The Falkland Islands are a United Kingdom Overseas Territory by choice. Supreme authority is vested in Her Majesty The Queen and exercised by a Governor on her behalf, with the advice and assistance of the Executive Council and Legislative Assembly.
The role of the Governor in the Overseas Territories is multi-faceted; he is the representative of HM the Queen in the Islands, and represents the UK Government to the people and the Government of the Falklands. He also represents the interests of the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) to the UK Government. He has specific responsibility for foreign affairs and defence and the integrity and independence of functions such as justice and audit. The Governor has overall responsibility to the UK Government for good governance of the Islands.
The Chief Executive
The Chief Executive is head of the Public Service and is responsible for delivering efficient and effective management of the Government. This includes the generation and analysis of strategy and policy options for Legislative Assembly Members to consider, and implementation of decisions across Government.
Under the terms of the Falkland Islands Constitution, eight Assembly Members are elected every four years. The Legislative Assembly is chaired by a Speaker and includes two ex officio members: the Chief Executive and the Financial Secretary. The Attorney General and Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands (CBFSAI) are also entitled to attend Legislative Assembly meetings. The Speaker is a non-elected position, chosen from the community by Assembly Members. Legislative Assembly is empowered to pass legislation for the peace, order and good government of the Falkland Islands, subject to the approval of Her Majesty the Queen, acting through her Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Legislative Assembly meetings are held in public, usually bi-monthly. Elected Members have a substantial measure of responsibility for the conduct of affairs concerning the Falkland Islands, although the Governor retains responsibility for various issues, particularly external affairs and defence. The Governor nevertheless consults regularly with Members on these issues. No political parties are represented on the present Legislative Assembly, all Members being elected as independents. There is no formal opposition. Each Member takes responsibility for a particular portfolio and works closely with the relevant departments, but does not have the role of a Minister; instead, questions of policy are considered by Executive Council. For further information on the Legislative Assembly, its proceedings and the Members of the Assembly, please visit the Legislative Assembly website. For information on the Falkland Islands Constitution, click here.
Each year Members of the Legislative Assembly elect three of their number to stand as members of the Executive Council, which includes the same two ex officio members who sit on Legislative Assembly. In addition, the Attorney General and CBFSAI may attend and speak on any matter. The Governor is obliged to consult Executive Council in the exercise of his functions.
The Falkland Islands has a well established, independent judiciary. The Chief Justice of the Islands (non-resident) visits at least once a year to hear any serious or complex cases, appeals from the Magistrates Court, or those relating to the Constitutional rights of residents. The Senior Magistrate is based in the Islands and hears the majority of other cases, including criminal and civil matters, family and children cases and admiralty and commercial disputes. He also sits as Coroner to investigate any sudden or violent deaths that arise. The Falkland Islands enjoy almost crime free status with an annual police detection rate of over 95% on average.