Territorial disputes: Falkland/Malvinas islands (Part 6) [Post 26]

The Falkland/Malvinas islands, the Egalitarian Shared Sovereignty and borders, defense and natural resources

We introduced the EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY last time. Today we will present some key elements related to the Falkland/Malvinas islands. 

From our previous posts, we have learnt so far that some of the main concerns related to the Falkland/Malvinas islands are:


This could be a matter of controversy. In the particular case of the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, although it may seem that borders are not an issue—as they are islands—the exclusive economic zone often creates tension between Argentina and the United Kingdom. For instance:

  • Who has the right to explore that exclusive sea-zone
  • What happens in the zone in which Argentina and the Falkland/Malvinas Islands overlap? 

As this point is intrinsically linked to natural resources, it will be examined after introducing the latter.


National defense will be seen here as the protection of any interest a State has—e.g. possessions, territory, and population—through different means—e.g. military, economic, and diplomatic. There are several States in which the army and navy are not big, well equipped or trained enough in order to defend their territory or population but they are still respected as States. There are others that in fact do not have military defense at all, their defense being the responsibility of another country or an international organization—e.g. NATO.There seems to be no problem with defense. The territory being defended is obviously desirable although the task is one which can be shared.

  • However, what would happen if another party—i.e. a sovereign State with no part in the conflict—decided to invade the third territory? 
  • In the hypothetical scenario a fourth party decided to invade the Falkland/Malvinas islands, who would defend them? The ways in which the situation may develop are as follows: 
  1. both Argentina and the United Kingdom may remain neutral; consequently, the new agent would take over the Falklands/Malvinas if the inhabitants were unable to defend themselves; 
  2. one of the sovereign States may respond to the invasion and defend the third territory; c) both sovereign States may respond to the invasion and defend jointly or independently the third territory.

Natural resources

Natural resources are any material in raw condition present in the territory, organic or mineral, that is not initially a product of any kind of human activity. Some States are rich in natural resources, others are not: no particular amount of natural resources defines a State. But, the distribution of natural resources is usually one of the main problems when dealing with sovereignty disputes even though the involved sovereign States may already be wealthy ones; it is a feature that always presents controversy.In the case of the Falkland/Malvinas islands any decision over this point has particular importance since it could affect in the future the legal and political status in Antarctica. 

NOTE: This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020 (forthcoming)Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.

NEXT POST: The Falklands/Malvinas islands, the Egalitarian Shared Sovereignty and defense.

Monday 21st October 2019 

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @London1701

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