Some of the basic questions being thrashed out at OoL include:

1. Is a government essentially its people?

2. Can that government initiate or buy or spend or initiate any action without the express consent of the people?

3. If yes, where does it say so? If no, where does it say so?

4. How far can mandate extend?

5. Can a government “buy” territory on behalf of its people? If not, should all “bought” territory revert to the seller?

6. If territory can be bought, does that include the indigenous people on it? What if that indigenous people don’t want?

7. Are certain types of indigenous people more important than others?

A commenter on the Falklands issue brought the Chagos Islands into it. It’s an issue many of your know all about:

In the early 1970s the UK evicted all of the inhabitants from another British Territory, the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean so that the US could build a naval base there. Orders relating to the eviction have been made by the Privy Council, sidestepping any Parliamentary debate. In 2006 Sir Sydney Kentridge, QC described the treatment of the Chagossians as “outrageous, unlawful and a breach of accepted moral standards”. He said there was no known precedent “for the lawful use of prerogative powers to remove or exclude an entire population of British subjects from their homes and place of birth”. It should be noted that the Queen as head of the Privy Council presided over the eviction of her own subjects.

This leads me to suspect that British Government have no interest whatsoever in the fate of the residents of the Falklands, but that their reason for so adamantly retaining sovereignty are militarily strategic and oil-related.

OK – a quick look at what actually happened. Firstly, the islands more or less came under Mauritius at the turn of the last century. Governments and the Ilois [Chagos Islanders] were not unhappy about the arrangement. Wiki continues:

In November 1965, the UK purchased the entire Chagos Archipelago from the then self-governing colony of Mauritius for £3 million pounds to create the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) …plus in April 1966, the British Government bought the entire assets and real property of the Seychellois Chagos Agalega Company, which owned all the islands of the BIOT, for £600,000 and administered them as a government enterprise.

Leaving aside for the moment the purpose the British government had for the islands and going back to the questions at the top – could it “buy” them from Mauritius or not? If yes, could it then have a say in the affairs of the indigenous people?

Between 1967 and 1973, the entire population was involuntarily removed from the islands and relocated to Mauritius and the Seychelles to make way for a joint United States-United Kingdom military base on Diego Garcia.

There is now litigation from two places:

1. Mauritius, which wants more money for their sale, after it’s all been signed and sealed;

2. The islanders themselves who are not very happy.

Where’s the “right” in this matter?

3 comments for “Sovereignty

  1. June 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm


    1. No.
    2. Yes.
    3. Nowhere, they have the guns.
    4. It is not a mandate but the power is infinite insofar as a parliamentary majority can be retained and cajoled.
    5. No, but they do, just as others sell. It is the right to tax the residents that is being sold essentially.
    6. See previous answer.
    7. I suspect the rather unfortunate residents of the Chagos Islands may have had better treatment had they been white. I maybe wrong, just my opinion but it was the 1970’s.

    But you are right of course, the Falklands are about jingoism, distraction form domestic problems and oil.

  2. Greg Tingey
    June 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

    1: Yes
    2: Sometimes, in dire emergency (ONLY)
    3: Declaration of war, when attacked, usually – though a simple declaration that “A state of War exists, because….” should suffice. Possibly a very serious civil emergency – something like the 1953 floods, or a really bad contagious disease outbreak come to mind.
    4: How long is a piece of string? Are you referring to powers or time-limits?
    Please re-specify the question…
    5: Yes – see Louisian Purchase.
    6: Yes and NO – they must have a say in the matter.
    7: No

    How differebt things would have been if Argentina had not had military coups just pre WWI – & had joined the commonwealth – as nearly happened.

  3. June 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    It’s no more wrong than forcing you to sell your house to build a railway line. Which is still wrong. This is just on a much larger scale. Assuming the islanders themselves received money for the sale, I assume they did not, which makes it more akin to the forced deportations of populations in the Soviet Union. Which was also plain wrong, but in keeping with the ideology of that state.

Comments are closed.