Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) works in solidarity with the people of Western Sahara, victims of the illegal Moroccan occupation of their territory.
Rooted in international law, and supported by key rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union and legal opinions of the United Nations and the African Union, Western Sahara Resource Watch argues that business operations in the non-self-governing territory can only be considered legally and politically defensible if the Saharawi people have consented to them.
Doing business with Morocco in the part of Western Sahara that is illegally occupied strengthens the occupation and complicates the UN peace process:
-It contributes financially to the occupation. -It provides job opportunities for Moroccan settlers. -It lends a sign of political legitimacy of the Morocco’s illegal military presence in the territory.
Western Sahara Resource Watch therefore works to pressure involved businesses to withdraw. WSRW believes that trading with and investing in Morocco is perfectly legit, but any such activity should expressly not apply to Western Sahara.
WSRW today consists of volunteers in more than 40 countries, who together research and campaign the foreign companies implicated in the resource-rich territory. We believe that the occupation of Western Sahara will not stop as long as Morocco is allowed to profit from it.
The organization operates from Brussels.
Background Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) was established in 2005, with a set of missions, objectives and demands. The organization emerged as a response to two developments: first, The UN Legal Office had in 2002 established that Morocco’s recent issuing of oil licenses in Western Sahara were illegal when not taking into account the wishes of the people of the territory. Second, Northern European seismic services companies had undertaken the first geological studies in the territory. From 2002 onward, European pro-Saharawi civil society groups coordinated efforts to advocate for the application of the UN opinion, and successfully secured the withdrawal of companies. This work was done under the name International Coalition for the Protection of Natural Resources in Western Sahara, which formally morphed into the establishment of WSRW in 2005.
From 2006, WSRW established the Fish Elsewhere! campaign, that worked to prevent the European Union from signing a fisheries agreement with Morocco that would permit EU-flagged fishing boats to fish in Western Sahara waters. This work led up to the victory in the 2011 plenary vote in the European Parliament, cancelling the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement.
Throughout the years, WSRW has followed closely the fisheries, petroleum and phosphate industry in the 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.