Falkland Islands appoint junior ambassadors | Polarjournal
Here at Government House, the governor’s office, the two new junior ambassadors were officially appointed. Both recipients are from the Falklands and are currently in the UK for their secondary education. This was one of the selection criteria. Picture: Michael Wenger

The Falkland Islands have the status of a British Overseas Territory. The head of government is a governor appointed in London, but managing the islands together with a locally elected parliament. Thus, although they are directly part of British territory, they still have great autonomy and sovereignty in many areas. Now the Falkland Islands have taken a historic step and launched a junior ambassador program as the first overseas territory ever. The first graduates of the programme now have been officially appointed junior ambassadors of the Falkland Islands.

The nomination ceremony was held at Government House, the seat of the Governor of the Falkland Islands. In addition to the Governor Nigel Phillips CBE, the initiator of the ambassador’s program, MLA Hon. Roger Edwards was also present. The two locals Hannah McPhee and India Clarke were appointed ambassadors. The governor said in his speech that, to his knowledge, this program was the first of its kind. The two newly appointed ambassadors will now represent the Falkland Islands in the coming years and will represent them to the outside world.

The two newly appointed junior ambassadors Hannah McPhee (centre left) and India Clarke (centre right) received their appointment certificates from Falklands Governor Nigel Phillips CBE (right) and MP and initiator Hon Roger Edwards in an official ceremony. Picture: Falkland Island Government via Mercopress

Asked about the aim of the programme, the initiator Hon. Roger Edwards explains: “It is to promote the Islands’ unique culture, society and values, and our environmental and economic goals, whilst building on relationships and garnering support for the Islanders right to self-determination.” These are also the goals of the newly appointed ambassadors. Both are currently completing their medical, resp, health and social care training in the UK. Both Hannah and India originate from the Falkland Islands and had left the islands in 2014 for their further education in the UK. This was also one of the selection criteria for a possible application. The programme is open to all locals aged between 18 and 25 who are undergoing at least two years of training in the UK. Twenty-three applicants met these criteria and had to go through a three-day intensive course on the Falkland Islands, but also through public speaking, interview techniques, etiquette and their representational tasks. In the end, the selection was completed with the help of exams, presentations and a final interview. Both ambassadors are now allowed to hold the title of junior ambassador between two and four years (depending on their time studying in the UK) and will represent their islands.

The capital of the Falklands, Port Stanley, is also the only major town and the cultural and administrative centre of the 770 islands-sized archipelago. The majority of the almost 3,400 inhabitants live in Port Stanley. Although Argentina has claimed the islands for decades, its inhabitants consider themselves British. In a 2013-referendum, the Falklands had voted to remain part of the UK. Picture: Michael Wenger

The Falklands have been at odds with Argentina over the sovereignty of the islands for decades. After a kind of thaw in relations with the previous Macri government, the situation with the new Fernandez government has once again shifted more towards confrontation. The appointment of junior ambassadors to promote the islands and their concerns and sovereignty to the outisde is likely to promote a reaction from the government in Buenos Aires. So far, however, there has been no response.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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