Irish government underlines firm must follow international law
The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs says he is aware of San Leon's engagement in Western Sahara, and presupposes they will respect international law.
Published: 17.07 - 2011 11:28Printer version    
The following was stated by Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, in Irish parliament on 21 April 2011.

The Government supports the right to self-determination of the people of the Western Sahara.  Ireland has not taken a position on the future status of the territory, so long as that status is decided in a genuine exercise of self-determination.  

At present, the Western Sahara is a non-self governing territory. Under international law, the economic resources of a non-self governing territory may only be exploited for the benefit of the people of the territory, on their behalf or in consultation with their representatives.

The Government’s view is that any exploration and exploitation activities that proceed in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara would be in violation of the principles of international law applicable to natural resource activities in non-self governing territories.

The Government would expect that any Irish company operating abroad would have due regard to the principles of international law and the rights of the inhabitants of the territory. I am aware that San Leon Energy is engaged in exploration activities in Morocco and Western Sahara. These projects have not yet advanced to exploitation stage. I would expect any Irish company operating in the Western Sahara to ensure that any economic benefit derived from its activities benefited all the people concerned and in accordance with the principles of international law.

The statement came as a reply to the following question from Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams:
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that an Irish corporation (San Leon Oil Company) is one of only a few remaining oil companies that continue to operate illegally in the western Sahara; and if he will make a statement on the matter.




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