From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Chagos Islands
Mains level : Decolonization of Asian countries
In a heated statement, Mauritius has called the UK an “illegal colonial occupier” of Chagos Island after it ignored a UN mandated deadline to return Islands. The UN had given UK six months to process the transfer, a move the UK and the US have bitterly resisted.
- Mauritius has argued that the Chagos Islands has been a part of its territory since at least the 18th century.
- The UK broke the archipelago away from Mauritius in 1965 and the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar, and Desroches from the Seychelles in the region to form the British Indian Ocean Territory.
- In June 1976, after the Seychelles gained independence from the United Kingdom, the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar, and Desroches were returned by the UK.
Colonization of Chagos
- The UK retained sovereignty over the islands after Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in 1968.
- It has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814.
- The islands have since been used for defence purposes by the UK and the US, which established a military base on the island of Diego Garcia.
- The entire Chagossian population was forcibly removed from the territory between 1967 and 1973, and prevented from returning.
An ICJ obligation for UK
- The ICJ had said in its opinion that the UK Government is “under an obligation” to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.
- It demanded that the UK withdraw its colonial administration from the Chagos Archipelago unconditionally within six months, enabling Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory as rapidly as possible.
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