Embassy in India

190 years of illegal occupation of the Malvinas Islands

Updated date: 03/01/2023

Today marks the 190th anniversary of the illegal occupation of the Malvinas Islands. On 3 January 1833, the Malvinas Islands were illegally occupied by British forces that expelled the Argentine population and authorities legitimately established there and replaced them with British subjects who from then on adopted restrictive measures to prevent the Argentine people from resettling on the Islands. This act of force by the United Kingdom, which was contrary to international law and was carried out in times of peace without any prior notice or declaration, and which culminated in the illegal occupation of the Malvinas Islands, was immediately rejected and protested against by the then Argentine authorities. Since then, all Argentine governments have uninterruptedly reaffirmed their legitimate and imprescriptible sovereignty rights over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.

The Malvinas Islands were part of the area under Spanish jurisdiction since the entry into force of the first international instruments delimiting the  New World , starting in 1492. Between 1767 and 1811, there was a continuous succession of 32 Spanish governors on the Islands, and then, within the context of the Independence process, the first national governments of the United Provinces continued to manage and exercise sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, which they considered an integral part of their territory inherited from Spain by succession of States according to the principle of uti possidetis juris of 1810.

On 6 November 1820, Argentine Navy Colonel David Jewett took formal possession of the Malvinas Islands on behalf of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and raised the Argentine flag there for the first time. The Argentine government also proceeded to enact rules and establish legal and administrative structures to consolidate the full exercise of its sovereignty, including the promotion of trade and the settlement of population. Within that framework, on 10 June 1829, the government of the Province of Buenos Aires created the Political and Military Commandancy for the Malvinas Islands and the islands adjacent to Cape Horn.

However, on 3 January 1833, such effective exercise of sovereignty was interrupted by an act of force by the United Kingdom. Ever since then, there has been a sovereignty dispute between the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as recognized by the United Nations General Assembly under Resolution 2065 (XX). This resolution, adopted in 1965 without any negative votes, enshrines the call by the international community for the resumption, without delay, of bilateral negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom in order to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute, bearing in mind the interests of the inhabitants of the Islands.

In addition, the international community has reiterated the need to resume bilateral negotiations as soon as possible in 10 General Assembly resolutions, over 40 resolutions by the UN Special Committee on Decolonization and numerous declarations by regional and multilateral fora such as the OAS, the G77 plus China, MERCOSUR, the Ibero-American Summit, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Central American Integration System (SICA), the MERCOSUR Parliament (PARLASUR), the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), the Africa-South America Summit (ASA) and the Summit of South American-Arab Countries (ASPA).

The United Kingdom s refusal to comply with the obligation to settle the dispute peacefully and to put an end to colonialism in all its forms is aggravated by its continuous unilateral actions, including the exploration and exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources, which Argentina has continuously condemned.

The United Kingdom also maintains an unjustified and disproportionate military presence on the Islands and regularly performs manoeuvres and exercises in spite of the fact that Argentina does not represent a threat to the United Kingdom. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Argentina, a period during which all governments have pursued the peaceful settlement of disputes. 

As part of British militarization in the South Atlantic, the United Kingdom has recently attempted to introduce third-party law enforcement in the Islands, an act against which Argentina has strongly protested since it amounts to a deliberate departure from the calls made in the numerous resolutions by the United Nations and other international organizations.

All of these unilateral British actions are contrary to Resolution 31/49 of the United Nations General Assembly and have prompted several expressions of concern and condemnation by the international community.

Furthermore, this British military presence is contrary to resolution 41/11 of the General Assembly (Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic) which, among other provisions, calls upon States of all other regions, in particular the militarily significant States, scrupulously to respect the region of the South Atlantic as a zone of peace and cooperation, especially through the reduction and eventual elimination of their military presence there.

Argentina notes with concern that, even today, restrictive migratory policies are being implemented at will, which limit the possibility of establishing residence, acquiring land, securing employment or carrying out commercial or professional activities on the Malvinas Islands, particularly for Argentine mainland nationals.

The 40th anniversary of Resolution 37/9 of the United Nations General Assembly, adopted on 4 November 1982, just a few months after the end of the South Atlantic conflict, was commemorated recently. Through such Resolution, the United Nations established that the conflict did not change the nature of the sovereignty dispute and, recalling Resolutions 2065 (XX) and 3160 (XXVIII), it once again requested the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to resume negotiations in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute relating to the Question of the Malvinas Islands and instructed the Secretary-General, on the basis of such Resolution, to undertake a renewed mission of good offices in order to assist the parties, which is currently ongoing and with which the United Kingdom refuses to cooperate.

After 190 years of colonialism in the Malvinas Islands, the international community is calling for an end to that anachronistic situation. It is time for the United Kingdom to fulfil its international obligation to settle disputes peacefully and to put an end to colonialism in all its forms. Argentina reiterates its willingness to resume negotiations with the United Kingdom in keeping with the repeated calls by the international community, in the same constructive spirit that it maintained in the years that followed the adoption of Resolution 2065 (XX), when both parties set in motion the negotiation mechanisms provided for in such Resolution, and reiterates the request to the UN Secretary-General to renew efforts in fulfilling the good offices mission entrusted to him by the General Assembly through numerous resolutions.

The Argentine Republic reaffirms once again, 190 years after the usurpation of the Malvinas Islands, its legitimate and imprescriptible sovereignty rights over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. Recovering the full exercise of sovereignty over such southern territories, in accordance with International Law, while respecting the way of life of their inhabitants, is a permanent and unrenounceable goal of the Argentine people, as enshrined in the first temporary provision of the Argentine Constitution.

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