant manner and again settled on the Islands but in 1774 were again forced to leave owing to the pressure associated with their activity in the US leading up to the American Revolutionary War. The British left behind a plaque asserting her continued claim. Spain maintained its governor until 1806 who, on their departure also left behind a plaque asserting Spanish claims. The remaining settlers were withdrawn in 1811.
This is where the whole situation started to get extremely complicated as the countries involved kept changing their bed partners which resulted in the following:
In 1820 storm damage forced the privateer Heroina to take shelter in the islands. Her captain David Jewitt raised the flag of the United Provinces of the River Plate and read a proclamation claiming the islands. After several failures, Luis Vernet established a settlement in 1828 with authorisation from the Republic of Buenos Aires and Great Britain. In 1829, after asking for assistance from Buenos Aires, he was instead proclaimed Military and Civil Commander of the islands. Additionally, Vernet asked the British to protect his settlement if they returned (knowing the British they most certainly would).
As one can again clearly see that Argentina again played the leading role in the settlement of the Malvinas. In November 1832 Argentina sent Commander Mestivier as an interim commander to establish a penal settlemen but this was not to last long because in January 1833 the British again returned and requested the Argentinian Garrison to leave, no doubt with some persuasion!!
Captain Don Pinedo of the Argentian warship ARA Sarandi, reluctantly under protest, left the island but the Vernet settlement remained. The settlement continued until August 1833 when the leaders were all killed (known as the Gaucho murders)….Gaucho being an Argentinian cowboy. From 1834 – 1840 the outpost was run as a Naval Base until the British then fully established a permanent colony…….one can clearly see here that once again the British Military, by force, controlled the areas until the first proper colony was established totally and utterly illegal.
Sovereignty over the islands became an issue in the second half of the 20th century, when Argentina saw the creation of the United Nations as an opportunity to pursue its claim. Talks between British and Argentine foreign missions took place in the 1960s but failed to come to any meaningful conclusion. A major sticking point in all the negotiations was that the inhabitants preferred that the islands remain British territory…….well naturally you would expect the British Ex Pats to stand by those that put them there!!
The inevitable happened when on 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) in an attempt to regain its own sovereign territory but the mission failed….not without a fight…..the Argentinian Airforce almost gained control with heavy losses by the Royal Navy (RN) (2 RN Destroyer, 2 Frigates, 1 LSL Landing Ship, 1 LCU Amphibious Craft, 1 Container Ship, 24 Helicopters and 10 Fighters).
It was purely a fluke that the main base/ flagship HMS Hermes was not attacked…..the Argentinian Air Force approached the area not knowing their target at the time and came across the Atlantic Conveyor which they took out with Exocet Missiles the pilots were not totally aware just how close the carrier was……the Atlantic Conveyor formed part of the main carrier group and was carrying a massive arsenal of weapons and aircraft which the picture above clearly shows. The fact that this valuable asset was unable to be protected still causes some concern for those of us that served in the Royal Navy……..in my opinion had conditions been slighly better and had the Argentinians had more fuel to hang around the whole outcome of the war could have been totally different…….. “take out the carrier and you have air superiority.”
The Atlantic Conveyor after the Argentinian attack
With the war now buried in the archives of history let’s look at what has happened since. Diplomatic relations were again established in 1990. Things started to turn sour in 1994 when Argentina again stood its ground and added its claim to the islands to the Argentine Constitution under the principles of International Law …..which I will discuss a little later.
Kirchner who was campaigning for President in 2003 regarded the islands as a top priority, taking actions such as banning flights to the Falklands from Argentine airspace. In June 2003 the issue was again brought before a United Nations committee, and attempts have been made to open talks with the United Kingdom to resolve the issue of the islands to no avail.
Hey Mr. Brown that wouldn’t be a Freemason’s handshake would it?
“Oh my God Gordon don’t squeeze so aggressively….are you trying to tell me something”
Again in 2007 Argentina reasserted its claim over the Falkland Islands, asking for the UK to resume talks on sovereignty. At this stage I would have to mention the donation made by our ex useless Prime Minister Gordon Brown who in March 2009 stated at a meeting with the Argentinian President that there would be no talks over the future sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. As far as the governments of the UK and of the Falkland Islands are concerned, there is no issue to resolve. The Falkland Islanders consider themselves as almost entirely British and maintain their allegiance to the United Kingdom. As you can clearly see yet again the great “British Empires Arrogance Prevailed.”
In October 2007 a British spokeswoman confirmed that Britain intended to submit a claim to the UN to extend seabed territory around the Falklands and South Georgia, in advance of the expiry of the deadline for territorial claims following Britain’s ratification of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.
This claim would enable Britain to control activities such as fishing within the zone, in areas not conflicting with the Antarctic Treaty. Argentina has indicated it will challenge any British claim to Antarctic territory and the area around the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Argentina made a similar claim in 2009, and the United Kingdom quickly protested against these claims.
In 2009, when delegates from the Falkland Islands were invited to the World Summit of Fishing Sustainability the Argentine delegation protested and walked out of the conference. In February 2010, the Argentine government announced that ships traversing Argentine territorial waters en route to the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands would require a permit, as part of a dispute over British oil exploration near the Falklands. The British and Falkland governments stated that Falklands-controlled waters were unaffected.
So here we are some 30 years on since the Falklands War and still the “Tit or Tat” reigns supreme and yet Argentina certainly does have a very good arguable case as to who is the legitimate owner of these islands. However lets just reflect on what our current Prime Minister is saying and what hidden cookies he carries in his pocket or should that be in his very fat wallet?
David Cameron is clearly at war with everyone and everything covering a vast area from Libya – Syria – Afghanistan – Somalia and now yet again in true “Thatcher Style” is once again wishing to bring yet another conflict into being……..my comment however would be “Don’t bite off more than you can chew”…..the entire scenario has changed since the last war in that we do not have a carrier or indeed the Harriers that had the upper hand when it came to aerial combat.
The other aspect that sticks out like a sore thumb is the fact that Argentina no longer stands alone and has the entire South American Continent standing shoulder to shoulder with her and the outcome, should a conflict occur, could well be totally different. Despite our PM’s on going arrogance towards flexing the British muscle it is clear that he has made three very important mistakes:
- He’s not aware of the incredible shortfalls in our military machine which he himself has diminished.
- He’s not aware of the enormous support for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Latin America
- He’s fraudulently used a fake oil field to bring support for the islanders and the people of Britain i.e. Oil for Britain. He’s also promoting fake oil companies that are known “Virtual Companies” and who are experts are ripping off their investors money.
This is not the first time that our Prime Minister has deceived this country and not the first time that he has participated in fraudulent deals one of which earned him £17.8 million…….but hey that’s another story!!
Lets now look that the legality of these islands which clearly show that originally it was settled by the French who then clearly and legally handed it over to Spain whose territory at the time included Argentina and many other colonies in Latin America.
In regard to the right to claim territory in coastal and offshore Islands there is a very clear cut principle that has been created under the United Nations referred to as The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty.
I throughout my time in the Royal Navy and also during my time in the offshore oil and gas industry have studied in great detail the navigational aspects of this law and the basics of the law itself. It is now an appropriate time in this article to try and explain this to you in laymen’s terms.
Every country, colony or even small independent island groups have their right to own their coastal fringe as well as an extended Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) so as to benefit from the natural resources that may exist in their outer marine limits.
Typical explanation as to how it works
You will note that the base line is the low water mark on the coast and the first 12 nautical miles (called the 12 mile limit) is basically all yours. There is another 12 nautical miles which is called the Contiguous Zone that is also basically your territory. In a nutshell from the low water mark out to 24 nautical miles is your baby.
In order to protect your economy and the resources that may or may not exist in your offshore waters the UN created what is known as the EEZ which extends 200 nautical miles from the low water mark out to sea and generally runs at 90 degrees from any point on your coastline.
As an example, I spent a long time trying to support Gaza into understanding that the conflict there had the usual hidden agenda. Close to Gaza’s shoreline were vast natural gas fields and obviously the Israeli’s were intent on securing it for themselves which they still do to this day, even though Gaza (Palestine) are the legal owners. Let’s use this as a typical example to clearly show who owns what:
This chart shows the UNCLOS approved international borders but with no recognition of Gaza (Palestine) waters. However, the red triangle is the area that the UN call disputed borders i.e. Palestine which to some extent proves that such a border exists pending future settlement.
In this case (as opposed to the false claims of commercial viable oil in the Falkland Islands) there are many known oil/gas fields and many more still to be explored…..I have put them on the chart in yellow. You can clearly see that one field is well inside Gazan Waters the other to the north is half and half ie over the border with Israel and the one to the east may just be over the border or touching…….either way one can clearly see that the lions share could well lean towards being that of Gaza!
The Israeli’s have been pumping natural gas from their production platform that just so happens to sit right on the border with Gaza and soon they will be sucking the gas from the other field which for sure is jointly owned……basically the conflict with Gaza is all about greed and high sea piracy by the Israeli Government. For your information I have also drawn in the 12 + 12 Nautical mile limits I have explained in the above part of this introduction.
So with all of this in mind now lets apply this to the Malvinas and see who comes up trumps……I can assure you that Argentina wins this game hands down based on the following:
If one extends a 200 nautical mile line (EEZ) out from the Argentinian coastline you can see that it falls well within the EEZ circle that goes around the Malvinas so if the soveirgnity of the Malvinas belongs to Argentina then it is easy to see that when both are combined the total EEZ is vast. I have crudely shown this in the map below by fixing the 200 nautical pins at the appropriate location ie out from the coast of Argentina and out from the coast of the Malvinas………..you can see the obvious circle radiating out around the islands and how the two knit into each other.
Drawn by Peter Eyre – Middle East Consultant – 10/4/2012
I will now explain the legality of the wording for each specific area:
Territorial Waters: Out to 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres; 14 miles) from the baseline, the coastal state is free to set laws, regulate use, and use any resource. Vessels were given the right of innocent passage through any territorial waters, with strategic straits allowing the passage of military craft as transit passage, in that naval vessels are allowed to maintain postures that would be illegal in territorial waters. “Innocent passage” is defined by the convention as passing through waters in an expeditious and continuous manner, which is not “prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security” of the coastal state. Fishing, polluting, weapons practice, and spying are not “innocent”, and submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag. Nations can also temporarily suspend innocent passage in specific areas of their territorial seas, if doing so is essential for the protection of its security.
Contiguous Zone: Beyond the 12 nautical mile limit, there is a further 12 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline limit, the contiguous zone, in which a state can continue to enforce laws in four specific areas: Customs, Taxation, immigration and pollution, if the infringement started within the state’s territory or territorial waters, or if this infringement is about to occur within the state’s territory or territorial waters. This makes the contiguous zone a hot pursuit area.
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): These extend from the edge of the territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres; 230 miles) from the bseline. Within this area, the coastal nation has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources. In casual use, the term may include the territorial sea and even the continental shelf. The EEZs were introduced to halt the increasingly heated clashes over fishing rights, although oil was also becoming important. The success of an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico in 1947 was soon repeated elsewhere in the world, and by 1970 it was technically feasible to operate in waters 4000 metres deep. Foreign nations have the freedom of navigation and overflight, subject to the regulation of the coastal states. Foreign states may also lay submarine pipes and cables.
There is also one more aspect of a countries coastal fringe that is really discussed but I can assure you that one country that takes all and gives nothing is the United States who takes advantage of all four. One could assume that Argentina certainly has the right to take those same initiatives. So lets just introduce another very important aspect that of the Continental Shelf because many countries will argue that where their land actually finishes is in the deep depths of the ocean where their own land mass falls away into the dark blue……..America has clearly followed this rule to the book!!
Continental Shelf: The contental shelf is defined as the natural prolongation of the land territory to the continental margin’s outer edge, or 200 nautical miles from the coastal state’s baseline, whichever is greater. A state’s continental shelf may exceed 200 nautical miles until the natural prolongation ends. However, it may never exceed 350 nautical miles (650 kilometres; 400 miles) from the baseline; or it may never exceed 100 nautical miles (190 kilometres; 120 miles) beyond the 2,500 meter isobath (the line connecting the depth of 2,500 meters). Coastal states have the right to harvest mineral and non-living material in the subsoil of its continental shelf, to the exclusion of others. Coastal states also have exclusive control over living resources “attached” to the continental shelf, but not to creatures living in the water column beyond the exclusive economic zone.
“Come on David give up this senseless battle” “It’s clearly a Check Mate”
So there you have it folks…..clearly in the historical sense Argentina can rightfully lay claim to the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) beyond a shadow of doubt and the only right the United Kingdom has on these distant islands is the fact they took them by military force and kicked out the legal owners.
I would never expect you to take my word for it so simply do your own research and I am sure you will come up with the same answer.
Peter Eyre – Middle East Consultant – 10/4/2012 http://www.eyreinternational.wordpress.com