Malé, Maldives – Former Attorney General Dr. Mohamed Munavvar has stated that the Maldives stand on the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 was changed by the influence of India.
Speaking with local media this afternoon following the revelation of governments sudden stand to vote in favor of Mauritius over the ICJ’s advisory, Dr. Munavvar told that India was to benefit most from the decision and if Chagos archipelago was given to Mauritius and if the Special Chamber of International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) favors for them in the dispute case concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Mauritius and Maldives in the Indian Ocean.
Dr. Munavvar also added that Mauritian population is mostly of Indian decent and that their current prime minister is also of Indian decent and based on the close relationship and influence of India over Mauritius that it was only logical to lean on the reasoning that India has influenced Maldives on the matter.
He also added that India was becoming a strong regional power controlling most of the Indian Ocean and that they would be benefiting from the matter the most. Dr. Munavvar also added that India already has presence in the south and central regions of Maldives and if Chagos is handed over to Mauritius that India would control the entire Indian Ocean.
Chagos is in the most north of the Indian Ocean. If it falls under Mauritian sovereignty the whole Indian Ocean falls under their [India] power. Without their [India] consent, people can’t even cross the Indian Ocean.Former Attorney General Dr. Mohamed Munavvar
He stated that since India would benefit most from the sudden change in Maldives stand on the matter, that he believes that it is the most probable case and has been done under their influence given the current political scenario of Maldives.
Dr. Munavvar had previously released a statement in 2021 rising concern on the current administration’s lackluster attitude towards the case lodged at the International Tribune for the Law of the Sea on delimiting the maritime boundary of the Maldives. According to the claims made by the government of Mauritius, the maritime boundary of Maldives overlaps with that of the Chagos islands, which is under the jurisdiction of Mauritius following a ruling by the International Court of Justice which forced the British to handover the Chagos islands to Mauritius.
Dr. Mohamed Munavvar who holds a Master’s Degree in Law specializing on International Law stated that the government need to thoroughly analyze the situation due to the seriousness of the issue and that the case at the International Tribune for the Law of the Sea is an issue of national concern.
He noted that the issue concerns the people, especially the fisherman from the southern atolls as it directly affects their livelihood.
He also stated that two years had passed since the case was lodged and that the Maldives will be forced to present itself and defend its position on maintaining its current maritime boundary. Dr. Mohamed Munavva accused the current administration of trivializing the case. He continued on to state that as people who depend on the seas for an income, the people of Maldives should be alarmed and concerned by the current administration attitude towards the case.
Dr. Mohamed Munavvar also noted that the case will directly affect the livelihood of local fisherman and bring a change to the maritime boundary of the country. Due to this he called for the Attorney general Ibrahim Riffath, Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry to provide full disclosure on the subject to the People’s Parliament. He also urged for the government to refrain from doing anything which may result in the loss of maritime boundary of the country or a loss for the fisherman of Maldives.
The matter came to light after it was revealed that on 22 August 2022, the President of the Maldives sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Mauritius stating that the Maldives would vote in favor of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution entitled “Advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965”.
AGO released a statement following the public criticism stating that the dispute case concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Mauritius and Maldives in the Indian Ocean which is currently on going in the Special Chamber of International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) was a different matter and that the government agreed to vote in favor of Mauritius regarding the 2019 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice.
However, the governments sudden change in the ICJ’s advisory opinion and the secrecy around the matter has lead to the government being heavily scrutinized from local political parties and the public.
Maldives had voted against the resolution in the 2019 vote at the UN along with the United States, Hungary, Israel and Australia voted against the resolution, while 56 countries abstained from the vote. 116 nations were in favor of the motion, which sets a six-month deadline for Britain to withdraw from the Chagos island chain and for the islands to be reunified with neighboring Mauritius.
Explaining the reason behind Maldives’ decision to vote no at the UN General Assembly in New York in 2019, Maldives Permanent Representative Thilmeeza Hussain told that without due process and clarity on the legal implications of the contested matter, Maldives is not in a position to support the resolution solely as a matter of decolonization.
She had also told that for the Maldives, any uncertainty concerning the issue of Chagos archipelago will have serious implications for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and to the wider security of the Indian Ocean region and that it was for these reasons the Maldives voted no, on the resolution in 2019.