British Indian Ocean Territory: Sovereignty

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 18th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Jones of Cheltenham Lord Jones of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision of the United Nations General Assembly that the decolonisation of Mauritius has not been lawfully completed because the detachment of the Chagos Archipelago was not based on the free and genuine expression of the will of the people of Mauritius; whether they accept that decision; and if not, why not.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State

It is disappointing that Mauritius’ claim that the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) is part of Mauritius, which we strongly refute, should have been referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by the UN General Assembly. It is an accepted international principle that States should not be compelled to have their bilateral disputes adjudicated upon by the ICJ without their consent. Circumventing this principle sets a dangerous precedent. BIOT has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. No international court or tribunal has ever found UK sovereignty to be in doubt. Mauritius agreed to the detachment of the islands in 1965, in return for certain benefits including a UK commitment, which we stand by, to cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes. Mauritius affirmed that agreement numerous times following independence, and in March 2015 a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Arbitral Tribunal ruled the agreement to be internationally binding.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes1 person thinks so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.