Nobel laureates urge UK, Argentina to negotiate over Falklands

Story highlights

  • Six Nobel Peace Prize winners call on Britain to negotiate over the Falkland Islands
  • The Falkland Islands are the source of a long-running dispute between the UK and Argentina
  • Britain's government says it is up to the islanders to decide their future
  • Argentina claims the islands it calls Las Malvinas as part of its territory
Six Nobel Peace Prize laureates have urged Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron to hold talks with Argentina on the future of the Falkland Islands.
The letter, posted on the website of Argentine laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel, calls on Cameron to "review the British government's position of refusing to dialogue on this matter."
Tensions have been rising as the 30th anniversary approaches of the war between Britain and Argentina over the South Atlantic islands, which are referred to in Argentina as Las Malvinas.
Although Argentina's April 1982 invasion was unsuccessful, Buenos Aires continues to press its claim to the islands, which are home to more than 3,000 people, most of them of British descent.
The laureates' letter refers to a U.N resolution of 1965 which calls on both countries to proceed without delay with negotiations to find a "peaceful solution to the problem."
Its authors say Britain's failure to comply with the resolution and enter negotiations, its maintaining of a military base in the Falklands and its recent air and sea military maneuvers in the area are "seriously threatening peace and harmony in this part of the world."
The other laureates to sign the letter are Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala, Mairead Maguire of Ireland, South African Desmond Tutu, U.S. national Jody Williams, and Iran's Shirin Ebadi.
But Cameron has repeatedly insisted that it is up to the people of the Falklands to determine their fate, not the British or Argentine government.
In an article published in The Times newspaper in January, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also set out the case for the Falkland Islanders' right to self-determination, saying "only the islanders can be the masters of their future."
Hague said Argentina sought to present itself as reasonable but that recent Argentine governments had taken "a less constructive approach" in discussions on other questions, such as fishing and oil exploration.
He added: "Britain has always been open to discussions with Argentina, and that, of course, remains the case ... But we will never negotiate sovereignty without the consent of the islanders."
Last month Argentina complained to the United Nations about what it called Britain's militarization of the region.
It had already banned Falklands ships from its ports, an action joined by other South American and Caribbean nations.
The recent deployment of Prince William to the Falklands in his role as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot, as well as Britain's decision to send a new warship to the area, may have fueled Argentine emotions.
The Falkland Islands, which raise their own taxes but rely on the United Kingdom for defense and foreign policy, are one of 14 British Overseas Territories and have been under British rule since 1833.