Here, the EU Commission is lying about WSRW - and 93 other groups
83% of the groups that the EU Commission claims have participated in a 'consultation' regarding Western Sahara trade, have either never been asked to take part - or have not taken part - in any consultation process. "We condemn the EU for so gravely misusing our name, and the names of other civil society organisations, to legitimize an illegal trade agreement", WSRW states.
Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) earlier this year received an invitation from the European Commission to discuss EU trade in Western Sahara. Since the Commission had at the time stated in the European Parliament that it was to undertake a consultation process, WSRW was skeptical. WSRW did not want to end up on any list of 'stakeholders' for a sham dialogue process geared at legitimising an EU-Morocco trade agreement that would cover occupied Western Sahara. The Court of Justice had been clear in 2016 that Morocco is a 'distinct and separate' territory from Western Sahara, and that a trade deal with Morocco could not be implemented in the territory it holds under occupation.
THESE ARE THE GROUPS THAT ARE FALSELY LISTED AS CONSULTED STAKEHOLDERS
1. Polisario Front. The UN-recognised representation of the people of Western Sahara was never invited to take part in a consultation process. See the email exchange between Polisario and the EEAS, refuting the Commission’s claim, here. 2. Western Sahara Resource Watch. WSRW declined to take part in a consultation process that disregards the rights of the people of Western Sahara. 3. Western Sahara Campaign UK 4. Independent Diplomat 5. ASVDH (Saharawi Association of Victims of Serious Human Rights Violations) 6. El Ghad Human Rights Association 7. Delegation of 89 (not 85) associations jointly signing a letter to the European Commission and the EEAS on 3 February 2018 on amending the Protocols. The Commission has never even approached these Saharawi associations with regard to the consultation process. The groups sent the letter to condemn the Commission’s disrespect for their people’s right to consent. These 89 associations are:
Occupied territory of Western Sahara: 1. Association for Monitoring of Resources and for Protection of the Environment in Western Sahara (AMRPENWS) 2. Saharawi Committee for the Defense of the Self-Determination of the People of Western Sahara (CODAPSO) 3. The Saharawi Association for Victims of Grave Violations Committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH) 4. The collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) 5. The Saharawi Association for the Protection and Dissemination of the Saharawi Culture and Heritage 6. Saharawi Media Team 7. National Television Team 8. The Saharawi Center for Media and Communication 9. The Association for the Protection of Saharawi Prisoners in Moroccan Prisons 10. Western Sahara Times 11. Bentili Media Center 12. Committee for Support the Peace Plan and Protection of Natural Resources in Western Sahara 13. Committee of the Mothers of the 15 Abductees 14. Association for Justice and Human Rights 15. The Saharawi Center for Save Memory 16. The Saharawi Observatory for the Child and Women 17. Forum for the Future of Women 18. Renunciation Moroccan Nationality Group 19. The field coordination of the unemployed Saharawi graduates 20. Bentili Media Center 21. Ibsar Al Khair Association for the Disabled in the Western Sahara 22. Gdim Izic Coordinating for Peaceful Movement 23. Committee of Victims of the Agdaz and Magouna 24. Independent Media Commission 25. The Saharawi Association for Persons with Disabilities in Western Sahara 26. Committee of the Families of the Saharawiss Missing 27. The Saharawis Association for the Defense of Human Rights and the Protection of Resources in Bujdour 28. Freedom Sun Organization in Smara 29. Saharawis Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Samara 30. Organization Against Torture in Dakhla, western Sahara 31. The Saharawi committee for the defence of human rights in Zag 32. The Saharawi committee for human rights monitoring in Assa 33. The Saharawi committee for the defence of human rights in Glaimim 34. The Saharawi organization for the defence of freedoms and dignity
Saharawi refugee camps: 35. Comisión Nacional Saharaui de Derechos Humanos (CONASADH) 36. Unión Nacional de Mujeres Saharauis (UNMS) 37. Unión Nacional de Trabajadores de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UGTSARIO) 38. Unión Nacional de la Juventud de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UJSARIO) 39. Unión Nacional de Estudiantes de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UESARIO) 40. Unión de Juristas Saharauis (UJS) 41. Unión de Periodistas y Escritores Saharauis (UPES) 42. Observatorio Saharaui de Recursos Naturales 43. Asociación de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis (AFAPREDESA) 44. Grupo Non-Violence Active (NOVA SAHARA OCCIDENTAL) 45. Asociación de Víctimas de Minas (ASAVIM) 46. Asociatción de Abogados Saharauis (UAS) 47. Campaña Saharaui para la sensibilisación sobre el peligro de Minas (SCBL) 48. The Saharawi campaign against the plunder SCAP Saharawi Diaspora : 49. Saharawi association in the USA (SAUSA) 50. VZW de vereniging van de Saharawi gemeenschap in Belgie – Belgium 51. Association culture Sahara – centre de France 52. Association des femmes Saharawi en France 53. La league des jeunes et des etudients Saharawi en France 54. Asociación de abogados saharauis en España 55. Asociación de médicos saharauis en España 56. La liga de deportistas saharauis en España 57. La liga de periodistas saharauis en España 58. Comunidad Saharaui en las palmas 59. Asociación de saharauis en Tenerife 60. Asociación de saharauis en Fuerteventura 61. Colectivo saharaui en Lanzarote 62. Asociación de saharauis en bal 63. Asociación ARDI HURRA en Sevilla 64. Asociación de saharauis en lebrija 65. Colectivo de saharauis en Jaén 66. Asociación de saharauis en jerez de la frontera 67. Colectivo sah en estepona 68. Comunidad Saharaui en Granada 69. Asociación amal centro Andalucía 70. Comunidad Saharaui en Murcia 71. Asociación de saharauis en alicante 72. Asociación de zamur Valencia 73. Comunidad Saharaui en Catalunya 74. Comunidad Saharaui en Aragón 75. Asociación de saharauis en valdepeñas 76. Comunidad Saharaui en Castilla la Mancha 77. Asociación de saharauis en Ávila 78. Comunidad Saharaui en Castilla y León 79. Asociación de saharauis en Navarra 80. DISABI Bizkaia 81. Sahara Euskadi Vitoria 82. Sahara Gasteiz Vitoria 83. Amal nanclares 84. Tawasol lludio 85. Tayuch Amurio 86. Colectivo saharaui en GIPUZKOA 87. La liga de estudiantes en España 88. Association de la communauté Saharaoui en France 89. Association culturelle franco-Saharaouie In its initial invitation to WSRW, the EEAS never stated its intention for our organisation to take part in a stakeholder consultation. As WSRW implored further into the purpose of the meeting, the EEAS did refer to its aim of carrying out a "consultation exercise". WSRW declined to take part, not seeing the point of such an exercise when an agreement with Morocco had already been initialed and given that no effort had been made to obtain the consent representation of the people of Western Sahara for a trade agreement covering their territory.
On 11 June 2018, the EU Commission sent the draft proposal of the Western Sahara trade deal to the EU Member States and the EU Parliament for approval. The Commission sent along a "Commission Staff Working Document" in which it boasts massive support of consulted stakeholders for the EU-Morocco trade agreement to be applicable to Western Sahara.
It is here that Western Sahara Resource Watch - together with a number of other groups - are falsely named as having taken part in the process. In view of the Commission's misuse of our good name, WSRW here publishes the entire correspondence between WSRW and the Commission from 30 January to 27 February 2018.
In fact, 83 percent of the organisations that are now listed in the working document's annex, entitled 'List of stakeholders consulted on the amendment to Protocols 1 and 4 of the Association Agreement", have never taken part in any consultation. Most of them have never even been invited to such consultation, as is the case of the 89 (and not 85, as erroneously written by the Commission) Saharawi civil society groups that sent a joint letter to the EU Commission and EEAS in condemnation of the EU's approach of arranging Western Sahara trade with Morocco, in disrespect of the Saharawi people's right to consent. As such, among the list of 112 groups and individuals that are to be found in the annex of 'consulted' bodies, the name of Western Sahara Resource Watch appears together with 94 other organisations that had either never been invited to a consultation process or that had rejected taking part.
"It is hard for the EU to sink lower than this. As the Commission not been able to fulfill the criterion of consent that the Court has specified, it has replaced that notion with that of 'consult'. Then, it name-drops groups that have never been consulted. Western Sahara Resource Watch asks the Commission to immediately send out a revised document to the Member States in which our organisation and the 93 other organisations are removed from the list of consulted stakeholders", chair of WSRW, Sylvia Valentin stated.
Among the organisations that are falsely included as a 'consulted stakeholder' is Polisario, which has never taken part in a consultation meeting.
Western Sahara Resource Watch asks Member States to thoroughly question the Commission with regard to the claims it has presented in this report:
Is it correct that 94 of the 112 groups mentioned in the Annex 1 have never been invited to or refused to take part in a consultation?
Why does the Commission claim that European civil society groups such as WSRW have taken part in a consultation, when they have obviously not?
Is it correct that none of the 18 (not 112) individuals, companies or bodies that the EEAS has effectively met are positive to the right to self-determination? Why has the EEAS only met with groups that are negative to the UN self-determination process?
Why is the representative body of the people of Western Sahara, Polisario, enlisted as a stakeholder when they have never been invited to take part in the stakeholder consultation, nor have they knowingly taken part in such consultation?
What purpose does a consultation process have, given that the CJEU has stipulated that consent is required for the agreement to lawfully apply to Western Sahara?
What purpose does a consultation process have, given that the CJEU initialed the agreement with Morocco before the 'consultation process' began?
What is the relevance of underlining the benefits to the population of Western Sahara if it has not asked the representatives of the territory about these issues first, and considering that the judgment article 106 specifically states that it is not necessary to consider the aspect of the benefits?
Considering that the 'consultation' process includes persons elected in Moroccan parliamentary elections in the occupied territories, how does the Commission consider the legality of Moroccan elections on the territory it holds under occupation?
What is the relevance of including Moroccan state owned research bodies, government bodies or government-owned companies in a process that has to do with Western Sahara?
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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.