"A sovereign political decision". That is how Mustafa Khalfi, spokesperson for the Moroccan government, referred to the two legal initiatives instigated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that are geared at “incorporating the maritime spaces of the Sahara provinces and consolidating Morocco’s legal mandate over these waters”. As such, the texts aim to “put an end to the arguments that question Morocco’s sovereignty over its territorial waters”, Khalfi said.
The draft legislation of the Moroccan government comes at a time when Morocco’s self-proclaimed sovereignty over the part of Western Sahara that it holds under military occupation, is under increasing international legal pressure.
“This unilateral move from the Moroccan government will not change the international legal framework that applies to Western Sahara”, says Sara Eyckmans from Western Sahara Resource Watch. “Morocco has no legal title regarding the territory. And as an illegal occupier, it cannot claim or create ocean territorial areas.”
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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.