President Mohamed Muizzu, in his Martyr’s Day address to the nation, has reiterated his commitment to recovering the part of the Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that had been lost due to the ruling by International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

The dispute which was adjudicated by ITLOS centred on the Blenheim Reef, with Mauritius arguing that it should be the starting point for measuring the border between it and the Maldives. The Maldives presented scientific evidence and satellite images to demonstrate that the reef could not be considered a base point with the ITLOS special chamber agreeing with the Maldives and drawing an equidistance line that excluded any base point from the disputed reef.

As a result of the ruling, the Maldives received a larger share of the disputed waters, totalling 92,563 square metres. However, though the country retained an area of 47,232 square metres, it would also lose approximately 45,331 square metres from its traditionally claimed EEZ.

While, the then incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih emphasised that the most significant aspect of the decision was that the country now has a fully internationally recognised, dispute-free border, President Mohamed Muizzu, during his presidential campaign, contended that the Maldives had ‘lost’ a substantial portion of its maritime territory to Mauritius following the ITLOS ruling.

President Muizzu, in his Martyrs’ Day speech, thus drew parallels between Sultan Ali VI martyrdom in sacrificing his life to protect the Maldives, and the valiant efforts of leaders who followed in ensuring what was taken was won back, saying that Maldivians will learn from the sacrifices of its ancestors and recover the lost part of the Maldivian oceans.