The Western Sahara oil curse
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Big oil’s interest in occupied Western Sahara has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Some companies are now drilling, in complete disregard of international law and the Saharawi people’s rights. Here’s what you need to know.
Published 09 September 15


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It is unseen: a country is carrying out a large-scale oil exploration programme outside of its national borders. When that happened last time, under Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, the activities were widely condemned and universally acknowledged as illegal.

Yet, this is precisely what Morocco is doing now in Western Sahara. But this time, the entire international community looks away.

Western Sahara is often called the last colony of Africa, and the UN treats it as such; as a Non-Self Governing Territory without an administering power in place. The people of Western Sahara, the Saharawis, have an internationally recognised right to self-determination; the right to decide the future status of the land and its resources.

The Saharawis have time and again spoken out against the oil development in their occupied homeland. Their voices are ignored by Morocco, the international community and the oil companies that choose to side with Morocco, who all seem to put profit over people.

Read up on big oil in Western Sahara, and find out what you can do to help put an end this injustice.

Sneak peek on ENGIE's position

For a little while, ENGIE had published on its website hints about who it had actually "consulted" when doing business in occupied Western Sahara.

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HeidelbergCement takes side in the conflict

The German building materials giant sides with Morocco in the Western Sahara conflict, avoiding any questions on its own legal obligations in the occupied territory.

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Telecom cables laid in occupied waters

The French company Alcatel Submarine Networks SpA, partially owned by Nokia, has laid telecom cables in occupied Western Sahara. 

09 September 15

Report reveals clients of Western Sahara’s conflict mineral

India and New Zealand stand out as the main importers of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara, in WSRW’s newest annual report on the controversial trade. 

09 September 15