The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Falkland Islanders have the right to Self-determination

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/9/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 850 times Debate No: 60246
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




The sovereignty over the Falkland Islands has been long disputed between Argentina and the United Kingdom. The people of the Falkland Islands (the Falkland Islanders) have long chosen to remain a British Overseas Territory and in this debate I will argue and provide evidence that the people of the Falkland Islands have the legal right of Self-determination against Argentina's desire to rule over them.

In this debate my opponent is to argue and provide evidence that the Falkland Islanders do not have the the legal right of Self-determination. To whoever accepts this debate please know that round 1 is just for introductions and we will start debating in round 2.

Thank you to whoever accepts and I look forward to this debate.


I accept.

Let's make this a good one.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for accepting this debate and now lets get to it. As I already explained I am here to debate that the Falkland Islands have the legal right of Self-determination. 

Both Argentina and the United Kingdom are Member States of the United Nations and therefore are also part of the UN General Assembly that should both comply with International Law. [1][2]

Under International Law, the Falkland Islanders have a legal right to self-determination and do not wish to become part of Argentina.

Contention 1: All Peoples have the right to Self-determination

In accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) the first and second declarations affirm that:

"1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation".[3]

"2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development".[3]

Argentina's desire to obtain the Falkland Islands against the will of the people who live there would be subjecting them to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation as verified by the first declaration. The international legal principle of self-determination (that applies to all peoples, whether they may be Argentine, British or Falkland Islander) says that it is for the Falkland Islanders to decide their own status verified by the second declaration. Additionally also by Article 1.2 of the UN Charter. [4]

Contention 2: Interests of Non-Self-Governing Territories

The Falkland islands are one of several territories listed by the UN as what are known as Non-Self-Governing Territories. [5]

Article 73 of the UN Charter, which involves the declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories, states that:

"Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end:" [6]

Please particularly notice the phrase that says: "the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount". This means that the interests of these territories are above anything else (and above the desires of Argentina). The interests of the islanders cannot be paramount and not have the right to choose their own destiny at the same time. The islanders being able to decide their own political status is Self-determination. [7]

I end my current round here and and await my opponent's response.



"All peoples have the right to self-determination"

Certainly, the UN has outlined self determination as a right given to "all peoples". However, "peoples" in this situation has not been defined, neither by the UN nor by the international community itself. Do we group "people" based off of ethnicity? Religion? Heritage?

The truth is, there is no way to define what a "people" constitutes. On the Falkland Islands, 29% identify themselves as British, however, 24.8% were neither born on the Islands nor born in the UK(1). By the UN's loose definition, these people have just as much right to self-determination as anyone else, as do those on the Falkland Islands who identify as Argentine.

These people all have different backgrounds and heritage. Without a proper definition for what differentiates different "peoples", I argue that you can't really apply these UN declarations to this case.

Self-Determination is not an unconditional right

Though my opponent would like to paint self-determination as an unconditional and unalienable right, the truth is it is not, and the politics regarding self-determination are full of hypocrisy. Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia joined the UN in 1945. Pakistan in 1947. Yet, the US has constantly interfered with politics in that region for many years.

Hypothetically, if citizens of Saudi Arabia had unanimously voted to be ruled by dictatorship, and then selected Osama bin Laden as their leader, is there any doubt the US would have intervened?

Self-determination is a good narrative, but an unrealistic one. Citizens don't always decide what's best for their country, and other countries will occasionally be forced to intervene. Until this is no longer the case, and countries can make decisions leading to their own demise without outsiders acting out of goodwill, self-determination is not and will never be an unconditional right. Therefore, the UN's claims that "the interests of the inhabitants are paramount" are laughable at best.

"The will of the people" means very little during conflicts

When the US decided to separate from Britain, it sparked the Revolutionary War, and 25,000 Americans died fighting for their country. Likewise, when the South seceded from the Union, the conflict sparked the Civil War and 625,000 Americans died(2). When a country is serious about it's political freedom, the citizens should be willing to put their lives on the live for their cause and create change. Announcing self-determination means very little during a conflict. If words solved conflicts, America would've gained independence after the first draft of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances

However, the Falkland Islands do not have a military, as they rely on British Forces to protect them. Therefore if a conflict were to arise regarding their decisions, they will be reliant on British forces to die in their stead. And let's say the Islands decide to side with neither the UK nor Argentina, and decide to become an independent country. Who will chase out the British and Argentine forces stationed there? Not the military-less Falkland Islands. The UN would have to intervene and again, the Falklands would be relying on others to die for their decisions. Do they have a right to offer up the lives on non-native Islanders?

I argue that they do not. If they are unable to attain their political statehood which they seek with their own hands, self-determination is little more than a theory on paper. The UN does not exist to be the personal army of every country with a minor dispute. And it is not the Falkland Islands' right for them to be reliant on the UN in a potential battle that the Islanders themselves won't be fighting in.

History has shown us what happens when nations hastily grant legitimacy to self-deterministic claims. Especially ones which are ill-equipped to handle the outcome. The hasty recognition of Croatia and Slovenia by the EC lead to the collapse of Yugoslavia, and 9 years of subsequent warfare.

But most importantly, having a right to self-determination ignores greater common sense. If the will of the people was paramount, Quebec would have already seceded from Canada(3). But when you hastily giving utmost importance to the will of the people does not always lead to the best results. If the trials of George Zimmerman and Casey Anthony had been left up to public opinion, both would have been deemed guilty the first day. However, due process allowed logic and reasoning to shine through. Self-determination leaves no room from compromise and negotiation, making it by itself, inherently dangerous.

I argue that not only do the Falkland Islanders not have a right to self-determination, but that self-determination by itself is an absurd, ideological notion


Debate Round No. 2


Rebuttal 1: Defining peoples

My opponent agrees that the UN has outlined self-determination as a right given to "all peoples", yet he argues that in this situation the UN has not exactly defined what a "people" constitutes; or at least if the Falkland islanders can be defined as one in this situation anyway.

My rebuttal is that my opponent's claim of the UN (in this situation) not defining what a "people" constitutes is in fact false. UN General Assembly Resolution 51/84 that reaffirms “universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination” states that it welcomes:

"The progressive exercise of the right to self-determination by peoples under colonial, foreign or alien occupation and their emergence into sovereign statehood and independence". [1]

This verifies that in this situation, the UN considers the overall inhabitants of colonial Territories to constitute "peoples" and affirms their right to self-determination and independence.

This is also backed up by a report of the international conference organised by the UNESCO Division of Human Rights, Democracy and Peace, which stated:

"The plain meaning of the term “all peoples” includes peoples under Colonial or alien subjugation or domination, those under occupation, Indigenous peoples". [2]

So a "people" in this situation would be the whole population under a particular Colonial status, or in this case, a "Non-Self-Governing Territory".

I would like to refer back to United Nations General Assembly resolution 1514, which is the “Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples". And also "assisting the movement for independence in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories". [3]

If the Falkland Islanders are not a people (or even a country) then why are they listed as a "Non-Self-Governing Territory" by the United Nations?

Then recall the first and second declarations of UN General Assembly resolution 1514 that affirm all peoples have the right to self-determination. [3] Concluding that the Falkland islanders as the entire population of a non-self-governing territory have this right under International Law.

Rebuttal 2: Self-determination as an unconditional right and Will of peoples during conflicts

The United Nations is necessary to have an open floor for representatives of all nations to address global issues and create communication. Thanks to the UN we have a solid international community, with set rules, which means countries can be more open and less suspicious of each other. It has allowed us to move into the post-World War period with a more unified world.

My opponent is attempting to denounce self-determination as an unconditional and unalienable right by referring to hypocrisies of UN members like that of the USA in particular.

While it is true that a lot of nations have contradicted UN Law, it is important to remember that these countries individually are not the ones that give out the right to self-determination, the UN Charter does.

Certain countries may think they can get away with breaking UN law sometimes, probably because they are part of the Security Council, or are countries more powerful than they think the UN will confront. However great strengths like this are not ones Argentina really has anyway. For this debate in particular I think my opponent should explain with evidence what makes Argentina comparable to countries like the USA in this case.

In 1982 the UN Security Council issued Resolution 502, which demanded that Argentina withdraw. Argentina did not do so but no UN sanctions were applied. This representing the different political positions within the UN where Argentina had some support, particularly from the other South American nations and Russia. The UK however, was very successful in organising sanctions from the EU and a number of other nations all of which hurt Argentina. In particular the financial restrictions applied by the City of London brought Argentina very close to another default. [4]

This would be no better for Argentina today as it is currently in an economic mess suffering high inflation rates and uncontrollable debt so the threat of sanctions is not something Argentina can afford to stand up to. [5]

Despite Argentina not getting UN sanctions in 1982, today it would be a very different story since 1995 as the ICJ made it clear that the right of people’s to self-determination is today a right of "erga omnes". I will now refer to a judgment made by the International Court of Justice's 1995 ruling in East Timor (Portugal v Australia):

"In the Court's view, Portugal's assertion that the right of peoples to self-determination, as it evolved from the Charter and United Nations practices, has an erga omnes character is irreproachable. The principle of self-determination of peoples has been recognised by the United Nations Charter and in the jurisprudence of the Court; it is one of the essential principles of contemporary international law." [6]

The ICJ made it clear that the right of people’s to self-determination is today a right of "erga omnes". Erga omnes is a Latin phrase, which literally means "towards all" and is also used in legal terminology. Self-determination is a universal right, Con is wrong. [7]

Now I will explain what makes erga omnes so strong…

The Institute of International Law adopted the following resolution in respect of obligations “erga omnes” in international law:

"a) an obligation under General international law that a State owes in any given case to the international community, in view of its common values and its concern for compliance, so that a breach of the obligation enables all States to take action". [8]

The right to self-determination is an obligation (erga omnes) so the international community could punish Argentina for not respecting it. Particularly sanctions imposed on Argentina by the UK/EU for not carrying out their erga omnes obligations. This is why it won’t really matter if the Falklands are “military-less” someday. Ultimately Argentina should worry about violating self-determination in this case because it can be legally hit by sanctions (or even military action) suffering a lack of trade, allies etc. Something of which Argentina could not handle.

Additionally my opponent argued about why Quebec has not managed to secede from Canada if self-determination is paramount. This relates back to what I argued in Rebuttal 1. Quebec is not a Non-Self-Governing Territory. [3]

[2] (page 54)
[6] (Paragraph 29)


Siege forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Argument extended.


Siege forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Well my opponent has forfeited his previous 2 rounds so all I can do now is sum up what I had argued that he did not rebut.

I have shown that under International Law All Peoples have the right to Self-determination and verified with evidence that the Falkland Islanders constitute a people for being listed by the UN as what is known as a "Non-Self-Governing Territory".

I have verified with evidence that Self-determination is a universal right for all peoples as the ICJ declared the right of people's to self-determination today as a right of "erga omnes". Which is a Latin phrase, which literally means "towards all" and is also used in legal terminology.

I have verified with evidence (that under international law) if the right of erga omnes is breached by Argentina, perhaps by invading the Falklands, then all UN States can take action. And since self-determination was made a right of "erga omnes" in 1995, then Argentina would more likely be hit by sanctions than in 1982.

With the state that Argentina is in, it could not afford having sanctions put on it by the UN or EU. Especially since Argentina is not really comparable to countries like the USA to get away with not having sanctions put on it.

Overall the Falkland Islanders right to Self-determination is very firm under international law and they certainly have that right.

I think it would be very unfair for my opponent to come back in his final round with any new rebuttals after forfeiting his previous 2 rounds. I thank my my opponent anyway for this debate and I now urge a Pro vote.


Siege forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by LogicalLunatic 2 years ago
Right to Self-Determination for all people is a dangerous idea.
Posted by Kc1999 2 years ago
I'm engaged in a similar debate. I might accept it
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Relativist 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: ff