UN former legal chief slams EU legal view as "preposterous"

The EU will pay Morocco to fish offshore Western Sahara - a territory which is under Moroccan occupation. Former UN Legal Counsel calls the EU's misuse of his assessment to defend fisheries in Western Sahara "preposterous", according to TIME magazine.

Published 09 August 2014

Much has been stated about the EU misuse of the UN Legal Opinion from 2002. 

The UN Legal Counsel and UN under-secretary for legal affairs, Ambassador Hans Corell, in 2002 wrote a legal opinion for the UN Security Council stating that the "interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara" must be taken into account in such issues.

The conclusion was perhaps not surprising, as no state in the world recognise the Moroccan claims to the territory, and more than 100 UN resolutions call for the Saharawi people's right to self-determination. 

Yet, the EU institutions have repeatedly ignored that conclusion, and signed agreements with the Moroccan government for the use of natural resources in Western Sahara. The requests and protests from the Saharawi people have consistantly been ignored. At the same time, the EU institutions have claimed to have legal basis on the UN legal opinion by Ambassador Corell. 

“The E.U.’s interpretation of the legal opinion is preposterous,” Hans Corell told TIME this week. 

“It is utterly embarrassing that the international community has been unable to solve this conflict. Since Morocco is able to capitalize in Western Sahara, there will be no incentive at all to change the situation", Corell stated.

EU this year will reopen fisheries in the occupied territory. The Moroccan government will receive 40 million Euros annually for the illegal issuing of fishing licences in the territory it has annexed.

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