International Court of Justice hearings commence in Chagos Archipelago advisory opinion


The International Court of Justice is holding hearings this week on an advisory opinion request from the UN General Assembly: Legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. 

The Chagos Archipelago was detached from Mauritius by the UK in 1965, when Mauritius was a UK colony, three years before it gained independence in 1968. The islands were turned into a new colony which the UK calls the “British Indian Ocean Territory”. All residents of the Archipelago were removed, and the largest island, Diego Garcia, was made available to the United States for a military base.

The UN General Assembly has asked the Court to consider two issues: firstly, whether the decolonisation of Mauritius was lawfully completed in 1965, and secondly, the legal consequences of the UK’s continued administration of the Chagos Archipelago.

Twenty-two States, and the African Union, will make oral submissions at the hearing. Professor Philippe Sands QC and Alison Macdonald QC are representing Mauritius.

For further information about the case, see the BBC and International Court of Justice websites.