Irish government hopes oil company will respect international law

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin TD, hopes the Irish oil company Island Oil and Gas would respect international law. Island operates in Western Sahara, occupied by Morocco.
Published: 10.07 - 2008 23:54Printer version    
Irish oil company Island Oil and Gas - which has an agreement with a Moroccan state oil company in occupied Western Sahara - works against the policy of the Irish government.

"I would hope that any Irish company operating abroad would have due regard to the principles of international law and the rights of indigenous peoples", Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin TD, said when asked how the government views the activites of Island.

Island Oil and Gas has taken on the controversial deal despite the UN legal office saying further oil search would be in violation of international law. The Sahrawis and their representatives, Front Polisario, protests the deal.

The question on Island Oil and Gas was raised in the Irish Parliament - Houses of the Oireacthas - by Jack Wall, member of parliament for Labour Party, on the 30th of April 2008. The question was as following:

"To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the fact that the operation of an Irish exploration company in the occupied territory of the Sahara Arab Democratic Republic is widely perceived by the Saharaoui as a contradiction of official Irish policy which does not recognise occupation. [16843/08]."

Download the question here.

On May 1st, Minister Martin responded:

Ref No:   16843/08
The Government has been a consistently strong supporter of  the right to self-determination of the people of the Western Sahara.  I believe that Ireland’s firm support for this principle is well-known and appreciated by the Saharawi people and their representatives.

The Western Sahara is at present a Non-Self-Governing Territory.  Any exploration and exploitation activities that proceed in disregard of the interests and wishes of the indigenous people would be in violation of the principles of international law applicable to natural resource activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories.

I would hope that any Irish company operating abroad would have due regard to the principles of international law and the rights of indigenous peoples.




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.
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