University Conference Explores the Chagos Islands Dispute

Chris Monaghan
Dr Chris Monaghan

The one-day event, at the University’s School of Law on May 26, has been jointly organised by the University of Worcester and University of Edinburgh. It brings together leading experts and academics specialising in differing aspects of the Chagos case.

The conference is based on an academic book being edited by Dr Chris Monaghan, Principal Lecturer in Law at the University of Worcester, and Laura Jeffery, Professor of Anthropology of Migration at the University of Edinburgh.

In 1965 the UK created the British Indian Ocean Territory out of the Chagos Islands. Mauritius, then a British colony, argues that it was forced to give up the islands in return for independence. The UK then set about removing the population of the Chagos Islands in order to allow the United States to construct a military base. As a consequence of these events there has been wide ranging legal action brought by Mauritius and the Chagossians. This has reached the International Court of Justice, the United Nations General Assembly, the European Court of Human Rights and the UK Supreme Court.

The event, running from 8.30am – 5.30pm under the title the ‘Challenges and Prospects for the Chagos Archipelago’, will feature a number of talks throughout the day by scholars, members of the Chagossian community, diplomats, lawyers and artists offering their distinctive take on the situation. These will consider the origins, the challenges and the future of Chagos. The former UK High Commissioner to Mauritius and a former Mauritian Ambassador to the United Nations will be delivering papers. The current Mauritian Ambassador to the United Nations will also deliver an address. Professor Philippe Sands KC, a specialist in international law, gives the keynote speech.

There will also be a film screening afterwards of Absolutely Must Go and an exhibition by Audrey Albert, an artist and photographer who was born in Mauritius with Chagossian origins.

Dr Chris Monaghan, Principal Lecturer in Law at the University of Worcester, said: “The creation of the British Indian Ocean Territory in November 1965, which as Philippe Sands KC reminds us is the last colony to have been created by the UK, and the subsequent expulsion and exile of the Chagossian people from their homeland has revealed the uncomfortable truth as to how modern Britain treated the Chagossians. This conference will bring together experts to explore the Chagos Islands, the history, the court cases, the dispute between Mauritius and the United Kingdom as to sovereignty of the territory, the role of the United Nations, the African Union, and the impact that exile has had on the Chagossian people.”

The free conference is open to the public and can be attended either in person or online. Booking is essential to reserve a place.

For bookings, email the School of Law at and indicate whether you would like to attend in-person or online.