Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco. Entering into deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied area lends a sign of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities for Moroccan settlers and income for the Moroccan government.
Western Sahara Resource Watch works in solidarity with the people of Western Sahara. The majority of the country's indigenous population, the Sahrawis, has lived in refugee camps in the Algerian desert since Morocco occupied their homeland in 1975. A part of the Sahrawis remained in the occupied territories, where they are subjected to serious human rights violations, and where they are excluded from the major businesses of phosphate mining and fishing. More than 100 UN resolutions support the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination over their home country, a right that Morocco is denying them.
WSRW today consists of organisations and individuals from more than 40 countries, who together research and campaign the foreign companies involved in the resource rich country. We believe that the occupation of Western Sahara will not stop as long as Morocco profits from it.
Previous campaigns The organisation Western Sahara Resource Watch started up as an informal network of Western Sahara activists in Scandinavia, Holland and UK in the summer of 2004, to exchange information about the illegal oil industry in Western Sahara.
At that time, a Norwegian seismic survey company, TGS-Nopec, had already finished mapping the sea-floor offshore Western Sahara. Simultaneously, it was known that the Dutch company Fugro, and some of its subsidiaries in the UK did similar seismic work. The exchange of information and the joint elaboration of a campaign to make the companies leave Western Sahara, quickly spread to new countries.
In this initial stage, the network worked under the name International Coalition for the Protection of Natural Resources in Western Sahara. In 2005, that name was changed to the current Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), and a platform consisting of missions, objectives and demands (below) was formulated.
In 2006, WSRW established the Fish Elsewhere! campaign, that worked to prevent the European Union to sign a fisheries agreement with Morocco, that would permit fishing boats from the EU to fish in Western Sahara waters. Read more about the campaign here.
Mission, Objectives and Demands of WSRW
Mission WSRW aims to preserve the natural resources in occupied Western Sahara for the usage of its people, inasmuch as their sovereignty over those resources is a right with erga omnes character enshrined in numerous UN resolutions and international human rights instruments, namely in: - General Assembly Resolution 1803 (XVII), of 14 December 1962, the "Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources"; - art. 1, nr. 2, of both International Covenants on Human Rights, of 1966; - and in the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, of 1974, whose art. 16, nr. 2, reads: "No State has the right to promote or encourage investments that may constitute an obstacle to the liberation of a territory occupied by force".
WSRW is an international non-governmental coalition of organisations and individuals working for the protection of natural resources in WS.
Objectives -To affirm the sovereignty of the Saharawi people over their natural resources as the corollary of their right to self-determination. -To break the link between the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of the Moroccan occupation of the territory. -To stop and prevent foreign companies from exploration and exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara in disregard of the wishes and interest of the Saharawi people. -To stop all kinds of resource exploitation activities, which are socially and environmentally destructive for the environment and people of Western Sahara, -To ensure the preservation of the natural environment in Western Sahara. -To encourage and support legal actions against companies, governments or multinational organisations that participate in illegal exploration or exploitation activities in Western Sahara. -To collect and disseminate information and evidence documenting natural resource exploitation in Western Sahara and engage in vigorous campaigning to achieve real and effective change. -To forge a network of local, national and international organisations that promote and protect the rights of the Saharawi people over their natural resources.
Demands that… …the UN and Spain assume their responsibilities under international obligations (in particular of the UN Charter) to protect the natural resources in WS, …all involved companies immediately end their activities in WS, ...that Morocco stops the illegal and unethical plundering of Western Sahara natural resources, and does not label products from the occupied territory as Moroccan, …the European Union and its member states call upon all EU registered private and public companies to end immediately their activities onshore and offshore Western Sahara …the European Union and its member states support efforts of the UN and the MINURSO to realise the right of self-determination of the Saharawi people, which includes the permanent right over natural resources, …the companies assess the appropriate legal, political and ethical considerations before carrying out activities in WS and ensure that their activities respect the principles of sustainable development, sovereignty, dignity and the human rights of the people of Western Sahara, …all individual and institutional shareholders exclude companies active in the area from their portfolio, ...all states, through a total embargo of Western Sahara products, play an active role vis-à-vis their respective national private or public companies to end their business activities in Western Sahara, ...all of Morocco's trading partners to demand from their Moroccan counterpart that no Western Sahara products are included in the deliveries.
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.