Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965

Foley Hoag Represents the Republic of Mauritius Before the International Court of Justice

The case was initiated by the United Nations General Assembly, which submitted two legal questions to the Court for its Advisory Opinion: First, whether the decolonization of Mauritius was lawfully completed when the United Kingdom excised the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius prior to its independence; and, second, the legal consequences of the UK’s continued administration of the Chagos Archipelago.

The Chagos Archipelago was detached from Mauritius by the United Kingdom in 1965, when Mauritius was a colony, three years before it gained independence in 1968. The islands were converted into a new British colony, which the United Kingdom refers to as the “British Indian Ocean Territory.” All residents of the Archipelago, approximately 2,000 native inhabitants, were forcibly removed. The largest island, Diego Garcia, was made available to the United States for a military base.

Mauritius has contended for over 50 years that the excision of part of its territory by the UK was an unlawful violation of its territorial integrity, the right of its people to self-determination, and the rights of the islands’ inhabitants to remain in their homeland. The matter was brought before the Court by the UN General Assembly, in the exercise of its power to seek authoritative legal rulings from the UN’s judicial organ, as well as its responsibility in matters pertaining to decolonization and self-determination.

Twenty-two States and the African Union made presentations at the oral hearings.

The Republic of Mauritius was represented by a team of prominent international lawyers, including attorneys from Foley Hoag.

Foley Hoag attorneys Paul Reichler (Picture), Andrew Loewenstein, Christina Hioureas, Yuri Parkhomenko, and Joseph Klingler were among the eminent international counsel who represented Mauritius in the proceedings.

Involved fees earner: Paul Reichler – Foley Hoag; Andrew Loewenstein – Foley Hoag; Christina Hioureas – Foley Hoag; Yuri Parkhomenko – Foley Hoag; Joseph Klingler – Foley Hoag;

Law Firms: Foley Hoag;

Clients: Republic of Mauritius;

Author: Ambrogio Visconti