WSRW confronts Glencore again on Western Saharan oil involvement
In a letter sent to the company today, WSRW has repeated its concerns about Swiss company Glencore Plc's stake in the unethical oil exploration in occupied Western Sahara. Read the full letter, and our correspondence with Glencore, here.
"We invite you to clarify how Glencore’s interests in Western Sahara align with the Company’s own Human Rights Policy and with the fundamental freedoms and human rights of the Saharawi people, first and foremost with their right to self-determination as understood in international law. In particular, we invite Glencore to explain what steps it has taken, if any, to make sure that the licence was signed in accordance of the wishes of the Saharawi people", WSRW today wrote to Glencore's CEO, Mr Ivan Glasenberg.
In October 2014, WSRW reported that Glencore Plc had been awarded two oil licenses by the Moroccan government for oil Blocks that are located offshore occupied Western Sahara. WSRW first contacted Glencore on 18 December 2014, urging the company to withdraw from the territory to help create the necessary conditions to allow the Saharawi people to determine the status and governance of their own country. Glencore's reply to WSRW, dated 24 December 2014, citing Morocco's "positive" approach to the peace process, can be found here.
Ivan Glasenberg Chief Executive Officer Glencore International AG
Brussels 3 February 2015
RE: Petroleum exploration in occupied Western Sahara
Dear Mr Glasenberg,
Thank you for your reply of 24 December 2014 to our letter of 18 December 2014. The fact that you made the effort to get back to us on Christmas Eve demonstrates that you take the matter seriously, for which we are grateful.
However, the content of your response is reason for concern, as it seemingly disregards a fundamental human right: the right to self-determination, as guaranteed by the International Court of Justice, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and customary international law. Taking the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination as a point of departure, the UN Legal Counsel concluded in 2002 that the rights and the wishes of that people are paramount in assessing the legality of the exploration or exploitation activity. That implies free, informed and prior consultation, consent and subsequent benefit.
It is not clear from your letter how Glencore has sought the consent of the Saharawi people, living under Moroccan occupation and in Algerian refugee camps.
With regard to its Human Rights Policy, Glencore’s website states: “With this policy we provide guidance and further interpretation of our fundamental commitment to respect Human Rights, consistent with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As stipulated in our Code of Conduct, we uphold the dignity, fundamental freedoms and human rights of our employees, contractors and the communities in which we live and work and others affected by our activities”.
We invite you to clarify how Glencore’s interests in Western Sahara align with the Company’s own Human Rights Policy and with the fundamental freedoms and human rights of the Saharawi people, first and foremost with their right to self-determination as understood in international law. In particular, we invite Glencore to explain what steps it has taken, if any, to make sure that the licence was signed in accordance of the wishes of the Saharawi people.
We repeat our call for immediate termination of Glencore’s involvement in occupied Western Sahara, thereby contributing to the serenity and good-faith that is vitally needed for the fulfillment of the human rights, in particular the right to self-determination, of the people of Western Sahara.
Sincerely, Erik Hagen Chair Western Sahara Resource Watch
A copy of this letter was sent to: - HE Ambassador Christopher Ross, UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara - HE Kim Bolduc, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Western Sahara and Head of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) - Ms Ursula Wynhoven, General Counsel at UN Global Compact - Ms Liliane Maury Pasquier, Member of the Swiss Parliament - Mr Alfred Fritschi, Managing Director of The Berne Declaration - Ms Caroline Morel, Director of Swiss Aid
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.
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.
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