Decolonise Diego Garcia: Why America should not fear Mauritius

Author name: 
Dr Peter Harris
The Interpreter

Only a deal with Port Louis can put the future of the US base beyond question and preserve a crucial staging post.

By Dr Peter Harris

The United States military base on Diego Garcia has a problem: it is housed inside an unlawful jurisdiction, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). According to the African Union, UN General Assembly and a recent advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, BIOT is a colonial holdover that violates the territorial integrity of Mauritius. Britain refuses to dismantle BIOT out of deference to its ally, the US. This is a mistake. Full decolonisation is in the interest of all sides.

The National Security College, with the support of the Department of Defence, is leading a two-year research project on Australia’s Indo-Pacific strategy in the Indian Ocean. As a part of this project, this paper illuminates why the US should back the transfer of the Chagos from London to Port Louis as soon as possible, while taking measures to ensure that Mauritius continues to have self-interested reasons to remain committed to a bilateral security partnership. This paper first appeared on the Lowy Institute’s ‘The Interpreter’ on 15 July 2020.

This publication originally appeared in The Interpreter.

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