D H
Nov 27 · Last update 10 days ago.

Should the UK revoke colonial control of Chagos Islands?

The United Kingdom claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago as part of its British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and the UK and US staff a joint military base there. However in order to construct this base the British government split the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius and other Islands from the Seychelles while forming the BIOT in 1965, shortly before Mauritian independence, and forcibly removed the Chagossian population from the islands between 1968-1973. The Chagossian diaspora now lives in poverty in Mauritius, Seychelles and the UK, while Mauritius has continually sought to regain control over its former territory. The United Nations and International Courts of Justice have declared the UK’s administration of the Island chain unlawful in recent years, and in 2019 ruled that Britain return the islands to Mauritius, however the British government refuses, and has declined to negotiate while refusing the return of Chagossians. What are the implications of the UK refusing the ICJ, and should they return the Chagos Island territory to Mauritius?
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No, misconception and global security
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Yes, the UK should respect international law
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No, misconception and global security

Despite this matter being presented in the majority of press outlets as a case of a neo-colonial transgression of Mauritian sovereignty and even of indigenous people, presenting it this way is a complete misconception of the region's history and the situation at large. The Chagos Archipelago is an island and atoll chain south of the Maldives; formerly part of the Seychelles and over 1000km away from Mauritius. Mauritius itself, like Chagos and Seychelles, was uninhabited before its first recorded visit by the Dutch in the late 16th century, these islands are colonial discoveries and colonial projects, and there are therefore no indigenous people to this region, barring the Maldives.

The UK has exercised sovereignty over the Chagos Islands since the 1800s, when they were ceded to Britain by treaty after Napoleon's defeat in 1814. In negotiations with Mauritius over the removal of the Chagos Islands from Mauritius and the formation of the British Indian Ocean Territory in the 1960s, Britain and the US expressed interest in maintaining a military base at Diego Garcia, the largest Chagos Island. Negotiations over the sovereignty of Chagos began at the 1965 the Lancaster House Meeting and continued through lengthy tribunals in London, the agreement was along the understanding that "if the need for the facilities on the islands disappeared the islands should be returned to Mauritius" [1]. But the UK has maintained that these were not legally binding agreements and has no status in international law.

The detachment of the entire Chagos Archipelago, as well as the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches from the Seychelles, took place when the region was under UK sovereignty and nothing have changed since the establishment of this region as the British Indian Ocean Territory. In this way the British claim to sovereignty over the region makes more sense than Mauritius', historically and legally. The UK maintains that "the base at Diego Garcia serves as an essential hub for global stability, used in operations against terrorism" [2], so this is less a story of neo-colonialism and more an issue of global security.

cnbc.com/2019/11/22/chagos-islands-dispute-britain-refuses-to-return-control-to-mauritius.html scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/njihr/vol5/iss1/4 [1] lexpress.mu/sites/lexpress/files/attachments/article/2015/2015-03/2015-03-20/mu-uk_20150318_award.pdf [2] theguardian.com/world/2019/may/21/chagos-islands-un-expected-to-call-for-end-of-british-control

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D H
Oct 19
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DH edited this paragraph
Despite this matter being presented in the majority of press outlets as a case of a neo-colonial transgression of Mauritian sovereignty and even of indigenous people, presenting it this way is a complete misconception of the region's history and the situation at large. The Chagos Archipelago is an island and atoll chain south of the Maldives; formerly part of the Seychelles and over 1000km away from Mauritius. Mauritius itself, like Chagos and Seychelles, was uninhabited before its first recorded visit by the Dutch in the late 16th century, these islands are colonial discoveries and colonial projects, and there are therefore no indigenous people to this region, barring the Maldives.

Yes, the UK should respect international law

Both the United Nations and International Courts of Justice have continually pressured the UK government to return the island chain to Mauritius. The UK which officially began the process of decolonisation following the Second World War, and should by now recognise the lack of moral and legal standing in this dispute, as the implications of denying the ICJ are a demonstration to the world that Britain is willing to undermine international law. Due to leaked evidence of a clear attempt to turn the archipelago into a marine park or reserve with the sole intention of denying the Chagos Islanders the right to return to their home, it is clear that UK government cannot be trusted on this matter, so the US should really lead the way here. To prevent both the UK and US facing further isolation internationally the Island should be handed back to Mauritius who have expressed no desire to evict the United States military, but merely to reinstate the home of the former Chagossian evictees.

wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09LONDON1156_a.html news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8599125.stm stream.aljazeera.com/story/201905140000-0025845

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D H
Nov 28
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