Territorial disputes are, in the Spanish phrase, matters de mucha teologia. These matters of much theology can easily cause violence; short statements about them are nearly always wrong; intensive study of individual problems can drive you round the bend. Experts in public international law, like theologians, frequently disagree, and like theologians they are not at all immune to national bias. There is also usually much mist surrounding what they are trying to get at. Arguments are frequently both inconclusive and unrewarding. Most editors in recent months avoided going into the background of the Falklands dispute in any detail - it would have taken up too much space. If one had to go into it at all, it was best to be brisk and muscular about it. On page 6 of Chatham House's 'Special' The Falkland Islands Dispute - International Dimensions Professor James Fawcett agrees on line 3 that 'the determination of territorial title, when it is disputed, is a complex issue of fact and law,' and asserts on line 31 that 'the territorial title to the islands... must be accorded to the United Kingdom.' On this issue our public legal opinions have always been... robust.
LRB 19 August 1982 | PDF Download