Get access

Stormy waters: Britain, the Falkland Islands and UK–Argentine relations



    1. Professor of Geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Editor of The Geographical Journal.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • This article has benefited from a series of background interviews with officials attached to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Falkland Islands Government London office and the British Antarctic Survey. The author thanks the Royal Navy and Royal Marines for hosting his stay on board HMS Illustrious in March 2012. He also thanks the editor of International Affairs and two readers for their supportive comments, and acknowledges the advice of Matt Benwell (University of Liverpool). The usual disclaimers apply.


This article considers Britain's relationship with the Falkland Islands and the wider context of UK–Argentine relations. It does so by considering three main themes. First, the current Argentine government's strategy towards the Falklands (Islas Malvinas) and the manner in which the question of disputed ownership has been tied into wider Latin American relationships designed to unsettle UK and Falkland Islands interests. Second, the debate surrounding the defence of the Falklands is examined for the purpose of considering how this issue, especially sensitive given the 30th anniversary of the 1982 conflict, brings into sharp relief the implications of recent defence and spending reviews. Finally, the article aims to assess and evaluate the manner in which the Falkland Islands community engages with and responds to worsening UK–Argentine relations. It is concluded that UK–Argentine relations are in their worst state since 1982 and that there is little or no prospect of any improvement given the Argentine government's commitment to force the UK into entering sovereignty negotiations. On its side, the UK and the Falkland Islands’ community do not believe that sovereignty is negotiable and would rather consider how more cordial relations could be established in a manner reminiscent of the late 1990s.