Former UN Legal Counsel slams Morocco’s wind projects
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The ex-UN Legal Counsel, who in 2002 wrote an important opinion for the UN Security Council on resources in Western Sahara, says that Siemens are on thin ice when building wind parks in Western Sahara.
Published 02 November 2016


Western Sahara Resource Watch today launched the report “Powering the Plunder – What Morocco and Siemens are hiding at COP22, Marrakech".The Danish national daily newspaper Information today had coverage of the report.

The newspaper has received strong statements from both the former UN Legal Counsel and from the former chief commander of the UN operation in the territory.

"If one uses the territory of Western Sahara for the benefit of Morocco and for foreign enterprises, without properly consulting the people of Western Sahara or ensuring that they are the ones profiting from the wind energy, it will be in violation of international law and UN principles for responsible business”, the former UN Legal Counsel, Swedish Hans Corell, stated on the front page of Information.

The Moroccan embassy in Denmark failed to reply to questions regarding the issue, but sent a general statement to the newspaper, stating that the participation from Western Sahara at Moroccan elections is high both at local and parliamentary elections, and that there are several representatives in the parliament from the region. “These figures speak for themselves and answer Hans Corell’s requirement regarding consent from the local population”, the embassy wrote to the newspaper.

Corell, however, disagrees, stating that Morocco’s invasion of Western Sahara, and the transfer of own citizens to the territory could be in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and that election participation does not say anything about how many of the voters are settlers.

Press officer in Siemens explained to the newspaper the same as it has done to WSRW – namely that “wind parks do not exploit resources in a permanent way, and that it does in no way deplete the existing resources”.

The WSRW report had documented that Siemens had, ironically, supplied the entire Moroccan phosphate industry with 95% of the energy it requires. Siemens had failed to answer the newspaper repeated questions whether it had sought the consent of the Saharawis. WSRW has tried for several years to get answer to that same question.

Corell stated that the guiding principles “both apply to renewable as well as non-renewable resources and energy sources”.

Former chief commander of MINURSO, Danish Kurt Mosgaard, is also interviewed by the newspaper. He stated that the energy infrastructure could contribute to prolong the conflict. He stated that the phosphate conveyor belt is formerly been subject to sabotage, and that sabotage also has happened last years.

“Windmills have the potential of being a target for frustrated Saharwis. They are a bit easier targets than the well protected fisheries harbours or vessels and drillships offshore”, Mosgaard stated.

SRI update

The following overview enlists stock-exchange registered companies currently operating in Western Sahara. Updated 1 December 2021.

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