The President is attending a cabinet meeting held this evening following the decision of the separation between Maldives and Mauritius. Photo/President's Office

Maldives established territorial dominion under intl law, Pres says

"This is a victory and a conquest for the country and its people."

29 April 2023

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said on Friday that the Maldives has become a full-fledged nation state with territory marked by international norms following an international tribunal's judgement to grant the Maldives a major share of the disputed waters between the Maldives and Chagos.

The International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on Friday sided with the Maldives in the dispute with Mauritius surrounding the delimitation of the maritime boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the Maldives and the Chagos archipelago, awarding a bigger portion to the Maldives. 

Following the verdict, President Solih convened an emergency cabinet meeting. Following the meeting, the president and cabinet members interacted with the media at the President's Office.

The president said that at no point in time was Chagos seen as a place where the sovereignty of the Maldives was exercised. He said there was no historical evidence or legal basis to claim Chagos as a part of Maldives.

"This is a good victory for the country and its people and this government," he said.

Foreign minister Abdulla Shahid, who was also present at the press conference, said that due to the lack of EEZ in the southern part of the country, foreign nationals were entering the area and making undue gains. The government's intention was to secure the largest area available under international law, he said.

"The government has been advocating that not even a single grain of sand should be released," he said.

"This is a victory for the country and its people."

Shahid also said that no government in the country's legal history has advocated that Chagos is a part of the country. He noted:

  • In 2017, when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) took up the case relating to Mauritius' sovereignty claims over Chagos, the former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration had the last and final chance to advocate the Maldives' sovereignty over Chagos if such a claim existed.

  • In agreements with Mauritius during former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, former President Mohamed Nasheed and Yameen's administrations, the Maldives has agreed to work together to divide the sea or work together to resolve the issue

"The opposition is making this statement in a way that misleads the public," he said.

In its judgement, ITLOS rejected Mauritius' argument that Blenheim Reef should be considered as a base point in drawing the equidistance line. 

ITLOS noted that the size of the relevant area is calculated to be approximately 92,563 sqkm. The delimitation line allocates to Mauritius 45,331 sqkm and to the Maldives 47,232 sqkm.