Volume #14 - 1130.|
AMÉRIQUE LATINE ET L'ANTARCTIQUE
SOUVERAINETÉ DANS L' ANTARCTIQUE
Note du sous-secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
pour le secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 30 juillet 1948|
CANADIAN POLICY CONCERNING ANTARCTIC QUESTIONS|
During the past winter the recurrent controversial question of sovereignty in Antarctic territories was brought to the fore by a dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina and Chile. In response to Argentine and Chilean naval expeditions to the Falkland Islands Dependencies, the United Kingdom Ambassadors in Chile and Argentina on December 17, 1947, delivered formal notes of protest to the two Governments involved. In spite of these protests the provocations continued.
II. Areas Involved and General Background
2. The current difficulties involve three distinct though related areas:
(a) the Falkland Islands. where Argentina is challenging United Kingdom sovereignty;
(b) the Falkland Islands Dependencies and Graham Land, where Argentina and Chile are both challenging United Kingdom sovereignty; and
(c) the Antarctic mainland itself, where eight countries (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France. New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States) all have direct interests.
3. The dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom with regard to the Falkland Islands, lying ff the coast of Patagonia, dates back to 1833 when the United Kingdom took over - somewhat arbitrarily - the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) from Argentina. Argentina has never recognized United Kingdom occupation of the Islands and has periodically laid claims to them since that date, the most vigorous being put forward last Autumn.
Following is the text of an amendment to paragraph 3 suggested by Mr. Chipman, Canadian Ambassador to Argentina:
"The dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom with regard to the Falkland Islands lying off the coast of Patagonia is a sequel to the long-standing earlier dispute between the United Kingdom and Spain over the same territory, to which both laid claim on grounds of discovery and occupation. Later, after achieving its liberation from Spain by revolution, Argentina asserted the Spanish claims as a successor State on its own account. This led to a British protest in 1829. Following a second protest in 1832, the United Kingdom reoccupied the Falkland Islands by force in 1833."
4. The Falkland Islands Dependencies lie south of Argentina, Chile and their namesake, the Falkland Islands. They comprise four groups of islands, the South Shetlands, the South Orkneys, South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands. Graham Land is a jutting peninsula which thrusts itself northward from the Antarctic mainland into the sea towards South America. This whole region was discovered, explored and in many instances has been effectively occupied by the United Kingdom, administration being carried out by the Governor of the Falkland Islands.
5. In 1940 Argentina and Chile laid claims to territorial sectors in this region and since last Autumn (Antarctic Spring) these countries established several weather stations and military bases in Graham Land and in the South Shetlands especially, in spite of United Kingdom protests. Argentina's claim to territory in the Falkland Islands Dependencies is partly based on the alleged ownership of the Falkland Islands.
6. The Antarctic mainland is a de facto res nullius and it is only a narrow coastal strip which has been explored to any extent. By carrying out only limited activities on the coastal fringe the various powers claim sovereignty over sectors of territory extending as far as the South Pole. The view has been expressed by some of the interested Commonwealth countries that problems arising in connection with continental Antarctica should be treated separately from those arising in the surrounding islands and Dependencies.
7. A recent map of the whole region indicating the areas claimed by the different powers (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom, and United States) is attached as Appendix I. †
8. As early as 1946 the United Kingdom Government realized that it would become necessary to take more positive steps to assert rights of sovereignty in Antarctic areas. In November of that year the United Kingdom expressed to Australia and New Zealand the "earnest hope" that those countries would review their policy with a view to the establishment of permanent bases in the Antarctic. It was pointed out that the Foreign Office Legal Adviser had stated that the necessity of continuity of effective possession and administration was emerging as a new requirement of international law, and that in the future, claims would probably not be upheld on the grounds of discovery, annexation or the application of the "sector principle". (At this point it is of interest to note that on recent maps Argentina has applied the "sector principle" to justify claims of Antarctic territory right up to the South Pole on the basis of claims to the Falkland Islands, the F.I.D. and Graham Land).
9. In the Autumn of 1947 the United Kingdom, anticipating the subsequent Argentine and Chilean activities in the Antarctic, initiated exchanges of views with other Commonwealth countries and expressed willingness to refer the question of Antarctic sovereignties to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for a decision. Australia and New Zealand concurred and Canada also stated "We have no objection to the course of action proposed."
10. The United Kingdom included the ffer of recourse to The Hague Court in notes of protest delivered to Argentina and Chile on December 17, 1947. These notes were rejected and the presence of the cruiser "Nigeria" did not serve to discourage the provocative actions of the two countries.
11. The Argentine and Chilean refusal to submit the dispute to The Hague Court probably stems from their realization of the weakness of the legal basis of their claims. Because of this, they are in favour of a solution being reached through the medium of an international conference.
12. The recent establishment by Argentina of a new Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deal with Antarctic and Falkland Islands questions emphasizes the serious nature of the approach to the dispute taken by that country. A further development along these lines was the announcement a short time ago of a Treaty to be signed in the near future between Argentina and Chile to defme their respective territories in the Antarctic, and to establish joint action in furthering the interests of the two countries in the area.
III. Developments in 1948.
13. In March 1948, following the rejection by Argentina and Chile of the United Kingdom protests, members of the United Kingdom Embassy in Washington had discussions with officials of the United States State Department, and at the sametime, further exchanges of views took place between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
14. As a result of these exchanges, it became apparent that the United States favoured some form of international control. Their first suggestion was for the establishment of a United Nations trusteeship, but following an unfavourable reception from the United Kingdom, this was replaced by a proposal for the creation of an eight-power condominium.
15. The chief United Kingdom objections to international control of the Antarctic at that time were (a) that without considerable study and a clear definition of the area involved, it would be difficult to establish a sound administration; (b) it would be difficult to exclude other countries such as the USSR from such international schemes; (c) direct strategic and commercial interests of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries would suffer; (d) the scheme would require acceptance by Norway and France, both countries which have so far not been involved in any major disputes over sovereignty. Australia and South Africa agreed with these views, Australia being particularly opposed to a condominium or other similar arrangements. New Zealand favoured a United Nations trusteeship and was opposed to an international condominium.
16. As a result of these United Kingdom-United States talks in Washington, the United States came around to the view that a general eight-power conference would be desirable and it seemed at the time that the United Kingdom might agree to such a course.
17. In June however, the United States informed the United Kingdom that a revised plan for an international trusteeship for the Antarctic was being considered. The United Kingdom at once referred to the grave dangers, which had been stressed in previous discussions, that existed in such a plan and stated than an eight-power condominium would be a preferable solution (see Appendix II -memorandum from the Office of the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in Ottawa). † It was learned later that the United States had presented the plan to Chile and that the initial Chilean reaction had been unfavourable.
IV. Latest U.S. Proposal
18. As a result of United Kingdom objections to the proposal for a trusteeship under the United Nations, the United Kingdom informed us that the United States have now prepared a revised scheme to set up a "special régime" for the Antarctic. The United States is expected to deliver the revised proposals to the other eight governments concerned within the next few days and at such time to announce its territorial claims to the Antarctic.
19. The essence of the United States scheme is the creation of an "International Antarctic Commission", the territorial scope of which would embrace the Antarctic Continent and all islands south of 60° south latitude. The eight countries concerned would merge and join their claims and interests in this "special regime". The Commission would cooperate with appropriate specialized agencies of the United Nations and with international scientific bodies on matters of mutual concern. It is to be observed that the United States proposal will not settle the Argentine-United Kingdom dispute about the Falkland Islands because these Islands lie north of the 60° south latitude. More complete details of the United States proposal are contained in C.R.O. circular D.157 of July 24, a copy of which is attached as Appendix †
The United Kingdom have decided, if other Commonwealth countries agree, to negotiate with the other seven governments on the basis of the United States proposal. The United Kingdom will not agree to any form of trusteeship under the United Nations, but would approve full cooperation and association with appropriate United Nations bodies. The United Kingdom would also hope to retain sovereignty over a limited area in the South Shetland Islands but, if necessary to ensure success of the eight-power discussions, they would not insist upon this.
21. The United Kingdom has asked for any comments the Canadian Government may have to offer in connection with the United States proposal and on the attitude the United Kingdom proposes to adopt towards the plan. An urgent request for Canadian views has also been received from the New Zealand Government through the Canadian High Commissioner in Wellington. A copy of despatch No. 267 of July 8 from Wellington is attached as Appendix IV.†
V. Canadian Interests
22. In formulating Canadian policy, the following considerations should be borne in mind:
(a) Canada has no claims to any territory in the Antarctic.
(b) Canada's main interest is to see an end to the long-standing and increasingly troublesome disputes over Antarctic territory. In particular, conflicting claims have soured relations between the United Kingdom on the one hand, and Argentina and Chile on the other. This is to be deplored at a time when it is important that there should be close cooperation between powers of Western Europe and those of the Western Hemisphere.
(c) Canada, therefore, would welcome any settlement which is acceptable to the interested countries.
(d) It is desirable that, in the first instance the interested countTies should attempt to settle their differences by negotiation before any reference is made to the United Nations with a view to establishing an international trusteeship.
(e) It is possible, but not probable, that any international régime set up to administer the Antarctic might be considered a precedent for the establishment of a similar régime in the Arctic. The cases are not, of course, parallel and any attempt to treat them as such should be vigorously resisted. In any comments we may choose to make, I think it would be a mistake to make any reservations about the Arctic. If we did, it might suggest to others that we had some doubts about our legal rights there. The possibility, moreover, that any international organization for the Antarctic might be exploited to our disadvantage as regards the Arctic, makes it advisable for us to take no active role in the settlement of the Antarctic dispute.
(f) The United States proposals are only known in broad outline. It is not yet known what the attitude of the other interested countries will be or whether others in addition to the eight countries named in paragraph 2(c) will also assert claims to territory in the Antarctic.
23. It is accordingly suggested that:
(a) Canada take no active part in the settlement of this dispute,
(b) the United Kingdom Government be informed:
(i) that we share their anxiety that disputes relating to the Antarctic should be settled,
(ii) that we hope that the countries with interests in the Antarctic will be able among themselves to reach a satisfactory settlement of their differences,
(iii) that the Canadian Government assumes that any international régime which is established in the Antarctic will not in any way contradict the obligations which participating States have accepted under the Charter of the United Nations, and that through the registration of the agreement with the United Nations, and in any other ways that may be appropriate, the agreement will be brought within the framework of the United Nations,
(iv) that at this time we have no other comments to offer on the United States proposals or on the policy of the United Kingdom with regard thereto but we may wish to make comments later on when the full United States proposals and the views of other interested countries are known.
(c) communications be sent to the other interested Commonwealth countries, and especially to New Zealand in view of the request recently received, along the lines proposed for the reply to the United Kingdom.8
8Note marginale :/Marginal note:I agree. St. L[aurent] Aug. 8, 1948