Thursday, May 02, 2019

The UK is a rogue state

Back in February, the International Court of Justice ruled that UK had violated international law in its ethnic cleansing of the Chagos Islands, and ordered that they be handed back to Mauritius. So how did the UK, which claims to respect international law and has even threatened to use military force to enforce it, respond? By ignoring the ruling, of course:

In parliament on Tuesday, the Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan told MPs: “We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Chagos archipelago, which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the archipelago and we do not recognise its claim.

“We were disappointed that this matter was referred to the international court of justice, contrary to the principle that the court should not consider bilateral disputes without the consent of both states concerned.”

The ruling was merely an advisory opinion, Duncan said, and not “a legally binding judgment” – even though the UN general assembly had requested that the issue of decolonisation be referred to the ICJ. “The government respects the ICJ and has considered the content of the opinion carefully,” he added.

By ignoring this ruling, the UK has effectively declared itself to be a rogue state, a criminal regime no different from North Korea or Israel. And next time they want to use international law to pursue their goals, people will remember and behave similarly. Unfortunately, the ICJ has no tools by which to enforce its rulings - no capability to issue international arrest warrants and hold governments in contempt. Its time they did. If governments want to defy international law, their members should fear arrest every time they travel for the rest of their lives - just liek any other criminal.