Published 16 March 2018
6 March 2018
To the attention of Mr Andrey Ilyin
Chief Financial Officer of EuroChem
Re. Lifosa AB’s position with regard to imports of phosphate rock from Western Sahara
Dear Mr Ilyin,
We have the honour to again present you our compliments. We are in the process of writing our annual overview report of the Western Sahara phosphate trade for 2017.
Though we’ve not observed any shipments from Western Sahara to Klaipeda in 2017, Lifosa AB’s legacy as one of the bigger importers of the contentious mineral in recent years means that the company will be featured in the report. As such, we would be grateful for your answers and comments to the questions included below, allowing us to accurately reflect your company’s position with regard to phosphate imports from the last colony in Africa.
The last shipment of phosphate rock from Western Sahara with destination Klaipeda, dates back to October 2016. This cargo of 75,000 tonnes went against EuroChem’s statement to us, of 12 February 2016, that “… the Group does not intend to purchase phosphate rock from Western Sahara in 2016 or at any time over the foreseeable future.” Lifosa admitted to the shipment, and even went as far as denying the above quote.
As stated in our previous letters to you, it is our firm conviction that it is not in the interest of Lifosa to be associated with the trade of a conflict mineral from a Non-Self-Governing Territory that is the subject of a UN-led peace process. That Morocco’s claims of ownership of the phosphate mines in Western Sahara is unfounded, has recently been exemplified by the case of the NM Cherry Blossom, a bulk carrier transporting 55,000 of Western Sahara phosphate rock that was detained on 1 May 2017 in South Africa. The South African High Court ruled on 23 January 2018 that the Saharawi Government was the rightful owner of the cargo aboard the vessel, and that Morocco’s state-owned phosphate company OCP SA or its subsidiary in Western Sahara Phosphates de Boucraa were never lawfully entitled to sell the phosphate rock.
The case echoes the principles underpinning two recent judgments by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which conclude that Western Sahara is a territory that is “separate and distinct” from Morocco, and that it would thus be unlawful for the EU to conclude any agreement with Morocco for Western Sahara, as that would be a violation of the right to self-determination. The Advocate General of the EU Court of Justice in his Opinion of 10 January 2018 underlines that the right to self-determination is a human right, and that this right is being violated by entering into deals without taking into account the right of the people to consent.
We would be grateful for an answer to the following questions:
1. Can you confirm that Lifosa AB imported nor purchased no phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara in calendar year 2017?
2. What are the reasons that no phosphate rock from Western Sahara was imported by Lifosa AB in 2017?
3. Has the long-term agreement between Lifosa AB and OCP SA or its subsidiary Phosphates de Boucraa expired? If not, when does it expire?
4. If the agreement covering phosphate rock imports from Western Sahara has expired, will Lifosa AB consider sharing a copy of the agreement with the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Mr Horst Köhler, and with the Saharawi liberation movement, the Polisario Front?
5. Will the company issue a formal statement saying it will not import phosphate rock from Western Sahara as long as the conflict has not been settled in accordance with the applicable principled under international law, notably the right to self-determination?
Thank you in advance for considering our concerns, and we look forward to hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you’d require any further information on any of the above-raised issues: we’d be happy to respond.
Western Sahara Resource Watch