UK challenged in territorial row — Analysis

The Mauritian ambassador to the UN has raised the country’s flag over an atoll in the Chagos archipelago

Mauritius formally challenged Britain’s ownership of the Chagos archipelago on Monday, with Jagdish Koonjul, the Mauritian ambassador to the UN, raising his nation’s flag over a northern atoll. 

The Guardian reported that officials sang and raised their flag at the ceremony held on Peros Banhos. 

“We are performing the symbolic act of raising the flag as the British have done so many times to establish colonies. We, however, are reclaiming what has always been our own,” Koonjul said.

The assembled media and officials then listened to the prerecorded message of Pravind Jugnauth, Mauritian Prime Minister.

“This is the first time Mauritius has led an expedition to this part of its territory,”Jugnauth spoke in a spoken message. “I feel sad that I have not been able to be part of this historic visit.”He stated that he was pleased that the meeting had been held. “our Chagossian brothers and sisters”They could fly to their home country without the assistance of a British escort.

“The message I wish to give out to the world, as the state with sovereignty over the Chagos archipelago, is that we will ensure a wise stewardship of its territory – over its maritime security, conservation of the marine environment and human rights, notably the return of those of Chagossian origin,” Jugnauth said.

The metal plaque, which was placed under the flagpole, reads: “Visit of the Mauritius delegation to Peros Banhos archipelago, Republic of Mauritius, in the context of the scientific survey of Blenheim Reef.” 

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In 1965, just three years after Mauritius gained its independence from Britain, the Chagos Islands separated themselves from Mauritius. Britain loaned this territory to the US, and they proceeded with deporting the nearly 2,000 residents of the small islands and atolls. Many ended up in Mauritius and the Seychelles while others went to Britain. 

2019 was a unanimous year for the International Court of Justice at The Hague to rule that Britain must hand over the territory of Mauritius. However, the UK has yet to do so.

Responding to international rulings 2019, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office declared that it would be supporting the UK “has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814,” adding that “Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the BIOT and the UK does not recognize its claim.”

Further complicating Mauritius’ claim to the Chagos Islands, they are located 2,200 km (1 367 mi) away.

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