THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Latest on the status of the Chagos Islands (all times local):
A lawyer representing the island nation of Mauritius says an International Court of Justice ruling saying the U.K. must give up the Chagos Archipelago as its territory will put significant pressure on the British government to act.
While the ruling from the United Nations’ highest court on Monday came in the form of a non-binding advisory opinion, lawyer Philippe Sands said Britain and Mauritius, a former British colony, should work out how to move forward.
The Chagos Islands were split off from Mauritius when it gained independence in 1968 so the United States could build a military base on one of the islands, Diego Garcia.
Sands says Mauritius has good relations with the U.K. and with the United States. He says the ties between the countries “will continue to be excellent. A way will be found to move this forward.”
The United Nations’ highest court says the United Kingdom carved up Mauritius illegally when it ended its colonization of the Indian Ocean islands and must “bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.”
The International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion issued Monday is non-binding, but carries weight since it came from the top U.N. court and puts pressure on London to act.
Britain evicted about 2,000 people from the Chagos islands during the 1960s and 1970s so the U.S. military could build an air base. Many of them resettled in the U.K. and have fought in British courts to return to the islands.
The United Nations’ highest court is set to deliver an advisory opinion on the legality of British sovereignty over the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, the largest of which houses a strategically important U.S. military base.
The island nation of Mauritius argues that the Chagos archipelago was part of its territory since at least the 18th century and was taken unlawfully by the United Kingdom in 1965, three years before Mauritius gained independence. Britain insists it has sovereignty over the archipelago, which it calls the British Indian Ocean Territory
Britain evicted about 2,000 people from the Chagos archipelago in the 1960s and 1970s so the U.S. military could build an air base on Diego Garcia. Many resettled in the U.K. and have fought in British courts to return to the islands.
Monday’s opinion by the International Court of Justice is nonbinding.