UN Fourth Committee
Thank you, Mr Chair. May I congratulate you on your election and extend my support to the members of the bureau? I am exercising the Right of Reply in response to the statements of the distinguished delegates from:
- Brazil on behalf of MERCOSUR;
- Chile on behalf of CELAC;
- Peru on behalf of UNASOR;
- Costa Rica;
- and Ecuador.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Sandwich Islands, South Georgia and the surrounding maritime areas. The United Kingdom Government attached great importance to the principle of self-determination as set out in Article 1.2 of the Charter of the United Nations and Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That principle underlies our position on the Falkland Islands. There can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the islanders so wish.
The United Kingdom’s relationship with all its overseas territories is a modern one based on partnership, shared values and the right of the people of each Territory to determine its own future.
The democratically elected representatives of the Falkland Islands once again expressed their own views clearly when they visited the United Nations for this year’s debate in the Special Committee of 24 on Decolonisation. They asked the Committee and all its member states to respect the principle of self-determination, which is a universal human right, and the Falkland Islanders’ legal entitlement to exercise their right. They reiterated the historical facts that the Falkland Islands had no indigenous people and that no civilian population was expelled prior to their ancestors settling on the Islands. They confirmed that the Falkland Islands has been peacefully settled for over a century and a half by their ancestors and others from many other parts of the world, and that they have no desire other than to be left to live in peace. They lamented the Republic of Argentina’s attempts to ignore their right of self-determination under the UN Charter. The representatives also expressed their disappointment after the President of Argentina refused to accept an invitation from them inviting the Argentine Government to meet and listen to the views of the Falkland Islands people.
The United Kingdom continues to believe that there are many opportunities for co-operation in the South Atlantic. However, in recent years the Republic of Argentina has rejected these opportunities. It withdrew from co-operation on the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission, and in 2007 repudiated the 1995 Joint Declaration on Cooperation over Offshore Activities in the South West Atlantic. The Republic of Argentina placed a ban on charter flights travelling to the islands in 2003. It has also introduced domestic legislation to restrict shipping to the islands and penalise companies who wish to do business in or with the Falkland Islands.
The United Kingdom has maintained an unchanged defensive military posture in the South Atlantic for thirty years. This includes routine military exercises. The United Kingdom remains fully committed to defending the rights of the people of the Falkland Islands to determine their own political, social and economic future. A referendum to be held by the Falkland Islands Government in 2013 will make the Islanders’ wishes clear to the international community.
May I also take this opportunity to exercise the Right of Reply in response to remarks made by the representative of Belize on behalf of CARICOM on the Turks and Caicos Islands? Since August 2009, when ministerial government and the House of Assembly were suspended, much progress has been made to reform and embed the principles of sound financial management and good governance across the structures and government of Turks and Caicos Islands.
In June 2012 the UK Government announced that sufficient progress had been made against set milestones so that elections could be held on 9 November 2012. A new Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution, drawn up following wide consultation in the Territory and UK Ministerial discussions with political leaders and members of civil society, will be brought into force on 15 October, in advance of the elections.
In December last year, UK Ministers set out in a statement the milestones that they judged would need to be met before elections could once again take place in the territory. A revised Elections ordinance has been introduced, providing for clear and robust voting procedures and arrangements for conducting the ballot for new ‘all island’ candidates. A Political Activities Ordinance has also been introduced, regulating funding of political parties and campaigns, campaign methods and accounting practices.
Following extensive public consultation in the Territory, and UK Ministerial discussion with TCI political leaders and members of civil society, a new Constitution, which will underpin good governance and sound public financial management, has been made and will be brought into force by the Governor on 15 October.
A new Public Finance Management Ordinance has introduced a wide ranging set of verifiable accounting and compliance requirements. It sets out a clear mechanism for budget control and specifies the delegation of financial responsibilities within ministries. A new National Audit Office Ordinance creates a strengthened independent audit and investigation function over public finances.
Thank you, Mr Chair.