Argentina claims UN boost in Falklands dispute

Argentina claims United Nations boost in its controversy with United Kingdom on Falkland Islands, saying UN commission approved extension of its territorial waters

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Falkland Islands.

Argentina has claimed a boost in its dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands, saying a UN commission endorsed an extension of its maritime territory.

Britain and Argentina fought a war in 1982 over the British-governed islands, known as Las Malvinas in Spanish, which claimed the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and three islanders.

Argentina's foreign minister said Monday that the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) had unanimously ratified its claim to expand the official area of its shelf in the South Atlantic.

"We have taken a great step forward in demarcating the outer limit of our continental shelf," Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said in a statement.

She said the new maritime boundary expanded the area of continental shelf under Argentine sovereignty by 1.7 million square kilometres (656,000 square miles).

Although the islands already lay within Argentine waters, the country hopes the new boundaries will strengthen its case further.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that the 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 it did not rule on the country's claim over the Falklands.

"The commission did not consider and qualify the parts of the submission that were subject to dispute and the parts that relate to the continental shelf pertinent to Antarctica," Dujarric said.

A UN 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.

Senior Latin America analyst Laurence Allan at consultancy IHS Country Risk said the development was unlikely to make the dispute over the islands flare up, since Macri is busy trying to strengthen Argentina's foreign ties.

"As the UNCLCS is not empowered to adjudicate border disputes it will not change either sides' position on that particular dispute," Allan wrote in a note.

When they met for the first time in January, British Prime Minister David Cameron told Argentina's new President Mauricio Macri that the Falklands would remain under British rule, in line with the near-unanimous result of a 2013 referendum among the islands' 3,000 residents.