GoJIL Vol. 3, No. 1 (2011)
The Falkland Islands and the UK v. Argentina Oil Dispute: Which Legal Regime?
Following Argentina’s withdrawal from the 1995 Joint Declaration concluded with the UK for the common exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Falklands, the sovereignty dispute over the Islands has recently re-emerged as an economic ‘struggle’ for access to the North Falklands Basin’s oil deposits. The paper analyzes the states’ pending sovereignty dispute and their present claims, from the perspective of the exploitation of the Islands’ natural resources. The lawfulness of uncoupling the treatment of title to territory and to natural resources, particularly in an area where sovereignty is disputed has been examined in the present paper. By considering the UN practice on the Falklands’ case, it is argued that a separate treatment is not per se unlawful, provided that all the parties having a legitimate sovereign claim over the territory are involved. The Joint Declaration is employed as a model to provide evidence in this regard. In addition, the paper discusses the unilateral conduct of the parties as a possible alternative to a cooperative agreement. As the UK is currently acting unilaterally with regard to the access to the oil deposits in the Islands, the implications of its conduct are also reviewed.
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