Polisario expresses concern to Security Council over EU fisheries
Same day as the EU will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, the union carries out a new round negotiations over illegal fisheries in Western Sahara. The Security Council will be briefed on the Western Sahara issue today, two days after receiving a letter where Polisario expresses its worry over the EU fishy involvement in the conflict.
Published 28 November 2012

26 November the Western Sahara liberation movement Frente Polisario sent a letter to the Security Council expressing its deep concern over the EU's plans to enter into fisheries agreement covering the territory of Western Sahara.

The letter states the following:
The Frente POLISARIO also wishes to draw attention to the ongoing illegal exploration and exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara. In particular, we would like to express our most serious concern at efforts by the European Union and Morocco to renew arrangements under their 2005 Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) to the extent that such arrangements purport to apply to the waters adjacent to the coast of Western Sahara. Similar arrangements were rejected by the European Parliament in a vote on 14 December 2011 due to concerns that the proposed Protocol violated international law, as reflected in the finding by the UN Legal Counsel in 2002 that activities related to the natural resources of Western Sahara must not proceed in “disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara.” (UN Doc. S/2002/161). We call upon Morocco and all foreign entities to halt the unlawful exploitation of Western Sahara’s resources and desist from entering into any agreements that would violate the Saharawi people’s permanent sovereignty over their natural resources.

The 10 December 2012, the EU will carry out a new round of negotiations with Moroccan government in Brussels. This happens, ironically, the same day as the leaders of the EU are in Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and the same day as the International day of human rights.

The first round of meetings, that took place in Rabat in the midst of Moroccan police violence in occupied Western Sahara, only covered technical matters. A third, maybe final round of negotiations, could take place early next year.

Former EU-Morocco agreements of this nature have stirred criticism, as the deals are clearly in violation of international law and undermine the UN peace efforts. The fisheries will cover a territory which is not part of Morocco. The former UN legal chief, Hans Corell, is one of many to underline this:

It is "obvious that a[EU-Morocco fisheries] agreement…that does not make a distinction between the waters adjacent to Western Sahara and the waters adjacent to the territory of Morocco would violate international law". Corell added: "As a European I feel embarrassed".

Today, 28 November, it is planned that the UN Security Council will be briefed by the UN Special Envoy, Christopher Ross. The briefing will include his findings and analysis from his tour in North Africa and to Western capitals the last weeks. One of the topics of the peace talks, are natural resource management, which Morocco profits largely from, in violation of international law.

Here is the EU Council's legal advice on fishing in occupied waters

Before voting on the new EU-Morocco fish deal in 2018, extending into occupied Western Sahara, several EU Member States asked for legal advice that would determine their vote. WSRW today publishes that influential legal opinion, which appears to miss the ball entirely.
05 March 2020

Hans Corell criticizes EU fisheries in Western Sahara

The former Legal Counsel to the UN Security Counsel, Mr. Hans Corell, comments on the EU's fisheries activities in Western Sahara.

20 November 2019

EU Court reaffirms position on Western Sahara

Polisario has a case, but it should be pursued when the time is right, Court implies.

28 February 2019

European Parliament disregards Court and adopts Morocco fish deal

Notwithstanding four consecutive rulings of the EU's highest Court calling such a practice illegal, the European Parliament has just now voted in favour of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement that will be applied to the waters of occupied Western Sahara.

12 February 2019