Hostilities Rising In the South Atlantic

BY BIANCA OLIVADOTI — Off the Southern tip of South America lies a small set of islands with abundant natural resources. These islands, known in Argentina as the Malvinas and elsewhere as the Falkland Islands, have grappled with their sovereignty almost continuously since they were first inhabited in the 1800’s. The quarrel between the Falklands’ neighboring country, Argentina, and colonial power, the United Kingdom, has consistently caused tension in the region. Although the two countries have, at times, negotiated positions on the territory, there has recently been an increase in hostility related to the jurisdictional struggle over the Falklands’ oil-rich continental shelf. Because of this increase in pressure, the Falklands chose to rely on the principle of self-determination to declare their loyalty to the British Crown. Attempting to observe the appropriate international standards, the Islanders held a referendum on the topic in the early part of 2013.

On March 10-11, 2013, 99.8% of the Islanders voted to remain a British Overseas Territory acheter viagra paypal. The turnout was 92% out of a possible 1,650 participants. All but three people voted yes to the question posed on the ballots: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.” In Argentina, the result was dismissed as “trickery that pretends to represent the popular participation of an implanted population.”1

In September, Cristina Kirchner (the president of Argentina) accused the British of militarizing the South Atlantic through royal navy submarines. At this point, the UK claims to have no interest starting in hostilities in the region, but asserts that it will do whatever is necessary to “defend the livelihoods and right to self-determination of the 3,000 Falkland Islanders who are being menaced by an Argentine regime that is behaving like a spoilt bully.”2

With this increased tension, there seems to be only a minor likelihood that the referendum will succeed in effectively ending the longstanding sovereignty dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina. The factors contributing to failure—the existing territorial claims to the Islands, the need to maintain peace in the oil-rich continental shelf, the questionableness of the Islanders’ entitlement to self-determination, and the international community’s optional recognition of the referendum—are far too numerous and compelling to ignore. Indeed, it seems as if the only solution to the current dispute is an effort towards a more cooperative position on the search for oil. While this seems most obvious, Kirchner has taken perhaps the most curious approach – requesting an intervention from Pope Francis himself.

1. Jonathan Watts, Falkland Islands: Respect Overwhelming ‘Yes’ Vote, Cameron Tells Argentina, THE GUARDIAN, March 12, 2013.

2. Nile Gardiner, Cristina Kirchner rails against Britain at the UN over the Falklands, and accuses London of militarising the South Atlantic, THE TELEGRAPH, Sep. 6, 2013.

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