Minister of State Lord Ahmad spoke during the 54th regular session of the OAS general assembly in Asunción, Paraguay.

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon KCMG

Secretary General, Assistant Secretary General, ministers, delegates – friends.

I am glad to join you today.

The UK places huge value on our relationships across the Americas.

Indeed, we are working closely together on the great global issues, including security, climate change and sustainable development.

With so many areas of shared interest and endeavour, this Assembly is an opportunity to forge even stronger ties.

When it comes to Argentina in particular, the Foreign Secretary and President Milei enjoyed a warm and cordial meeting at Davos earlier this year.

They set out their support for a more constructive relationship between our countries, with greater cooperation on areas of shared interest including trade and education.

We particularly welcome efforts to lower tensions in the South Atlantic and have been working` with Argentina to re-establish sensible, practical cooperation in that region to the benefit of all.

However, Lord Cameron and President Milei agreed to disagree – politely – when it comes to the future of the Falkland Islands.

Our resolute support for the Falkland Islanders’ right of self-determination, remains unchanged.

Only they should decide their future – and in the referendum they held in 2013, they overwhelmingly chose to retain their status as a self-governing UK Overseas Territory.

Five of the six international observers of that referendum came from OAS Member States, with their report noting that it was free and fair, reflecting the democratic will of voters.

The Foreign Secretary visited the Falkland Islands in February, and my Ministerial colleague, David Rutley, has twice visited.

They saw for themselves the thriving democracy the community has built with their own constitution, laws and traditions.

Quite rightly, the elected representatives of the Falkland Islands make the decisions that affect their community.

Reference has been made to resolutions and to certain regional statements of support for sovereignty negotiations.

None of these modify or dilute the obligation of nations to respect the legally binding principle of self-determination, enshrined in the UN Charter and UN Covenants on human rights.

The UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime areas.

We also have no doubt about the principle and the right of self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter and in article one of the 2 UN Covenants on human rights. A right by virtue of which Falkland Islanders can freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

The UK asks that the General Assembly takes note of the Islanders’ right of self-determination and that this statement is read into the record of this meeting.

Thank you.

Published 28 June 2024