Nordic solidarity groups demand action on Western Sahara

Representatives from Nordic Western Sahara solidarity groups from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, and Polisario Front Representative in Denmark, Abba Malainin, Saturday issued a statement demanding that the stakeholders in the Western Saharan conflict start acting in accordance with international law.

The statement included the following demands:

– The UN to speed up the decolonization of Western Sahara through the organisation of free referendum of Self-determination that MINURSO has been mandated for almost twenty years.
– The UN to establish a human rights monitoring capacity and the instigation of a Mission of Observation on the exploitation of the territory’s natural resources.
– Morocco to respect the international human rights law in occupied territories, notably the right to freedom of association, assembly, movement and expression.
– An end to the illegal exploration and exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara in the illegally occupied territory and the discouragement of the involvement of foreign companies in such activities.
– Given that the EU- Morocco Fisheries Agreement including the waters of Western Sahara is in violation of international law, we demand that Western Sahara Waters are explicitly excluded in the renewal of the EU-Morocco Fisheries agreement that will end February 2011.
– The EU to follow EFTA and the USA, which both excluded Western Sahara from their free trade cooperation with Morocco.
– The Nordic Countries humanitarian assistance to the Saharawi refugees.
– The Nordic Countries to follow the African Union in recognising the Saharawi Republic.

A combination of the inaction of the international community, the EU in particular, and a reluctance on the part of Morocco to change the status quo, is seemingly the main stumbling block to solving the Western Saharan conflict in accordance with international law. One example of this is that of the EU-Moroccan fisheries agreement. In July 2009, the European Parliament’s Legal Service concluded that the present fisheries agreement was not in accordance with international law, and therefore illegal.

This was one of the reasons why the European Parliament demanded that the Sahrawis were to be consulted on present and future fisheries agreements in December 2009, and subsequently decided that they would send a delegation to the occupied territories in Western Sahara to determine whether such consultation was taking place, and whether Morocco was thus acting in accordance with international law. As on previous occasions, Morocco showed no inclination towards allowing outside interference or recognising international law. After having failed to respond to the query for months, Morocco finally declined the European parliament’s request for access to the occupied territories in Western Sahara.

Links:

Nordic countries’ solidarity groups reaffirm solidarity with Saharawi people, Sahara Press Service, 6 June 2010

The European Parliament’s Legal Service statement on the fisheries agreement 

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