India supports Mauritius’ claim on Chagos islands under UK control
An understanding was reached in November 1965 between Mauritius and the UK for the retention of Chagos islands by Britain for defence purposes and return thereof to Mauritius when no longer needed for defence purposes.Updated: Sep 05, 2018 20:38 IST
India has supported Mauritius over its claim on disputed Chagos islands, which is home to Diego Garcia — the key military base of the UK and the US in the Indian Ocean, saying that the process of its decolonisation remains incomplete as long as the atolls continue to be under UK’s control.
Presenting the country’s stand in the oral proceedings on the matter before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) here, India’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Venu Rajamony said the analysis of historical facts and consideration of the legal aspects confirm that sovereignty of the Chagos archipelago has been and continues to be with Mauritius.
Rajamony was representing India in a four-day ICJ hearing, which began on Monday, on the request for advisory opinion by the UN General Assembly in the matter. Chagos islands came under the colonial administration of the UK as part of Mauritian territory.
An understanding reached in November 1965 between Mauritius and the UK for the retention of the islands by Britain for defence purposes and return thereof to Mauritius when no longer needed for defence purposes.
Rajamony said the legal aspects should root themselves in the historical facts, behaviour of the nations concerned, and the consideration of the issue by relevant administrative and judicial institutions
The diplomat said before Mauritius’ independence in 1968, the UN in December 1960 had proclaimed the necessity of a speedy and unconditional end of colonialism in all its forms. However, detachment of the Chagos archipelago still took place in November 1965.
He said the UN in December 1965 asked the UK to complete the decolonisation of Mauritius and report the same to the General Assembly. Rajamony further said the UK is legally bound by a ruling of the The Arbitral Tribunal, constituted in 2015, to return the archipelago to Mauritius.
“The process of decolonisation of Mauritius remains incomplete both technically and in substance as long as the Chagos archipelago continues to be under UK’s colonial,” he said. Both Mauritius and the UK are engaged in a diplomatic and legal war over the atolls located at the strategic Indian Ocean.
The US also operates a crucial air base on Diego Garcia, a part of the Chagos islands. Mauritius has repeatedly asserted that the Chagos archipelago is part of its territory and that the UK should return the same to it.
The UK has consistently maintained that it has no doubt about the Mauritian claim to sovereignty in the islands but will cede the archipelago to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes.
First Published: Sep 05, 2018 20:38 IST