Britain has dismissed claims that a UN body has expanded Argentina’s maritime territory to include the Falkland Islands.
The Argentine Foreign Ministry said that its waters had increased by 0.66 million square miles and the decision will be key in its dispute with Britain over the islands.
According to the ministry, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf [CLCS] sided with Argentina earlier this month, ratifying the country’s 2009 report fixing the limit of its territory at 200-350 miles from its coast.
“The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf…adopted by consensus, that is to say without a single vote against, the recommendation presented in the Argentine presentation,” said Susana Malcorra, Argentina’s Foreign Minister, in a statement.
“It has recognised the Argentine position as ‘a leading case’,” she added.
“I genuinely believe this is a very significant achievement in Argentine foreign policy.”
If that assessment was correct, it would mean the UN had agreed to expand Argentina’s maritime territory in the South Atlantic Ocean by 35% to include the Falkland Islands and beyond.
But the Foreign Office told the Chronicle that the Argentine claims are wrong.
“The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) has no jurisdiction over the sovereignty of the Falkland Island,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
“The UN itself has acknowledged that the CLCS could not and did not consider claims relating to the Falkland Islands within the Argentine submission.”
She added: “The UK Government remains in no doubt over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, nor of the right of the islanders to determine their own future.”
The CLCS is an advisory body of the UN that makes recommendations on the extent of coastal States’ extended continental shelf, meaning beyond 200 nautical miles.
Its own Rules of Procedure do not allow it to consider cases where overlapping claims have been made, as in this case.
Argentina lost a 1982 war with Britain after Argentine troops seized the South Atlantic archipelago that Latin Americans call the Malvinas.
The latest developments come as Spain’s acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, prepares to fly to South America on April 3 to visit Argentina and Chile.