The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled Thursday that the United Kingdom did not hold sovereignty over the Chagos Islands, allowing the dispute between Mauritius and Maldives in regards to the delimitation of their boundaries to proceed.
The ruling follows a preliminary objection from Maldives, who claimed that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to decide the boundaries between itself and Mauritius. In its objection, Maldives claimed that the tribunal could not decide the matter due to the existing dispute between Mauritius and the United Kingdom regarding the sovereignty of the Chagos islands.
The tribunal rejected the objection, holding that it had “sufficient basis to conclude that Mauritius can be regarded as the coastal State in respect of the Chagos Archipelago for the purpose of the delimitation of a maritime boundary even before the process of the decolonization of Mauritius is completed.”
The tribunal further held that “treating Mauritius as such a (coastal) State was consistent with the determinations made in the Chagos arbitral award, and, in particular, the determinations made in the Chagos advisory opinion which were acted upon by UNGA resolution 73/295.”