UN Agency Bans UK Stamps From Disputed Indian Ocean Islands

A long-simmering territorial dispute between the U.K. and Mauritius over the ownership of a mostly unoccupied archipelago in the Indian Ocean has taken a bizarre twist with a United Nations agency declaring U.K. postage stamps can no longer be used within the disputed territory.

What Happened: The Universal Postal Union — a U.N. agency that coordinates the worldwide postal system — has voted that all mail originating from the Chagos Islands must use stamps from Mauritius and not the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) stamps currently in use.

France colonized the Chagos Islands in the 1770s but ceded the islands along with Mauritius to the British after Napoleon’s defeat in 1814. The U.K. government separated Mauritius and the Chagos Island in 1965, granting Mauritius independence in 1968 while creating the BIOT to administer the islands.

Between 1967 and 1973, the U.K. and U.S. governments forcibly removed the islands’ indigenous peoples and set up a military base on Diego Garcia, which is the only one of the more than 60 islands that is occupied. The U.K. has ignored U.N. resolutions and rulings by the International Court of Justice and the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordering Chagos Islands sovereignty be given to Mauritius.

See Also: Crypto Live: N1 Force - An Eternal Society Damned

What Happens Next: The BIOT Post Office on Diego Garcia handles outbound postal services while incoming mail is handled by the U.S. Postal Service and the British Forces Post Office. Most of the BIOT postage stamps are acquired by philatelic collectors. Diego Garcia has a population of 3,000 and the U.K. recently renewed a lease agreement with the U.S. on the island through 2036.

According to an Agence France Presse report, Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth hailed the postage stamp ruling as “another big step in favor of the recognition of the sovereignty of Mauritius over the Chagos.”

A spokesperson for the U.K. Foreign Office said his country was "disappointed" by the UPU’s decision.

"The UK has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory, which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814," the spokesperson said.

Photo: A recent philatelic commemorative issue from British Indian Ocean Territory, courtesy of the BIOT Post Office.

Market News and Data brought to you by Benzinga APIs
Posted In: GovernmentNewsGlobalChagos IslandsDiego GarciaMauritiuspostage stampstrendy storyU.K.United Nations
Benzinga simplifies the market for smarter investing

Trade confidently with insights and alerts from analyst ratings, free reports and breaking news that affects the stocks you care about.

Join Now: Free!