Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Falkland islanders and equal worth

The participation of the Falklands islanders in any negotiation in regards to the sovereignty goes beyond politics, law and international relation. It is indeed a question of moral principles. Thereby, as any morality thesis it needs some general principle. In this case, that all human beings have equal worth. That is different from saying that we are all equal. In fact, it is accepting that even though we are all different our existence has the same relative value.
No general moral principle can be refuted by using the morality of a particular State or an actual practice, even an international one.

The Falklands islanders are people. It may be argued that they are not “people” in the sense the concept of self-determination requires. In that respect see our previous articles:

Falklands and the right to self-determination (part 1)
Falklands and the right to self-determination (part 2)
Falklands and the right to self-determination (part 3)

But if the Falklands islanders are or not considered “people” in relation to self-determination is but a tangential argument. Under the umbrella of the United Kingdom sovereignty or that one of Argentina, any decision that was made in relation to them would affect them (and their future generations) directly. Hence, even if their right to self-determination was rejected, in any case they would still be understood as “people”, as a group of human beings, and would have a right to be listened.

An iconic Argentinean film gives a hint. “Esperando la carroza” (or “Waiting for the funeral car”) deals with the story of a funeral in which the only one missing is the dead. And in fact, she is not even dead. So, why a funeral in the first place? I know, we all know: it is bizarre.
But, isn’t it bizarre as well not to let the Falklands islanders have a say about their future? To reject the participation of the Falklands islanders in any negotiations in relation to the sovereignty of the place they are inhabitants of is simply to reject their say has “equal worth”. This leads to a question: in the hypothetical case Argentina was granted the sovereignty over the Falklands, would the islanders be removed? If they were “allowed” to stay, would they be “allowed” to participate in decisions that had to to with their daily life?
What kind of legal and political status is Argentina considering for the islands? If it was, as the speech says, to be part of the Province of Tierra del Fuego, they would have an “equal say” as any other Argentinean, wouldn’t they? However, their “equal worth” is currently rejected. Why would this attitude change?

Indeed, there are too many points at stake for both the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom. But, there are many more for the Falklands islanders. Therefore, to reject them a say in any negotiations is to reject their mere presence. In other words, it is to consider them on no “equal worth” morally speaking. And that seems to be, at least, unfair and unjust.

Any negotiations that welcomed the participation of the Falklands islanders wouldn’t mean accepting the British claim to the sovereignty over the islands. Argentina has made and still does make clear their claim for exclusive sovereignty. So, the Argentinean government could perfectly accept the Falkland islanders in any negotiations without threatening their right to claim or its extent. Besides, if they did so they would only be acknowledging something that is currently an international moral principle: every human being has equal worth.

Argentina, as a society, has a tradition in toleration. Their current government is probably the most forward thinking in terms of human rights since 1982. Human rights, as any basic and fundamental right, stem from moral principles. The Falkland islanders have the inalienable right to a say in regards their future without even considering the sovereignty issue. Not only is it just and fair to let them participate, it is something any reasonable being with basic moral values would accept.

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