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UN court rules British occupation of Chagos Islands illegal

The United Nations’ highest court has ruled the British occupation of the Chagos Islands is illegal, in what has been described as a humiliating blow to the UK’s prestige on the world stage.

The international court of justice at The Hague finding that it had jurisdiction to give an advisory opinion on the issue said “having regard to international law, the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence in 1968, following the separation of the Chagos Archipelago”.

The court also said that the UK was “under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible” and that all UN member states were obliged to co-operate to complete the decolonisation of Mauritius.

Read the full advisory opinion here.

Chagos Islanders who were expelled when the UK and the US seized the island in 1968, and their descendants living in the UK and other countries have campaigned for decades to be able to return to their homeland.

See also: How Britain forcefully depopulated a whole archipelago (Al Jazeera)