Mauritius obtains a favourable advisory opinion from the ICJ.
The Mauritius government has claimed that it was forced to give up the islands, now a British overseas territory, in 1965, in exchange for independence, which it gained in 1968. To this end it introduced the claim with the International Court of Justice.
On 25 February 2019, according to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ), it ruled “the process of decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed” and the UK should relinquish the Chagos Archipelago “as rapidly as possible.”
Furthermore, “UK had illegally excised the Chagos Archipelago from the territory of Mauritius”.
Not only was territory unlawfully excised but, between 1967 and 1973, the inhabitants of Chagos were forcibly deported, the main group having been dumped on Mauritius island.
While the ICJ pronouncement is only an advisory opinion and not a legally binding judgment it is nevertheless a major step in the condemnation of a past colonial injustice. So what is next ? Armed with this ICJ advisory opinion the Mauritius government has the possibility to present their claim before the United Nations General Assembly and attempt to obtain the votes required for final justice. It will be interesting to see how the UK government will react we may expect behind the scenes bilateral political negotiations not forgetting that the UK is still a friendly trading partner. For the moment the Chagossians here are elated and hopeful. The Mauritius government and in particular the Prime Minister is seen, by the population, as having achieved a major victory, no doubt this plays in his favour for the 2019 elections.
Resources links for background information:
BBC – Chagos Islands dispute: UK obliged to end control – UN