23 May 2019

Mauritius: Chagos Archipelago - Mauritius's Resounding Success in the Endorsement of the Resolution By the United Nations

press release

Mauritius has won the votes of 116 countries to have the Draft Resolution A/73/L84/Rev1 pertaining to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Six countries, including the United Kingdom, have voted against while 56 have abstained from the vote. The Chagos Archipelago was excised by the UK from Mauritius without the consent of the Mauritian people.

The Draft Resolution was tabled, yesterday at the UN General Assembly, by the Permanent Representative of Senegal on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of African States. It calls for the termination of the unlawful colonial administration as rapidly as possible, and for Member States, UN agencies and international organisations to cooperate with the General Assembly in bringing about the full decolonisation of Mauritius as well as refraining from acts that would impede the performance of that obligation.

In his statement, yesterday, at the UN Headquarters, in New York, the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, emphasised that the forcible eviction of the inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago which accompanied its unlawful excision from Mauritius remains a very dark episode of human history akin to a crime against humanity. These Mauritian nationals who are now mostly in their seventies and eighties have systematically been prevented from returning to their birthplace, he stated.

The Advisory Opinion, the Prime Minister indicated, has given to these persons a glimmer of hope and has tasked the General Assembly to address the question of their resettlement and the protection of their human rights during the completion of the decolonisation of Mauritius. He also spoke of Government's commitment to implement a programme of resettlement in a manner consistent with respect for their dignity and human rights, unlike the UK Government's proposal of monetary support to improve their livelihoods outside their birthplace, which has been rejected by them.

For Mr Jugnauth, the Advisory Opinion is clear, unambiguous and decisive and leaves no room for any doubt or other interpretation. In addition to these express conclusions, he pointed out, the Court has made some pertinent findings which show the gravity and extent of the wrongful act under international law that the colonial power has committed in carrying out the excision of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 and maintaining the Chagos Archipelago as a colony ever since.

The Prime Minister also said that any country found to be engaged in an ongoing wrongful act by the highest Court of the World would have hastened to make amends and commit itself to terminate its unlawful conduct. In fact, during a high-level meeting with the UK, Mauritius offered to work closely with the UK in order to present a joint resolution which would be mutually beneficial, taking into account both the security concerns of the UK and the conclusions of the ICJ's Advisory Opinion.

For him, the offer was made in the spirit of great friendship between Mauritius and the UK, and the high respect and regard that Mauritius has for the UK as a champion of respect for the rule of law. In the circumstances, Mauritius is extremely disappointed with the stance taken by the UK, the Prime Minister highlighted.

Moreover, the Prime Minister expressed gratitude to all the Member States that participated in the various stages of the ICJ process, as well as countries from all regions of the world and the African Union which contributed to the process that has allowed the Court to hear and consider the views from all perspectives on the matter. The draft resolution tabled by the African Group reflects the confidence which Africa and many other States have in the principles and values of the United Nations, he added.

The ICJ has clearly established that the right of self-determination has been violated and the decolonization of Mauritius has not been completed; that the colonial power must end its unlawful administration of the Chagos Archipelago and that all Member States are under an obligation to cooperate with the UN to complete the decolonization of Mauritius, the Prime Minister stated.

The UN General Assembly had, in June 2017, adopted by an overwhelming majority the Resolution 71/292 which pertained to request for an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965.

The ICJ consequently gave a landmark Advisory Opinion in favour of Mauritius on 25 February 2019. This Opinion confirmed the longstanding position of Mauritius and Africa that the decolonisation of Mauritius has not yet been completed and will not be completed until Mauritius is able to exercise sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, which the ICJ found - with no dissenting voice - to be an integral part of the territory of Mauritius.

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