International Relations News

CHAGOS ISLANDS DISPUTE 

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

International Relations [Paper-II]: India’s Foreign Policy, International Organisations, International Treaties and Forums, their structure and mandate

News

  • Mauritius called the UK an “illegal colonial occupier”, after it ignored a UN mandated deadline to return the Chagos Islands, a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean, to Mauritius.
  • United Nations had given UK six months to process the transfer. The decision of UN was bitterly resisted by UK and the US.

What is Chagos Islands dispute about?

  • Chagos had been part of Mauritius since the 18th century when the French first settled the islands.
  • All of the islands forming part of the French colonial territory of Isle de France (Mauritius) were ceded to the British in 1810 under the Act of Capitulation signed between the two countries.
  • In 1965, Diego Garcia was seperated from the rest of the archipelago for setting up the military base, in collaboration with the U.S.
  • Mauritius achieved independence in 1968 but the U.K. refused to return the Chagos archipelago, claiming sovereignty over the islands.
  • Chagos Islands is referred to by the British as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
  • The U.K. depopulated Diego Garcia by expelling all its inhabitants, to facilitate the building of the military base, paying just £4 million as compensation to Mauritius.
  • In violation of international human rights laws, from 1967 to 1973, the U.K. forcibly moved around 1,500 Chagossians to Mauritius and Seychelles, and prevented them from returning to their homes.

Recent ICJ ruling

  • Mauritius rightly claimed sovereignty over Chagos and challenged the U.K.’s stand.
  • In February 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had ruled that the U.K. had “illegally” detached Diego Garcia from the archipelago and split the islands.
  • The ruling, also non-binding, observed that the decolonisation of Chagos was incomplete and the U.K. had the obligation to complete the decolonisation process.

[Source: Indian Express]

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