26 February 2019

Mauritius: ICJ Court Requests the UK to Rapidly End Its Administration of the Chagos Archipelago

Photo: Hogweard
Map of the Chagos Archipelago in Mauritius

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, gave yesterday its Advisory Opinion in favour of Mauritius regarding the Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. The Court has ruled the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence and that the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.

It is recalled that the questions on which the advisory opinion of the Court had been requested are set forth in resolution 71/292 adopted by the General Assembly on 22 June 2017. The questions were: "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?" and "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?

Having established that the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed in 1968, the Court examined the consequences, under international law, arising from the United Kingdom's continued administration of the Chagos Archipelago and is of the opinion that this continued administration constitutes a wrongful act entailing the international responsibility of that State.

The Court indicated that, while it is for the United Nations General Assembly to pronounce on the modalities required to ensure the completion of the decolonization of Mauritius, all Member States must co-operate with the United Nations to put those modalities into effect. As regards the resettlement on the Chagos Archipelago of Mauritian nationals, including those of Chagossian origin, it is of view that it 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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