The timing could hardly be worse. A new round of EU negotiations with Morocco regarding fisheries offshore occupied Western Sahara starts in three weeks, exactly as the UN peace mediator will visit Western Sahara to kick new life into the peace talks.
At the end of October, the UN Secretary-General's personal envoy to Western Sahara, will start on his trip to the region, including his first visit to Western Sahara. The envoy, Christopher Ross, tries to negotiate the peace talks between Morocco and Frente Polisario - talks which now are including the management of the territory's natural resources.
Exactly in the same period, 3 November, the EU will visit Morocco to continue the talks on fisheries in Western Sahara. The timing of EU's visit is mentioned in the Moroccan newspaper L'Economiste before the week-end.
The UN legal office and the European Parliament's Legal Service have concluded that further fisheries in Western Sahara would be in violation of international law if the Saharawis do not consent. No initiative has been made by the EU to seek consent of the Saharawi people. The EU's talks already on the way to violate internatinoal law, as the previous agreement did.
Former EU's legal chief futhermore stated it would be clear that an EU fisheries agreement with Morocco that fails to define the southern border to Western Sahara in itself would fail to respect international law.
The visit of the Special Envoy, and the EU's visit also coincides with the second anniversary of the dismantlement of the massive protest camp that was erected in occupied Western Sahara in 2010. The camp was set up as a civil protest against the marginalisation, unemployment and resource plunder of the territory. Following the intervention by Moroccan authorities, a number of Saharawis were detained. Among them was Sidahmed Lemjiyed, the secretary-general of a Saharawi group researching natural resource plundering of Western Sahara. The Saharawi activist has now spent 2 years in jail, and awaits trial in a military court for the taking part in the protests. The imprisoned have been major opponents to the EU's illegal fisheries operations offshore the occupied territory.
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 five 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.