International companies investing illegally in Occupied Western Sahara
For the second year in a row, the Center for Studies and Documentation, Ahmed Baba MISKE, wishes to shed light on the debate on the conﬂict between the Sahrawi Republic and the Kingdom of Morocco, both members of the regional organization the African Union, in reference of economic activities in the part of Western Sahara, still occupied by Morocco.
And this, through a report listing the companies that are established or still have activities in the occupied part of Western Sahara. These settlements and activities constitute flagrant violations of international law and “crimes of colonization”, since they have not obtained the consent of either the indigenous population of Western Sahara, or of its sole representative, deﬁned by the UN as being, the Polisario Front (Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and el Rio de Oro).
Indeed, Western Sahara, since the departure of the colonial power, Spain in 1976, has been classified by the UN as being a “non-autonomous territory, and without administration”. In addition, the UN legal adviser, Mr. Hans CORREL, in his 2002 opinion, states that, “On 14 November 1975, a declaration of principles on Western Sahara was signed in Madrid by Spain, Morocco and Mauritania (the Madrid Agreement). By virtue of this declaration, the powers and responsibilities of Spain, as the administering power of the territory, were transferred to a temporary tripartite administration. The Madrid Agreement did neither provide for a transfer of sovereignty over the territory nor did it confer on any of the signatories the status of administering power, a status that Spain could not unilaterally transfer. The transfer of administrative powers to Morocco and Mauritania in 1975 didn’t have any impact on the status of Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory.”
In addition, the judgments of the Court of Justice of the EU, and in particular that of 27 February 2018, have confirmed and recalled the “separate and distinct status” of Western Sahara recognized by the UN (from that of the Kingdom of Morocco).
All these decisions and legal opinions remind us that these decisions are in accordance with the legal opinion of the African Union published already in 2015, clarifying the legal status of the Sahrawi Republic and the Kingdom of Morocco, and recalling that the Moroccan presence is an illegal military occupation and that, therefore, all economic activities, whether carried out by the Kingdom of Morocco or by a third party, violate international law.
Since the last opinions of the EU court of justice, a good number of companies have decided to comply with international law and have ceased their activities in the part of Western Sahara still occupied by Morocco.
Finally, it should be noted that since the violation of the ceasefire by Morocco on November 13, 2020 and the resumption of war, the Polisario Front and the SADR have declared the entire territory of Western Sahara a war zone (on land, in the sea, as in the air). This should prompt more companies to reconsider their illegal activities in Western Sahara.
Download the report of Centre d`Études et de Documentation Franco-Sahraoui Ahmed Baba MISKE (in French): Les sociétés internationals qui investissent illégalement au sahara occidental occupé
Image: A collage showing the logos of multinational corporations operating illegally in Western Sahara. Source: Centre d`Études et de Documentation Franco-Sahraoui Ahmed Baba MISKE.
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