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  Battle Atlas of the Falklands War 1982



 United Nations, New York

on to 7. Argentine Armed Forces 


Summary of Early Diplomatic Activity

1st April - UK ambassador warned UN
2nd - Resolution 502 introduced
3rd - Security Council passed Resolution 502
9th April - full support given to UK and sanctions announced against Argentina
End of April - peace proposals launched by Secretary General
End of April - President Terry Belaunde initiated peace proposals

Summary of Gen Haig’s Shuttle Diplomacy

(1) London - 8th April
(2) Buenos Aires - 9th/10th April
(3) London - 12th/13th
(4) Washington DC - 14th April
(5) Buenos Aires - 15th-19th

Summary of Main Falklands Area Operations

2nd April - Argentine invasion
1st May - British Task Force launched first attacks on Falklands
2nd May - Argentine cruiser “General Belgrano” sunk
4th May - British destroyer “Sheffield” hit by Exocet

British Diplomatic Response - In London, Mrs Thatcher directed Britain's diplomatic and economic response to events. Across the Atlantic, President Reagan tried to stay neutral and agreed to Secretary Haig starting his shuttle diplomacy. The United Nations was soon brought into the act by the British ambassador there, and very much to Britain's advantage, whilst equally unsuccessful in their attempts to gain support was the junta in Buenos Aires


Leading Personalities - Amongst the main politicians and diplomats taking part were:

London - Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and inner cabinet, including Francis Pym (successor to Lord Carrington), Foreign Affairs, John Nott, Defence, William Whitelaw, Home Secretary and Conservative Party Chairman Cecil Parkinson.

Washington D.C. - President Ronald Reagan, Secretary of State Alexander Haig, British ambassador Sir Nicholas Henderson, Argentine ambassador Snr Esteban Takacs.

Buenos Aires - General Galtieri, Brigadier General Lami Dozo and Admiral Anaya, and Foreign Minister, Snr Nicanor Costa Mendez.

United Nations, New York - Secretary General Snr
Javier Perez de Cuellar, British ambassador Sir Anthony Parsons, Argentine ambassadors Senors Eduardo Roca and later Enrique Ros.

Support for Britain - Britain had reacted to developments in South Georgia through talks in London and Buenos Aires, but as invasion loomed, her international diplomacy moved into top gear. Within days, a highly successful campaign gained the support of the United Nations, the EEC and NATO, and the Commonwealth. In contrast Argentina even failed to win over the Organisation of American States (OAS). The first steps were taken on Wednesday 31st March when Sir Nicholas Henderson briefed Secretary Haig in Washington and President Reagan was called on by Mrs Thatcher to warn off President Galtieri, but in this he was unsuccessful. Over the next four weeks, America's attempts to be even-handed were not appreciated by Mrs Thatcher, although in US terms, having to choose between Latin American friend and main European ally was no easy matter.

United Nations Activities - On the evening of Thursday 1st April before invasion, Sir Anthony Parsons alerted the United Nations and addressed the 15 member Security Council. With confirmation next day that the invaders were ashore, Resolution 502 was formally introduced. Drafted by Britain, it called for an end to hostilities, immediate withdrawal of Argentine forces, and for both sides to seek a diplomatic solution. Voting was delayed until Saturday to allow Snr Costa Mendez to reach New York, but to no avail. That evening the vote took place in Britain's favour with only Panama against, and Russia abstaining along with Poland, China and Spain. Sir Anthony had laid the main plank of Britain's diplomatic position over the coming weeks.

Haig Shuttle Diplomacy - Concerned about the prospect of war, Secretary Haig and his team flew to London late on Wednesday 7th April at the start of their two week, 30,000 mile shuttle mission. The basis of this and all later peace plans were threefold - both side's forces to withdraw from the Falklands, an interim administration set up, and a long term settlement negotiated. In all that follows, Argentina would not move far from its demand for total sovereignty, and Britain, with Resolution 502 behind her, insisted on Argentine withdrawal and implicitly a return to the status quo. Mr Haig visited both London and Buenos Aires twice in his attempt to bring about a peaceful settlement, but by the 19th April had to accept there was little chance of success.

EEC Support - Before then, on Good Friday 9th April, and after lobbying by diplomats in Brussels and directly by Mrs Thatcher, the EEC gave full support to Britain and announced economic sanctions against Argentina at least until the 17th May. These included a total ban on imports and arms sales.

Effective Neutrality in the Americas - Thus only a week after invasion, Britain had wide support, the lead elements of the Task Force were on their way and General Galtieri realised he had totally misjudged Britain's resolve and world opinion, and that included the Americas. On Monday 26th April, and some days after Argentina's request, foreign ministers of the Organisation of American States met in Washington DC and in a vote two days later, accepted Argentine sovereignty over the Falklands and called on Britain to cease hostilities. But in what amounted to a diplomatic defeat for the junta, endorsed Resolution 502.

US Support - By the last day of April, President Reagan had come to accept there was little chance of a settlement and declared American support for Britain. He offered military aid and announced sanctions against Argentina. Mr Pym now returned to Washington as an ally, but still committed to the search for peace, and as he did, proposals were independently launched in the UN and by Peru. Both proposals were similar, but as events in the South Atlantic escalated from the first day of May and Britain's military options became less with the onset of winter, neither had much chance of success. The torpedoing of the cruiser "General Belgrano" lost Britain much of her support, especially in the EEC and as by now the Task Force was bombarding the Falklands, the last chances for peace had realistically gone.

British Military Response - But this was a long month in the making and followed Britain's rapid military response. On Monday 29th March orders were given for a fleet auxiliary to head south to support HMS Endurance and for three nuclear submarines to be prepared to follow. Two days later, British intelligence confirmed the likelihood of invasion and next day, on Thursday 1st April, the decision was taken to send a Task Force and the first submarine left.


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revised 31/5/13