ICJ Current Affairs - 2019

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ICJ advises Britain to return Diego Garcia to Mauritius

International Court of Justice (ICJ) has advised the UK to return the Diego Garcia (Chagos Islands) to Mauritius as rapidly as possible. The ICJ has said that Britain must give Mauritius control of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The advisory has been issued by the ICJ on the request of the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to look into the issue.

Observations made by ICJ

  • In a majority opinion the court noted that the decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully complete when it attained independence because Britain carved away the Chagos Archipelago from it and retained control over it.
  • Britain is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.

Why the Chagos Islands had become the bone of contention?

  • Mauritius was the colony of erstwhile of British Empire. With the calls of decolonisation grew stronger, the British granted independence to the Island nation Mauritius.
  • But the British cut off the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 before granting it independence in 1968.
  • Also, the residents of the Chagos Archipelago were forcibly removed and the Chagos Archipelago was handed over to the US.
  • The US established its strategic Indian Ocean military base at the Chagos Archipelago.

Both the UK and the US had vehemently opposed the UN resolution which referred the matter to ICJ saying it was a bilateral matter with Mauritius. UK is not represented in the ICJ Bench and the sole dissent judgement was by the American Judge. Hence it is unlikely that the UK would accept the advisory. The possibility of any challenge to the US Diego Garcia base from Mauritius is also unlikely. Hence by and large status quo would be maintained.

ICJ Stays Kulbhusan Jadhav’s Hanging

India has received a stay order preventing Pakistan from executing the death sentence awarded to the former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav from the International Court of Justice at The Hague. India’s team of lawyers led by senior advocate Harish Salve accused Pakistan of gross violations of international laws. They also pointed out the violations of the Geneva convention that deals with Consular relations. Pakistan had denied consular access to India despite 15 attempts. It also refused to give  any details of Jadhav’s arrest and trial until the death sentence was passed.

India has rarely approached the ICJ especially when it comes to Pakistan. India is always hesitatant to “internationalise” its bilateral relations. But given the nature of Jadhav’s case in which Pakistan refused to follow any established principle India was forced to take the extreme measure of taking the case to the ICJ.

ICJ

International Court of Justice was established in 1945 via the UN Charter and its jurisdiction is worldwide. It is located in “The Hague” in Netherlands. It is a  part of the United Nations. The International Court of Justice acts as a world court.  The judgement passed by the ICJ have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned. The major functions of the International Court of Justice are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.