Glencore Plc, the Swiss based multinational commodity trading and mining company, holds two exploration licences from the Moroccan government for oil blocks located outside of Morocco's internationally recognised borders: in the part of Western Sahara that Morocco invaded and annexed in 1975.
A large part of the Saharawi people fled Morocco's invasion, and still live in refugee camps in south-west Algeria. In one of those camps, named Dakhla after the town in their homeland, the refugees yesterday 17 March 2015 took to the streets to show their opposition to Glencore's search for oil in Western Sahara. Protesters carried banners saying "Glencore go home", "Stop stealing our future" and "Glencore we don't want you in our homeland".
The oil exploration is in violation of a UN Legal Opinion of 2002, which calls exploration and exploitation of Western Sahara's resources unlawful if not in accordance with the wishes and the interests of the Saharawi people - the original inhabitants of the territory at the time of Morocco's invastion.
The Saharawi people oppose Morocco's oil programme in their occupied land. But nor Morocco, nor its international partners such as Glencore, pay any attention to their wishes.
The UN to date considers Western Sahara to be a Non-Self Governing Territory - a colony yet to complete the process of decolonisation. No State in the world recognises Morocco's untenable claim over the territory. The International Court of Justice has acknowledged the Saharawi people's right to self-determination - the right to determine the status of the territory and its resources - which has been echoed in countless UN Resolutions and backed by the international community.
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.
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.
Big oil’s interest in occupied Western Sahara has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Some companies are now drilling, in complete disregard of international law and the Saharawi people’s rights. Here’s what you need to know.