Update: Maldives joins Mauritius in opposing MPA; RHUL workshop report published online
A quick round-up of some of the events that have taken place over the last few days:
Maldives joins Mauritius in opposing UK plans for an MPA in the Chagos islands
The Republic of Maldives has joined Mauritius in opposing any unilateral move by the UK Government to establish a marine protected area (MPA) in the Chagos islands, according to the African Press Agency.Â The same article reports that the Mauritian foreign minister has been busily briefing the Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Kamalesh Sharma, who is said to be “closely following the tug of war between Mauritius and Britain.”
The cooperation of neighbouring states will be sorely required for the effective implementation and monitoring of an MPA in Chagos, which makes it extremely worrying that the UK Government failed to build the necessary coalition of support before publishing its consultation document.Â If plans for environmental conservation in Chagos are to succeed, then the FCO would be wise to engage more effectively with those who will be affected by the proposals – including the Maldives, Mauritius and, of course, the Chagossians.
Mauritius gives conditions for the resumption of bilateral talks
Meanwhile, Le Mauricien is reporting that the Government of Mauritius has laid down three conditions for the resumption of bilateral talks with the UK over the future of Chagos.Â These are: (1) the abandonment of the currently ongoing consultation over Chagos marine protection; (2) the withdrawal of the FCO’s consultation paper, which contains three options for marine protection that have each been deemed unacceptable by the Mauritians; and (3) a commitment for joint proposals for conservation to be agreed between the UK and Mauritian governments.
RHUL workshop report now online
The report of the 7th January 2010 workshop on the “socio-economic considerations” of creating an MPA in the Chagos islands has now been published online.Â The report has also been forwarded to the FCO as evidence to its consultation process.
Analysis of the report’s main findings will be forthcoming in due course, but the overall conclusion of a majority of participants seems to have been that the FCO should develop a proposal for marine protection in Chagos that provided for the return of the Chagossians and “for limited sustainable utilisation of natural resources through zoning or other means.”
Again, a key theme of the report was that the UK should not – indeed, cannot – press ahead unilaterally in trying to impose an MPA in Chagos that does not enjoy the confidence of the archipelago’s neighbours or indigenous people.Â An opportunity to gain consensus exists, and the FCO should grasp it.