Image: Chinese vessel above was used by French oil company Total in search. Photo taken at Canary Islands as studies were completed in 2013.
The statement below was today, 7 February 2014.
Saharawi natural resources group condemns multinationals involvement in Oil and Gas exploration in occupied Western Sahara The Saharawi natural resources group, “Observatorio Saharaui de Recursos Naturales” (OSRN), warned, on Thursday 6 February 2014, against the dangers behind Moroccan authorities attempts to involve international Oil companies, such as the American Kosmos Energy and the French Total, in Rabat’s adventure of prospections and exploration of Oil and Gas in the offshores of the occupied territories of Western Sahara. “The Moroccan authorities are erroneously trying to give a sort of legitimacy to their illegal occupation of Western Sahara by implicating these two international Oil and Gas companies in an illegal exploitation of the resources of a Non-Self-Governing territory, still listed in the UN Decolonisation agenda”, Dr. Ghali Zbeir, OSRN’s Coordinator, says. The Moroccan authorities had in fact declared the signature of two separate accords with the American and French companies, declaring their willingness to expand the exploration and prospection in the Saharawi offshores, pretending to be “committed to the international law, and to the benefice of the local population from such activities”, Dr. Ghali added. Yet, he contested that “the Saharawi people have never accepted such exploitation of their resources, nor have they been consulted by the companies or Morocco, and they for sure do not benefit from any Moroccan exploitation of their resources. Not to talk about the illegality of the Moroccan presence in the territory and its exploitation”. He recalled the legal opinion delivered by the former UN Under-Secretary General for Legal affairs, Hans Corell, to the Security Council, “in which he unequivocally indicated that the exploitation of the resources of Western Sahara is illegal as long as it is undertaken without the consent of the people of the colonized territory and their representatives. In this case, neither Polisario nor the Saharawi Republic, the two legitimate representatives of the Saharawi people, were consulted or agreed on such activities”. He further recalled that “In resolutions 48/46 of 10 December 1992 and 49/40 of 9 December 1994 adopted under the agenda item entitled “Activities of foreign economic and other interests which impede the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in Territories under colonial domination”, the UN General Assembly reiterated that “the exploitation and plundering of the marine and other natural resources of colonial and Non-Self-Governing Territories by foreign economic interests, in violation of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, is a threat to the integrity and prosperity of those Territories”. The same resolution added that “any administering Power that deprives the colonial peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories of the exercise of their legitimate rights over their natural resources ... violates the solemn obligations it has assumed under the Charter of the United Nations”. Dr. Ghali finally called on the two international companies to restrain from “supporting and comforting the Moroccan illegal occupation of Western Sahara”, considering the persistence in such activites a “direct and open participation to an illegal occupation and violation of Saharawi people’s rights and sovereignty over their natural resources”.
Dr. Ghali Zbeir Coordinator of the OSRN ghali.ws[at]gmail.com
Mr. Malainin Lakhal, In Charge of Communication mellakhal[at]gmail.com
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.