83% of the groups that the EU Commission claims have participated in a 'consultation' regarding Western Sahara trade, have either never been asked to take part - or have not taken part - in any consultation process. "We condemn the EU for so gravely misusing our name, and the names of other civil society organisations, to legitimize an illegal trade agreement", WSRW states.
Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) earlier this year received an invitation from the European Commission to discuss EU trade in Western Sahara. Since the Commission had at the time stated in the European Parliament that it was to undertake a consultation process, WSRW was skeptical. WSRW did not want to end up on any list of 'stakeholders' for a sham dialogue process geared at legitimising an EU-Morocco trade agreement that would cover occupied Western Sahara. The Court of Justice had been clear in 2016 that Morocco is a 'distinct and separate' territory from Western Sahara, and that a trade deal with Morocco could not be implemented in the territory it holds under occupation.
THESE ARE THE GROUPS THAT ARE FALSELY LISTED AS CONSULTED STAKEHOLDERS
1. Polisario Front. The UN-recognised representation of the people of Western Sahara was never invited to take part in a consultation process. See the email exchange between Polisario and the EEAS, refuting the Commission’s claim, here.
2. Western Sahara Resource Watch. WSRW declined to take part in a consultation process that disregards the rights of the people of Western Sahara.
3. Western Sahara Campaign UK
4. Independent Diplomat
5. ASVDH (Saharawi Association of Victims of Serious Human Rights Violations)
6. El Ghad Human Rights Association
7. Delegation of 89 (not 85) associations jointly signing a letter to the European Commission and the EEAS on 3 February 2018 on amending the Protocols. The Commission has never even approached these Saharawi associations with regard to the consultation process. The groups sent the letter to condemn the Commission’s disrespect for their people’s right to consent.
These 89 associations are:
Occupied territory of Western Sahara:
1. Association for Monitoring of Resources and for Protection of the Environment in Western Sahara (AMRPENWS)
2. Saharawi Committee for the Defense of the Self-Determination of the People of Western Sahara (CODAPSO)
3. The Saharawi Association for Victims of Grave Violations Committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH)
4. The collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA)
5. The Saharawi Association for the Protection and Dissemination of the Saharawi Culture and Heritage
6. Saharawi Media Team
7. National Television Team
8. The Saharawi Center for Media and Communication
9. The Association for the Protection of Saharawi Prisoners in Moroccan Prisons
10. Western Sahara Times
11. Bentili Media Center
12. Committee for Support the Peace Plan and Protection of Natural Resources in Western Sahara
13. Committee of the Mothers of the 15 Abductees
14. Association for Justice and Human Rights
15. The Saharawi Center for Save Memory
16. The Saharawi Observatory for the Child and Women
17. Forum for the Future of Women
18. Renunciation Moroccan Nationality Group
19. The field coordination of the unemployed Saharawi graduates
20. Bentili Media Center
21. Ibsar Al Khair Association for the Disabled in the Western Sahara
22. Gdim Izic Coordinating for Peaceful Movement
23. Committee of Victims of the Agdaz and Magouna
24. Independent Media Commission
25. The Saharawi Association for Persons with Disabilities in Western Sahara
26. Committee of the Families of the Saharawiss Missing
27. The Saharawis Association for the Defense of Human Rights and the Protection of Resources in Bujdour
28. Freedom Sun Organization in Smara
29. Saharawis Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Samara
30. Organization Against Torture in Dakhla, western Sahara
31. The Saharawi committee for the defence of human rights in Zag
32. The Saharawi committee for human rights monitoring in Assa
33. The Saharawi committee for the defence of human rights in Glaimim
34. The Saharawi organization for the defence of freedoms and dignity
Saharawi refugee camps:
35. Comisión Nacional Saharaui de Derechos Humanos (CONASADH)
36. Unión Nacional de Mujeres Saharauis (UNMS)
37. Unión Nacional de Trabajadores de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UGTSARIO)
38. Unión Nacional de la Juventud de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UJSARIO)
39. Unión Nacional de Estudiantes de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UESARIO)
40. Unión de Juristas Saharauis (UJS)
41. Unión de Periodistas y Escritores Saharauis (UPES)
42. Observatorio Saharaui de Recursos Naturales
43. Asociación de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis (AFAPREDESA)
44. Grupo Non-Violence Active (NOVA SAHARA OCCIDENTAL)
45. Asociación de Víctimas de Minas (ASAVIM)
46. Asociatción de Abogados Saharauis (UAS)
47. Campaña Saharaui para la sensibilisación sobre el peligro de Minas (SCBL)
48. The Saharawi campaign against the plunder SCAP
Saharawi Diaspora :
49. Saharawi association in the USA (SAUSA)
50. VZW de vereniging van de Saharawi gemeenschap in Belgie – Belgium
51. Association culture Sahara – centre de France
52. Association des femmes Saharawi en France
53. La league des jeunes et des etudients Saharawi en France
54. Asociación de abogados saharauis en España
55. Asociación de médicos saharauis en España
56. La liga de deportistas saharauis en España
57. La liga de periodistas saharauis en España
58. Comunidad Saharaui en las palmas
59. Asociación de saharauis en Tenerife
60. Asociación de saharauis en Fuerteventura
61. Colectivo saharaui en Lanzarote
62. Asociación de saharauis en bal
63. Asociación ARDI HURRA en Sevilla
64. Asociación de saharauis en lebrija
65. Colectivo de saharauis en Jaén
66. Asociación de saharauis en jerez de la frontera
67. Colectivo sah en estepona
68. Comunidad Saharaui en Granada
69. Asociación amal centro Andalucía
70. Comunidad Saharaui en Murcia
71. Asociación de saharauis en alicante
72. Asociación de zamur Valencia
73. Comunidad Saharaui en Catalunya
74. Comunidad Saharaui en Aragón
75. Asociación de saharauis en valdepeñas
76. Comunidad Saharaui en Castilla la Mancha
77. Asociación de saharauis en Ávila
78. Comunidad Saharaui en Castilla y León
79. Asociación de saharauis en Navarra
80. DISABI Bizkaia
81. Sahara Euskadi Vitoria
82. Sahara Gasteiz Vitoria
83. Amal nanclares
84. Tawasol lludio
85. Tayuch Amurio
86. Colectivo saharaui en GIPUZKOA
87. La liga de estudiantes en España
88. Association de la communauté Saharaoui en France
89. Association culturelle franco-Saharaouie
In its initial invitation to WSRW, the EEAS never stated its intention for our organisation to take part in a stakeholder consultation. As WSRW implored further into the purpose of the meeting, the EEAS did refer to its aim of carrying out a "consultation exercise". WSRW declined to take part, not seeing the point of such an exercise when an agreement with Morocco had already been initialed and given that no effort had been made to obtain the consent representation of the people of Western Sahara for a trade agreement covering their territory.
For the sake of transparency, and knowing that the Commission has generally fails to represent the facts right when it comes to Western Sahara trade, affairs and law, WSRW published its refusal to take part in the consultation process on its website on 7 February 2018. EEAS regretted WSRW's unwillingness to take part in the 'consultation'. WSRW followed up on 27 February 2018 with a number of questions regarding the process, a letter which has so far not been answered.
On 11 June 2018, the EU Commission sent the draft proposal of the Western Sahara trade deal to the EU Member States and the EU Parliament for approval. The Commission sent along a "Commission Staff Working Document" in which it boasts massive support of consulted stakeholders for the EU-Morocco trade agreement to be applicable to Western Sahara.
It is here that Western Sahara Resource Watch - together with a number of other groups - are falsely named as having taken part in the process. In view of the Commission's misuse of our good name, WSRW here publishes the entire correspondence between WSRW and the Commission from 30 January to 27 February 2018.
In fact, 83 percent of the organisations that are now listed in the working document's annex, entitled 'List of stakeholders consulted on the amendment to Protocols 1 and 4 of the Association Agreement", have never taken part in any consultation. Most of them have never even been invited to such consultation, as is the case of the 89 (and not 85, as erroneously written by the Commission) Saharawi civil society groups that sent a joint letter to the EU Commission and EEAS in condemnation of the EU's approach of arranging Western Sahara trade with Morocco, in disrespect of the Saharawi people's right to consent. As such, among the list of 112 groups and individuals that are to be found in the annex of 'consulted' bodies, the name of Western Sahara Resource Watch appears together with 94 other organisations that had either never been invited to a consultation process or that had rejected taking part.
"It is hard for the EU to sink lower than this. As the Commission not been able to fulfill the criterion of consent that the Court has specified, it has replaced that notion with that of 'consult'. Then, it name-drops groups that have never been consulted. Western Sahara Resource Watch asks the Commission to immediately send out a revised document to the Member States in which our organisation and the 93 other organisations are removed from the list of consulted stakeholders", chair of WSRW, Sylvia Valentin stated.
Among the organisations that are falsely included as a 'consulted stakeholder' is Polisario, which has never taken part in a consultation meeting.
A small analysis of the 'consulted' groups can be found here.
Western Sahara Resource Watch asks Member States to thoroughly question the Commission with regard to the claims it has presented in this report:
What is EU's position on labelling of products from occupied Western Sahara? The EU Commission has now for the third time published a response to a parliamentary question on the matter, but the latest version fails to address the question.
A clarification by the EU Commission on labelling of products from Western Sahara was published, then removed, then published again and has now been removed again from EU websites.
Two weeks ago, the EU Commission announced that products from Western Sahara should be labelled accordingly, only to withdraw that statement the very next day. Today, the Commission reaffirms its original position.
On 5 February 2020, the EU Commission announced that products from Western Sahara should be labelled accordingly. But about 24 hours later, all traces to that statement had been removed from EU websites.