Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Falkland Islands Redux

The Falkland Islands sovereignty question is about to heat up again early in 2012, so who has the better claim? OH2 let's you decide for yourself:
1690: The British land on the islands and name them after the 5th Viscount of Falkland.
1764: France founds the first settlement, Port Louis in East Falkland.
1765: Capt. Byron claims the group for Britain.
1766: Spain claims the islands under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. France leaves, Britain doesn't.
1770: The Spanish expel the British colony at Port Egmont on Saunders Island, but a treaty in 1771 allows them to return, with neither side relinquishing sovereignty.
1774: Economic pressures leading up to the American Revolutionary War force Britain to withdraw, with a plaque asserting British sovereignty left behind.
1811: The islands are abandoned by the Spanish settlers, in turn leaving a plaque asserting Spanish sovereignty.
1816: The future Argentina declares its independence from Spain. Britain and the US do not recognize the territory claimed by the new state which calls itself the United Provinces of the River Plate.
1820: American privateer David Jewett takes refuge in Puerto Soledad. On November 6, he claims the islands for the UPRP.
1823: Argentina grants some land on East Falkland to Luis Vernet, who fails with his first expedition.
1826: Vernet's second attempt, sanctioned by the British this time, also fails.
1828: Luis Vernet again approaches the British for permission to build a settlement at the former Puerto Soledad, under British protection. Approved, Vernet provides regular reports to the British. The Argentine government meanwhile grants Vernet all of East Falkland, including its resources. He takes settlers (including British Capt. Matthew Brisbane as his deputy) and before leaving once again seeks British permission.
1829: The Argentine government appoints Vernet governor, to which the British object, and protest again when Vernet announces his intentions to exercise exclusive rights over fishing and sealing. Similar protests are received from the U.S. One of Vernet's first acts is to curb seal hunting. The British consul protests and restates Britain's claim. Vernet seizes the American ship Harriet for breaking his restrictions, and sends the captain to Buenos Aires to stand trial. The American Consul protests, again states the U.S. objection to Argentine sovereignty, and dispatches the USS Lexington to Puerto Luis to retake the confiscated property. Vernet returns to Buenos Aires before the Lexington's attack and resigns as governor. Upon leaving the islands, the captain of the Lexington declares them to be res nullius (the property of no one).
1831: The raid of the USS Lexington and Argentine assertions of sovereignty spur the British to establish a military presence on the islands.
1832: Governor Francisco Mestivier is appointed by Argentina, again drawing protests from the British. The Argentine ship Sarandí, commanded by José Pinedo, begins to patrol the islands. Mestivier is murdered by mutineers while Pinedo is at sea.
1833: On 2 January, Capt. James Onslow arrives at Port Luis and tells the Argentine administration to leave. Pinedo protests but departs without a fight on 5 January. The islands continue under a British presence until the 1982 Falklands War.
1945: Argentina pushes its case in the UN. The UK offers to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice in the Hague three times (1947, 1948 and 1955); on each occasion Argentina declines.
1964: The United Nations passes a resolution calling for negotiations, which take place over the next 17 years but fail to reach a conclusion on sovereignty.
1976: The British Government commissions a study on the ability of the Islands to sustain themselves, led by Lord Shackleton, son of the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton. Argentina refuses to allow Shackleton to travel to the Islands, severs diplomatic links with the UK, and an Argentine naval vessel later fires on the ship carrying Shackleton as he visits his father's grave in South Georgia.
1978: Completion of a permanent runway by the British. Although sovereignty discussions enhance economic and transport links, there is no progress on the question of sovereignty. Any measure that the British Foreign Office suggests on the sovereignty issue is loudly condemned by the Islanders, who re-iterate their determination to remain British. This leads to the British Government maintaining that the right to self-determination of the Islanders is paramount.