In reference to the dispute with London, Mauritius has welcomed the decision of the UN postal agency to ban the use of British stamps on the Chagos archipelago. Following a longstanding dispute between Mauritius and Britain over the Chagos Islands, where Washington and London operate a joint military base, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), an agency of the United Nations focused on the postal sector, voted to recognize the islands.
‘This is another significant step in the recognition of Mauritius’ sovereignty over the Chagos,’ said Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. While Mauritius became independent in 1968, the Chagos archipelago remained under British control, prompting protests by Chagossians who claim London is carrying out an ‘illegal occupation’ and barring them from their homeland.
According to Jugnauth, after Tuesday’s vote, ‘the UPU will stop registering, distributing, and transmitting stamps’ bearing the words British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), the name given by Britain to the archipelago. Britain has been ordered to relinquish control of the islands by the International Court of Justice. The UN General Assembly recently adopted a resolution recognizing that ‘the Chagos Archipelago is part of the territory of Mauritius’ and urging UN agencies to ‘support the decolonisation of Mauritius’.
Tuesday’s vote left the British Foreign Office ‘disappointed’. A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: ‘The UK has no doubt about the sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory, which has been under British control since 1814’. The United Kingdom insists the archipelago belongs to it and has signed a long-term lease agreement with the United States to keep Diego Garcia in operation until 2036.