The group was first formed in 2004 as the International Coalition for the Protection of Natural Resources in Western Sahara, with a main focus to stop Kerr-McGee and TotalFinaElf, the two oil companies which carried out seismic exploration activities in Western Sahara at the time.
The network was in short formed as a response to the entry of oil companies into the territory, and to the 2002 UN Legal Opinion which deemed such oil exploration in violation of international law.
On 5 February 2005, at a meeting in Brussels, the group formalised its mission and demands, and renamed to Western Sahara Resource Watch. Many of the activists had a background in the global East Timor and anti-Apartheid solidarity movements, and had inherited the organisational and campaign skills from those solidarity campaigns.
From 2006, WSRW worked on the EU-Morocco trade agreements as a main focus area, while at the same time campaigning to stop the oil and phosphate companies involved in the illegal plunder of the territory.
The association today has an international board of seven, and a secretary based in Belgium.
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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.