Oil drilling is illegal without Saharawi consent, Corell stresses
Kosmos Energy claims its oil exploration is in accordance with the 2002 UN Legal Opinion. If the company has failed to seek the consent of the Saharawi people, that it would not be the case, according to the author of that opinion, quoted by UN info centre today.
The UN Regional information Centre for Western Europe, UNRIC Brussels, today published an interview with the author of the so-called “UN Legal Opinion" - the former UN Legal Counsel, Hans Corell.
Corell stressed that he does not know how the agreements between the companies and Morocco were negotiated, and that he has not seen the texts of the agreements himself. Yet, the preconditions of their legality remain evident, he said.
"As is clear from my statement to the UN Security Council on 29 January 2002, the oil exploitation and related actvities will be in violation of international law concerning Non-Self-Governing Territories if they are taking place in the disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara".
“The problem remains that there have never been consultations with representatives of the Saharawi people and that Morocco do not allow them to organize politically”, Corell told the UN information centre.
"Another problem I have witnessed is that several states in their relation to Western Sahara do not, with a single word, mention the fact that Morocco's 'jurisdiction' over the territory is limited by international rules for self-determination", he said.
"I find it particularly worrisome to see how the EU has acted in relation to fisheries in the waters offshore Western Sahara. The fact that the protocol of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) from 2013 do not even mention Western Sahara, even less the parties' legal obligations in this situation, speaks for itself. It is completely unacceptable from a legal perspective", he said at the time.
"Few days before the EU Parliament approved the protocol, 10 December 2013, Morocco refered to Western Sahara as "Moroccan Sahara" in the UN General Assembly. My recommendation to the Members of Parliament is that they study a short publication, Rule of Law – a guide for politicians", he noted.
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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