To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the judgment of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea on 28 January 2021, what steps he is taking to ensure that when Ships of the Royal Navy are within the 12 nautical mile territorial sea of the Chagos Archipelago they comply with the laws and regulations of Mauritius as the coastal State as required by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
8 February 2021
The United Kingdom is aware of the judgment delivered on 28 January by the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea formed to deal with the Dispute concerning delimitation of a maritime boundary claimed by Mauritius to exist between Mauritius and Maldives in the Indian Ocean. The UK is not a party to these proceedings, which can have no effect for the UK or for maritime delimitation between the UK (in respect of the British Indian Ocean Territory) and the Republic of the Maldives.
We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the territory of the British Indian Ocean Territory, which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the Archipelago, and we do not recognise its claim. 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.
Owing to the UK's sovereignty over the territory, the prevailing laws and regulations within its 12 nautical mile territorial sea are those enacted in governance of a British overseas territory. The domestic laws and regulations of Mauritius do not apply. As such, there is no requirement for Royal Navy ships to adhere to Mauritian law when within the 12 nautical mile territorial sea.