Text of President Barack Obama’s speech, provided by the White House, as delivered to the Ghanaian parliament today in Accra, Ghana:
THE PRESIDENT: (Trumpet plays.) I like this. Thank you. Thank you. I think Congress needs one of those horns. (Laughter.) That sounds pretty good. Sounds like Louis Armstrong back there. (Laughter.)
Good afternoon, everybody. It is a great honor for me to be in Accra and to speak to the representatives of the people of Ghana. (Applause.) I am deeply grateful for the welcome that I’ve received, as are Michelle and Malia and Sasha Obama. Ghana’s history is rich, the ties between our two countries are strong, and I am proud that this is my first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as President of the United States of America. (Applause.)
I want to thank Madam Speaker and all the members of the House of Representatives for hosting us today. I want to thank President Mills for his outstanding leadership. To the former Presidents – Jerry Rawlings, former President Kufuor – Vice President, Chief Justice – thanks to all of you for your extraordinary hospitality and the wonderful institutions that you’ve built here in Ghana.
I’m speaking to you at the end of a long trip. I began in Russia for a summit between two great powers. I traveled to Italy for a meeting of the world’s leading economies. And I’ve come here to Ghana for a simple reason: The 21st century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Accra, as well. (Applause.)
This is the simple truth of a time when the boundaries between people are overwhelmed by our connections. Your prosperity can expand America’s prosperity. Your health and security can contribute to the world’s health and security. And the strength of your democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere.
So I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – (applause) – as partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect. And that is what I want to speak with you about today.
We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.
I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world. After all, I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family’s – (applause) – my family’s own story encompasses both the tragedies and triumphs of the larger African story.
Some you know my grandfather was a cook for the British in Kenya, and though he was a respected elder in his village, his employers called him “boy” for much of his life. He was on the periphery of Kenya’s liberation struggles, but he was still imprisoned briefly during repressive times. In his life, colonialism wasn’t simply the creation of unnatural borders or unfair terms of trade – it was something experienced personally, day after day, year after year.
My father grew up herding goats in a tiny village, an impossible distance away from the American universities where he would come to get an education. He came of age at a moment of extraordinary promise for Africa. The struggles of his own father’s generation were giving birth to new nations, beginning right here in Ghana. (Applause.) Africans were educating and asserting themselves in new ways, and history was on the move.
But despite the progress that has been made – and there has been considerable progress in many parts of Africa – we also know that much of that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Countries like Kenya had a per capita economy larger than South Korea’s when I was born. They have badly been outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent.
In many places, the hope of my father’s generation gave way to cynicism, even despair. Now, it’s easy to point fingers and to pin the blame of these problems on others. Yes, a colonial map that made little sense helped to breed conflict. The West has often approached Africa as a patron or a source of resources rather than a partner. But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants. In my father’s life, it was partly tribalism and patronage and nepotism in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is still a daily fact of life for far too many.
Now, we know that’s also not the whole story. Here in Ghana, you show us a face of Africa that is too often overlooked by a world that sees only tragedy or a need for charity. The people of Ghana have worked hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with repeated peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections. (Applause.) And by the way, can I say that for that the minority deserves as much credit as the majority. (Applause.) And with improved governance and an emerging civil society, Ghana’s economy has shown impressive rates of growth. (Applause.)
This progress may lack the drama of 20th century liberation struggles, but make no mistake: It will ultimately be more significant. For just as it is important to emerge from the control of other nations, it is even more important to build one’s own nation.
So I believe that this moment is just as promising for Ghana and for Africa as the moment when my father came of age and new nations were being born. This is a new moment of great promise. Only this time, we’ve learned that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa’s future. Instead, it will be you – the men and women in Ghana’s parliament – (applause) – the people you represent. It will be the young people brimming with talent and energy and hope who can claim the future that so many in previous generations never realized.
Now, to realize that promise, we must first recognize the fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: Development depends on good governance. (Applause.) That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That’s the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.
As for America and the West, our commitment must be measured by more than just the dollars we spend. I’ve pledged substantial increases in our foreign assistance, which is in Africa’s interests and America’s interests. But the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of perpetual aid that helps people scrape by – it’s whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change. (Applause.)
This mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership. And today, I’ll focus on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa and the entire developing world: democracy, opportunity, health, and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments. (Applause.)
As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not.
This is about more than just holding elections. It’s also about what happens between elections. (Applause.) Repression can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves – (applause) – or if police – if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. (Applause.) No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top – (applause) – or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. (Applause.) That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end. (Applause.)
In the 21st century, capable, reliable, and transparent institutions are the key to success – strong parliaments; honest police forces; independent judges – (applause); an independent press; a vibrant private sector; a civil society. (Applause.) Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in people’s everyday lives.
Now, time and again, Ghanaians have chosen constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through. (Applause.) We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously – the fact that President Mills’ opponents were standing beside him last night to greet me when I came off the plane spoke volumes about Ghana – (applause); victors who resist calls to wield power against the opposition in unfair ways. We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth. We see it in police like Patience Quaye, who helped prosecute the first human trafficker in Ghana. (Applause.) We see it in the young people who are speaking up against patronage, and participating in the political process.
Across Africa, we’ve seen countless examples of people taking control of their destiny, and making change from the bottom up. We saw it in Kenya, where civil society and business came together to help stop post-election violence. We saw it in South Africa, where over three-quarters of the country voted in the recent election – the fourth since the end of Apartheid. We saw it in Zimbabwe, where the Election Support Network braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a person’s vote is their sacred right.
Now, make no mistake: History is on the side of these brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. (Applause.) Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions. (Applause.)
Now, America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation. The essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny. But what America will do is increase assistance for responsible individuals and responsible institutions, with a focus on supporting good governance – on parliaments, which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition voices are heard – (applause); on the rule of law, which ensures the equal administration of justice; on civic participation, so that young people get involved; and on concrete solutions to corruption like forensic accounting and automating services – (applause) – strengthening hotlines, protecting whistle-blowers to advance transparency and accountability.
And we provide this support. I have directed my administration to give greater attention to corruption in our human rights reports. People everywhere should have the right to start a business or get an education without paying a bribe. (Applause.) We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don’t, and that is exactly what America will do.
Now, this leads directly to our second area of partnership: supporting development that provides opportunity for more people.
With better governance, I have no doubt that Africa holds the promise of a broader base of prosperity. Witness the extraordinary success of Africans in my country, America. They’re doing very well. So they’ve got the talent, they’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit. The question is, how do we make sure that they’re succeeding here in their home countries? The continent is rich in natural resources. And from cell phone entrepreneurs to small farmers, Africans have shown the capacity and commitment to create their own opportunities. But old habits must also be broken. Dependence on commodities – or a single export – has a tendency to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few, and leaves people too vulnerable to downturns.
So in Ghana, for instance, oil brings great opportunities, and you have been very responsible in preparing for new revenue. But as so many Ghanaians know, oil cannot simply become the new cocoa. From South Korea to Singapore, history shows that countries thrive when they invest in their people and in their infrastructure – (applause); when they promote multiple export industries, develop a skilled workforce, and create space for small and medium-sized businesses that create jobs.
As Africans reach for this promise, America will be more responsible in extending our hand. By cutting costs that go to Western consultants and administration, we want to put more resources in the hands of those who need it, while training people to do more for themselves. (Applause.) That’s why our $3.5 billion food security initiative is focused on new methods and technologies for farmers – not simply sending American producers or goods to Africa. Aid is not an end in itself. The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it’s no longer needed. I want to see Ghanaians not only self-sufficient in food, I want to see you exporting food to other countries and earning money. You can do that. (Applause.)
Now, America can also do more to promote trade and investment. Wealthy nations must open our doors to goods and services from Africa in a meaningful way. That will be a commitment of my administration. And where there is good governance, we can broaden prosperity through public-private partnerships that invest in better roads and electricity; capacity-building that trains people to grow a business; financial services that reach not just the cities but also the poor and rural areas. This is also in our own interests – for if people are lifted out of poverty and wealth is created in Africa, guess what? New markets will open up for our own goods. So it’s good for both.
One area that holds out both undeniable peril and extraordinary promise is energy. Africa gives off less greenhouse gas than any other part of the world, but it is the most threatened by climate change. A warming planet will spread disease, shrink water resources, and deplete crops, creating conditions that produce more famine and more conflict. All of us – particularly the developed world – have a responsibility to slow these trends – through mitigation, and by changing the way that we use energy. But we can also work with Africans to turn this crisis into opportunity.
Together, we can partner on behalf of our planet and prosperity, and help countries increase access to power while skipping – leapfrogging the dirtier phase of development. Think about it: Across Africa, there is bountiful wind and solar power; geothermal energy and biofuels. From the Rift Valley to the North African deserts; from the Western coasts to South Africa’s crops – Africa’s boundless natural gifts can generate its own power, while exporting profitable, clean energy abroad.
These steps are about more than growth numbers on a balance sheet. They’re about whether a young person with an education can get a job that supports a family; a farmer can transfer their goods to market; an entrepreneur with a good idea can start a business. It’s about the dignity of work; it’s about the opportunity that must exist for Africans in the 21st century.
Just as governance is vital to opportunity, it’s also critical to the third area I want to talk about: strengthening public health.
In recent years, enormous progress has been made in parts of Africa. Far more people are living productively with HIV/AIDS, and getting the drugs they need. I just saw a wonderful clinic and hospital that is focused particularly on maternal health. But too many still die from diseases that shouldn’t kill them. When children are being killed because of a mosquito bite, and mothers are dying in childbirth, then we know that more progress must be made.
Yet because of incentives – often provided by donor nations – many African doctors and nurses go overseas, or work for programs that focus on a single disease. And this creates gaps in primary care and basic prevention. Meanwhile, individual Africans also have to make responsible choices that prevent the spread of disease, while promoting public health in their communities and countries.
So across Africa, we see examples of people tackling these problems. In Nigeria, an Interfaith effort of Christians and Muslims has set an example of cooperation to confront malaria. Here in Ghana and across Africa, we see innovative ideas for filling gaps in care – for instance, through E-Health initiatives that allow doctors in big cities to support those in small towns.
America will support these efforts through a comprehensive, global health strategy, because in the 21st century, we are called to act by our conscience but also by our common interest, because when a child dies of a preventable disease in Accra, that diminishes us everywhere. And when disease goes unchecked in any corner of the world, we know that it can spread across oceans and continents.
And that’s why my administration has committed $63 billion to meet these challenges – $63 billion. (Applause.) Building on the strong efforts of President Bush, we will carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS. We will pursue the goal of ending deaths from malaria and tuberculosis, and we will work to eradicate polio. (Applause.) We will fight – we will fight neglected tropical disease. And we won’t confront illnesses in isolation – we will invest in public health systems that promote wellness and focus on the health of mothers and children. (Applause.)
Now, as we partner on behalf of a healthier future, we must also stop the destruction that comes not from illness, but from human beings – and so the final area that I will address is conflict.
Let me be clear: Africa is not the crude caricature of a continent at perpetual war. But if we are honest, for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes.
These conflicts are a millstone around Africa’s neck. Now, we all have many identities – of tribe and ethnicity; of religion and nationality. But defining oneself in opposition to someone who belongs to a different tribe, or who worships a different prophet, has no place in the 21st century. (Applause.) Africa’s diversity should be a source of strength, not a cause for division. We are all God’s children. We all share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to access education and opportunity; to love our families and our communities and our faith. That is our common humanity.
That is why we must stand up to inhumanity in our midst. It is never justified – never justifiable to target innocents in the name of ideology. (Applause.) It is the death sentence of a society to force children to kill in wars. It is the ultimate mark of criminality and cowardice to condemn women to relentless and systemic rape. We must bear witness to the value of every child in Darfur and the dignity of every woman in the Congo. No faith or culture should condone the outrages against them. And all of us must strive for the peace and security necessary for progress.
Africans are standing up for this future. Here, too, in Ghana we are seeing you help point the way forward. Ghanaians should take pride in your contributions to peacekeeping from Congo to Liberia to Lebanon – (applause) – and your efforts to resist the scourge of the drug trade. (Applause.) We welcome the steps that are being taken by organizations like the African Union and ECOWAS to better resolve conflicts, to keep the peace, and support those in need. And we encourage the vision of a strong, regional security architecture that can bring effective, transnational forces to bear when needed.
America has a responsibility to work with you as a partner to advance this vision, not just with words, but with support that strengthens African capacity. When there’s a genocide in Darfur or terrorists in Somalia, these are not simply African problems – they are global security challenges, and they demand a global response.
And that’s why we stand ready to partner through diplomacy and technical assistance and logistical support, and we will stand behind efforts to hold war criminals accountable. And let me be clear: Our Africa Command is focused not on establishing a foothold in the continent, but on confronting these common challenges to advance the security of America, Africa, and the world. (Applause.)
In Moscow, I spoke of the need for an international system where the universal rights of human beings are respected, and violations of those rights are opposed. And that must include a commitment to support those who resolve conflicts peacefully, to sanction and stop those who don’t, and to help those who have suffered. But ultimately, it will be vibrant democracies like Botswana and Ghana which roll back the causes of conflict and advance the frontiers of peace and prosperity.
As I said earlier, Africa’s future is up to Africans.
The people of Africa are ready to claim that future. And in my country, African Americans – including so many recent immigrants – have thrived in every sector of society. We’ve done so despite a difficult past, and we’ve drawn strength from our African heritage. With strong institutions and a strong will, I know that Africans can live their dreams in Nairobi and Lagos, Kigali, Kinshasa, Harare, and right here in Accra. (Applause.)
You know, 52 years ago, the eyes of the world were on Ghana. And a young preacher named Martin Luther King traveled here, to Accra, to watch the Union Jack come down and the Ghanaian flag go up. This was before the march on Washington or the success of the civil rights movement in my country. Dr. King was asked how he felt while watching the birth of a nation. And he said: “It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice.”
Now that triumph must be won once more, and it must be won by you. (Applause.) And I am particularly speaking to the young people all across Africa and right here in Ghana. In places like Ghana, young people make up over half of the population.
And here is what you must know: The world will be what you make of it. You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities, and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, and end conflicts, and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can – (applause) – because in this moment, history is on the move.
But these things can only be done if all of you take responsibility for your future. And it won’t be easy. It will take time and effort. There will be suffering and setbacks. But I can promise you this: America will be with you every step of the way – as a partner, as a friend. (Applause.) Opportunity won’t come from any other place, though. It must come from the decisions that all of you make, the things that you do, the hope that you hold in your heart.
Ghana, freedom is your inheritance. Now, it is your responsibility to build upon freedom’s foundation. And if you do, we will look back years from now to places like Accra and say this was the time when the promise was realized; this was the moment when prosperity was forged, when pain was overcome, and a new era of progress began. This can be the time when we witness the triumph of justice once more. Yes we can. Thank you very much. God bless you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Ethiopian Prime Minister’s War On Corruption Results In Arrests Of 59 More Officials
Since coming into power in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a firm resolve to clean-up public institutions. Ahmed canceled the contract between the government and METEC (Metals and Engineering Corporation), a military-run industrial conglomerate. The latest crackdown on corruption on Thursday 11th April 2019 led to the arrest of 59 officials.
Among those affected by the arrest are the head and staff of the Public Procurement and Property Disposal Service. Commenting on the matter on Friday the nation’s attorney general, Berhanu Tsegaye, said the arrest is based on the suspicious acquisition of properties and economic sabotage.
“We found properties, such as title deeds of houses held by the suspects, which are beyond their income.”
Just one year in office but the prime minister is taking great strides in reforming the country. Ethiopia now has improved relationships with neighboring countries. These efforts have earned the prime minister a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
Abiy Ahmed’s Previous Public Institution Cleanup Efforts
According to Berhanu, the recent arrest follows a three-month investigation involving officials from the Ethiopian Water Works Construction Enterprise and Pharmaceuticals Fund and Supply Agency. However, this is not the first time the government is making efforts to stamp out corruption. In November 2018, the government arrested over 60 intelligence officials, businesspeople, and military personnel on various charges of right violation and corruption. Tsegaye said
“[The offenses of some of those arrested include] beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution, and even killings [and mismanaging METEC].”
The high-profile arrest included officials from METEC. Consequently, this led to the cancellation of the contact between METEC and the government. The former METEC head was in January 2019, charged with corruption. This makes him the most senior official in the arrest to be prosecuted. Ethiopia’s spy chief was also fingered in a botched plot to assassinate the new prime minister.
Reactions Trailing The Anti-Corruption War
It is all positive response for the anti-corruption war of the new prime minister. However, an opposition figure, Yilikal Getnet says the prime minister is merely playing to the demands of the people. In an interview with The Associated Press, Getnet said,
“These have been issues that we in the opposition have long been calling for, too. The ruling party alone can’t bring justice for all these atrocities committed in the past.”
Amnesty International also thinks the arrests are the right steps in the right direction. Commenting on the November 2018 arrests, the East Africa Director of Amnesty International, Joan Nyanyuki said,
“These arrests are an important first step towards ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades. Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations.
Tshisekedi and Kabila Agree to Form Coalition Government in DRC
President Felix Thisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and his predecessor Joseph Kabila have agreed to form a coalition government. Tshisekedi, who won the recent presidential elections, was not able to gain enough support in Parliament.
Kabila’s party holds the majority seats in parliament. Through this agreement, Joseph Kabila finds himself in government again. Kabila did not vie for the top seat in the December 30 2018 elections.
Factors Leading to the Coalition
President Tshisekedi could not push through his choice for Prime Minister in parliament. The stalemate effectively held back Tshisekedi’s ambitions to reform the country. Whereas President Tshisekedi’s CACH–Heading for Change Coalition–has only around 50 seats, Kabila’s FCC party—Common Front for Congo– has 337 seats, out of the 485 seats.
A sitting president in DRC is required to select a prime minister from the parliamentary majority. Essentially, a prime minister is chosen from a political group, coalition, or party that holds the majority in the National Assembly. The FCC coalition blocked Tshisekedi’s proposals in parliament.
The dominance of FCC put Tshisekdi at a difficult position in pushing his agenda, and a coalition government was seen as an ideal solution.
President Tshiskedi and Kabila’s parties pushed the two leaders to form a coalition government—after several weeks of failed talks. Both Kabila’s FCC and Tshisekedi’s CACH are coalition parties in themselves.
Coalition Government Talks
After Tshisekedi vented his frustrations on his inability to push through his choice for Prime Minister, it was time for coalition government talks with Kabila. On Sunday 17 February 2019, Kabila and Tshisekedi held talks on the possibility of forming a unity government. Although Kabila is no longer president, he is still the head of FCC.
On Wednesday, March 6 2019, both parties issued a joint statement confirming an agreement to form a coalition government. According to the issued statement, the decision to form a joint government was a move that reflected the will of the people.
What this Means
A coalition government will now make it easy for President Tshisekedi to have his proposals approved in parliament. As such, the President can comfortably appoint a new Prime Minister and cabinet. President Tshisekedi can now govern the country.
The Democratic Republic of Congo now joins Kenya and Zimbabwe as some of the African countries that have formed coalition governments during a specific period. In Kenya, former president Mwai Kibaki formed a coalition government with Raila Odinga—from April 2008 to April 2013. Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe formed a coalition government with Morgan Tsvangirai—2009 to 2013.
UN Rules Against Britain In Favor Of Mauritius Over Colonial Era Territory Grab
The International Court of Justice has found that Britain illegally seized control of Chagos archipelago. According to the UN Court, British’s acquisition of the group of islands was wrongful. The Court further advised that Britain should end their administration of the islands as soon as possible. Specifically, the court advised Britain to hand over the islands to Mauritius.
As part of the advisory opinion, the UN court judges pointed out that all UN member states were under obligation to cooperate to complete the decolonization of Mauritius. This includes the United State which operates a military base on the largest atoll of Diego Garcia.
The Back Story
Chagos archipelago comprises 60 tropical islands in the Indian Ocean. Chagos has been part of Mauritius since the 18th Century. All of the islands were part of French colonial territory. However, after Napoleon’s defeat, the islands were ceded to the British. 3 years prior to Mauritian independence, the British cut Chagos from the territory of Mauritius to form British Indian Ocean Territory.
In order for the British to pave way for a leasing agreement with the United States that demanded an uninhabited island, British officials forcibly expelled approximately 2,000who had lived on those islands for a century.
The U.S set up an airbase on the islands, and the natives have never been allowed to return home. Today, the U.S. still holds a major military base in Diego Garcia. The military base was a strategic point for the U.S. during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Only the atoll of Diego Garcia is inhabited, home to some 3,000 UK and US military and civilian contracted personnel. The United States lease ends in 2036.
Chagossians have since engaged in activism to return to the archipelago, claiming that their forced expulsion and dispossession were illegal.
Mauritius argued that it was coerced into giving up the islands to the UK. In addition, the separation, which took place 3 years prior to independence breached UN Resolution 1514 that was passed in 1960. The UN Resolution banned the breakup of colonial territories prior to independence.
Mauritius also claimed that the UK offered it two options prior to independence—independence with detachment from the islands or no independence with detachment. Either way, Mauritius was to lose the islands.
Professor Philippe Sands Remarks For Mauritius
In a report of the hearings last year by The Guardian, Prof Philippe Sands QC, representing Mauritius, told the International Court of Justice:
“No country wishes to be a colony. The mere possibility engenders strong feelings. A recent British foreign secretary’s [Boris Johnson] statement made that clear a few weeks ago in his resignation letter. He complained to the prime minister that she was adopting a path, in respect of Britain’s intended departure from the EU, that would turn the country into one ‘headed for the status of colony’.
“… The United Kingdom does not wish to be a colony, yet it stands before this court to defend a status as colonizer of Mauritius, a significant part of whose territory it administers.”
Instead of resettlement, Sands pointed out, the UK proposes to fund “heritage visits”. They would allow a handful of former “Man Fridays” – as some colonial documents refer to members of the Chagossian community – to visit their old homes for a few hours.
“The right to self-determination is not a ‘heritage’ issue. This is not Africa in the late 19th or early 20th century. This is September 2018.”
The British Reject Mauritius’ Claim
Britain, in its defense, claimed that the UN Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. As such, the ruling will be referred to the UN General Assembly for debate.
Making arguments for the United Kingdom was Robert Buckland. He rejected Mauritius’ claim that the 1965 agreement was made under duress. He pointed out that in 1982, Mauritius and the UK signed a treaty that reached “full and final settlement” of Mauritian claims to the archipelago. That deal, he claimed has since been recognized by the European court of human rights. He added that the UK had already invested over $56 million in resettlement programs to help Chagossians living elsewhere.
Reactions from Both Parties
The decision by the International Court of Justice was passed by a majority. The majority decision by the UN Court is a major blow to Britain. Britain has termed the ruling as being an advisory, not a judgment. It is therefore non-binding.
Mauritius has celebrated the decision of the International Court of Justice, stating that it effectively ends colonialism in Mauritius. The Chagossians, natives of the Chagos archipelago, have, for many years, fought for the return of the islands. Mauritius Prime Ministers stated that the decision by the court was a historic moment for the country and its people.
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