Chagos Archipelago

  • 27 Feb 2019

Why is it in News?

UK’s claim of sovereignty over the Chagos Islands has been rejected by the UN court- International Court of Justice and has asked to return the ownership back to Mauritius.

Historical Background of Chagos Archipelago:

Mauritius gained its independence in 1968 from the UK, but in 1965 it signed an agreement in haste with UK that Chagos Archipelago will be a territory of the UK, fearing that not signing the agreement won’t get them independence.

Diego Garcia and US:

The UK leased the Diego Garcia, a strategically important island of Chagos Archipelago to the US to make it their military base. This resulted in evacuation of 1500 people from that island and they were forced to settle in Mauritius.

Steps taken by Mauritius:

Mauritius approached the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2017 and opined that this is an act of colonialism as Diego Garcia was leased to a third country (US) and people were evacuated against their will. This matter was referred to the ICJ by UNGA.

What ICJ Opined?

ICJ opined that this act of leasing and evacuating was against the will of the people and UK does not have any claim on the Chagos Archipelago.

Role of India and how it reacted to this Dispute:

India voted in favour of Mauritus in the UNGA and due to cultural ties, India believes that it will be in position to convince Mauritius to lease this Diego Garcia again to US in a fresh bid as presence of US is must to curtail and contain China in Indian Ocean region.

Source: TH