Revisiting the Matthew and Hunter Islands Dispute in Light of the Recent Chagos Advisory Opinion and Some Other Relevant Cases: An Evaluation of Vanuatu’s Claims relating to the Right to Self-Determination, Territorial Integrity, Unlawful Occupation and State Responsibility Under International Law

  • Morsen MossesEmail author


This article examines the legal implications of the Chagos Advisory Opinion and some other relevant cases on the Matthew and Hunter Islands dispute. In doing so, the piece attempts to evaluate Vanuatu’s claims relating to the right to self-determination of the people of New Hebrides (Ni-Vans since 1980), the territorial integrity of New Hebrides/Vanuatu and the alleged unlawful occupation of the Matthew and Hunter Islands by France. First, the article submits that by transferring the administration of these islands to New Caledonia in 1976 France may have violated the territorial integrity of Vanuatu and the right to self-determination of its people. The article then considers the competing claims of sovereignty over these Islands and argues that the right to self-determination is likely to prevail over France’s claims of, inter alia, effectivités. The article submits therefore that France may be under an obligation to cease its unlawful occupation of these Islands.


Right to self-determination Territorial integrity Effectivités Wrongful act State responsibility Matthew and Hunter 



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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lecturer, School of LawUniversity of the South PacificPort VilaVanuatu

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