Siemens criticised over Western Sahara deal

A spokesperson for the United Nations Global Compact has said that they “are looking into the issue” of the deal between Siemens Denmark and the Moroccan government to build 22 windmills near El Aaaiun in occupied Western Sahara. Siemens is a participant of Global Compact, a policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with principles of human rights.

Global Compact was answering a letter from Danish solidarity organisation, Africa Contact, urging them to investigate the deal between Siemens and the Moroccan government. “It seems clear to us that Siemens, in pursuing this order, is in violation of international law – because Western Sahara is illegally occupied by Morocco and because it is illegal to deal with resources from non-self-governing territories such as Western Sahara,” the letter stated.

Siemens risks being “delisted” or expelled from the Global Compact initiative. Lifosa, a Lithuanian fertilizer producer, was expelled last year for “failure to engage in dialogue” in relation to its importing of phosphates from Western Sahara, and Global Compact has expelled over 3000 companies since 2005 “for failure to communicate progress on their efforts to implement the UN Global Compact’s ten sustainability principles:”

Many others believe Siemens to be in violation of international law. Western Sahara Resource Watch, an international network of activists and organisations campaigning against business deals in occupied Western Sahara, calls the project illegal both according to international law and the Global Compact initiative.

Per Clausen, Climate Spokesman of Danish party the Red and Green Alliance, has urged the Danish government to protest against the deal. “It is unacceptable for Siemens to put up windmills in Western Sahara,” he said.

And the municipality of Copenhagen, which owns shares in Siemens, has had to answer questions about whether the Siemens project is in accordance with the municipality’s ethical guidelines. The municipality answered that it “was aware of the problem” but deemed the deal to be “ethically acceptable for the time being.”

Read More:

The article in Danish

Siemens’ danske afdeling vil opføre vindmøller i Vestsahara, Danmarks Radio, 21 May 2012

Siemens danske afdeling vil opføre vindmøller i Vestsahara, P1 Morgen, 21 May 2012 (entire programme here – see 30:00 min)

Polisario rejects Siemens’ claim to be developing Western Sahara

Siemens makes illegal windmill deal in occupied Western Sahara

The case for Western Saharan independence

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