The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has issued a ruling on the disputed territory between the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the Maldives and the Chagos Archipelago, sparking divided opinions. ITLOS ruled that the Maldives should receive a majority share of the disputed region and ensured that the southern part of the Maldives was not lost. However, many argued that Maldives should have received full control over the disputed territory.
The EEZ between the Maldives and the Chagos Archipelago covers an area of 95,000 sqkm, and the issue of sovereignty over Chagos remains unresolved. The territory has never been determined, and if the two countries cannot agree, international rules state that it will be separated by equidistance. The two countries differ on where to start separating, with Mauritius arguing for separation from Blenheim Reef, while the Maldives disputes this.
Despite the documents and evidence submitted by the Maldives, the ruling has split opinions. ITLOS decided not to accept Mauritius’ offer to measure from the area of Blenheim reef, and as a result, the Maldives received an additional 4,600 sqkm of territory from the disputed region. However, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) sought an advisory opinion on the issue at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2017, and the ICJ issued its advisory opinion in February 2019.
In May 2019, a resolution was submitted to the UNGA in collaboration with Mauritius, African countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement, calling for the handover of the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius within six months. However, the resolution was voted against after Mauritius objected to the Maldives’ proposal to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in July 2010 to extend its continental shelf. With differing opinions on the matter, the issue remains unresolved.