LATEST: Morocco "denounces and rejects" UN recommendations
Morocco reacts furiously to a UN Treaty Body recommending the country to respect the Saharawi people's rights to self-determination and natural resources.
Published 16 October 2015


Earlier this week, the UN Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights had published its conclusions after having reviewed Morocco's compliance with those rights. The Committee had called on Morocco to find a solution for the Western Sahara conflict that respects the Saharawi people's right to self-determination, and had furthermore stressed the Saharawis' right to dispose of their resources.

That did not go down well in Rabat. The Moroccan government has today around noon published a 10-page long document in which they "denounce and reject the askew and partial approach adopted in drafting the observations and recommendations of the Committee". The document can also be downloaded from OHCHR.org] Moroccan government even accuses the Committee - which is comprised of 18 independent experts in international law - of having drafted its conclusion before the debates with Morocco ever took place.

"These observations indicate flagrant partiality and bias concerning a number of issues, namely, dealing with the artificial regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara which reflects only and surprisingly political stands passed on by other hostile parties to Morocco's territorial integrity", the report reads.

The report contains three pages that attempt to counter the Committee's recommendations with regard to the Saharawi people's right to self-determination and natural resources. The Moroccan authorities demand clarifications from the Committee with regard to paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of the Committee's Concluding Observations - not coincidently the three paragraphs that deal with Western Sahara.

Among its recommendations, the UN Committee mentioned the need for prior consent of the Saharawis in relation to any resource exploitation in their land. This flows naturally from the principle of self-determination, and was described in detail in the UN Legal Opinion of 2002. Ironically, the oil companies that are doing exploration work in occupied Western Sahara also refer to that same Legal Opinion to try and justify their activities. Now that Morocco basically rejects the very essence of the UN Legal opinion - the need for consent - the joint-declarations of the oil companies with the Moroccan government have become even more absurd. This is especially relevant in view of San Leon Energy's recently suspended drilling operation and announced further seismic surveys.

Western Sahara Resource Watch, as well as the Robert F. Kennedy Center, had submitted counter reports to the Committee, expressing their concerns and observations on Morocco's failure to respect the rights guarded by the Covenant in the parts of Western Sahara that it illegally holds under occupation.

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