Overlapping boundary of Maldives-Chagos to be decided by int. tribunal

Chagos Archipelago, an atoll in the Indian Ocean located 310 miles off the coast of Addu City. (File Photo)

A hearing in the case of the overlapping oceanic boundary of the Maldives and the Chagos Archipelago of Mauritius submitted to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea by Mauritius has been held yesterday. 

The Attorney General’s Office of the Maldives stated that a hearing was held in the case under the United Nation’s Convention on the Law of the Sea, to resolve the contested oceanic boundaries of the Maldives and Mauritius. 

The case submitted by Mauritius was accepted by the tribunal after the procedural issues noted by the Maldives was heard during hearings for the purpose. 

A ruling is to be issued on the overlapping boundaries between the South Asian neighbors after the tribunal hears the cases of both sides. 

The AG Office stated that as good practice, usually such cases are resolved with the policy of equidistance which means that an equal territory is to be granted for both countries. 

The Maldives was also one of the six nations which sided against a vote of resolution at the United Nations calling for the return of the Chagos Archipelago where a British Indian Ocean Territory with a US military base on the island of Diego Garcia.

The government of the Maldives received stern criticism from the public for the decision on the vote. This eventually led to the Foreign Minister clarifying to the public that the vote was for the reason that the boundary issue of the Maldives with the archipelago still remained undecided at the United Nations.

The archipelago is the only territory where the borders of the Maldives meet another nation, and such a resolution is passed at the UN could mean that the Maldives could lose a part of the continental shelf if the UN case was decided against the Maldives. The Minister stated that to prevent the possible loss of the continental shelf was the reason why the Maldives voted against the return of the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius.

Historical documents have stated that the archipelago was overtaken during colonial rule and the residents of the archipelago were forcefully relocated to Mauritius, where they still live.