Nobel laureates want Britain to start talks on Falklands


SIX WINNERS of the Nobel peace prize have called on Britain to start talks with Argentina over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

In an open letter to David Cameron organised by the Argentinian artist and human rights campaigner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Nobel laureates call on the British government “to review its position of not discussing the subject”.

Among those who signed the letter are South Africa’s Desmond Tutu; and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who won the prize in 1976 for her role in starting the Peace People movement, which sought to mobilise Northern Ireland’s two communities against sectarian violence.

The letter says Britain’s refusal “to comply with United Nations resolutions calling for the initiation of talks with the Republic of Argentina”, along with its maintenance of a military presence on the islands, “places in serious risk peace and coexistence in this part of the world”.

UN resolution 2065, passed in 1965, calls on Britain and Argentina to negotiate a pacific solution to the dispute, ongoing since Britain occupied the islands in 1833, when it expelled a small Argentinian garrison.

The call comes less than a week before the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the Falklands, and at a time when the government in Buenos Aires is stepping up efforts to force London to open talks. Falkland Islands representatives said the letter’s signatories had been duped by the Argentinian government’s calls for negotiations.

“It is easy for peace-loving people to call for talks. But when Argentina calls for talks it means talks about the transfer of sovereignty to them,” says Mike Summers, who sits in the Falklands’ general assembly. “What is actually required is for Argentina to say it understands the right to self-determination as expressed in article one of the UN’s own charter.”

Argentina’s foreign ministry says “the possibility of applying the principle of self-determination is ruled out”, as the Falkland Islanders only settled on the islands after Argentina’s garrison was expelled by force, “thus violating the territorial integrity of Argentina”. Though demanding negotiations with London, Argentina’s government says its territorial claim over the islands in non- negotiable. In 1994 the country amended its constitution to say the recovery of the islands was “a permanent and unwavering goal of the Argentinian people”.

Earlier this month both houses of Argentina’s congress voted unanimously a text that ratified the country’s “legitimate and imprescriptible” sovereignty over the islands it calls Las Malvinas.

The British foreign office said the Falkland Islanders have the right to self-determination and could not be shut out of any talks about their future.