Over the past year, the Moroccan government has carried out an intensive seabed seismic survey off the coast of Western Sahara without any consultation of the local Saharawi people.
The survey has been conducted on behalf of the French petroleum company Groupe Total SA. The Saharawi authorities first objected to the the seismic survey company carrying out the activities in August 2012, and then to the Groupe Total SA as their operation was uncovered. On both occasions, Polisario asked the exploration in the occupied territory to be halted.
In a letter to Ban Ki-Moon on 30 March 2013, Frente Polisario reminds the UN Secretary-General of the so-called Corell opinion on Total's licence, where the UN Legal Councel underlines that such oil operations would be illegal if the Saharawis were not consenting to it.
"We are especially concerned that these survey activities indicate that drilling for oil and gas and the wholesale exploitation of petroleum in Western Sahara will soon follow. That would be another serious violation of international law and of my people’s inalienable right to exercise control over their natural resources", stated the letter from the Secretary-General of Frente Polisario.
The letter seeks the "urgent intervention" of Ban and that a "clear message must be sent by the UN and the Security Council that the present activities of Groupe Total SA are illegal and should not be allowed to continue".
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.