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Chagos Islanders and International Law, The

Allen, Stephen

978 1 5099 1298 8
List price(s):
33.95 USD
24.99 GBP

Publication date:
23 February 2017

Short description: 

This book explores the application of international law to the Chagos Islanders, exiled following the creation of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

Full description: 

In 1965, the UK excised the Chagos Islands from the colony of Mauritius to create the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in connection with the founding of a US military facility on the island of Diego Garcia. Consequently, the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands were secretly exiled to Mauritius, where they became chronically impoverished. This book considers the resonance of international law for the Chagos Islanders. It advances the argument that BIOT constitutes a `Non-Self-Governing Territory' pursuant to the provisions of Chapter XI of the UN Charter and for the wider purposes of international law. In addition, the book explores the extent to which the right of self-determination, indigenous land rights and a range of obligations contained in applicable human rights treaties could support the Chagossian right to return to BIOT. However, the rights of the Chagos Islanders are premised on the assumption that the UK possesses a valid sovereignty claim over BIOT. The evidence suggests that this claim is questionable and it is disputed by Mauritius. Consequently, the Mauritian claim threatens to compromise the entitlements of the Chagos Islanders in respect of BIOT as a matter of international law. This book illustrates the ongoing problems arising from international law's endorsement of the territorial integrity of colonial units for the purpose of decolonisation at the expense of the countervailing claims of colonial self-determination by non-European peoples that inhabited the same colonial unit. The book uses the competing claims to the Chagos Islands to demonstrate the need for a more nuanced approach to the resolution of sovereignty disputes resulting from the legacy of European colonialism.

Table of contents: 

Introduction I. Background II. The Chagos Islanders and International Law 1. The Chagossian Litigation in the English Courts I. Introduction II. Background III. UK Public Law IV. Bancoult 1 V. The Chagos Islanders Case VI. Withdrawing the Public Law Right of Abode VII. Bancoult 2: The House of Lords' Judgment 18A. Constitutional Review and Fundamental Rights B. Rationality C. Legitimate Expectations VIII. International Law Perspectives IX. International Law and National Law 31A. Theoretical Approaches: Dualism and Monism B. International Law and English Law C. The Fitzmaurice Compromise X. Conclusion 2. The Chagos Islanders and the European Convention on Human Rights: Extra-territoriality and the Concept of State Jurisdiction I. Introduction II. State Jurisdiction and Article 1 of the European Convention III. Al-Skeini and the Relationship between Article 1 and Article 56 ECHR IV. The Chagos Islanders v UK Case V. The Governance of British Overseas Territories VI. The Personal and Spatial Modes of State Jurisdiction VII. Dividing and Tailoring Convention Obligations in the Extra-territorial Context VIII. The Normative Foundations of the Convention's Extra-territorial Application IX. Constituent and Legislative Authority in British Overseas Territories X. Subordinate Legislative Authority XI. The Object and Purpose of Article 63/56 of the European Convention XII. Conclusion 3. Detaching the Chagos Islands from Mauritius: The 1965 Mauritian Constitutional Conference and the Making of the Lancaster House Agreement I. Introduction II. Colonial Acquisition in the Mauritian Context III. British Colonial Withdrawal and the Prospect of a US Military Facility on Diego Garcia IV. The 1965 Mauritian Constitutional Conference and the Lancaster House Agreement V. The Lancaster House Agreement VI. Assessing the Relationship between the Detachment of the Chagos Islands and Mauritian Independence VII. Conclusion 4. The 1965 Lancaster House Agreement and International Law I. Introduction II. The Doctrine and the Development of the Treaty Law III. The Relationship between Coercion and Consent in the Conclusion of Treaties IV. International Legal Personality, Treaty-Making Capacity and the 1965 Lancaster House Agreement 116A. International Legal Personality and Treaty-Making Authority in the Colonial Context B. International Legal Personality and Treaty-Making Authority in the Mauritian Context V. Coercion in the Conclusion of Treaties and Colonial Self-determination VI. Conclusion 5. Detaching the Chagos Islands from Mauritius: The Status of Colonial Self-determination in International Law during the mid-1960s I. Introduction II. Legal Rules, Legal Principles and Legal Rights III. The Rise of the Principle of Self-determination and International Law IV. The Principle of Self-determination in the UN Charter V. Chapter XI and Chapter XII of the UN Charter VI. Holistic Interpretations of the Charter: Article 1 and Chapters XI and XII 144A. Self-determination and the Drafting of the UN Charter B. Self-determination and the Concept of `People-hood' VII. The General Assembly: Chapter XI and the Progressive Development of the Right to Self-determination 148A. The General Assembly and the Supervision of Non-Self-Governing Territories VIII. Non-Self-Governing Territories 152A. The Scope of the Concept of Domestic Jurisdiction B. The Concept of Non-Self-Governing Territories IX. The Colonial Declaration X. General Assembly Resolution 1541(XV)(1960) XI. Charter-based Arguments XII. The Formation of General Customary International Law 170A. State Practice B. Opinio Juris XIII. Self-determination, the Colonial Declaration and Customary International Law XIV. The ICJ and Colonial Self-determination: Formalism versus Teleology XV. The South West Africa Cases: Substantive Law and the Formation of Customary International Law XVI. Fitzmaurice and the Formalist Interpretation of Self-determination XVII. `Decolonizing the Court' XVIII. Conclusion 6. Mauritian Claims of Sovereignty over the Chagos Islands: Mauritian Self-determination I. Introduction II. Colonial Self-determination in the Mauritian Context III. The Principle of Uti Possidetis Juris IV. Uti Possidetis Juris in the Mauritian Context V. The Creation of the British Indian Ocean Territory VI. The Significance of General Assembly Resolution 2066(XX) (1965) 207A. Support for Resolution 2066 from UN Members States in the General Assembly B. The Juridical Facts of the Detachment of the Chagos Islands from Mauritius VII. Sovereignty over the Chagos Islands: The Position of the UK Government VIII. Sovereignty over the Chagos Islands: The Position of the Mauritian Government IX. The Estoppel Argument X. Non-Self-Governing Territories and the Right to Self-determination XI. The Concept of a Non-Self-Governing Territory XII. The Case of West New Guinea 224A. Historical Background B. The Battles in the UN General Assembly (1954-61) C. Dutch Resignation and the 1962 New York Agreement D. The Administrative Argument E. The Sovereignty Argument F. The Ethnic/Cultural Argument XIII. The Mayotte Question XIV. The Significance of West New Guinea and Mayotte for BIOT's Status XV. The Temporal Limits of Non-Self-Governing Territory Status XVI. Non-Self-Governing Status and the BIOT XVII. Conclusion 7. The Chagos Islanders and International Law I. Introduction II. The Feasibility of Resettling the Outer Chagos Islands III. The BIOT as a Non-Self-Governing Territory IV. Are the Chagos Islanders a `People' for the Purpose of Exercising the Right to Self-determination in International Law? V. Chagossian Perspective on UK Sovereign Authority in respect of the BIOT VI. Chagossian Self-determination and Applicable Human Rights Treaties 262A. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights B. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights C. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination VII. Good Governance in British Overseas Territories VIII. The Salience of Indigenous Rights for the Chagos Islanders 273A. The Concept of Indigeneity in International Law B. The Concept of Indigeneity in the Chagossian Context C. Indigenous Land Rights in the Chagossian Context


Stephen Allen is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Queen Mary, University of London.



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