The Saharawi Natural Resources Watch (SNRW) has called on all European Parliamentarians, to reject the new EU-Morocco fishing agreement, which will be voted in December in the European Parliament so as to “honor Europe and its peoples”.
Western Sahara Resource Watch has received the letter below which the local organisation Saharawi Natural Resource Watch is sending the European Parliament.
The Saharawi group considered that the agreement is illegal because it doesn’t respect the will of the Saharawis, it violates the international law since Western Sahara is a non-self-governing territory pending a decolonization issue, and because Morocco doesn’t have the sovereignty over the territory to sign such agreement with third parties.
Below is the Full text of the letter for immediate release.
November, 22, 2013
Letter to the members of the European Parliament
SNRW: Hopes MEPs would reject the EU-Morocco Fishing agreement for the sake of the Honor of Europe
Honorable members of the European Parliament,
The members of the Saharawi Natural Resource Watch (SNRW), a Saharawi non-governmental group of activists and experts concerned with the monitoring and protection of the Saharawi natural resources, would like to address you, while you are debating and about to vote the new fishing agreement with Morocco that includes the territories of Western Sahara, a Non-Self- Governing territory under direct Moroccan occupation for almost 40 years now.
We address in you the spirit of justice and conscience as you are representatives of your own peoples, who are the leading nations in the respect of the values of fairness , equality and respect between peoples , large and small, and we remind you that this mentioned agreement is, if voted, a blatant violation of the most fundamental rights of the Saharawi people, as a nation under occupation exposed to all sorts of serious civil, political, economic and cultural rights abuses.
We would thus like to remind your Excellencies of:
* The legal status of Western Sahara as a territory pending a decolonization process, and still registered in the list of the UN Fourth Committee of decolonization,
* The advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on October 16, 1975, which affirmed that there are no ties of sovereignty nature between Morocco and the Western Sahara , The advisory opinion of Mr. Hans Corell, the former UN Under-secretary General for Legal Affairs, issued on January 29, 2002 and which asserted the illegality of the exploitation of natural resources of Western Sahara,
* The only status that Morocco enjoys in Western Sahara is that of a force of occupation as stipulated in the UN General Assembly’s resolution 34/37 of 1979,
* The Law No. 03 /2009 issued on January 21, 2009 regarding the demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a State recognized by dozens of countries and a founding member of the African Union. The zone is determined within a 200 nautical miles according to international law, and this makes of any foreign economic activity in the territorial waters of Western Sahara without the formal permission from the authorities of the Sahrawi Republic an illegal act and a violation of the right of nations and peoples and their sovereignty over their natural resources
* The legal opinion of the European Parliament’s Legal department in 2009, which concluded in the necessity of the cancelation of that fishing agreement because of, amongst other reasons, the lack of evidences that demonstrate that the agreement actually respects the international law, because to the judgment of the department, any exploitation of natural resources of a people that still didn’t enjoy their right to decolonization and self- determination must take into account these people’ opinion and consent . And this has never happened in the Saharawi case.
Therefore, we stress that :
* The Saharawi people are the only owners of the right and decision to dispose of their natural resources, and they are represented by the Polisario Front –their only legitimate representative and the only side that negotiates on their behalf under the supervision of the UN over the future of the country – Yet, Polisario Front has never been consulted in such an agreement and is even opposing its execution.
* The only beneficiary of such agreements is the Moroccan occupation, and this is obvious through the development of the infrastructure oriented towards more exploitation of the Saharawi natural resources, while the unemployment’s rate in the occupied territories of Western Sahara reaches the scaring rate of about 60 %, Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Saharawi refugees thanks to scarce humanitarian aid.
* The supply of the Moroccan occupation with more financial resources at the expense of the Saharawi people is an encouragement to the occupier to continue its illegal occupation of the Western Sahara and a clear cover and support to the repeated violations of Saharawis’ human rights.
* The over-fishing in the territorial waters of Western Sahara leads to disastrous consequences on the environment and biodiversity, and this is a fact confirmed by the studies of the Moroccan National Institute of Fisheries Research (INRH) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO ) .
Therefore, we hope that you will adopt a position that would honor Europe and its peoples you represent, by voting against the signature of this new unfair fishing agreement, taking as an example the US position that clearly excludes Western Sahara from the Free Trade Agreement with Morocco. We ask for this because we also believe that validating such an agreement, will only extend the conflict and the human rights tragedy that we, like all Saharawis, are living for the last four decades.
Dr. Ghali Zbeir
Coordinator of the SNRW
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