The Argentinian government is celebrating a decision by the UN to expand it’s oceanic territory to include the long disputed Falkland Islands.
The UN commission expanded the country’s maritime territory in the South Atlantic Ocean by 35 per cent which means that the Falkland islands are now inside their territorial waters, The Guardian reports.
The Argentine foreign ministry has said that its waters had increased by 1.7 million square km (0.66 million square miles) and the decision will be key in its dispute with the UK over control over the islands.
Argentina lost a brief, bloody war in 1982 with Britain after Argentinian troops seized the South Atlantic archipelago that they call the Malvinas.
The UN commission on the limits of the continental shelf has now sided with Argentina, and ratified the country’s report from 2009 which fixes the limit of its territory at 200 to 350 miles from its coast.
Argentina’s foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, said:
This is a historic occasion for Argentina because we’ve made a huge leap in the demarcation of the exterior limit of our continental shelf… This reaffirms our sovereignty rights over the resources of our continental shelf.
Currently oil exploration pumps millions of dollars into the Falkland Island’s economy. Reportedly many of the people living on the island are concerned about Argentina’s claim as well as the potential for problems from rapid change brought by the new industry.
Argentina shouldn’t celebrate just yet however, the UN commission’s finding included the caveat that there remains an unresolved diplomatic dispute between Argentina and Britain over the islands.
The Falkland Islands government said on Monday it was seeking clarification from the British government on ‘what, if any, decisions have been made, and what implications there may be’ for the territory in relation to the UN’s ruling.
Mike Summers, chairman of the legislative assembly of the Falkland Islands, said:
As soon as we have any firm information we will make it available,”in an emailed statement. Our understanding has always been that the UN would not make any determination on applications for continental shelf extension in areas where there are competing claims.
There’s been no comment from the British government as of yet.