For dummies: Kosmos drilling in occupied Western Sahara
The US oil company Kosmos Energy and the Scottish company Cairn Energy will drill for oil offshore Western Sahara. It is clearly in violation of international law, according to the UN - and it destroys the UN peace efforts. Here is what you need to know.
The people of Western Sahara, the Saharawi people, and their representatives have unequivocally stated their opposition to Kosmos’ plans in their occupied native land’s waters. The Saharawis are also on record as noting that they will not tangibly benefit from oil production – rather the contrary; they fear that the petroleum may not be available to them in the future, and that the industrial and economic activity to result from oil production will only entrench an illegal and violent occupation. Half the people of Western Sahara today live in refugee camps in the harshest parts of the Algerian desert, surviving on dwindling humanitarian aid and facing malnutrition. They don’t stand to benefit at all.
As such, Morocco’s oil programme in Western Sahara presents a key obstacle to the resolution of this long-standing conflict, as it severely undermines the Saharawi people’s confidence in the UN-led peace talks and in the United Nations as the custodian of international law.
By engaging in oil production in Western Sahara through a deal with the Moroccan government, Kosmos and Cairn contribute to supporting Morocco’s unfounded claims to sovereignty over the territory and disrespect the wishes of the indigenous Saharawi people. No state in the world recognises the Moroccan self-proclaimed sovereignty over the territory.
Numerous companies that have worked for Kosmos Energy on the Western Sahara licence have regretted their involvement, such as the seismic survey companies and the builders of the drillship.
The drilling programme in Western Sahara is unique. It will be the first time since 1999 that drilling will take place offshore an occupied part of a Non-Self-Governing Territory will take place. When that happened last time, under Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, the activities were widely condemned and universally acknowledged as illegal.
Fore more information, use the search engine on the website of www.wsrw.org.
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.