The Chagos Islanders and International Law

By Stephen Allen

In 1965, the UK excised the Chagos Islands from the colony of Mauritius to create the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), in connection with the founding of a US military facility on the island of Diego Garcia. Consequently, the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands were secretly exiled to Mauritius, where they became chronically impoverished. This book considers the resonance of international law for the Chagos Islanders. As BIOT constitutes a 'non-self-governing territory,' the book explores the extent to which the right of self-determination, indigenous land rights, and a range of obligations contained in applicable human rights treaties could support the Chagossian right to return to BIOT. However, the rights of the Chagos Islanders are premised on the assumption that the UK possesses a valid sovereignty claim over BIOT. The evidence suggests that this claim is questionable and it is disputed by Mauritius. Consequently, the Mauritian claim threatens to compromise the entitlements of the Chagos Islanders in respect of BIOT as a matter of international law. The book illustrates the ongoing problems arising from international law's endorsement of the territorial integrity of colonial units for the purpose of decolonization, at the expense of the countervailing claims of colonial self-determination by non-European peoples that inhabited the same colonial unit. It uses the competing claims to the Chagos Islands to demonstrate the need for a more nuanced approach to the resolution of sovereignty disputes resulting from the legacy of European colonialism. [Subject: Public International Law, Human Rights Law, Treaty Law]


Publication Date: 10/14/2014
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781849462655