Mauritius has welcomed the UN postal agency’s decision to ban British stamps from being used on the Chagos archipelago, calling it a victory for the island nation in its dispute with London.
The vote by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations agency focusing on the mail sector, follows a longstanding spat between Mauritius and Britain over the Chagos Islands, where London and Washington operate a joint military base.
“This is another big step in favour of the recognition of the sovereignty of Mauritius over the Chagos,” Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said.
Although Mauritius became independent in 1968, the Chagos archipelago remained under British control, sparking protests by Chagossians, who accuse London of carrying out an “illegal occupation” and barring them from their homeland.
Following 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, Mr. Jugnauth said.
In 2019, the International Court of Justice ruled that Britain should give up control of the islands.
Later that year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognising that “the Chagos Archipelago forms an integral part of the territory of Mauritius” and urged UN agencies “to support the decolonisation of Mauritius”.
The British Foreign Office said it was “disappointed” by Tuesday’s vote.
“The U.K. has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory, which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814,” a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said.
Britain insists the archipelago belongs to London and has renewed a lease agreement with the U.S. to use Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands, until 2036.