Maldives govt. defends vote against Chagos island resolution

Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has stated that Maldives voted against a resolution demanding the UK return control of the Chagos Islands to Mauritius for the fear of losing part of the Maldivian Industrial Zone.

In the vote taken during the UN General Assembly in New York, 116 states were in favour of Mauritius, while only six nations were against the resolution, including Maldives, the United States and the United Kingdom. 56 states in the European Union remained neutral, and abstained from voting.

Although the resolution was approved, the United Kingdom is not obligated to follow the resolution.

While the Maldives’ decision to vote against the resolution has met with criticism, a statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Thursday read that the Maldives cannot endorse any resolutions that threatens the Maldivian Industrial Zone.

The Maldives has previously treated the issue of Chagos island as an internal dispute between the United Kingdom and Mauritius. However, when the Republic of Maldives submitted to the relevant international Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2010, Mauritius objected against it and officially took up the issue with the UN Secretary General.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, limits of the continental shelf is 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured. The formal objections from Mauritius was based on the fact that the proposed continental shelf coordinates overlapped the Mauritius claims of a 200-mile zone in the Chagos Archipelago.

The Foreign Ministry’s statement further said the government followed the same protocol that has been followed since 1990 in voting for the resolution.

Chagos island is situated 900 nautical miles south of Maldives and is a territory of the United Kingdom, as part of its British Indian Ocean Territory. The archipelago, comprising of 60 islands over seven atolls has a land area of 56.13 square kilo meters, the largest island being Diego Garcia. Diego Garcia is a military base of the United States.