The Last Colony

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781474618120

Price: £16.99

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.


After the Second World War, new international rules heralded an age of human rights and self-determination. Supported by Britain, these unprecedented changes sought to end the scourge of colonialism. But how committed was Britain?

In the 1960s, its colonial instinct ignited once more: a secret decision was taken to offer the US a base at Diego Garcia, one of the islands of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, create a new colony (the ‘British Indian Ocean Territory’) and deport the entire local population. One of those inhabitants was Liseby Elysé, twenty years old, newly married, expecting her first child. One suitcase, no pets, the British ordered, expelling her from the only home she had ever known.

For four decades the government of Mauritius fought for the return of Chagos, and the past decade Philippe Sands has been intimately involved in the cases. In 2018 Chagos and colonialism finally reached the World Court in The Hague. As Mauritius and the entire African continent challenged British and American lawlessness, fourteen international judges faced a landmark decision: would they rule that Britain illegally detached Chagos from Mauritius? Would they open the door to Liseby Elysé and her fellow Chagossians returning home – or exile them forever?

Taking us on a disturbing journey across international law, THE LAST COLONY illuminates the continuing horrors of colonial rule, the devastating impact of Britain’s racist grip on its last colony in Africa, and the struggle for justice in the face of a crime against humanity. It is a tale about the making of modern international law and one woman’s fight for justice, a courtroom drama and a personal journey that ends with a historic ruling.


A devastating indictment of Britain's colonial past, exploring the decision to deport the entire population of Chagos in the 1960s. It recounts one courageous woman's four-decade fight for justice in the face of a crime against humanity, culminating in a courtroom drama at The Hague and a historic ruling
Sands, who represented Mauritius at the International Court, is the right person to tell this story. He elegantly mixes a more general history of the development of international law, on which he knows as much as anyone, with the particular subject of the book
Mindful of not only the stories but also the silences of the past, THE LAST COLONY is a powerful and poignant book that should be read by anyone who cares about justice, humanity and human rights. Rarely does a book combine erudition and empathy so eloquently - it is stellar in every sense of the word
An important book about a great injustice - alas, the sins of our colonial fathers are still with us
Gripping . . . Sands writes fluently and passionately throughout, linking the story of the Chagossians to the wider narrative of the end of colonialism, and postwar attempts to codify and enforce the right of self-determination of peoples. Elegant, moving and profoundly informative
Joyce McMillan, THE SCOTSMAN
A resounding history, thrilling as any novel
A powerful and persuasive account . . . superb
The Chagossians were forced from their archipelago in the Indian Ocean in the 1970s, and Britain still refuses to hand it back. Human rights lawyer Philippe Sands relates the wider tragedy of the scandal with nerve and precision . . . [he] makes a steely and forensic case, laced with human empathy . . . an important and welcome corrective
A fascinating story which shows the personal and ongoing toll of colonial rule
Interweaves personal stories with global politics and the development of international law . . . an urgent reminder that Britain's colonial rule isn't our past. It's our present
Powerful and elegantly written . . . Sands uses the story of one Chagossian woman to tell a broader story about colonialism and international human rights from the 20th century to today. An essential account of a continuing and little-known area of injustice
Tomiwa Owolade, SUNDAY TIMES
Brings a human touch to the story . . . Sands is a worthy and effective advocate