Judges advise Britain that separating archipelago from Mauritius in 1960s was wrong
25 Feb 2019
The UK has been ordered to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius “as rapidly as possible” after the United Nations’ highest court ruled that continued British occupation of the remote Indian Ocean archipelago is illegal.
Although the majority decision by the international court of justice in The Hague is only advisory, the unambiguous clarity of the judges’ pronouncement is a humiliating blow to Britain’s prestige on the world stage.
The case was referred to the court, which hears legal submissions over international boundary disputes, after an overwhelming vote in 2017 in the UN assembly in the face of fierce opposition from a largely isolated UK.
Delivering judgment, the president of the ICJ, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the detachment of the Chagos archipelago in 1965 from Mauritius had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned”.
“This continued administration constitutes a wrongful act,” he added. “The UK 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.”