Skip to main content

British Indian Ocean Territory: Sovereignty

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL959, tabled on 29 January 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest policy on the Chagos Islands; and what assessment they have made of the UN General Assembly's resolution 73/295 Advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965, of 22 May 2019.

Answered on

10 February 2020

We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. We have made a long-standing commitment to cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes. We stand by that commitment.

We were disappointed this matter was referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), contrary to the principle that the Court should not consider bilateral disputes without the consent of both States concerned. The United Kingdom respects the ICJ and participated fully in the advisory proceedings in good faith. However, we do not share the ICJ's approach and have made known our views on the content of the opinion, including its insufficient regard to significant material facts and legal issues. The ICJ's opinion is advisory and not legally binding. Resolution 73/295 does not and cannot create any legal obligations for UN Member States.