Ministerial Declaration adopted at the fortieth annual meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the States members of the Group of 77 New York
23 September 2016
136. The Ministers reaffirmed that the right to self-determination is a primordial right that anchors the United Nations. For developing countries, it has been and continues to be a beacon of hope for all those who struggle under the weight of occupation. In that context, in the implementation, follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda, the international community must not forget the severe difficulties faced by peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation and strive to remove the obstacles to their full realization of the right to self-determination, which adversely affect their economic and social development and their ability to achieve and implement the Sustainable Development Goals and to ensure that they will not be left behind.
149. The Ministers reaffirmed the need to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty issues facing developing countries, including the dispute over the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, that had been unlawfully excised by the United Kingdom from the territory of Mauritius prior to independence, in violation of international law and General Assembly resolutions 1514 (XV) and 2066 (XX). Failure to resolve those decolonization and sovereignty issues would seriously damage and undermine the development and economic capacities and prospects of developing countries.
Ministers noted with great concern that, notwithstanding the strong opposition of Mauritius, the United Kingdom purported to establish a “marine protected area” around the Chagos Archipelago, which would contravene international law and further impede the exercise by Mauritius of its sovereign rights over the archipelago and the right of return of Mauritius citizens who had been forcibly removed from the archipelago by the United Kingdom.
In that regard, they noted the ruling of the arbitral tribunal in the case brought by Mauritius against the United Kingdom under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that the “marine protected area” had been unlawfully established under international law.
The Ministers resolved to support Mauritius in its endeavour to affirm its territorial integrity and sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago.
150. The Ministers also took note of the concern expressed by Maldives regarding the legal and technical issues arising from the illegal decision of the United Kingdom in 2010 to declare a “marine protected area” in the Chagos Archipelago that overlapped with the exclusive economic zone of Maldives, as declared in its Constitution, without prejudice to the future resolution of maritime delimitations.
It is to be noted that the General Committee of the United Nations General Assembly made the following recommendation in its 14th September 2016 Report (para. 73) concerning matters related to Chagos, effectively delaying consideration of the issue until after June 2017.