Text below is written by the Polish foundation "Africa Another Way" ("Afryka Inaczej"), a member organisation of Western Sahara Resource Watch. The group contacted the business newspaper Thinktank to object to their inclusion of Western Sahara into a Moroccan marketing effort.
THINKTANK, a magazine that is promoted as a source of inspiration for business and public administration leaders launched a shocking “Dossier“ on the prospects of Polish - Moroccan cooperation. Its authors, dr. Małgorzata Bonikowska and Paweł Rabiej did not say a word about Rabat breaking international law and they even went further by placing Western Sahara within the borders of Morocco. They thus enlarged the territory of Morocco from about 446 000 km² to more than 710 000 km².
Below you can find the map of Morocco published in “Dossier”. On the basis of the map, one could believe that Western Sahara is a part of Morocco. This is, however, inconsistent with the applicable international law. It is astonishing that the authors, who are said to be experts in the domain of European studies and international relations (Bonikowska) and journalism (Rabiej) are not able to differentiate Morocco from the territory it occupies. In the “Dossier“ we can find a map with one huge indivisible Morocco – in accordance with the official position of Moroccan propaganda – in which in turn was copied by the authors of this publication. Bonikowska and Rabiej keep ignoring the decisions if international society. They also do not mention Western Sahara conflict.
In this case, it is worth reminding to the people responsible for publication of the “Dossier“ of THINKTANK that in 1975 International Court of Justice rejected a claim of Morocco to take control over this territory, and awaiting the decolonization, it reconfirmed Western Sahara’s status as a non-self-governing territory. Over 100 UN resolutions have confirmed the right of Saharawi to self-determination, including a right to natural resources within its territory. Morocco has no legal basis to make agreements and contracts with third parties with regards to Western Sahara natural resources management. It has also no right to write Western Sahara into its borders, as “Dossier“ did.
Morocco is very effective in obstructing the Saharawi people from self-determination and it is hampering the option of an open, legal, transparent referendum. This right was enacted (?) in 1960, by virtue of a UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and it is irrefutable. From the beginning of the occupation, Morocco has killed, tortured and detained the Saharawi, breaking the human rights. It has also taken the advantage of the phosphates resources. To the contrary of the way it was represented by the the authors of the “Dossier“, Morocco does not own these resources. Moreover, fishing is practiced in Western Sahara waters. Also, some offshore research have been launched to discover the deposits of other natural resources, such as oil. All that goes against the opinion of UN Security Council of January 2002 (www.arso.org/Olaeng.pdf), where the UN General Secretary for Legal Affairs confirmed that all further activity aiming at exploitation of the oil resources in Western Sahara would infringe international law, if the wishes and the potential benefit for Saharawi are not taken into account.
THINKTANK “Dossier” contributes and supports the illegal occupation of Western Sahara, and it ignores the plunder of this territory by an aggressor country, which is Morocco. In the same time it encourages Polish business community to profit from the illegal exploitation of Western Sahara resources, including the tourism industry. On behalf of Western Sahara Resource Watch I would like to appeal to the publishers of the “Dossier“ concerning Morocco to broaden their knowledge and consider the belowmentioned facts:
1. While promoting economic cooperation with Morocco, one should not ignore the fact of Morocco breaking the human rights of Saharawi people.
2. One should make a clear distinction between investments within the borders of Morocco on one side – and the borders of Western Sahara on the other. It should inform the Polish investors and businessman interested in cooperation, that Morocco does not have a border with Mauritania (it does exist according to the authors of the “Dossier“). Maps and borders are easily accessible on the internet.
3. One should sensitize the Polish public administration, businessmen and public opinion on the question of ethics when investing in Morocco. A shocking “Dossier” was created in cooperation with Moroccan authorities. It proves that the publication in question was launched on Rabat request. Also a Polish Ambassador took part in this, as the authors express their thanks.
Poland, currently heading the European Council, should have extorted from Rabat to fulfil international provisions and respect for Western Sahara, prior to considering promoting Morocco. In other case, we will deal with double standards and unreliable brochures, which are supposed to be a source of information given by experts. The ”Dossier“ is at the moment nothing more than a Moroccan tourist brochure hiding an uncomfortable truth. Unfortunately Western Sahara, fighting for its right to a referendum and respect for its people, is still occupied territory.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.