Maldives: Not giving up any territory in maritime boundary dispute with Mauritius

The Maldivian delegation at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) hearing. (Photo / ITLOS)

The government of Maldives said that no territory will be given up in connection to the Mauritius-Maldives maritime boundary dispute filed at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

Following Attorney General (AG) Ibrahim Riffath revealing that Maldives has decided to recognize Chagos as part of Mauritius, some have accused the Maldivian government has now agreed to let go of some maritime areas.

Refuting these claims, the Communications Director at the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) Hussain Hassan assured that Maldives’ stance did not change on the issue.

“The issue was filed on behalf of Mauritius. The stance on the issue has not changed. Maldives is not set on letting go of any territory.”

Hussain said that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, ITLOS will investigate the issue, and declare delimitation of the boundary of Maldivian territorial waters.

“As per the international standards, normally in such cases, the boundary is set based on an equal equidistance.”

He also addressed recognizing Chagos as part of Mauritius.

“President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Mauritius informing this. That is what AG Riffath spoke about during ITLOS. Maldives believe that Chagos need to be handed back to actual residents.”

Hussain further noted that this stance was changed as a mark of respect for the international community, and also because it benefitted Maldives.

“In 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) released an advisory opinion on the Chagos decolonization issue. In it, Chagos was recognized as part of Mauritius, and that it needed to be handed back.”

Mauritius filed a dispute regarding the overlap of the Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with Mauritian waters in 2019.

 The disputed territory is the waters between Addu City and Chagos archipelago – which lies to the south, overlapping the EEZs of both countries.