Falklands rejects Argentine claims over UN maritime ruling
BUENOS AIRES – Agence France-Presse
AA photoThe Falkland Islands on March 29 rejected Argentina’s claims that a maritime border judgment by U.N. experts had strengthened its hand against Britain in their dispute over the South Atlantic territory.
Argentina’s government said a U.N. scientific commission bolstered its case when it endorsed the country’s claim that its continental shelf extends to include waters around the Falklands, known in Spanish as Las Malvinas.
Officials said the move did not affect the centuries-old claims of sovereignty over the wind-swept islands in the South Atlantic, over which Britain and Argentina fought a bloody war in 1982.
“Argentine statements which suggest that the sovereign position in the Falkland Islands has changed as a result of this decision are wholly misleading,” the islands’ government said in a statement.
“The U.N. statement makes no adjudication on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands and has no implications for the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands or our right to develop our territorial waters.”
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) adopted on March 11, without a vote and with amendments, an Argentine recommendation dated April 2009 seeking to extend its continental shelf.
But he stressed that “the commission did not consider and qualify the parts of the submission that were subject to dispute.”
A U.N. statement on the adoption of the Argentine recommendation added that the commission had previously decided it was not position to consider areas that were subject to dispute.
London downplayed the impact of the U.N. body’s decision.
“This is an advisory committee. It makes recommendations, they are not legally binding,” said a spokeswoman for British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“What is important is what the Falkland Islanders themselves think. They have been very clear that they want to remain an overseas territory of the UK and we will continue to support their right to determine their own future.”
Britain and Argentina fought a war in 1982 after Argentine forces occupied the islands.
The conflict claimed the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and three islanders.
Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said March 28 that the new maritime boundary expanded the area of continental shelf under Argentine sovereignty by 1.7 million square kilometers.
“We have taken a great step forward in demarcating the outer limit of our continental shelf,” she said in a statement.