In a stunning rebuke to the system of Empire, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), at the Hague, Netherlands, the United Nations (UN) highest court, has ruled that the United Kingdom (UK) should end its colonial control over the Chagos Islands, in the Indian Ocean.
The Court said the UK must return the Indian Ocean islands to Mauritius from which it was taken in 1965, as part of a deal toward Mauritius gaining independence in 1968. The International Court also found that the UK had wrongfully evicted some 2,000 Chagossians from Diego Garcia atoll in the 1970s, to make way for a United States (US) air base.
Today's ruling by the ICJ sets international precedent to ending the entire system of Empire - colonialism, which infringes upon the right of all the people to self-determination as a basic human human right.
It was the UN General Assembly (GA) that referred the Chagos Islands case to the ICJ for advise on whether or not the process of decolonization of Mauritius had been done lawfully. The Court "found that the decolonization of Mauritius was not conducted in a manner consistent with the right of peoples to self-determination," Reuters reported. Hence, the Court said "it follows that the United Kingdom's continued administration of the Chagos Archipelago constitutes a wrongful act entailing the international responsibility of that State."
Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth described today's ruling as "a historic moment for Mauritius and all its people, including Chagossians who were unconscionably removed from their homeland and prevented from returning for the last half century," Reuters reported.
Britain, which has controlled the Chagos Islands since 1814, moved in 2016 to extend a lease of Diego Garcia atoll to the US until 2036. Even though the ICJ's determination is not binding, the UK would now be forced to enter negotiations with Mauritius regarding the future of the Chagos Islands.
Moreover, today's judgment signals an inevitable end to the system of Empire that has for centuries infringed upon the self-determination of many people, not only on the Chagos Islands, but everywhere that still harbors the system on foreign soil in the name of some colonial power whether it be Great Britain, France, Spain or some other colonial purveyor.