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UK Loses Chagos Islands Vote

May 22, 2019. UN News Centre: The UN General Assembly has backed a motion censuring the United Kingdom’s occupation of the Chagos Islands, in the Indian Ocean, urging the island chain to be reunified with neighbouring Mauritius within six months.

There were 116 votes for the motion, with more than 50 abstentions, and just five votes against, including the UK, United States, and Hungary.

The vote followed on from an Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the end of February (UN News report here), which stated the UK was “under an obligation” to ends its administration of the islands “as rapidly as possible”.

The UK retained sovereignty over the islands after Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in 1968, following a reported compensation deal between the two States.

The entire Chagossian population was forcibly removed from the territory between 1967 and 1973 and prevented from returning. The Court said that ending UK control was a necessary step to full decolonization of Mauritius in a manner “consistent with the right of peoples to self-determination.

The islands are known by the UK Foreign Office as the British Indian Ocean Territory. The resolution is not binding on the UK to act, but according to news reports, the overwhelming vote against, followed a robust lobbying campaign at the UN and in national capitals.

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