War on the Rocks is proud to be publishing select articles from The Interpreter. Sovereignty over the island is increasingly being challenged by Mauritius, but it seems unlikely that Washington would be interested in doing a deal that would facilitate its transfer. The base has its origins in the s as decolonization swept over the region and Soviet influence grew in many of the newly independent countries. But it was China, not the Soviet Union, that spurred Washington to focus on acquiring a base. President Kennedy was not willing to go that far, and decided to dispatch the U. By , a regional survey judged that Diego Garcia — an atoll in the Chagos Archipelago that was an administrative dependency of the distant British colony of Mauritius, some nautical miles of open ocean away — was best suited. In , London agreed to make Diego Garcia available to the United States for defense purposes for 50 years. In real estate, the three most important considerations when valuing property are location, location, and location. Diego Garcia more than satisfies these criteria. It is situated near the center of the Indian Ocean, within striking distance of virtually all maritime choke points, vital sea lines of communication, and potential Chinese naval bases in the region: Djibouti and the Bab al Mandeb nautical miles ; the Strait of Hormuz nautical miles ; Gwadar, Pakistan nautical miles ; the Eight Degree Channel between India and the Maldives nautical miles ; Hambantota, Sri Lanka nautical miles ; Kyaukphyu, Myanmar nautical miles ; the Strait of Malacca nautical miles ; and Lombok Strait nautical miles.
It's a horseshoe-shaped atoll of about 17 square miles.
It is a militarised atoll just south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean , and the largest of 60 small islands comprising the Chagos Archipelago. It was first discovered by Europeans and named by the Portuguese, settled by the French in the s and transferred to British rule after the Napoleonic Wars. In , the population of the island was Although it was common for local plantation managers to allow pensioners and the disabled to remain in the islands and continue to receive housing and rations in exchange for light work, children after the age of 12 were required to work. Diego Garcia lies at the southernmost tip of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge , a vast underwater mountain range  with peaks consisting of coral reefs , atolls, and islands comprising Lakshadweep , the Maldives , and the Chagos Archipelago. The motion was approved by a majority vote with 94 voting for and 15 against. In February , the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the United Kingdom must transfer the islands to Mauritius as they were not legally separated from the latter in The ruling is not legally binding. In May , the United Nations General Assembly affirmed the decision of the International Court of Justice and demanded that the United Kingdom withdraw its colonial administration from the Islands and cooperate with Mauritius to facilitate the resettlement of Mauritian nationals in the archipelago.
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Occupying an area of 17 square miles 44 square km , it consists of a V-shaped sand-fringed cay about 15 miles 24 km in length with a maximum width of about 7 miles 11 km ; its lagoon is open at the north end. Discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, it was for most of its history a dependency of Mauritius. The production of copra from coconut palms was the only economic activity until the early s, when the last of the plantation workers and their families were removed—mostly to Mauritius, but smaller numbers went to Seychelles and Great Britain. This was done to enable the development of U. In the late s, islanders from the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, sued for the right to return home, and in a British court ruled that the ordinance banning them from the islands was unlawful. In the British government lost its case before the Court of Appeal but announced its intention to challenge that decision in the House of Lords. The following year a majority of the panel of five Law Lords ruled against the islanders, although the government expressed regret for the original removal.
Jump to navigation. Katie McQue reports. This was his pay for a whole month working as a warehouse caretaker. It was , and Danilo had begun his two-year contract on the secretive US military base known as Diego Garcia, located on a small island in the Indian Ocean. This paltry salary was because of hiring costs he was made to pay to his new employer upon starting his job for the US military and the remittance he was required by contract to send to his family in the Philippines. Things did not improve throughout his years on Diego Garcia. This is because they can be hired for much lower wages than employees from other countries, since jobs in the Philippines are scarce, several workers have said. Jobs on offer on Diego Garcia include positions as cleaners, warehouse caretakers, and construction workers that spend long days working in the degree heat of the tropical island. Cheap labour practices on Diego Garcia have spanned decades, and with knowledge and complicity of the US government, documents passed to the New Internationalist reveal. Over the past two years the New Internationalist has interviewed 11 current and former workers about pay and conditions on the island.