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Andres Loubet Jambert
Chairman and Co-Founder of FIS - Fish Information & Services

Falkland Islands (Malvinas): Argentina strengthens management. What could be improved?
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The recent appointment of Daniel Filmus as Secretary of "Asuntos Relativos a las Islas Malvinas, Georgias del Sur y Sandwich del Sur y los espacios marítimos circundantes en el Atlántico Sur" is a clear sign that the executive power continues to try to organize a team of experienced professionals with close ties to the presidency. Similar situation occurred last year with the appointment of Alicia Castro as the ambassador responsible for relations with the UK.

Thus far, a series of steps have been initiated, which have consistently taken place under the precept of "peaceful dialogues" and have achieved significant support in the region as a result. It has also complicated Britain's oil exploration efforts and investment in energy resources, which with a view to the future, would be the most important issue in the disputed area.

Although the creation of a "Secretaria" dedicated specifically to the issue of "Malvinas" within the Argentina Chancellery, in addition to the appointment of Filmus, is clearly part of a strategy for 2014-2015 which will be key to the political future of the ruling party.

With regards to the British side, little can be expected in the way of action as on the one hand it continues to base its position on "self-determination" and on the other it remains in complete control of the disputed region and its resources, in addition to the support of the local population.

So, What Can Argentina Do?

Substantial criticism has been given and many questions have been raised to differing degrees but there is little in the way of ideas or suggestions to help resolve the specific issues.

Beyond continuing with efforts to engage potential investors in the energy sector and imposing stricter controls upon maritime traffic and foreign companies with lucrative involvement in the disputed area, there are simple and positive policies that Filmus can impose to generate a historic change and that is by taking into consideration something that Argentina has not yet taken into account and that summarizes the most important point: THE PEOPLE.

Every person born within Argentine territories (whether disputed or not) automatically acquires citizenship at birth, which can also be applied to persons born in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), therefore the inhabitants of the islands were born as Argentines. Elsewhere, on the website of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs it states that  "...the Argentine Government intends to recover the islands by peaceful means in accordance with the principles established under international law and taking into account the interests of the population."

As a result of these two important realities, it would be logical and positive for all to resolve three rudimentary and outstanding issues:

1 - Carry out a census of the population

It is unusual for an entire population to not be given the relevant documentation by their disputed government. This could probably be carried out granting all "undocumented Argentines" an ID and passport (making them Argentine and recognizing them as such).

I must clarify that my children were born in Argentina but live in the UK and have been given a British passport, which in practice means that they have dual citizenship and therefore have 2 passports. This is a simple reality that would benefit the population and would put them in the same situation as any other Argentine.

2 – Carry out a survey and registration of land 

This could probably be carried out from the existing information at the British Land Registry which would allow every land owner a legal title and formal recognition by Argentina. In practice, the existing and unquestionable property deeds that all inhabitants have to date would be duplicated in the Spanish language. Thus, in the same way that a person can have two passports they can also have 2 title deeds produced by both countries claiming the territory. It would be a "Win-Win" formula for the local population and would not affect the position of any of the parties in conflict.

3 - Regulate the fisheries

As approximately 70 per cent of revenues of the islands is generated by fishing, with this figure reaching closer to 100 per cent in the southern islands, it would perhaps be more logical to act differently.

To view this issue from another perspective, one can take the case of the Shetland Islands. The islands are currently part of Scotland, which in turn forms part of the UK. During September 2014, a referendum will take place on whether Scotland should continue to be part of the UK or whether it should become an independent nation. Various studies have been carried out over several years by different specialized teams in order to assess the impact of declaring independence. For example, what percentage of the UK's external debt would Scotland be responsible for? What would happen to the naval bases that contain nuclear submarines? What would happen to the currency that is in circulation? What would happen to the National Health Service (NHS)? What would be Scotland’s position towards the European Union?

For a family that has spent generations making a living from fishing on an island in Shetland, in theory, there would not be any substantial changes should Scotland becomes independent from the UK, principally because they have their home, nationality, fishing quotas and vessel registration secured, consequently ensuring the continuity of their source of income.
But this would not be the case for the people of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) since to date, only the UK has granted a national flag, a fishing license and a legal framework for the activities carried out by fishing vessels which are registered there. Could Argentina also make a record of the Falkland Island vessels and offer them an additional flag? If the owner of the vessel is now an Argentine citizen and has now invested in an "Argentine territory," it would be logical to regulate the vessels' activity despite the territorial dispute between the two nations.

The relatively simple implementation of these steps would leave the local population in a different position and demonstrate on the international stage that Argentina not only peacefully claims the territory but also supports its inhabitants with concrete actions, as Argentines of British origin, they deserve all the respect to live peacefully while two countries find a way to overcome a historical dispute.

This would exercise the protected sovereignty of a population that should be removed from all discussions. It also would fulfil the Argentine Constitution:

"Primera.- La Nación Argentina ratifica su legítima e imprescindible soberanía sobre las islas Malvinas, Georgias del Sur y Sandwich del Sur y los espacios marítimos e insulares correspondientes, por ser parte integrante del territorio nacional.

La recuperación de dichos territorios y el ejercicio pleno de la soberanía respetando el modo de vida de sus habitantes, y conforme a los principios del Derecho Internacional, constituyen un objetivo permanente e irrenunciable del pueblo argentino."

By Andre Loubet-Jambert

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Andres Loubet Jambert
Chairman and Co-Founder of FIS

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