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Marcelo G. Kohen is an Argentinean professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. An awarded author and regular guest lecturer of several European universities, he is a fierce defender of his home country’s thesis on the sovereignty over the Malvinas/Falkland islands. Hector Montes met him at a conference on the subject held at the University of Helsinki.How does International Law describe the current situation regarding the Malvinas/Falkland islands?

There’s a sovereignty dispute that has to be solved by peaceful means. The Malvinas/Falkland islands were colonised by the UK, which expelled Argentina from the territory. The UN has already established the means by which this ‘colonial situation’ has to end: through the peaceful settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the UK.

What’s the current situation?

Nowadays, the situation is stalled because the UK rejects any kind of negotiation regarding sovereignty. They claim that it is the British citizens – which the UK itself placed on the islands – who have to decide about the future of the Malvinas/Falklands. There was a referendum last week which was not organised by the UN but by the British government, and which wasn’t supervised by the UN or any other regional, American or European organisation. Unsurprisingly, 99,98 per cent of the 1,600 British citizens able to vote were favorable to keeping the current factual situation.

Argentina is ready to negotiate and find imaginative ways to put an end to this dispute, but the UK rejects this possibility. Latin America and, recently, Africa as well as many other states, unanimously support the Argentinean position on sovereignty. They request the UK to agree to sit down at the negotiation table. In sum, there is very important support from the international community to negotiate and finally resolve the dispute, but the intransigent British position prevents any solution.

Does the Argentinean position receive support from non-former colonial countries?

Yes, of course. The Group of 77, which is now composed of 131 states plus China, has adopted the Argentinean position about demanding negotiations in sovereignty issues. There is strong support by developing and emerging countries.

Is there any plan from Argentina regarding the Malvinas/Falkland islands if the UK and Argentina seat down at the negotiation table?

There is already a framework established by the Argentinean constitution regarding the Argentinean sovereignty and being respectful to the way of life of the inhabitants. Argentina has ideas on the matter, of course, but in order to discuss them it is necessary to hold negotiations. If there is no dialogue, you can’t just make propaganda and not solve the dispute. The goal of Argentina is to solve the dispute, not to simply establish its position and then forget about the subject. So, in order to achieve a concrete settlement of the dispute, it is necessary to sit down at the negotiation table.

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HECTOR MONTES
HELSINKI TIMES

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