Speaker Nasheed calls not to accept ITLOS decision

Speaker Nasheed speaks at a news conference at his presidential primary campaign office on January 22, 2023. | Photo: Fayaz Moosa

Speaker Mohamed Nasheed tweeted that Maldives should not accept todays judgement by International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has ruled that Maldives should get a larger share of the disputed waters between Maldives and Mauritius.

Moments after the judgement was announced, the former President and Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed tweeted saying that Maldives has lost part of its territorial waters after Maldives ceded sovereignty over the Chagos provinces.

“I think it’s the right thing for Maldives not to accept this,” Nasheed tweeted.

After considering whether the Blenheim reef, visible only in low tide, could be considered as a base point for drawing the equidistant line, ITLOS decided that Mauritius’ proposal was unacceptable. ITLOS’ special chamber has also decided not to consider any point from Blenheim Reef in drawing the equidistance line.

In messages to the Parliament’s WhatsApp group, Nasheed also said the judgement of International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) will result in the loss of about 94,000 square kilometers of the country’s territory.

Nasheed accused the MPs who claim that the case ended well for Maldives of deceiving the people.

“The loss of part of Maldives’s territory is not political at all. It is a great pity that members are trying to misrepresent this,” Nasheed said.

He described it as a violation of the oath taken by the members.

“I think it is a violation of the oath to deceive the people even when you are losing part of Maldives,” he said.

Part of the loss is the territory that Mauritius received when the disputed territory was divided.

The ITLOS petition does not advocate an equitable or fair demarcation of the 200 nautical miles from Maldives. Instead, Maldives has also agreed to the principle of equidistance or equal division of the disputed territory as requested by Mauritius.

Maldives argued that the boundary should not be measured from the Blenheim Reef as Mauritius wants, but instead measure the sea area from points marked in the two atolls of Peros Banhos and Salomon Islands.

As ITLOS ruled today that Maldives succeeded on that point, meaning that the waters between Maldives and Chagos Islands will divide the disputed territory by measuring the territorial waters of Chagos from the points marked in the two provinces of Peros Banhos and Salomon Islands as requested by Maldives.

With that, more than 45,000 square kilometers of fishing area will be lost from the Maldivian territories.

The chamber that heard the case in ITLOS stated that Mauritius had not presented sufficient evidence to believe that the Blenheim reef was the base-point. The decision also noted that although visible reefs are considered as the coasts of island nations, international law does not provide that submerged reefs can be considered as base-points in sea separation matters.