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The Falkland Islands And The International Court Of Justice

Volume 429: debated on Tuesday 27 April 1982

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asked Her Majesty's Government:In the light of the statement by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on 19th April that they have never proposed that the claim of the Argentines to sovereignity of the Falkland Islands be submitted to the International Court of Justice (

Official Report, column 399), whether they have seen the statements to the contrary which appeared in The Times editorial on 20th April and in an article of Mr. James Fawcett (until recently President of the European Commission of Human Rights) in the special April issue of Chatham House on "The Falkland Islands Dispute", and whether they will make a further statement to clarify the position.

As I said in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, on 19th April, Argentina has shown no interest in referring the issue of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands to the International Court of Justice, and the British Government have never proposed it. That is the position as concerns the Falkland Islands themselves.However, in December 1947, April 1951 and February 1953, the United Kingdom invited Argentina to submit to the International Court of Justice the dispute about sovereignty over the Falkland Islands Dependencies as then constituted. Argentina declined those invitations. Similar invitations were addressed to Chile, but they also were declined. Consequently, no reference of these disputes to the court was made following these initiatives.On 4th May 1955, Her Majesty's Government submitted to the International Court of Justice an application instituting proceedings against Argentina concerning sovereignty over the islands and territories which then comprised the Falkland Islands Dependencies—namely, the islands and territories which since 1962 have been constituted as the Falkland Islands Dependencies (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) and the British Antarctic Territory. A similar application was submitted to the court instituting proceedings against Chile concerning sovereignty over the South Shetland Islands and Graham Land, which at that time formed part of the Falkland Islands Dependencies but which now form part of the British Antarctic Territory. The Government of Argentina and the Government of Chile did not accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice for the purposes of Her Majesty's Government's applications, and the court, by its orders of 16th March 1956, ordered the cases to be removed from the court's list.House adjourned at twenty-three minutes before ten o'clock.