The WSRW report P for Plunder 2017 published 25 April 2017 contains information on all 27 vessels that departed occupied Western Sahara from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017.
WSRW contacted the operators responsible for these vessels.
Answers that we are to receive will be published below:
Letters not responded to as of today
Letter WSRW-Cebi Denizcilik, 16.06.2017
Letter WSRW-Common Progress Compania 16.06.2017
Letter WSRW-COSCO 14.06.2017
Letter WSRW-d'Amato Fratelli, 16.06.2017
Letter WSRW-GSD Denizcilik Gayrimenkul, 14.06.2017
Letter WSRW-Atlantic Bulk Carriers, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-BW Maritime Pte, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-C Transport Maritime, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Dry Bulk Handy Holdings, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Empire Bulkers, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Fujian Huaring Marine Shipping, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Hong Kong Ming Wah, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Mercantile Shipping Lines Ltd, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Norden SA, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Ocean Agencies, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Scorpio Commercial Management, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Sinotrans Ship Management Ltd, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-SITC Steamships Co Ltdt, 16.02.2018
Letter WSRW-Nisshin Shipping Co Ltd
Company: Golden Ocean Group Ltd
Vessel: Golden Keen
Letter WSRW-Golden Ocean Group Ltd, 16.02.2018
Answer from Golden Ocean Group Ltd to WSRW, 26 February 2018:
Thank you for your email below which was sent to our Operations department.
Golden Ocean uses standard clauses which covers lawfulness of cargo, in lawful trade, in relation to UN/US/EU rules, regulations and sanctions. We have also included in our policy to exclude cargoes from West Sahara, expanding beyond standard contract clauses.
We bought the vessel Golden Keen with charter party attached early 2017 and regretfully West-Sahara was not excluded in the charter party we assumed. The vessel was time chartered out to a third party for the remainder of 2017, and therefore we were not in a position to stop the trade out of West Sahara on this particular vessel. For new charter contracts we enter into we include an exclusion of West Sahara.
Birgitte Ringstad Vartdal
CEO – Golden Ocean Management AS
Company: Ultrabulk A/S
Vessels: Ultra Innovation (April 2017), Ultra Crimson (September 2017), Ultra Dynamic (September 2017) and Ultra Saskatchewan (December 2017)
Letter WSRW-Ultrabulk 14.06.2017
Date of answer from Ultrabulk to WSRW: 16 June 2016
Thanks for your email. As per our previous correspondence with Afrika Kontakt in which you have been copied, I can confirm that Ultrabulk is contractually committed under a contract under which our customers has the option to load phosrock from Laayoune.
We have a clear legal opinion from several legal advisors that our activities is within the Danish as well as the international law. These legal opinions has recently been updated, with the conclusion that there has been no recent development changing the legal stand.
The UN has issued no trade embargo nor sanctions involving Western Sahara, which would render our trade against the international law.
Ultrabulk is also aligned with the recommendations from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the UN. Should at any time these recommendations change with shall of course relate to same.
Response from WSRW to Ultrabulk 16 June following Ultrabulk's letter to WSRW on 16 June:
Thank you for your reply today of our letter dated 15 June.
As a follow-up to your email, three questions need clarification. We kindly ask you to review and comment on those.
1) You write that "Ultrabulk is also aligned with the recommendations from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the UN." This can be interpreted in two ways, either that Ultrabulk believes its activities are aligned with the UN, or that its activities are believed to be aligned with recommendations from the UN. Which of the two readings is correct? Can you specify which UN document or resolution would, according to you, be lending support to you activities of shipping the non-renewable resources out of the non-self-governing territory for the occupying power without the consent of the people of the territory and without it being to their benefit?
2) Which legal advisors gave such recommendation? Would you share these legal opinions with the owners of the phosphate, the people of Western Sahara?
3) We notice that your company did not respond to our one question in our letter to you, as to whether it has obtained the consent from the representatives of the Saharawi people. Can we take that as a confirmation that your company has not obtained consent to carry out the mentioned operations?
Ultrabulk's observation that no UN embargo has been set in place is correct. The absence of a UN embargo does not mean that exports of phosphates is in line with international law.
From Ultrabulk to WSRW, 19 June:
I can confirm that our trade are aligned with the recommendations from the UN.
Apart from this I refer to the information as per my previous mail, to which at this time I have no further comments.
From WSRW to Ultrabulk, 20 June
We thank you for your new mail.
We take that as a confirmation that your company does not wish to respond to the question regarding whether Ultrabulk has obtained consent from the people of the territory, nor wishes to identify which legal advisors your refer to in your correspondence.
Thank you for the clarification that “our trade are aligned with the recommendations from the UN.” We find that a bit confusing.
Western Sahara Resource Watch has followed the trade in Western Sahara daily since 2005. But we have never heard that any organisation or part of the UN at any point, has issued any sort of recommendation in terms of businesses in Western Sahara.
Could you please clarify which UN "recommendation" you are referring to?
The UN Legal Counsel and bodies of the UN Human Rights committee clearly underline that the people of Western Sahara need to consent to such operations. But, to our knowledge, no UN body has ever issued any recommendation to businesses for operations in Western Sahara whatsoever.
Looking forward to hear from you,
From Ultrabulk to WSRW, 21 June
As per my initial message; we have a clear legal opinion that our trade is within Danish as well as international law. Beyond this I have at this point no further comments.
From WSRW to Ultrabulk, 21 June
Based on what you write, we kindly request Ultrabulk in further contexts to stop referring to UN recommendations in Western Sahara, as such recommendations do not exist.
We also note that Ultrabulk insists that it operates in line with international law, but that it does not wish to comment on how it has reached that conclusion.
WSRW deeply regrets Ultrabulk's lack of willingness to engage in clarifying how it has come to the conclusion that participating in the pillage of the Saharawi people's own natural resources can be in line with international law.
Law aside, it should remain fairly obvious that such practice is gravely unethical.
Company: Spar Shipping AS
Vessel: Spar Lyra
Letter WSRW-Spar Shipping AS, 19.06.2017
Answer from Spar Shipping to WSRW, 19 June 2017:
With reference to letter from WSRW dated 19th June 2017. Thank you for bringing this information to our attention and knowledge.
The vessel in question has been chartered out to an independent third party and as such the vessel would not have been under our company’s commercial control at the respective time. However, we will certainly pass on the information through broker channel for our counterparts review and perusals.
Trust you find same to be in good order.
Spar Shipping AS
Mail from WSRW to Spar Shipping, 20 June 2017:
Thank you for your quick answer to our request.
We do notice that you did not answer our question: did Spar Shipping obtain consent from the people of Western Sahara upon allowing this vessel to be used in the territory?
As owner and operator of the vessel in question, we believe that your company has a particular responsibility, independently of the decisions made by your partner.
This is the second time in two years that a vessel from Spar Shipping undertakes a transport from the territory. Several Norwegian ship owners in recent years have specifically instructed their partners not to take their vessels to the occupied territory, by introducing such expectations in their contracts. Spar Shipping AS is today the only Norwegian shipping company that has not clearly stated that it is not willing to take part in such transports of phosphate rock.
Based on your answer, we kindly ask you to respond to three additional questions:
1) Are there clauses in between Spar Shipping’s contracts with third parties that prevent the latter from undertaking transports in manners which violate fundamental ethics or international law?
2) If yes, do these clauses include an expectation to not call on ports in occupied Western Sahara?
3) If no, why not?
A new report published by WSRW today reveals the names of around 100 shipping companies behind the transport of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara in 2016 and 2017.
The WSRW report P for Plunder 2020 to be published in February 2020 will contain information on all 20 vessels that departed occupied Western Sahara from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019.