The UN backs Mauritius to reclaim its colony from the UK in a move to end colonisation

A protester protesting the illegal occupation of Chagos Islands by United Kingdom outside the Houses of Parliament in London.
  • UN asks Britain to unconditionally withdraw its colonisation of Chagos Islands.
  • The General Assembly affirms that doing so — in accordance with the advisory opinion — would enable Mauritius to complete the decolonisation of its territory as soon as possible.
  • UK government says it will only be handed over the islands to Mauritius when it is no longer needed.

The United Nations has asked Britain to unconditionally withdraw its colonisation of Chagos Islands and return it to Mauritius as soon as possible.

At its 73rd session and 84th meeting on Wednesday, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a resolution of the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the legal consequences of separating the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965.

By a recorded vote of 116 in favour to 6 against (Australia, Hungary, Israel, Maldives, United Kingdom, United States), with 56 abstentions, the Assembly affirmed that doing so — in accordance with the advisory opinion — would enable Mauritius to complete the decolonisation of its territory as soon as possible.

The world body affirmed the decolonisation of Mauritius by the UK was not conducted in a manner consistent with the right of self-determination.

Last February, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), United Nations’ highest court ruled that continued British occupation of the remote Indian Ocean archipelago is illegal and ordered the UK to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius “as rapidly as possible”.

Delivering judgement, the president of the ICJ, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the detachment of the Chagos archipelago in 1965 from Mauritius had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned”.

“This continued administration constitutes a wrongful act,” he had said.

The British government purchased the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 for £3 million to create British Indian Ocean Territory but the African nation claimed that it was forcefully ceded in exchange for independence.

Between 1967 and 1973, Britain evicted the islands' entire population to make way for a joint military base with the US, which is still in place on Diego Garcia.

The UK government has also said it will only be handed over control of the islands to Mauritius when they were no longer needed for defence purposes.

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