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L'arbitrage relatif à l'aire marine protégée des Chagos (Maurice C. Royaume-Uni) du 18 mars 2015 : une décision prudente pour un litige complexe

Abstract : While the Chagossians struggle to return to their archipelago seemed compromised after the failure of action before the ECHR, a new judicial episode between Mauritius and the United Kingdom has revived the hopes of this displaced people. This dispute arose after the British Declaration (2010) which created a Marine Protected Area around the Chagos Archipelago, without any consultation with Mauritius. Parties had agreed to give temporary and shared enjoyment of the archipelago to the United Kingdom, as consideration for the independence of Mauritius. The United Kingdom has since leased the territory available to the United States for defense purposes. This decision deeply affects Mauritius’ rights (including fisheries and exploitation of seabed). Mauritius then initiated arbitration proceedings against the United Kingdom pursuant to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Mauritius contends that the United Kingdom is not entitled to declare an MPA or other maritime zones because it is not the “coastal State”. By doing so Mauritius opened up Pandora’s box. In order to determine the scope and nature of “sovereign rights” of Mauritius over the archipelago, the court will have to get back into a tumultuous British colonial past with this region of the Indian Ocean, which directly concerns the rights of the Chagossians. On 18 March 2015, the Court issued a decision that did not satisfy the main demand of Mauritius on full sovereignty over the archipelago. However, the court recognized at least sovereign rightsof Mauritius. This arbitration could also be of some interest for the Chagossians, who could see in this decision a hope of return to their archipelago. This decision was an occasion to focus on this conflict, with a legal analysis of the various aspects of international law (law of the sea, environmental law, decolonization), thus highlighting the current issues of this case.
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Abdelwahab Biad, Elsa Edynak. L'arbitrage relatif à l'aire marine protégée des Chagos (Maurice C. Royaume-Uni) du 18 mars 2015 : une décision prudente pour un litige complexe. Revue Quebecoise de Droit International, Editions Themis Inc., 2016, 29 (1), pp.55-83. ⟨hal-02900698⟩



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