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The Falkland Islands Dispute – Tasks

The United Kingdom has 14 Overseas Territories that are under its jurisdiction. All of these territories retain their relationship to the United Kingdom based on the free will of the people living there. They share the British monarch as Head of State, but have their own internal leadership. Most of them are self-governed. One of these territories, the Falkland Islands, has played an important role in international politics during the last 30 years. Work on these tasks to learn more about the Falklands and the dispute between the UK and Argentina over the sovereignty of the islands.

These tasks are based on the article The Falkland Islands Dispute

Task 1: Q&A

Sit in pairs and formulate questions and answers for the keywords below:

overseas territories, question of sovereignty, Argentinian claim, British claim, The Falklands War, victims and casualties, Margaret Thatcher, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Prime Minister Cameron, referendum, oil reserves, new war.

Task 2: Search for More Information

Divide the class into groups, giving each group one question to work with. Use the links provided (and others you may find useful) and answer the questions. When you have finished, sum up for the class.

a) Make a list of all British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies and find out where they are situated geographically. What is the difference between Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies?

Present the Falkland Islands in more detail, and point out important things such as population, size, natural resources, main economic activities, etc.

Useful links

British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies (BBC)
A Guide to the British Overseas Territories (The Telegraph)
British Overseas Territories Travel Guide (Travel Guide)

b) Make a timeline of the most important historical events of the Falkland Islands.

Useful links

Falkland Islands Timeline (History World)
Falklands Islands: Timeline of Tensions since the War (The Telegraph)

c) Make a list of the differing views of Britain and Argentina regarding the Falkland Islands.

Useful link

The Disputed Islands (BBC)

d) What happened during the Falklands War in 1982? Make a list of the most important events.

Useful links

Falklands War: 30th Anniversary - Interactive
Falklands War Timeline
The Falklands War: What Happened? (The Guardian)

e) Thatcher's handling of the Falklands crisis is remembered as one of the key tests of her leadership. How did she react and what did she do?

Useful link

Margaret Thatcher Falkland Files: A Knife in the Heart of the Iron Lady (IBT)

f) After renewed verbal aggression between the UK and Argentina, there have been speculations whether or not the two countries are approaching a new war. In the event of a new military conflict, what challenges would the UK meet and would they still be able to defend the Falklands?

Useful link

Britain Preparing for New Falklands War?
Could the UK Still Defend the Falklands?

g) Not everyone in Britain supports Britain's official politics regarding the Falkland Islands. What are the arguments of British MP George Galloway (Respect Party)?

Useful link

Falklands issue: Britain and Argentina should have joint sovereignty over islands

Task 3: Group Work

Divide the class into groups of 4, each group member working with a separate question. Use some time to prepare before you present your character. Give a short presentation based on facts and feelings.

  1. You are born on the Falkland Islands and have lived there your whole life. You were an eyewitness to the invasion in April 1982. You love your home and have strong feelings about the invasion and the war. Tell your story.
  2. You are an Argentine soldier on the cruiser General Belgrano that was sunk on May 2, 1982. You witnessed many of your fellow soldiers drown. Tell your story.
  3. You are a British soldier who participated in the Battle of Stanley at the end of the war. You experienced the surrender of the Argentine soldiers on June 14, 1982. Tell your story.
  4. You are a patriotic Argentine journalist reporting from the sinking of the HMS Sheffield on May 4, 1982. This was only two days after the cruiser Belgrano sank, killing 368 Argentinians. Tell your story.

Task 4: Class Discussion

According to Argentina and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Britain remains a colonial power as long as they are not willing to give up the Falkland Islands. They claim that the conflict is not about the people, who they admit are British, but about the territory.

At the same time, PM David Cameron and Britain accuse Argentina of being a colonial power for trying to rob British citizens of their homeland. They state that it is the nationality of the people that should decide who should have jurisdiction of the islands, not the proximity to Argentina.

  1. In your opinion, who is right?
  2. The UN has requested that the two countries negotiate a peaceful settlement to the dispute. If it turns out that there is oil off the Falkland Islands, would it be possible to negotiate?
  3. Some people have suggested joint sovereignty of the islands. Would this be possible, do you think?
  4. Hong Kong used to be a British Overseas Territory, just like the Falkland Islands. However, on 1 July, 1997, it was handed back to China. Why was it possible to transfer Hong Kong back to China, but so difficult to give the Falkland Islands to Argentina?
  5. If you could look 50 years into the future, what do you think would be the status of the Falkland Islands?

Task 5: Writing

  1. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher led Britain to victory over Argentina in the Falklands War. Write a text where you discuss her leadership abilities in the days prior to and during the war. As a conclusion discuss what political consequences it led to for Thatcher and the Conservative party.
  2. Write a letter to the editor where you express your opinion about the Falklands conflict, the referendum and the future of the islands. Choose your political perspective – for or against British sovereignty.

Resources

Facts and Figures about the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know in Data and Charts
The Falkland Islands – The World Fact Book

Britain vs Argentina

Falklands Islands: Timeline of Tensions since the War
Falkland Islands Timeline
Regions and Territories: Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands Row: Argentina's Understanding of History is 'Laughable'
The Falklands War: 30 Years on
Falklands War Still a Major Issue Between Britain and Argentina
Falkland Islands: How Strong is Argentina's Position? The Disputed Islands

The War

The Falklands War (video)
Falkland Islands Attack Surprised Margaret Thatcher (video)
Falklands War: 30th Anniversary - Interactive
Falklands War Timeline
The Falklands War: What Happened?
Margaret Thatcher Falkland Files: A Knife in the Heart of the Iron Lady
Key Facts: The Falklands War

Referendum

Falklands Referendum: Islanders Have Spoken (video)
Falklands’ referendum has “no value” and does not change Argentina’s position
Falkland Islands plan referendum 'to send a message to Argentina' (video)
Falklands referendum: vote result announced (video)

A New War

Are Argentina and Britain headed toward a second Falklands War?
Britain preparing for new Falklands War?
Could the UK Still Defend the Falklands?

Illustrations

Memorable headlines: GOTCHA
The Disputed Islands

De Facto Control over the Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands Sovereignty Dispute
UK Treaties
Britain Pledges to Defend Distant Cousins on Falkland Islands