The Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice [ICJ] on the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 has been hailed as a major victory by the government of Mauritius and by representatives of the Chagossians who were forcibly removed from the islands to make way for the establishment of an American military facility on the island of Diego Garcia at the height of the Cold War. The opinion was categorical: the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence in 1968. The UK lost on every single argument it made before the Court and is under an obligation to bring its administration of the Chagos Archipelago to an end “as rapidly as possible”. This comment focuses on what the ICJ said about self-determination, and whether the Advisory Opinion could have consequences for future cases at the Court.
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