Thursday, February 28, 2019

Mauritius Today, Palestine Tomorrow

A glaring running sore of British colonialism has at last received a measure of justice in the form of an International Court of Justice (ICJ) verdict:

"Mauritius has won a case against Britain at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) involving decolonisation of the strategically important island of Diego Garcia, which is home to a US military base. Britain must give Mauritius control of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, the ICJ said on Monday. The court in a majority opinion... said the decolonisation of Mauritius 'was not lawfully complete' when it obtained independence because Britain carved away the Chagos Archipelago from it and retained control over it. The opinion, which is non-binding, handed down by the majority of 13 judges said Britain 'is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible'.

"The sole dissenter was American Judge Joan E. Donoghue. Britain is not represented on the ICJ bench... The court gave the opinion at the request of the United Nations General Assembly made in a 2017 resolution. Vehemently opposed by the US and Britain, the resolution received the vote of 94 countries while 15 voted against it and 65 abstained. Britain opposed the referral to the court saying it was a bilateral matter with Mauritius and indicated it would reject it. There is unlikely to be any challenge to the US Diego Garcia base from Mauritius either... Britain cut off the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 before granting it independence in 1968. The residents of Diego Garcia were forcibly removed by the British colonial administration and it was leased out to the US, which set up its strategic Indian Ocean military base." (ICJ advises Britain to return Diego Garcia to Mauritius, economictimes.indiatimes, 26/2/19)

There are many parallels here with the case of Palestine. Once the Middle East was firmly in Britain's hands after WWI, the entire area should have undergone a natural transition to independence, what US president Woodrow Wilson called at the time, in point 12 of his famous 14 Points, "an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development."

Instead, the Middle East was well and truly denied that "unmolested opportunity of autonomous development" by Britain and France, with the former taking control of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, and the latter Syria. France then set about crushing the first representative Arab government, based in Damascus, in 1920, while the British, in defiance of the wishes of Palestine's indigenous Arab majority, proceeded to open Palestine up to mass Zionist immigration and colonisation. Under the protection of British bayonets, these Zionist immigrants were eventually able to reach a point, in 1948, where they were strong enough to take control of Palestine by force of arms, drive out the bulk of its Arab Palestinian inhabitants, and set up a 'Jewish' state. The rest, of course, is history.

In both cases - the Mauritian and the Middle Eastern - indigenous peoples were cruelly denied "an unmolested opportunity of autonomous development" by racist, imperialist powers. The legacy of that denial remains with us today and screams out for the justice of decolonisation.. We applaud the ICJ verdict on Mauritius, and await a similar one in the case of colonised Palestine.


Anonymous said...

Yes MERC, Palestine next.

The 1947 United Nations Special Committee on Palestine minority report wisely suggested referring the matter to the World Court for obvious reasons.

I often wonder why Palestine was pushed as a first order topic for both the League of Nations and the United Nations at their inception? Was the handing over of Palestine's title deeds to aliens so important to those who created these bodies?

Of course Australia's shameless Doc Evatt and other partisans supported the alien invaders. This led to the beachhead that became the grotesque Bandit State.

Bizarrely, and without any apparent sense of contradiction, Evatt went on to advocate for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Evatt was rewarded for his work and become head of the UN General Assembly. Australia's UNSCOP representative, John Hood, became ambassador to the Bandit State.

Some still refuse to learn the lesson that Palestine was not theirs to give away to third parties. Put the matter before the ICJ. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Grappler said...

Interesting report on this from the Times of Israel (yes the Times of Israel):

Becker is the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser. Here are a couple of quotes:

'If I am not mistaken, the last time the State of Israel took part in oral proceedings for this court was almost six decades ago,” Becker told the court'

'Becker said Israel respects both Great Britain and Mauritius but argued that their dispute is a bilateral matter that should not be discussed in The Hague. He also said Jerusalem saw the case as having wider implications beyond who controls the tropical cays.'

One senses that even the ToI is a little suspicious of Israel's agenda here.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with anonymous, the last paragraph is particularly pertinent.

Anonymous said...

An interesting precedent particularly for Syria which was dismembered by the French and British after World War One. This is despite the Anglo Arab Treaty which made the Arabs one of the victorious allies. The secret Sykes Picot treaty was in direct contradiction to the earlier clear territorial limits mutually agreed between Sherif Hussain and McMahon.

Syria today is a mere rump state as a result of these deceitful machinations. Palestine, or South Syria as it was then known, could also join the proceedings.

Perhaps the Arabs would have fared better if they had stayed with Turkey?

It is interesting to note the USA didn't declare war on Turkey. I remember an post on this site about this topic.

An open and shut case.