The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has said that Britain has an obligation to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago — home to the U.S. military base of Diego Garcia — and complete the process of decolonisation of Mauritius. In an advisory opinion, ICJ president Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said the judges had rejected the contention that the issue did not fall within its jurisdiction because it was a bilateral matter for the two countries, and concluded that the decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed, as a result of Britain’s continued administration of the Chagos Islands.
According to Yusuf, the continued administration of the territory by the U.K. amounted to a “wrongful act”, which was not consistent with the right to the people of “self determination.” The judges said that any detachment of part of a colony had to be based on the “freely expressed and genuine will” of the people. During the discussions on requesting an ICJ advisory opinion, Mauritius had said in the UN General Assembly, "Mauritius is committed to the continued operation of the base in Diego Garcia under a long-term framework, which Mauritius stands ready to enter into with the parties concerned."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said, "This is an advisory opinion, not a judgment. Of course, we will look at the detail of it carefully. The defence facilities on the British Indian Ocean Territory help to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organised crime and piracy."