Posted on May 24, 2019
Britain forcibly evicted people from the islands, which are a sovereignty in the Indian Ocean disputed by the UK and Mauritius, in the 1960s and 1970s in order for the United States could build a military base.
In a vote, the General Assembly 116 countries to six voted in favour of returning the islands in the Indian Ocean to Mauritius. The verdict by the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded the use of the islands as the British Indian Ocean Territory was “unlawful”.
As well as the UK, the resolution was opposed by the US, Australia, Hungary, Israel and the Maldives. There were 56 abstentions, including France and Germany, from the vote, which is not legally binding.
The Foreign Office said the joint UK-US defence facility on the British Indian Ocean Territory “helps to keep people in Britain and around the world safe from terrorism, organised crime and piracy”. A spokesman also said the UK would give up sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when “it is no longer needed for defence”. The UK agreed a package including £3 million with Mauritius for the detachment of the archipelago in 1965.
Chagossians were forcibly removed between 1967 and 1973 to make way for a US military facility on Diego Garcia, the largest island in the group. Mauritius, which gained independence in 1968, maintains that the islands are its own and Chagossians have also brought cases in British courts for the right to return.