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Article

Abstract

Among the forms of communication through which states conduct their relations is the tacit exchange of messages, or "signalling." For example, when state A temporarily recalls its ambassador from state B, established norms which are used by the international community to interpret signals lead state B to see the act as a message of A's displeasure at the current course of their relationship. Similar interpretive norms are used to ascribe increasing seriousness to the complete withdrawal of an ambassador, and finally to the rupture of diplomatic relations. In the years preceding the Falklands War of 1982, the United Kingdom and Argentina exchanged signals concerning their dispute over the legal status of the Falkland Islands. Generally accepted interpretive norms indicate that British signals conveyed an animus derelinquendi-a willingness to abandon-with respect to the Falklands, while Argentine signals conveyed increasing Argentine authority over the islands. Argentina relied to some extent upon the British signals to calculate that the United Kingdom would not attempt a reoccupation of the islands after their occupation by Argentina. The Argentine estimate of British intentions proved incorrect, and the result of that misinterpretation was a costly war and the fall of the Argentine government.

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