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169- Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965

On June 22th, 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 71/292, in which, it requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an advisory opinion on the following matters:

“(a) 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?; (b) 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?”

The ICJ fist ascertained its jurisdiction to give its opinion on such matter. She then appreciated the opportunity to do so and concluded that there were “no compelling reasons for it to decline to give the opinion requested by the General Assembly”. It therefore addressed the two questions in its opinion issued on February 25th, 2019:
  • With regard to the first, the Court considered that, in light of settled case-law and the state of international law, the United Kingdom, as the administering Power, had to respect the territorial integrity of Mauritius, including the Chagos Archipelago. Therefore, by unlawfully detaching the archipelago and incorporating it into a new colony, ”the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not validly completed at the time of this country’s accession to independence in 1968 ”;

  • Regarding the second, the ICJ considered the consequences of maintaining the Chagos Archipelago under the administration of the United Kingdom. In this regard, the Court considered that its maintenance “constitutes a wrongful act entailing the international responsibility of that State”, that the United Kingdom “has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible, and that all Member States must co-operate with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius” 

Advisory Opinion of 25-02-2019.pdf

This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.