EU ignores Western Sahara human rights laureate

For more than a month, Aminatou Haidar, the internationally awarded Saharawi human rights activist and President of Saharawi Human Right organisation CODESA, has waited for a reply from the EU’s ambassador to Morocco, Mr. Eneko Landaburu.  The EU ambassador is failing to respond to a simple question regarding the legality of the EU fisheries in occupied Western Sahara.
Published: 15.09 - 2010 13:04Printer version    
27 May this year, Ambassador Landaburu defended the legality of the EU fisheries in occupied Western Sahara during a Rabat press conference. According to a Spanish news service, Mr. Landaburu stated that "the European Commission and all advices from independent institutions have shown that there is no problem with the international legality of the fisheries agreement with Morocco".

Both the ambassador and the Commission have so far failed to reply to the simple question as to which mysterious “independent institutions” have ever defended the EU fisheries. To the contrary, the European Parliament’s own legal service has stated that the agreement is in violation of international law, since there was no evidence that the Saharawi had been consulted or that they benefit from the agreement. This opinion is also shared by the world’s foremost legal authority of natural resource activity in Western Sahara: former UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell. Corell has on several occasions stated that the EU fisheries are illegal and that the EU misuses his UN Legal Opinion.  

“Our organisation is concerned about the EU fisheries in Western Sahara, a territory which, as you surely know, no states recognise as part of Morocco. From our experience, all independent legal advices say that fisheries in the Non-Self Governing Territory of Western Sahara are illegal”, reads the letter that Haidar sent on behalf of the Saharawi human rights collective CODESA.

The group would like to know which independent institutions Mr. Landaburu was referring to. But after more than one month, the EU’s Ambassador to Morocco has not made the effort to reply.

In June, Western Sahara Resource Watch confronted the European Commission with the same question. The Commission failed to answer the question, and instead replied falsely that the opinion of Hans Corell supported the EU fisheries:

“We do not believe for a second that an independent institution would defend the EU’s illegal fisheries in occupied Western Sahara. To the contrary, we sincerely believe that the EU ambassador has been speaking untruthful with the media. As long as the Commission lies about the content of the UN legal opinion from 2002, which is found openly on the internet, we are concerned that the EU ambassador can also claim legal support from imaginary independent institutions”, stated Sara Eyckmans, coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

The EU has so far not provided any information as to whether they have consulted the Saharawi people prior to the signing of the agreement, as international law prescribes. Morocco has refused members of the European Parliament entry to Western Sahara to assess the implementation of the agreement.

See letter from CODESA to the EU ambassador here:

For further comments or questions about the illegal EU fisheries:
Sara Eyckmans
Coordinator, Western Sahara Resource Watch
Tel   (+32) 475 458695




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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