More from: United Nations

Why Mauritius and the UK are still sparring over decolonisation*

Still on lease: the Chagos island of Diego Garcia. NASA via Wikimedia Commons

 

The UK may have granted Mauritius independence in 1968, but it remains closely tied to the Indian Ocean island nation – and it’s been locked in an on-off territorial dispute with it for decades. Decolonisation, it seems, is not so simple.

The Chagos Archipelago forms the British Indian Ocean Territory, one of the 14 British Overseas Territories. Although the archipelago was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century, France gained ownership of it after the Dutch abandoned it in the late 18th century. The UK only took possession of the islands as part of the Treaty of Paris after it captured Mauritius in 1810.

Decolonisation was given a major boost when the UN was instituted in the aftermath of World War II. Once self-determination was established as one of the pillars of the UN Charter (Articles 1(2) and 55), decolonisation movements started popping up everywhere. On top of that, the UN General Assembly in 1960 adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which sets forth the basic principles for the emancipation of peoples under colonial rule.

Against this backdrop, in the early 1960s, the UK and the people of Mauritius began negotiations with a view to a full British withdrawal. Mauritius eventually became an independent state in 1968.

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The Continental Shelf Delimitation Agreement between Turkey and “TRNC”*

Turkey - "TRNC"Map depicting the delimitation published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey

Last month, Turkey submitted a note verbale to the Secretary-General of the United Nations setting out the geographical coordinates of its continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean, as established by a delimitation agreement with the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”). The agreement was signed on 21 September 2011 and ratified by the Turkish government on 29 June 2012. A map published by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs depicting the agreement is pictured below. (The reasons why the “TRNC” is in quotation marks will be elaborated below.) By transmitting this document to the UN Secretary-General, Turkey sought to achieve the publication of the agreed coordinates in the Law of the Sea Bulletin (LSB), where official submissions by states regarding the law of the sea are published. Although Turkey has not acceded the UN Law of the Sea Convention (‘LOSC’), it acted in accordance with article 84(2) LOSC (due publicity of charts or lists of geographical coordinates regarding continental shelf delimitation). Nonetheless, the submission of Turkey was not listed as an official deposit on the website of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS). Readmore..