The Singaporese bulk carrier Alam Molek (IMO 9717072) is the fourth vessel this year making its way across the Pacific Ocean to PotashCorp's phosphoric acid production plant in Geismar, Louisiana, United States, where it is expected to arrive on the 20th of June.
The phosphate rock in the Alam Molek's holds was illegally excavated in Western Sahara - a Non-Self Governing Territory that is largely occupied by Morocco since 1975. Western Sahara's phosphate deposits are controlled by Morocco's state-owned phosphate company OCP, which sells them off to phosphate producers around the world. OCP has made headlines in the United States for providing "Blood Phosphate money" to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
The trade in Western Saharan phosphates is considered in violation of international law. A UN Legal Opinion of 2002 clearly states that any such economic activity that is undertaken in disregard of the interests and the wishes of the Saharawi people, is unlawful. In addition to the settled principle of international law that the Saharawi people are the sole sovereigns to their resources – and so must both consent to their development and be the recipients of the benefit of them – there is international humanitarian law, prohibiting outright the taking of resources under armed occupation as the war crime of pillage, and making it a criminal act for persons and corporations to help in such an act. Furthermore, paying Morocco for resources that come from the territory it holds under military occupation, doesn't give the country any incentive to reconsider its illegal presence there.
WSRW has documented Morocco's phosphate exports from Western Sahara in its "P For Plunder" reports of 2013 and 2014, describing the trade in all its aspects (volumes, values, clients) for these respective years.
So far this year, the phosphate export from Western Sahara is exceptionally low. PotashCorp is taking the lead as the biggest importer this year, as opposed to last year, when the lion share of Saharawi phosphate rock ended up with the other Canadian fertilizer producer; Agrium Inc.
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.