(CNN)The UK must return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius “as rapidly as possible,” the United Nations’ highest court ruled Monday, branding its occupation of the Indian Ocean archipelago illegal.
The islands, which are home to US military base Diego Garcia, were separated from the former British territory of Mauritius during decolonization in 1968. The international Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled
that act was illegal under international law.
For years, the US base has been vital to the military, serving as a landing spot for bombers that fly missions across Asia, including over the South China Sea. The UN ruling raises questions about its future.