HC Deb 06 May 1955 vol 540 cc178-80W
Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Argentine and Chilean Governments have yet responded to Her Majesty's Government's offer to submit the dispute over the sovereignty in the Falkland Islands Dependencies to arbitration.

Mr. H. Macmillan

Hon. Members are aware that our sovereignty is being challenged by the Governments of Argentina and Chile, who lay claim to large parts of the United Kingdom sector of the Antarctic known as the Falkland Islands Dependencies to which our title goes back for more than a century, and have persisted in committing acts of trespass there. Her Majesty's Government have several times invited Argentina and Chile to resolve the dispute peacefully by referring it to the International Court of Justice. On 21st December last Her Majesty's Government repeated this offer in identical Notes addressed to the Argentine and Chilean Governments and stated that, if the two Governments still felt unable to accept our invitation, we should, as an alternative to adjudication by the Court, be prepared to consider reference of the dispute to international arbitration.

By the end of April the Argentine and Chilean Governments had returned no reply to our Notes and Her Majesty's Government therefore decided to make a direct application to the International Court and lay their case before it. They prepared two documents relating to encroachments by Argentina and Chile, respectively, and submitted these to the Court on 4th May. Our Ambassadors at Buenos Aires and Santiago have since been informed by the Argentine and Chilean Governments that they reject the offer of arbitration which we made last December. The Ambassadors have been instructed to express to the two Governments our disappointment at their replies and our hope that, in the light of the action which we have taken before the International Court, they will reconsider their attitude and accept the jurisdiction of the Court. If they do this the Court will be enabled to hear the case and give judgment. If the two Governments do not see fit to accompany us to the Court, we shall at least have acquainted the Court of the facts of the case, and have placed on record before the Court and world opinion generally the grounds on which we consider our title to the United Kingdom sector of Antarctica to be firmly rooted in international law.

I hope that Argentina and Chile will accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and that this issue, which has impaired our relations with two countries with whom we desire to be on terms of friendship, may be resolved by a judgment of that Court.