UN maritime tribunal rejects UK claim to Chagos Islands

UN maritime tribunal rejects UK claim to Chagos Islands

The Chagos Archipelago is part of Mauritius rather than the UK, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has ruled in a further blow to the UK’s claims on the islands.

The tribunal examined the issue of sovereignty over the islands as part of a broader dispute between Mauritius and the Maldives over the maritime boundary between them.

The Maldives objected to the jurisdiction of the tribunal and the admissibility of Mauritius’ claims on several grounds related to the Chagos Archipelago, namely the exclusion of the UK as a party to the proceedings and the unresolved nature of the territorial dispute.

However, the tribunal said determinations by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) “have legal effect and clear implications for the legal status of the Chagos Archipelago”, and that the UK’s “continued claim to sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago is contrary to those determinations”.

“While the process of decolonization has yet to be completed, Mauritius’ sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago can be inferred from the ICJ’s determinations,” the tribunal added.

Eminent human rights lawyer Philippe Sands QC, who represented Mauritius in the ICJ proceedings, has described the UK as an “illegal occupier” whose refusal to abide by the ICJ judgment represents a “crime against humanity”.

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