Something new for May and Trump’s in-trays. ICJ rules on UK’s retention of administration over the Chagos Archipelago

 

The UK’s decolonisation of Mauritius saw the detachment of the Chagos Archipelago which remained under UK administration. The inhabitants of the area were forcibly removed from the area which became the site of a US military base pursuant to an agreement in 1966 between the US and the UK.

On Monday the International Court of Justice gave its advisory opinion as requested by resolution 71/292 of the UN General Assembly on the following two questions relating to the UK’s process of decolonization of Mauritius in 1968

(a) “Was the process of decolonization of Mauritius lawfully completed when Mauritius was granted independence in 1968, following the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius and having regard to international law, including obligations reflected in General Assembly resolutions 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, 2066 (XX) of 16 December 1965, 2232 (XXI) of 20 December 1966 and 2357 (XXII) of 19 December 1967?”;

The ICJ’s opinion is that the detachment of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius was not carried out in accordance with international law. Although the colony of Mauritius agreed in principle to such a detachment, the Court considered that this detachment was not based on the free and genuine expression of the will of the people concerned.

 

(b) “What are the consequences under international law, including obligations reflected in the above-mentioned resolutions, arising from the continued administration by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of the Chagos Archipelago, including with respect to the inability of Mauritius to implement a programme for the resettlement on the Chagos Archipelago of its nationals, in particular those of Chagossian origin?”

 

The ICJ concluded that the UK’s continued administration of the Chagos Archipelago constitutes a wrongful act entailing the international responsibility of that State. The UK Kingdom has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible, and that all Member States must co-operate with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius. The resettlement on the Chagos Archipelago of Mauritian nationals, including those of Chagossian origin, is an issue relating to the protection of the human rights of those concerned, which should be addressed by the General Assembly during the completion of the decolonization of Mauritius.

 

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