Crimea ‘more important to Russia than Falklands are to UK’

Russian troops in Ukraine

Russia remains defiant on Crimea annexation, but says there are no plans to invade Ukraine

LAST UPDATED AT 10:13 ON Sat 15 Mar 2014

CRIMEA is “immeasurably more important to Russia than the Falklands are to the UK”, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said, following talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry in London yesterday.

Noting a clash in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk between pro- and anti-Russian activists yesterday in which one person was killed, Lavrov said Russia reserves the right to intervene to protect its citizens. However, he added: “The Russian government has no plans for military intrusion into eastern Ukraine.”

The meeting between Kerry and Lavrov was supposed to defuse the crisis in the Ukraine, which has been inflamed further by Sunday’s referendum in the autonomous region of Crimea. Lavrov said Russia would respect the result of the referendum, although as the Daily Telegraph notes, the only two choices are joining the Russian Federation immediately or empowering the Crimean parliament to decide to join Russia later.

Kerry, for his part, recognised Russia has “legitimate interests” in Ukraine, but expressed concern at the large build-up of Russian military forces at the Ukrainian border and in Crimea. He said: “There will be consequences of Russia does not find any way to change course.”

Those consequences are becoming clearer, and they will begin on Monday with visa bans and asset freezes targeting individuals. Reuters reports that the EU has a list of up to 130 Russians who could be targeted for sanctions. German newspaper Bild said that Alexei Miller, boss gas giant Gazprom, and Igor Sechin, head of Russia's biggest oil firm, Rosneft, would be among those targeted, along with senior ministers and Kremlin aides. However, EU diplomats poured cold water on the Bild story, saying no decisions had yet been made. · 

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But the fact is, the Falkland Islands are legally British. If Argentina had a valid sovereignty case (and they haven't) they would have taken it to the UN ICJ years ago. The ICJ has already made several Advisory Opinions that all state, 'The right to self-determination is applicable to ALL non-self-governing territories.' Argentina's sovereignty claim is based on the fact that in 1833 the British returned to the islands and ejected an illegal Argentine garrison. Only 4 of the 33 settlers 'chose' to leave (2 from Uruguay and 2 from Brazil). In 1850 Argentina and Britain signed a peace treaty in which both countries acknowledged that 'a state of perfect harmony had been restored' and 'neither had ANY outstanding differences.'

On 12th November 2012 Ban Ki-Moon confirmed that the UK was NOT in breach of ANY 'relevant' UN resolutions. Argentina accepts the Falkland Islanders right to self-determination because on 24th October 1945 they signed the UN Charter -Article 73 Declaration regards non-self-governing territories states, 'that the interests of the inhabitants are 'paramount.'

Russian Foreign Office tries to distract the public opinion abroad. The fact is Russia as a state has admitted Ukranian sovereignty over the Crimea several times in history, since the starting point in 1954 when Russian Republic (as a constitutional part of the Soviet Union) submitted for handover of the Crimea to the Ukrainian republic (as other essential part of the same Soviet Union, which was legislatively a confederation state). There are documents and facts of not so genuinely "Russian" aspirations in the Crimea before the World War II. After 1991 Soviet Union collapse, both Yeltzin and Putin several times admitted Ukranian sovereignty over the Crimea. So, word say - word forgive.
Furthermore, there is an indigenous nation, Crimean Tatars, who utterly support the Ukranian sovereignty now.
And, by the way, the utility capacities, the oil field installments, the property in the Crimea - all have been developed by the Ukraine. So, this is a bare case of stealing.

Not according to the UN. The UN has continually listed the Falkland Islands as a territory that the UK needs to decolonise since the 1960s.

Moreover, Under international law the right to self-determination does not apply to colonies such as the the Falklands where transplanted populations illegally occupy another nation’s territory.

The UN Special Committee on Decolonization reiterated as recently as June 2012 that ‘...ending the “special and particular” colonial situation relating to the Falklands required a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom’. The term ‘special and particular’ colonial situation refers to the fact that the current occupants of the Falklands are not a subject or subdued population, which would otherwise have a right to self-determination, but a population transplanted by the United Kingdom which has no such right under international law.

The International Court of Justice has recognized that there are exceptions to the right of self-determination in such cases. For example, in the Western Sahara advisory opinion several Justices of the Court recognized the existence of territorial limitations in dicta. Justice Singh wrote in a separate opinion that situations could arise in which prior legal ties between a territory and a claimant state would bring into effect paragraph 6 of resolution 1514, and force reintegration of the territory. In another separate opinion, Justice Petren recognized that ‘[where] the territory belonged, at the time of its colonization, to a State which still exists today ...[the claim would be] on the basis of [the State's] territorial integrity.’ Justice Petren also stated that ‘in certain specific cases one must equally take into account the principle of the national unity and integrity of States’.

Significantly, at no point in the opinion did the Court recognize an absolute right to self-determination for the population of Western Sahara, a non self-governing territory. Instead, the Court engaged in an extensive exploration of Morocco's, Mauritania's, and Spain's historical ties to the territory. Although this analysis had been requested by the General Assembly, the issue would have been moot under international law had the Court recognized the Saharans' absolute right to self-determination.

This exception to the right of self-determination has been re-affirmed by the International Court of Justice as recently as 2004 when it ruled that ‘…under the terms of Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention … an Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. … Such policy and practices “have no legal validity” and constitute a “flagrant violation” of the Convention and are in breach of international law.’ (see International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004).

If you're interested in the facts on the right of self-determination applying to colonies which are the subject of an existing territorial dispute then you should do yourself a favour and have a look at the following reference by an eminent British international lawyer, and Cambridge University Professor: James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979) at 377-85.

Russia has been behaving like a neo-colonial power by encouraging the 'colonisation' of Ukrainian territory by ethnic Russians. Once the process creates a majority in the territory being colonised, these neo-colonists then simply demand independence or re-unification with their motherland/fatherland on the basis of a presumed universal right to self-determination.

However, this is hardly a novel approach, after all, this is the very same ploy that the UK has used for many years now in an attempt to legitimise the so called right of their colonists to determine the nationality of territories they occupy such as Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

It is important therefore to point out that the so called right to self determination is not universal but limited. Under international law there are exceptions to the right to self-determination. For example, this right does not apply to colonies such as the Falklands, Gibraltar and the Palestine occupied territories where transplanted populations illegally occupy another nation’s territory.

The International Court of Justice has recognized that there are exceptions to the right of self-determination in such cases. For example, in the Western Sahara advisory opinion several Justices of the Court recognized the existence of territorial limitations in dicta. Justice Singh wrote in a separate opinion that situations could arise in which prior legal ties between a territory and a claimant state would bring into effect paragraph 6 of resolution 1514, and force reintegration of the territory. In another separate opinion, Justice Petren recognized that ‘[where] the territory belonged, at the time of its colonization, to a State which still exists today ...[the claim would be] on the basis of [the State's] territorial integrity.’ Justice Petren also stated that ‘in certain specific cases one must equally take into account the principle of the national unity and integrity of States’.

Significantly, at no point in the opinion did the Court recognize an absolute right to self-determination for the population of Western Sahara, a non self-governing territory. Instead, the Court engaged in an extensive exploration of Morocco's, Mauritania's, and Spain's historical ties to the territory. Although this analysis had been requested by the General Assembly, the issue would have been moot under international law had the Court recognized the Saharans' absolute right to self-determination.

This exception to the right of self-determination has been re-affirmed by the International Court of Justice as recently as 2004 when it ruled that ‘…under the terms of Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention … an Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. … Such policy and practices “have no legal validity” and constitute a “flagrant violation” of the Convention and are in breach of international law.’ (see International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004).

If we want 'autocratic' Russia to respect international law then we should insist that the so called 'great democracies' such as the UK lead by example.

The 2010 UN ICJ Kosovo Advisory Opinion, paragraph 80, confirmed that the concept of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between states. Since the Falklands and Argentina are separate entities it does not apply. (it would be a bit silly if everyone had to go back to their 1833 borders). Furthermore, the 1995 East Timor judgment confirmed that the right was erga omnes 'obligation towards all.' In 2010 Ban Ki-Moon confirmed that the 16 territories that still do not govern themselves must have complete freedom to decide their own future status.

The right to self-determination is applicable to ALL non-self-governing territories. In this respect the UN Fourth Committee voted on 17th October 2008 and decided that a dispute regarding sovereignty could not affect the right to self-determination of non-self-governing territories thereby confirming it as a universal human right. The 2004 ICJ Judgment on the wall constructed in Palestine has no bearing on the rights of people in non-self-governing territories. In 1970 the UN General Assembly declared that the modern prohibition against the acquisition of territory by conquest should not be construed as affecting titles 'prior' to the UN Charter. To suggest that the world should go back to its 1833 borders is 'laughable'.

You're wrong. The International Court of Justice has recognized that there are exceptions to the right of self-determination in such cases. For example, in the Western Sahara advisory opinion several Justices of the Court recognized the existence of territorial limitations in dicta. Justice Singh wrote in a separate opinion that situations could arise in which prior legal ties between a territory and a claimant state would bring into effect paragraph 6 of resolution 1514, and force reintegration of the territory. In another separate opinion, Justice Petren recognized that ‘[where] the territory belonged, at the time of its colonization, to a State which still exists today ...[the claim would be] on the basis of [the State's] territorial integrity.’ Justice Petren also stated that ‘in certain specific cases one must equally take into account the principle of the national unity and integrity of States’.

Significantly, at no point in the opinion did the Court recognize an absolute right to self-determination for the population of Western Sahara, a non self-governing territory. Instead, the Court engaged in an extensive exploration of Morocco's, Mauritania's, and Spain's historical ties to the territory. Although this analysis had been requested by the General Assembly, the issue would have been moot under international law had the Court recognized the Saharans' absolute right to self-determination.

The Special Committee on Decolonization reiterated in June 2012 that ‘...ending the
“special and particular” colonial situation relating to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) required a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom’.

The term ‘special and particular’ colonial situation refers to the fact that the Falklanders are not a subject or subdued population by a colonial Power, which would otherwise have a right to self determination, but a population transplanted by the United Kingdom to the Falkland Islands which has no such right. This is the reason that the Special Committee characterises the dispute as one of ‘sovereignty’ not self-determination. This is also the reason that the UN continues to list the Falklands as a territory that the UK must decolonise.

Self-determination requires a recognised and viably independent people, which is why the UN has rejected its application to the islands. Clearly the residents of, say, the Wallops in Hampshire, with a similar-sized population to the Falklands, can't exercise such a right. Nor can forced colonisation of other people's lands legitimate self-determination – otherwise Russian colonists could require that the Crimea be independent or Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank would have the right to decide the future of Palestinian territory.

In fact, British governments, like their erstwhile Russian counterparts, only developed a taste for self-determination after they had been forced to abandon the bulk of their empire and saw a way to hold on to colonised enclaves of dependent populations in places like Gibraltar and Northern Ireland by claiming a universal right of self-determination when they well know there is no such thing.

But it's always been a pick and mix affair for the British: there were no self-determination ballots for the people of Hong Kong or the Chagos Islands, expelled by Britain four decades ago to make way for an American air base in Diego Garcia.

That Advisory Opinion did no such thing. Selectively misquoting from ICJ decisions or from statements made by UN officials is no substitute for carefully considered legal reasoning.

If you're interested in the facts on the right of self-determination applying to colonies which are the subject of an existing territorial dispute, then you should quit your amateur attempts at legal reasoning, and do yourself a favour and have a look at the following reference by an eminent British international lawyer, and Cambridge University Professor: James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979) at 377-85.

Then why doesn't the UN recognise that right for the Falklanders? Why doesn't the UN simply remove the Falklands from the list of territories that the UK must decolonise. Why did the UN Secretary-General make the following statement earlier this year then?

'The Secretary-General encouraged the Special Committee to devise effective approaches to mobilize the political will indispensable to advance the decolonization agenda, and to find ways to ensure the involvement of all concerned, including the Special Committee, administering Powers and Non-Self-Governing Territories. Among other issues, the Secretary-General noted the importance the Special Committee attaches to the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). In that regard, he reiterated that his good offices remain available if both parties engage'.

If there is nothing to negotiate - as you continually assert - why does the UN Secretary-General advocate negotiation between Argentina and the UK?

"...Russia has been behaving like a neo-colonial power by encouraging the 'colonization' of Ukrainian territory by ethnic Russians?..."
Rather thrilling assumption. Because Russia itself will hardly be able to stand the same practice of China in Siberia, a scenario which has been looming ahead (and, in fact, has been rolling) for several decades. Pushing west is rather the only possible way for Russia, isn't it?
What a hot place the Europe itself will be in the brilliant future ahead!

The ICJ has made several Advisory Opinions from Namibia through to Kosovo that all state that 'the right to self-determination is applicable to ALL non-self-governing territories. In the Kosovo Opinion they declared that 'the scope of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between states..' - para 80. You should also note that Argentina has signed the UN Charter, a constitutional treaty, and section 73 on non-self-governing territories states, 'that the right of the inhabitants are ''PARAMOUNT.' So by default, Argentina and S pain recognise self-determination as being applicable to the Falklands and Gibraltar.

The UN C24 is irrelevant - they have to report to the UN Fourth Committee. On 17 October 2010 the UN Fourth Committee took a vote and confirmed that restrictions could not be placed on the right to self-determination. In 2010 the Secretary-General confirmed 'that the 16 remaining territories that still do not govern themselves must have complete freedom in deciding their future status' - this is in line with UN ICJ Advisory Opinions and the UN Charter. On 12th November Ban Ki-Moon confirmed that the UK was not in breach of ANY 'relevant' UN resolutions over the Falklands.

Wrong. In the 2010 Kosovo Opinion the ICJ confirmed that 'the scope of the principle of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between states.' Paragraph 80. The UN ICJ Advisory Opinions have all been in line with the UN Charter that Argentina and S pain have both signed. This is a constitutional treaty. Section 73 on non-self-governing territories states 'that the interests of the inhabitants is ''paramount''. - comes before everything else - in other words self-determination.

Then why doesn't the UN recognise that right for the Falklanders? Why doesn't the UN simply remove the Falklands from the list of territories that the UK must decolonise?

Why did the UN Secretary-General make the following statement earlier this year then?

'The Secretary-General encouraged the Special Committee to devise effective approaches to mobilize the political will indispensable to advance the decolonization agenda, and to find ways to ensure the involvement of all concerned, including the Special Committee, administering Powers and Non-Self-Governing Territories. Among other issues, the Secretary-General noted the importance the Special Committee attaches to the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). In that regard, he reiterated that his good offices remain available if both parties engage'.

If there is nothing to negotiate - as you continually assert - why does the UN Secretary-General advocate negotiation between Argentina and the UK?

The reality is that under international law the right to self-determination does not apply to colonies such as the Falklands and Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, where transplanted populations illegally occupy another nation’s territory.

If you're interested in the facts on the right of self-determination applying to colonies which are the subject of an existing territorial dispute, then you should quit your amateur attempts at legal reasoning, and do yourself a favour and have a look at the following reference by an eminent British international lawyer, and Cambridge University Professor: James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979) at 377-85.

You're wrong. Neither Argentina nor Spain nor the UN 'recognise self-determination as being applicable to the Falklands and Gibraltar' as you assert.

I'm not arguing that the principle of self-determination does not apply to non self governing territories - it does. However, dicta by Judges of the ICJ clearly illustrate that there are exceptions.

For example, in the Western Sahara advisory opinion several Justices of the Court recognized the existence of territorial limitations in dicta. In particular, Justice Petren recognized that ‘[where] the territory belonged, at the time of its colonization, to a State which still exists today ...[the claim would be] on the basis of [the State's] territorial integrity.’ Justice Petren also stated that ‘in certain specific cases one must equally take into account the principle of the national unity and integrity of States’. Significantly, at no point in the opinion did the Court recognize an absolute right to self-determination for the population of Western Sahara, a non self-governing territory.

Instead, the Court engaged in an extensive exploration of Morocco's, Mauritania's, and Spain's historical ties to the territory. Although this analysis had been requested by the General Assembly, the issue would have been moot under international law had the Court recognized the Saharans' absolute right to self-determination.

The Court decided that the historical ties between Western Sahara and Morocco and Mauritania were not sufficient to apply any territorial limitations, but the Court clearly implied that in other appropriate cases historical ties might require territorial reintegration.

So the ICJ clearly recognises that there are exceptions to the right of self-determination. Justice Petren specifically stated that such an exception would apply to colonies comprising transplanted populations which are the subject of an existing territorial dispute. This exception clearly applies to both Gibraltar and the Falklands.

Moreover, the UN General Assembly in numerous resolutions since the 1960s has explicitly stated that both British colonies are exceptions.

If you're interested in the facts on the right of self-determination, then you should quit your amateur attempts at legal reasoning, and do yourself a favour and have a look at the following reference by an eminent British international lawyer, and Cambridge University Professor: James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979) at 377-85.

There have been several ICJ Advisory Opinions all stating that 'the current development of international law, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, made the principle of self-development applicable to all such territories.' In the East Timor case the ICJ made this right 'erga omnes' - towards all. The UN Charter which S pain and Argentina have signed is a constitutional treaty - Article 73 on non-self-governing territories states 'that the 'interests of the inhabitants is paramount.' Article 103 of the Charter states that obligations under the Charter prevail over all other treaty obligations. Your arguments regarding territorial integrity are pathetically weak since the Falklands are not part of Argentina.

As I have pointed out, the UN ICJ has made several Advisory Opinions all stating that the right to self-determination is applicable to ALL non-self-governing territories and is erga omnes - obligation that is applied to everyone not just a few. Your arguments regading the Palestinian judgment only apply to territorial disputes after the UN Charter post 1945. It would be delusional of anyone to think that the world could return tom its 1833 borders - completely laughable. Don't forget Article 73 of the UN Charter - rights of inhabitants are ''paramount''.
You have still not managed to produce anything relevant that contradicts what I have said.

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