British Indian Ocean Territory
|British Indian Ocean Territory|
|British Indian Ocean Territory|
Motto : In tutela nostra Limuria ( Latin )
in our care is Lemuria
|Seat of government||London|
|Form of government||British overseas territory|
|Head of state||Queen Elizabeth II|
|Head of government||Commissioner Colin Roberts|
|population||approx. 3500 (military only)|
|currency||de jure : Pound Sterling (GBP)|
|National anthem||God Save the Queen|
|Time zone||UTC + 6|
|ISO 3166||IO , IOT, 086|
|Common postal code : BB9D 1ZZ|
The archipelago consists of seven atolls with around 60 mostly uninhabited small islands. It is located at . The largest island is Diego Garcia in the atoll of the same name. The other atolls are the Great Chagos Bank , the largest atoll complex on earth (with Nelsons Island , Danger Island , Eagle Islands and Three Brothers ), Peros Banhos , the Salomon Islands , the Egmont Islands as well as the Blenheim Reef and the Speakers Bank , the only reach the surface of the water when the water level is low and have no islands.
The islands extend over a sea area of 54,400 square kilometers. All islands together have an area of about 60 square kilometers.
Flora and fauna
The Chagos Archipelago, which is part of the territory, is one of the best protected tropical island systems. The islands are home to many species, especially sea birds. The islands have ten Important Bird Areas (IBA), including the Barton Point Reserve on Diego Garcia, which is home to the world's largest population of red-footed boobies ( Sula sula ).
The inhabitants of the islands, the Îlois or Chagossians , were forcibly resettled from 1966 and have lived in Mauritius , the Seychelles and Great Britain ever since . The islands are now uninhabited except for a military base on Diego Garcia Island, which Great Britain operates jointly with the USA .
The archipelago has been under British sovereignty since 1814 .
After the Seychelles gained independence from Mauritius in 1965, the atolls Aldabra , Farquhar and Desroches were split off from the Crown Colony of Seychelles and combined with the Chagos Archipelago to form British territory in the Indian Ocean . In 1976, after the Seychelles gained independence, Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches were returned, leaving only the Chagos Archipelago in the territory.
In 1966 Great Britain acquired the privately owned copra plantations and leased the entire archipelago to the USA for fifty years; as a result, the approximately 1200 inhabitants were forcibly relocated to Mauritius and the Seychelles. In 1971 the Americans established a military base on the largest island, Diego Garcia, which was declared a restricted area.
Of the seven atolls in the archipelago, only the Solomon Islands , located in the north at a latitude of 5.3 degrees south, may be visited. This atoll consists of eleven small islands, of which Boddam is the largest at 2200 × 500 meters. Around 400 locals lived here until 1965.
The former islanders are still fighting for their right to return before British courts. In 1998 the Îlois brought an action for compensation and the right of return in a UK court. In 2000, the High Court of Justice declared the deportations illegal and granted the deportees the right to return, but this had no consequences. In 2004, Queen Elizabeth II issued an Order-in-Council on behalf of the government , banishing the Chagossians from their homeland. In May 2006, the High Court of Justice declared this 2004 order-in-council to be illegal. This in turn was challenged by the government and referred to the Court of Appeal . In May 2007 the Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the Îlois. The British government appealed the judgment again. On October 22, 2008, the House of Lords agreed with the British government and forbade the residents to return to the island. Against this, an action was brought before the European Court of Human Rights . At the end of 2012, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the Chagossian case. In early 2013, the Chagossians filed a lawsuit against the United Kingdom with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
In April 2006 a group of 100 Chagossians were able to visit the Chagos Archipelago at the expense of the British Foreign Office .
In April 2012, an international petition was submitted to the United States to ask the White House to review the Chagossians' case. An official response was posted on the White House petition page. It transferred jurisdiction over the Chagossian case to the United Kingdom.
The lease agreement with the USA for the Chagos Archipelago was extended from 2016 to 2036 inclusive.
Mauritius has made territorial claims over the entire territory to this day. On June 23, 2017, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided by 94 to 15 votes to refer the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. As it became known on February 25, 2019, the International Court of Justice ruled in a non-binding opinion under international law that British rule was illegal and that the lawful administrator was Mauritius. According to Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf , President of the Court, it is Britain's duty to withdraw from the island as soon as possible.
Politics and government
The territory is surrounded by a Commissioner (Commissioner) and an administrator (Administrator) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs manages the United Kingdom in London. Since the population consists only of the UK and US military , there are no elections or civil administration on the islands.
The largest atoll in terms of land area, Diego Garcia, is leased to the United States until 2036, which uses it exclusively for military and secret service purposes. Since almost only the US military is stationed, the US dollar is used as the currency. Stamps are still issued in British pounds .
Although the territory is practically just one military base, it appeared on the official East Timor trade balance in 2008 and 2009 as the ninth largest destination for East Timorese exports. In 2009, the Southeast Asian state exported 249.6 tons of coffee worth $ 142,320 to the British Indian Ocean Territory.
- Robert Scott: Limuria. The Lesser Dependencies of Mauritius . Oxford University Press, London 1961 (English).
- David Vine: Island of Shame. The Secret History of the US Military Base on Diego Garcia . Princeton University Press, Princeton / Oxford 2009, ISBN 978-1-4008-2997-2 (English).
- Jörg Kronauer : "Ah, now, yes, an island!" ... London refuses, if only because the USA has set up a large military base there. Konkret , September 9, 2019, pp. 21–23
- Flags of the World: Chagossians (British Indian Ocean Territory) , accessed December 28, 2018.
- Vytautas Blaise Bandjunis. Diego Garcia. Creation of the Indian Ocean base . Writer's Showcase, San Jose 2001, ISBN 0-595-14406-3 , p. 6.
- Times Online article on history and struggle for justice (English, login required).
- Britain blocks return home for Chagos Isländers . In: The International Herald Tribune . October 22, 2008 ( online at nytimes.com , accessed May 14, 2017).
- Marc Engelhardt: Expelled from Paradise. In: taz.de . January 29, 2009, accessed October 3, 2016.
- Chagos Islanders against the United Kingdom. Decision of the fourth section of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In: HUDOC database. European Court of Human Rights , December 11, 2012, accessed October 3, 2016.
- Owen Bowcott, John Vidal: Britain faces UN tribunal over Chagos Islands marine reserve. In: The Guardian . Guardian News & Media Ltd., January 28, 2013, accessed October 3, 2016.
- In pictures: Chagossians' visit. In: BBC News . April 10, 2006, accessed October 3, 2016.
- The US Government Must Redress Wrongs Against the Chagossians. (No longer available online.) In: petitions.whitehouse.gov. March 5, 2012, archived from the original on December 9, 2016 ; Retrieved February 17, 2020 (English, petition on We the People with response from the US government).
- UN Asks International Court to Weigh In on Britain-Mauritius Dispute - New York Times
- Chagos Archipelago: Great Britain should clear island paradise . In: Spiegel Online . February 25, 2019 ( spiegel.de [accessed February 25, 2019]).
- Mark E. Rosen: Is Diego Garcia at Risk of Slipping from Washington's Grasp? In: The National Interest . September 19, 2017, accessed March 4, 2018.
- External Trade Statistics - Annual Report 2008. (PDF; 774 kB) Table 5: Exports by Major Trading Partners (2008). Direcção Nacional de Estatística Timor-Leste, p. 19 , accessed on May 14, 2017 (English).
- External Trade Statistics - Annual Report 2009. (PDF; 1.37 MB) Table 7: Coffee Exports by Country of Destination (2009). Direcção Nacional de Estatística Timor-Leste, p. 22 , accessed on May 14, 2017 (English).