Danish NGO calls for exclusion of Western Sahara from EU deals

The Danish organisation Afrika Kontakt demands that the Danish government do not support Morocco's occupation through the EU cooperation.

Published 30 April 2009

The letter below was sent from Afrika Kontakt to the Danish Foreign Minister, 27th of April 2009. Afrika Kontakt started initially as an anti-apartheid organisation, but works now on solidarity issues in Africa as a whole.

Read more about Afrika Kontakt here (in Danish).

Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Asiatisk Plads 2
DK-1448 Copenhagen K

Copenhagen April 27th, 2009

Attn.: Foreign Minister Mr. Per Stig Møller 

Subject: The Kingdom of Morocco's illegal occupation of Western Saharan territory in connection with upgrading of the European Union’s relations with Morocco

Dear Mr. Møller, 

The EU and Morocco are currently negotiating the strengthening of their relationship under the 'EU-Morocco Action Plan'. The relationship between the two parties is currently covered by an Association Agreement (2000) within the framework of the EU's Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Fisheries Partnership Agreement (2006). 

Neither the current Action Plan nor the existing Association Agreement, which forms the basis for the action plan, relates to the fact that Morocco has illegally occupied the territory of Western Sahara since 1975. 

Illegal occupation and violation of human rights
Although the Association Agreement’s article 2 highlights “the respect for the democratic principles and human rights” as a foundation of the Agreement, this is in sharp contradiction with the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara that has resulted in the violation of more than 100 UN resolutions - including the UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), which urges Morocco to decolonize Western Sahara. In addition, the UN Security Council’s Action Plan stipulates a referendum on independence or autonomy for the region. 
According to international law the Saharawi People are entitled to self-determination. The International Court of Justice in the Hague also supports the claims of the Saharawis to an independent Western Sahara. The African Union also recognizes Western Sahara as an independent State.

Moreover, the Moroccan government is behind attacks and kidnappings of political opponents in Western Sahara as well as violations of the Saharawi human rights. This has been pointed out by the United Nations and the European Parliament delegation to Western Sahara as well by several human rights organisations. 

Plundering of Western Sahara's natural resources
In the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement, Western Sahara was not excluded. The Agreement allows Morocco to sell fishing rights to the European Union in the Western Sahara territorial waters, which Morocco has illegally occupied. 
The Saharawi People have not been consulted during the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement. 
For these reasons, the Swedish government in 2006 voted against the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Morocco in the EU Council of Ministers – unfortunately as the only EU member. 
Denmark and the EU should follow Sweden's example and thus not allow Morocco to exploit Western Sahara’s natural and fishing resources.

Recommendations for what the Danish government should work for 
EU and its member states are obliged under international law not to recognize the occupation of Morocco to Western Sahara, and to support the decolonization of Western Sahara. As long as the majority of the Saharawis are living in exile, and the Moroccan Government violates their human rights, the EU and its member states also have a moral duty to support them. 

However, by signing Morocco 'advanced status' under the EU-Morocco Action Plan, EU and Denmark are supporting the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and the pillaging of the territory's natural resources. 

Therefore, Denmark in the EU Council should work for:

• that all negotiations to upgrade the relations between the EU and Morocco should immediately be frozen if they do not explicitly exclude the territory of Western Sahara.

• that the existing agreements between the EU and Morocco should be revised so that the Western Sahara territory is explicitly excluded from these agreements 

• that the EU should not support the trade of goods or minerals from areas that are illegally occupied, 

• that the EU must use its position to exert pressure on the Moroccan Government to comply with UN resolutions, including Security Council Resolution 1813 from 2008 and the International Court of Justice ruling, and that the EU should fully support the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Western Sahara, Mr. Christopher Ross, 

• that the EU should support an extension of the mandate of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to monitor and report human rights violations in the occupied territories. 

The Danish government should also encourage Danish companies with activities in the occupied areas to pull out and not to continue being involved in further illegal exploitation of the natural resources in the area. 

AFRIKA KONTAKT follows the development closely. While we support the Saharawi People’s struggle for an independent Western Sahara, we believe that this should be achieved through a referendum in the occupied territory. The UN Security Council has tried to achieve this plan for many years, but without Morocco wholeheartedly supporting it. 

AFRIKA KONTAKT, in collaboration with other groups and individuals in Denmark has contacted the Saharawi recognized representative, the POLISARIO Front. Together we will try to change the EU's policy towards Morocco so that there can be a peaceful transition to a democratic and independent Western Sahara. 

AFRIKA KONTAKT is ready to give advice and to discuss the matter further, and is looking forward to hearing from you. 

For information, enclosed two reports of the UN Secretary General on the situation of Western Sahara: 

• Report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara to the Security Council, 13 April 2009 

• Report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara to the Security Council, 14 April 2008 


Morten Nielsen, 
Campaign Manager AFRIKA KONTAKT 


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