The Chagos Islands cases: the empire strikes back

Frost, Tom and Murray, C R G (2015) The Chagos Islands cases: the empire strikes back. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 66 (3). pp. 263-288. ISSN 0029-3105

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Abstract

Good governance requires the accommodation of multiple interests in the cause of decision making. However, undue regard for particular sectional interests can take their toll upon public faith in government administration. Historically, broad conceptions of the good of the commonwealth were employed to outweigh the interests of groups that resisted colonisation. In the decision making of the British Empire, the standard approach for justifying the marginalisation of the interests of colonised groups was that they were uncivilised and that particular hardships were the price to be paid for bringing to them the imperial dividend of industrial society. It is widely assumed that with the dismantling of the British Empire, such impulses and their accompanying jurisprudence became a thing of the past. Even as decolonisation proceeded apace after the Second World War, however, the United Kingdom maintained control of strategically important islands with a view towards sustaining its global role. In an infamous example from this twilight period of empire, in the 1960s imperial interests were used to justify the expulsion of the Chagos islanders from the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Into the twenty-first century, this forced elision of the UK’s interests with the imperial “common good” continues to take centre stage in courtroom battles over the islanders’ rights, being cited before domestic and international tribunals in order to maintain the Chagossians’ exclusion from their homeland. This article considers the new jurisprudence of imperialism which has emerged in a string of decisions which have continued to marginalise the Chagossians’ interests.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Chagos Islands; imperialism; colonialism; rule of law; judicial review
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: K Law
K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence > K0140 History of Law
K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence > K0520 Comparative law. International uniform law > K3150 Public law
K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence > K0520 Comparative law. International uniform law > K3375 Colonial law
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Depositing User: Thomas Frost
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2015 11:50
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2017 21:21
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/56237

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