UN demands Britain return control of the ‘colonised’ Chagos Islands to MauritiusUN passed a resolution demanding UK ends its administration of Chagos Islands International Court of Justice found Britain must hand over control to Mauritius Resolution was opposed by UK, US, Australia, Hungary, Israel and the Maldives The vote is not legally binding but places huge diplomatic pressure on the UK
The UN Assembly backed by 116 votes to six a verdict by the ICJ that the UK’s detachment of the islands and their incorporation into the British Indian Ocean Territory was ‘unlawful’ (pictured: Diego Garcia, a British Indian Ocean Territory and the largest of the islands in the Chagos Archipelago)
As well as the UK, the resolution was opposed by the United States, Australia, Hungary, Israel and the Maldives.
A UN communique said: ‘Since the decolonisation of Mauritius was not conducted in a manner consistent with the right to self-determination, the Assembly affirmed, the continued administration of the Archipelago constitutes a wrongful act.
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‘It urged the United Kingdom to co-operate with Mauritius to facilitate the resettlement of Mauritian nationals, including those of Chagossian origin, in the Chagos Archipelago and to pose no impediment to such efforts.’
How did countries vote in the UN resolution?
Fifteen countries did not vote, and 116 backed the motion.
A spokesman said: ‘We have however made a longstanding commitment since 1965 to cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes. We stand by that commitment.’
On Wednesday, Karen Pierce, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, said the issue had not been for the ICJ as it was currently a ‘bilateral sovereignty dispute’.
She also said the resolution would ‘set an unwelcome precedent’ over sovereignty disputes ‘that should be of concern to member states’.
Dame Karen said: ‘The United Kingdom regrets that the General Assembly has today voted to adopt this resolution.
‘The United Kingdom fully recognises the importance of the issue of decolonisation and the UN’s role in that. The United Kingdom … sincerely regrets the manner in which Chagossians were removed from British Indian Ocean territory in the 1960s and the 1970s and we are determined to improve their lives where they have resettled.’
Chagossians were forcibly removed between 1967 and 1973 to make way for a US military facility on Diego Garcia, the largest island in the group.
The sun-kissed isles with a dark history
Evicted islanders enlisted the help of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney when they took their fight to the Supreme Court in 2015, but the court ruled against them.
The secretive military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island, has been dubbed ‘the Guantanamo of the East’ amid suspicions it was a key staging post in the US rendition and torture programme. In 2016, the US lease was extended to 2036.
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