Nov. 30, 2019

Mauritius called the UK an “illegal colonial occupier”, after it ignored a UN mandated deadline to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius. The United Nations had given UK six months to process the transfer, a move the UK and the US have bitterly resisted.


  • The Chagos Archipelago is a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean.

  • It is officially part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Timeline of dispute:

  • Chagos Archipelago has been part of Mauritius since at least the 18th century when France governed it. In 1810, Mauritius was captured by the United Kingdom and France ceded the territory in the Treaty of Paris.

  • In 1965, three years before Mauritius got its independence, Britain separated the Chagos islands to carve out a ‘British Indian Ocean Territory’.

  • In 1966, the UK leased Diego Garcia (the biggest island in the Chagos archipelago) to the US to create an air & naval base. For constructing the defence installation, the inhabitants of the island were forcibly removed.

  • In 1968 Mauritius was granted independence.

  • In February 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion that Britain has an obligation to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago — home to the U.S. military base of Diego Garcia — and complete the process of decolonisation of Mauritius.

  • In May 2019, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution asking the U.K. to withdraw its “colonial administration” from the Chagos Archipelago within six months. Mauritius wants its sovereignty over the islands restored.