Diego Garcia: The US has a clear choice

Author name: 
Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul
The Interpreter

The Mauritian ambassador to the UN on recognising the country’s sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago.

By Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul

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The National Security College (NSC) is leading a two-year research project on Australia’s Indo-Pacific strategy in the Indian Ocean.  One of the themes of the project is exploring the potential for a negotiated settlement of the territorial dispute over the Chagos Archipelago in a way that would allow for the continued operation of the US military base on Diego Garcia. 

This commissioned piece by Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul, the Mauritian representative to the UN, sets out the terms of a possible agreement for the continued operation of the US base. This includes the following points:

  • Recognition of Mauritian sovereignty over Chagos “as a matter of principle.”
  • Potential for a 99-year lease of Diego Garcia to the United States.
  • Unhindered operation of the base by the United States.
  • A constructive solution on issues relating to nuclear weapons.
  • Resettlement of Chagossian people in the archipelago, but not within 100 miles of Diego Garcia.
  • Employment of Mauritians on Diego Garcia.
  • UK involvement in the base, if desired.

While the Government of Mauritius has previously indicated in general terms that it would be amenable to continued operation of the base, never before has it provided any proposed details of the terms of any new arrangement.  This paper represent a significant and constructive step forward in resolution of the dispute in a manner that promotes the security and stability of the Indian Ocean.

This paper first appeared on the Lowy Institute’s ‘The Interpreter’ on 14 August 2020.

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