Explained: Why Mauritius is calling UK an ‘illegal colonial occupier’ over a tiny set of islands

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News:Mauritius has called the UK an illegal colonial occupier after it ignored a UN mandated deadline to return the Chagos Islands.

Facts:

About Chagos Islands:

  • The Chagos Archipelago is an island group in the central Indian Ocean.It is located about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) south of the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent.
  • In the 19th century, Chagos were governed from Mauritius which was a British Colony.
  • However,UK retained possession of the Chagos archipelago even after Mauritius gained its independence in 1968 by paying compensation to and fishing rights to Mauritius.
  • In 1971,UK forced the Chagos islanders to leave their homes so that the largest island named Diego Garcia could be leased to the US for a strategic airbase.

Global Stand on Chagos Islands:

  • In 2015,Mauritius had initiated legal proceedings in these matters against the United Kingdom in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands.
  • The Permanent Court of Arbitration had ruled that the United Kingdom has failed to give due regard to Mauritius’ rights and declared that the United Kingdom had breached its obligations.
  • In 2017, at the UN General Assembly, 94 countries voted in support of Mauritius resolution to seek an advisory opinion on the legal status of the Chagos Islands from the International Court of Justice.
  • However,the US and the UK were among the 15 countries that voted against the resolution.
  • In 2019, International Court of Justice has ruled that the United Kingdom should hand over the administration of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to Mauritius in order to legally complete its decolonisation.
  • However, as the matter was referred to the Court by the UN General Assembly, it is not binding to either country but will remain only as an advisory for the UN to use in future.