[Coral-List] Mauritius challenges legality of Chagos MPA

Richard Dunne RichardPDunne at aol.com
Wed Dec 22 02:00:18 EST 2010

Dear Coral List

I have separately sent Gert a copy of the submission by Mauritius which 
I received after posting the announcement. I can also send it to anyone 
who is interested (please contact me direct).

Gert quotes somewhat restrictively from UNCLOS. One also needs to look 
at the whole of Part V - EEZ.

The submission by Mauritius relies in part on the proposition that the 
UK is the not the 'coastal state' for the Chagos and therefore is not 
competent under UNCLOS to make such a declaration. This harks back to 
the illegal detachment of the Chagos from Mauritius in 1965 by the UK 
Government at the time. Mauritius has always claimed sovereignty over 
Mauritius since its independence in 1968 - it was forced to accept 
detachment in 1965 by threats from the British Prime Minister Harold 
Wilson to the Premier of Mauritius Sir S Ramgoolam that Mauritius would 
not be granted independence unless it agreed. This is all documented in 
a Secret FCO file which finally became public in 2001. Mauritius claimed 
a 12m territorial sea and a 200nm EEZ around its territory (including 
Chagos) in 1977 and later formally submitted this to the UN in 2008. It 
also submitted a claim in 2009 to an extended continental shelf. When 
the UK deposited its claim in 2004 to the UN for an Environment 
Protection and Preservation Zone (EPPZ) out to 200nm, Mauritius formally 

Mauritius also pleads that the MPA is not compatible with the 
Convention, and indeed this has been argued by several international 
lawyers at the time of the FCO Public Consultation, including myself. 
Although the details of the MPA have not been determined, the action to 
stop all licences in November would appear to be in breach of the rights 
of a coastal state under Part V. The former EPPZ did not suffer from 
this problem, and indeed afforded the UK all the powers of protection 
over the 200nm zone that it needed. The MPA declaration was unnecessary 
and therefore largely symbolic but in so doing it has stirred a hornets 
nest of which this challenge by Mauritius is one consequence.

I am also informed that the claim has been prepared by an eminent 
international lawyer, Phillipe Sands QC.

Richard P Dunne

On 21/12/2010 19:16, GJ wrote:
> Interesting.
> > From Law of the Sea:
> Article 56
> Rights, jurisdiction and duties of the coastal State in the exclusive
> economic zone
> 1. In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State has:
> (a) sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting,
> conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living
> or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the
> seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the
> economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the
> production of energy from the water, currents and winds;
> (b) jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this
> Convention with regard to:
> (i) the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations
> and structures;
> 44
> (ii) marine scientific research;
> (iii) the protection and preservation of the marine
> environment;
> (c) other rights and duties provided for in this Convention.
> 2. In exercising its rights and performing its duties under this
> Convention in the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have due
> regard to the rights and duties of other States and shall act in a manner
> compatible with the provisions of this Convention.
> Chagos can decide on their own what and how they want to exploit or conserve in their 200 nm zone. As Chagos and Mauritius EEZ don't overlap, it would be interesting what sort of rights they think they have to the resources in the Chagos EEZ.
> They can hardly object to a MPA on principle. That would mean that all MPA's around the world would be against UNCLOS.
> It would be interesting to learn how they build their case, I you happen to find out.
> At moment I find it hard to believe Mauritius will have any success.
> Best wishes, GJ
> --
> Gert Jan Gast
> Koningin Wilhelminakade 227, 1975GL IJmuiden, the Netherlands
> Ph +316 5424 0126, Fax +31255 521546, Skype gjgast
> -----Original Message-----
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Richard Dunne
> Sent: 21 December 2010 12:39
> To: Coral List
> Subject: [Coral-List] Mauritius challenges legality of Chagos MPA
> Chagos Marine Protected Area - Mauritius takes UK to UN Law of Sea Tribunal
> At a press conference in Mauritius yesterday, the Prime Minister
> Ramgoolam announced that Mauritius has informed the UK Foreign
> Secretary, William Hague, that it has begun proceedings before the
> International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Mauritius is seeking a
> legally binding declaration on the Chagos Marine Protected Area, which
> it believes is incompatible with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

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