The Attorney General has disclosed findings from a comprehensive evaluation by its review committee aimed at addressing the loss of maritime territory following the controversial ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). The Tribunal’s decision, which delineated the maritime boundary between the Maldives and Mauritius, had previously awarded a significant area to Mauritius, sparking a legal and diplomatic effort by the Maldivian government to reclaim the contested maritime zone.

The review, which enlisted the expertise of a King’s Counsel from England and a Maltese expert in maritime law, has cast doubt on the validity of the ITLOS ruling by international legal standards, suggesting potential avenues for the Maldives to challenge the decision. 

Criticisms were directed towards the handling of the initial stages of the case by the previous Maldivian administration under President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, accusing it of negligence and a failure to utilise defensive strategies effectively, thus compromising the country’s territorial interests.

The Attorney General’s statement highlighted that the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which significantly influenced ITLOS’s final ruling, does not possess binding force under international law, further arguing that the sovereignty of Chagos—an essential element of the dispute—remains outside Mauritius’s jurisdiction. 

These findings suggest that the decision to award maritime territory to Mauritius may be revisited, citing legal ambiguities and procedural missteps as potential grounds for appeal.

Meanwhile, Attorney General is under scrutiny for engaging the services of two international lawyers, Amy Sander and Dr Naomi Hart of Essex Court Chambers and members of the Bar of England and Wales, who previously represented the Maldives in the ITLOS case, in a separate case this week before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

The employment (though pro bono) of Sander and Hart has raised eyebrows, particularly because the legal strategy they employed in the ITLOS case has been cited by the Attorney General’s office as a complicating factor in pursuing an appeal against the ITLOS decision. The office has publicly stated that the defensive stance taken by the previous legal team, presents challenges in appealing the maritime boundary decision—a stance that contrasts sharply with the government’s initial confidence in their legal acumen.

The critique of the previous government’s legal strategy by the current administration, coupled with the failed promise to appeal the ITLOS judgment within the first 100 days of office, highlights the political dimensions of the dispute.