PotashCorp ignores its owners, buys massive cargo from Western Sahara
Only three weeks after nearly a third of its shareholders had requested a human rights review of its imports from occupied Western Sahara, the Canadian fertilizer firm PotashCorp is expecting a giant shipment of phosphate rock from the occupied territory.
On 30 May, a giant vessel carrying 70.000 tonnes of phosphate rock departed from Western Sahara and set sail for PotashCorp's plant in Louisiana, United States. The vessel, ‘Marto’ is a Marshall Islands flagged bulk carrier that arrived in the occupied territories on 9 May.
Just three weeks ago, at PotashCorp's Annual General Meeting on 10 May, 31,6 percent of the company's shareholders requested an independent human rights assessment to report on the risks of its operations in Western Sahara.
The phosphate mine in Western Sahara is located in the part of Western Sahara that has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975 and is being exploited by Morocco's state-owned phosphate company OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates). In 2002, the UN Security Counsel's legal counsel concluded that the exploitation or exploration of Western Sahara's natural resources is in violation of international law if undertaken in disrespect of the wishes and the interests of the Saharawi people. The Saharawis, living under Moroccan occupation or displaced into Algerian refugee camps, have consistently spoken out against the trade in phosphates.
PotashCorp ranked in 2015 as the largest importer of phosphates from Western Sahara. The WSRW report P for Plunder 2015, published in April this year, revealed that the company had imported an estimated 474,000 tonnes, worth approximately US $ 56,5 million. The company maintains that it cannot stop importing because doing so would involve a "political judgment" on their side.
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.