The pre-appeal review of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ruling on the maritime boundary between the Maldives and Mauritius will soon be completed, President Mohamed Muizzu has confirmed. The ruling, issued on 23 April 2023, settled the dispute over the maritime boundary between the two Indian Ocean neighbours.

The ITLOS decision resulted in the Maldives gaining a larger portion of the disputed waters, totalling 92,563 square meters. However, the Maldives lost approximately 45,331 square metres from its traditionally claimed Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The opposition, led by the parties in the current government, argued that the Maldives had “lost” a significant portion of the waters to Mauritius following the ruling. This claim was a key point in Muizzu’s presidential campaign, which the administration of former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih denied. Muizzu also pledged to reclaim the lost maritime territory and appeal the ITLOS decision during his first 100 days in office.

The Attorney General’s Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are currently conducting the pre-appeal review of the case, Muizzu said. “Once the review of the case is done, we’ll get a report. And we’ll make sure the media gets the details, too,” he added.

Despite the controversy, legal commentators have noted that rulings issued by ITLOS are final and binding, with no chance of appealing the decisions. One legal expert commented on X (formerly Twitter): “You can’t appeal decisions made by ITLOS.” Another lawyer added, “There’s no legal way, either under international or Maldivian law, that allows an ITLOS ruling to be appealed.”

The government’s announcement comes against the backdrop of reports that the United Kingdom is considering abandoning plans to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius. Following UK media reports, Member of Parliament (MP) for Maamigili, Qasim Ibrahim, urged the Maldivian government to reclaim the ocean territory that was “lost” to Mauritius. “I am confident that President Muizzu will commence negotiations with the British government and successfully reclaim the lost territory for the Maldivian people,” Ibrahim said on X.