[Coral-List] Chagos Conservation

Richard Dunne RichardPDunne at aol.com
Wed Jan 27 01:36:33 EST 2010


On your rationale it is of course possible to excuse any of man's 
actions on the natural environment or against his fellow humans, and 
neither condemn nor defend past transgressions. "It was simply the way 
things were done". As human society evolves and matures it develops 
practices to protect nature and other human beings. So we have evolved 
national and international laws on environmental protection, 
Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention, the Laws of War, the Law of 
the Sea, and bodies such as the United Nations. Underlying all this is 
basic morality - a sense of what is right and wrong. Without these rules 
or in the absence of morality there would be anarchism.

The subject of human rights is not an "emotional" one. Furthermore, 
where does one one draw the line in the sand?  The eviction of the 
Chagossians by the British Government? The Burmese junta? Apartheid? 
Saddam Hussein's persecution of the Kurds? The Nazis and the jews? The 
Slave Trade? Some of these issues are in the past and have been followed 
by legal process: e.g. the Nuremberg trials; or the recent trial and 
execution of 'Chemical Ali'. Others remain in the present and are still 
to be determined as is the case of the Chagossians.

The House of Lords judgment in 2008 was solely concerned with the 
validity of section 9 of the British Indian Ocean Territory Order in 
Council which stated: "Whereas the territory was constituted and is set 
aside to be available for the defence purposes of the Government of the 
United Kingdom and the Government of the United States of America, no 
person has a right of abode in the Territory."  Earlier courts (the 
Divisional Court and the Appeal Court) had held this section to be 
invalid. It was not about compensation. Nor is my concern about 
compensation. Nor will the ECtHR case be about compensation.

Nor do I seek "to halt the conservation of the Chagos" on these or any 
other grounds. True I argue that it should be stayed until the ECtHR 
(the final court of jurisdiction on this matter) has ruled. This will 
then determine whether the Chagossians must be consulted and involved in 
any future legislation concerning the Chagos. This is entirely 
reasonable and logical as I argue in earlier posts. Neither has Charles 
Sheppard justified why such a delay would be potentially damaging as Ted 
Morris alleges here. There is already extensive Fishery and Conservation 
legislation in force - it only a matter of enforcing it appropriately.

The question of the resettlement of the islanders is a side issue. The 
House of Lords noted that there were less than 1,000 inhabitants on 
three islands in 1962. Presumably the numbers wishing to return now are 
smaller.  The British Government commissioned its own report in 2002 
into the feasibility of the resettlement of only Peros Banhos and 
Salomon (Diego Garcia, the most inhabitable island was not considered). 
It concluded that agroforestal production would be unsuitable for 
commercial ventures, that fisheries and mariculture offerred 
opportunities although they would require investment, tourism could be 
encouraged, although there was nowhere that aircraft could land. It 
might therefore be feasible in the short term to resettle the islands. 
But introduced into that report was the effect of global warming which 
was raising the sea level and already eroding the corals of the low 
lying atolls. In the long term, it was concluded that the need for sea 
defences and the like would make the cost of  inhabitation prohibitive. 
Of course on this premise, the conservation of the coral reefs and 
islands of the Chagos and indeed the future of the US Base on Diego 
Garcia are also called into question. None are tenable. Perhaps nature's 
course will determine all these issues.

The largest and most inhabitable of the BIOT islands is Diego Garcia. 
Charles Shepherd has said in an earlier post " ... a full no take 
protected area out to the 200 mile limit would do much to ensure these 
islands, reefs and threatened species were preserved - something much 
needed for the marine environment and Indian Ocean.  Should the 
Chagossians return, then it would be to their advantage too." But we 
also know that it is the British Government intention that 
"Additionally, neither the UK Government nor the US would want the 
creation of a marine protected area to have any impact on the 
operational capability of the military base on Diego Garcia. For this 
reason, it may be necessary to consider the exclusion of Diego Garcia 
and its 3 mile territorial waters from any marine protected area." 
Indeed this is the most likely outcome. Diego Garcia would not therefore 
be protected under any new MPA, either for the good of the marine 
environment or for the possible future benefit of the Chagossians. The 
north western segment is already extensively covered in concrete, and a 
deepwater port and anchorage constructed. Presumably there may be 
continued construction, certainly continued dredging of the anchorage, 
discharge of sewage out to sea, etc. Diego Garcia is to be afforded no 
future protection under these proposals. The argument that an MPA of the 
type envisaged can protect the Chagos for the Chagossians is therefore 

There are not two forums, one for conservation and one for the 
Chagossians rights. These issue are inextricably linked. I am no expert 
on social aspects of MPA creation but I would have thought that in all 
cases a holistic approach is required. That is why (and for the reasons 
above) the decision should be stayed.

Richard P Dunne

On 26/01/2010 19:16, Ted Morris wrote:
> Dear Listers,
> Mr. Dunne's response to my posting involves what I attempted to point out -
> that criticism of the current effort to protect the Chagos by tying it to
> actions taken at the height of the Cold War four decades ago is
> inappropriate.
> The construction activities and the treatment of the islanders was not
> unusual given the circumstances of the time, and I do not defend them.
> However, I do not condemn them either.  It simply was the way things were
> done.  If you have read the resettlement proposals of the UK CSA, you can
> see that their plan to resettle thousands of islanders will be as disruptive
> to the Chagos as that of the SEABEEs in the 1970s.
> The appropriateness of the islanders' compensation is really Mr. Dunne's
> concern, is it not?  Isn't the subject still in play in the ECHR?  Won't it
> be a subject of legislation in the democracies involved as time goes by,
> regardless of the ECHR outcome?  Of course.  Therefore, I think where Mr.
> Dunne and I differ is that I believe that those are the forums in which
> resettlement should be discussed.  Mr. Dunne's effort appears to be to halt
> the conservation of the Chagos by using the emotional and politicized
> question of the islanders' compensation.  This will help no one and is
> potentially damaging to the marine environment of the islands for the
> reasons given by Dr. Sheppard in other posts in this thread.
> Regards,
> Ted Morris
> -----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: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 10:01 AM
> To: Coral List
> Subject: [Coral-List] The US Base on Diego Garcia and environmental
> protection
> Dear Listers
> An earlier post on the issue of the Chagos MPA posted by Ted Morris Jr
> almost escaped my attention until I revisited it and followed his links
> to his website.
> Mr Morris encourages us to protect the marine environment of the Chagos
> by signing up to the proposed MPA. He also thinks that in protecting
> human rights we are politicising the process. I would love to endorse
> his viewpoint if it could be considered to be serious in the light of
> his website which whilst containing some interesting 'facts' about Diego
> Garcia has some fairly alarming facts and statements, for example:
> _On the construction of the runway on DG by US SeaBees: _(photos cannot
> be reproduced here)
> And then came Tom Grenier and his buddies.
> They dredged the coral used to build the runway. Here's a little photo
> essay on how they did it.
> First, you set your charges and blow a big hole in the coral....
> Then you bulldoze out the rock....
> Then, Harry and Joe haul all the "little rocks" to the crusher...
> Then you have a party....
> .....and another.....
> .....and another ....
> Or, you could go fishing and looking around the reef for whatever you
> could find...
> You might also like to visit the page on blowing a hole in the reef for
> a ship canal. and I am sure that there is something there about dredging
> the lagoon for the Navy ships and submarines._
> Elsewhere Mr Morris says_
> "Finally Those of you who have read my website, or know me personally,
> know that my first and foremost concern is for the defense of the United
> States and our democratic republic. Diego Garcia is essential to that
> defense, and therefore anything that would limit our use of Diego Garcia
> would not receive my support."
> All I can say is that clearly the environmental 'protection' afforded by
> the presence of the US base has been fairly alarming and that Mr Morris
> is very lucky to live in a democracy which has not yet illegally evicted
> him to another country as the UK Government did to the rightful
> inhabitants of the Chagos, as it seems in the interests of UK and US
> defence.
> I hope that the debate on conservation in the Chagos can proceed from a
> more serious and open-minded angle.
> Richard Dunne
> *********************************************************
> Ted Morris Jr's post
> The process of protecting the marine environment of the Chagos Archipelago
> is at a critical point, and signing the petition at http://protectchagos.org
> is the very minimum anyone concerned with the reefs of the Chagos should do.
> Politicizing the process by insisting on the inclusion of Chagossian claims,
> all of which have been dismissed by UK and US courts, would be unwise.  That
> said, there are certainly many people who wonder just what really did happen
> to the islanders back in the early 70s, and would like to ensure that a
> suitable political solution is arrived at on their behalf.  To fully
> participate in that discussion, one should reflect on the economic and
> geo-political context of the times, and not solely on emotional appeals.
> There is also a huge amount of data concerning the demographics and
> population that is germane to the discussion, but is not included in the
> arguments posted to date.
> I've been a student of the islands, it's history and current uses for many
> years, and about 18 months ago I wrote a short paper summarizing the various
> British Court cases, the Chagossian lawsuit in the US, and the available
> published literature at the time.  That information might be of interest to
> readers as they attempt to determine what role the Chagossian community
> should play in the future of the islands.  The paper is on line at
> http://www.zianet.com/tedmorris/dg/chagossians.pdf.
> Meanwhile, the goal is to fully protect the near-pristine coral reef and
> other marine environments of the central Indian Ocean, and anything that
> would delay or derail that effort should be avoided.  Conservation now would
> be to the advantage of any future resident population, should things change
> in that respect, and to no one's disadvantage, least of all to other
> residents of the Indian Ocean.
> Ted A. Morris, Jr.
> http://www.zianet.com/tedmorris/dg/stc.html
> easy501 at zianet.com
> skype:  ted.morris.501
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