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UK approves new constitution for disputed Falklands

[JURIST] The British and Falkland Islands governments announced [press release] Thursday that they have agreed on a new constitution for the disputed South Atlantic Islands, a British territory also claimed by Argentina. Under the new constitution, primary governing power is vested in the Falkland's local government [official website], but the British governor to the territory retains the power to veto its actions "in the interests of good governance," as well as authority over certain sectors including defense, security, and the judiciary. It also includes rights provisions designed to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [texts]. Both governments praised the agreement, with Falkland Islands Councilor Mike Summers saying:

The new constitution more accurately describes the relationship between the Falklands and the United Kingdom, and formally establishes the degree of internal self-government. We have been pleased with the co-operative nature of our negotiations, reflecting a maturing partnership and a continuing commitment to security, social and economic development. The right of the people of the Falkland Islands to determine their political future has been freely exercised through the democratic process.
The constitution was contained in an order issued by the the UK's Privy Council [official website] on Wednesday and will take effect on January 1, 2009. Argentina, which also claims sovereignty over the islands, criticized the order [MercoPress report], saying that both the Falkland and British governments have no authority over the territory. AFP has more.

In August, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) [official website] announced plans [JURIST report] to seek exclusive harvesting rights to an area of the seabed surrounding the Falklands and other oceanic territories from the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) [official website]. In April 2007, a group of Argentine veterans of the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict [UK MOD backgrounder] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] alleging that the Argentine military tortured and killed its own troops during the brief war with Britain that followed its surprise invasion of the islands.

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