On 22 May 2019, the United Nations General Assembly ordered the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to withdraw from the Chagos Archipelago it illegally occupies and for the islands to be reunified with neighbouring Mauritius within six months.

Two years earlier, on 22 June 2017, the General Assembly had referred the Chagos sovereignty dispute between Mauritius and the United Kingdom to the International Court of Justice. The ICJ ruled that the process of Mauritius’s independence had been tampered with by the United Kingdom, which had illegally dismembered its territory.

Furthermore, the General Assembly called on the United Kingdom to ensure the return of the Chagossians who were expelled from the Indian Ocean home.

To the general surprise, the resolution was adopted by 116 votes in favor, 6 against (Australia, United States, Hungary, Israel, Republic of Maldives, United Kingdom) and 56 abstentions (including Germany and France).

This raises a particularly sensitive issue: if the United Kingdom is to decolonise the Chagos Archipelago, the lease granted to the United States until 2036 to establish a gigantic military base on the island of Diego Garcia would be null and void. The Pentagon has spent $ 3 billion on the construction of the "Camp Justice" base, which houses, among other things, a secret CIA prison. The base, which is subject to very strict security measures, hosts a thousand military and about 2,500 contractors. It is maintained by Filipinos, paid 450 dollars a month.

In his book, Island of Shame: The Secret History of the US Military Base on Diego Garcia (Princeton University Press, 2011), David Vine reveals that the United Kingdom had actually yielded to US pressure. In the context of their 1958 Strategic Island Concept, the US identified a number of islands whose location would enable them to control the oceans and to contain the USSR (Containement). The US Army Chief of Staff ordered the forcible expulsion of the resident populations, as was the case in Pearl Harbor (1887), Guam (1889), Panama (1831), Attu (1942), Vieques (1942), Culebra (1948), Okinawa (1948), Thule (1953), and Marshall (1960).

When London accepted to lease Diego Garcia, the British prime minister brooded over the long-term consequences of this crime and the possible backlash it would suffer before the UN.