Partnership in colonial times

"If the EU is to raise its credibility with the African Union, reviewing its stance toward Africa’s last colonial conflict would be a good place to start", reads WSRW's letter published in European Voice today.
Published: 23.09 - 2010 00:17Printer version    
Published in European Voice
23 September 2010

european_voice_150.jpgView the publication here: Partnership in colonial times (2 MB)

The European Union’s envisioned “continent-to-continent partnership” with the African Union is indicative of a commendable shift in approach toward Africa by the European Commission (“Africa’s competing influences”, 16-22 September).

But how is the Commission to build up political capital with the African Union (AU) when it undermines the AU’s decisions? How can the EU support the illegal occupation of one of the AU’s member states and still believe that the AU will take its voice seriously?

That member state is the Saharawi Republic – the Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Morocco for 35 years. The AU advocates the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.

This is a position that is completely in line with international law. It reflects the view of the United Nations, which lists Western Sahara among the world’s ‘non-selfgoverning territories’ – that is,
non-decolonised territories. This is Africa’s last colonial conflict.

The EU does the opposite. Via bilateral agreements covering the territory of Western Sahara, the EU provides Morocco with millions of euros. It thereby implicitly legitimises Morocco’s illegal and untenable claim to its southern neighbour. In choosing to pursue economic interests over its international legal obligations, the EU undercuts both the AU and the peace process led by the UN.

Because of the Western Sahara conflict, Morocco is the only African country that is not a member of the AU. Yet Morocco was the first country with which the EU established ‘advanced status’ relations.

If the EU is to raise its credibility with the AU, reviewing its stance toward Africa’s last colonial conflict would be a good place to start.

Sara Eyckmans
Western Sahara Resource Watch




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