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[MAURITIUS] UN Court Rules UK Has No Sovereignty over Chagos Islands

Sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago is disputed between Mauritius and the United Kingdom. The Maldives has a separate dispute with the UK regarding the determination of the maritime boundary between the Maldives and the Chagos Archipelago. Mauritius has repeatedly stated that the Chagos Archipelago is part of its territory and that the United Kingdom (UK) claim is a violation of United Nations resolutions banning the dismemberment of colonial territories before independence. The UK government has stated that it has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Chagos, and has also said that the Chagos will be given to Mauritius once the islands are no longer required for defence purposes. Given the absence of any progress with the UK, Mauritius decided to "internationalise" the dispute and take up the matter at all appropriate legal and political forums. Maldives stated that, if the Chagos were re-inhabited, the Maldives claim to an extension of its Exclusive Economic Zone would be affected.

The maritime law tribunal of the United Nations has ruled that Britain has no sovereignty over the Chagos Islands.

It criticised London for its failure to hand the territory back to Mauritius.

The judges' decision confirms a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and a vote in the UN General Assembly.

The Indian Ocean archipelago includes a US military base. The UK has said it will hand the islands back when they're no longer needed for defence purposes.

In response to the ruling, a spokesperson for the British Foreign Office said: "The UK has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the BIOT and the UK does not recognise its claim."

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