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At last, the Chagossians have a real chance of going back home

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On Wednesday, the United Nations general assembly debated a draftresolution that affirmed that the Chagos archipelago, which has been occupied by the UK for more than 50 years, “forms an integral part of the territory of Mauritius”. The draft, to give effect to an advisory opinion of the international court of justice (ICJ), demanded that the UK “withdraw its colonial administration … unconditionally within a period of no more than six months”.

The UK’s permanent representative to the assembly, Karen Pierce, has spent much of this month lobbying countries to vote against the draft, supported by the US. To listen to her address the assembly was to be transported back to another age, as she pleaded with delegates to recognise that the court got it wrong and what the world actually needs is a British presence in the Indian Ocean, forever, to keep us all safe.

Britain has “no doubts about its sovereignty over Chagos”, she said. No doubt? That seemed odd, given that 19 international judges and arbitrators have now expressed a view on the matter, of whom 15 have ruled that Chagos belongs – and has always belonged – to Mauritius. Not a single international judge has expressed a contrary view. How did the absence of doubt get past the very fine lawyers at the Foreign Office, people asked me?

Only Britain can deliver security, Pierce argued, a slap in the face to........

© The Guardian