WSRW calls on UN Members to question Spain on Western Sahara at UPR
Next month, Spain’s human rights track record will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. WSRW asks UN Member States to raise the rights of the people of Western Sahara, for whom Spain continues to bear responsibility.
Every four to five years, all UN Member States are to report on their human rights progress to the UN Human Rights Council under the so-called Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Spain is scheduled to be assessed in the UPR mechanism on 22 January 2020. WSRW stresses that Spain should be held accountable for its human rights track-record inside of the territory it has never lawfully and responsibly decolonized: Western Sahara.
Spain has a duty to decolonize the territory of Western Sahara and continues to bear responsibilities for the indigenous Saharawi people. This was confirmed in two decisions by Spain’s own National Court in 2014 and 2015 which state that Spain remains the administering power over Western Sahara, echoing the UN Charter and the 2002 UN Legal Opinion on Western Sahara’s mineral resources.
Yet, throughout Spain’s UPR reviews of the past decade, no progress has been made to advance the right to self-determination in Western Sahara, nor has Spain reported on its obligations to decolonize and to ensure the well-being of the people of the territory.
Earlier this year, Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) in collaboration with the Spanish organisation NOVACT submitted a shadow-report, recommending Spain to respect, protect and fulfill their human rights obligations vis-à-vis the people of Western Sahara, in particular the right to self-determination and the right to their natural resources.
“It is Spain that is uniquely obligated to ensure self-determination of the Saharawi people”, the report reads, referencing the Spain's own courts and international law.
But instead of working for the exercise of self-determination, Spain manifestly fails its duties under the UN Charter in order to satisfy its own hard-nosed economic interests, rather than the interests of the Saharawi people. While blatantly ignoring the Saharawis, Spain works with Morocco to have access to Western Sahara’s resources, or engages in projects that cement Morocco’s occupation.
"We call on all UN Member States to address Spain's responsibilities for the rights of the Saharawi people", WSRW coordinator Sara Eyckmans stated.
The report was officially presented in Geneva today, 10 December 2019.
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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.