Polisario expresses concern to Security Council over EU fisheries
Same day as the EU will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, the union carries out a new round negotiations over illegal fisheries in Western Sahara. The Security Council will be briefed on the Western Sahara issue today, two days after receiving a letter where Polisario expresses its worry over the EU fishy involvement in the conflict.
26 November the Western Sahara liberation movement Frente Polisario sent a letter to the Security Council expressing its deep concern over the EU's plans to enter into fisheries agreement covering the territory of Western Sahara.
The letter states the following: The Frente POLISARIO also wishes to draw attention to the ongoing illegal exploration and exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara. In particular, we would like to express our most serious concern at efforts by the European Union and Morocco to renew arrangements under their 2005 Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) to the extent that such arrangements purport to apply to the waters adjacent to the coast of Western Sahara. Similar arrangements were rejected by the European Parliament in a vote on 14 December 2011 due to concerns that the proposed Protocol violated international law, as reflected in the finding by the UN Legal Counsel in 2002 that activities related to the natural resources of Western Sahara must not proceed in “disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara.” (UN Doc. S/2002/161). We call upon Morocco and all foreign entities to halt the unlawful exploitation of Western Sahara’s resources and desist from entering into any agreements that would violate the Saharawi people’s permanent sovereignty over their natural resources.
The 10 December 2012, the EU will carry out a new round of negotiations with Moroccan government in Brussels. This happens, ironically, the same day as the leaders of the EU are in Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and the same day as the International day of human rights.
The first round of meetings, that took place in Rabat in the midst of Moroccan police violence in occupied Western Sahara, only covered technical matters. A third, maybe final round of negotiations, could take place early next year.
Former EU-Morocco agreements of this nature have stirred criticism, as the deals are clearly in violation of international law and undermine the UN peace efforts. The fisheries will cover a territory which is not part of Morocco. The former UN legal chief, Hans Corell, is one of many to underline this:
It is "obvious that a[EU-Morocco fisheries] agreement…that does not make a distinction between the waters adjacent to Western Sahara and the waters adjacent to the territory of Morocco would violate international law". Corell added: "As a European I feel embarrassed".
Today, 28 November, it is planned that the UN Security Council will be briefed by the UN Special Envoy, Christopher Ross. The briefing will include his findings and analysis from his tour in North Africa and to Western capitals the last weeks. One of the topics of the peace talks, are natural resource management, which Morocco profits largely from, in violation of international law.
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.
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.
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