To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 1 March 2021 to Question 155190 on the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, whether the UN Food and Agriculture Commission has accepted the UK application for membership of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission as a coastal state; and what assessment he has made of the positions taken in relation to the UK’s claim to act as a coastal state by the UN General Assembly, International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
The UK deposited an instrument of accession to the Agreement for the Establishment of the Indian Ocean Commission Tuna Commission (IOTC) with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on 14 December 2020. The Agreement entered into force for the United Kingdom on 22 December 2020 as confirmed by IOTC Circular 2021-02 on 7 January (https://tinyurl.com/vvthj86k) and by the FAO on 14 January (https://tinyurl.com/vp3vrbad).
The UK is aware of the judgment delivered on 28 January by the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. This judgement was formed to deal with the dispute concerning delimitation of a maritime boundary claimed by Mauritius to exist between Mauritius and Maldives in the Indian Ocean. The UK is not a party to these proceedings, which can have no effect for the UK or for maritime delimitation between the UK (in respect of the British Indian Ocean Territory) and the Republic of the Maldives. The International Court of Justice's opinion on the Chagos Archipelago is advisory and not legally binding. The UK voted against General Assembly resolution 73/295 and we remain firmly of the view that the International Court of Justice and General Assembly are not the appropriate fora for resolving what is fundamentally a bilateral matter of disputed sovereignty between two UN member states. The resolution is non-binding.