MEPs ask EU Commission to respect international law in Western Sahara
Article image

A group representing over 60 MEPs has sent a letter to EU diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Fisheries Maria Damanaki, requesting them to respect the Saharawi people's wishes and interests when seeking to conclude a new fish deal with Morocco.

Published 19 March 2013

Photo: fishing boats in the harbour of El Aaiun, capital of occupied Western Sahara.

The letter was sent on behalf of the European Parliament's Intergroup for Western Sahara, and signed by its President Norbert Neuser, the vice-Presidents and the EP Rapporteur for the external dimension of the EU fisheries policy, Isabella Lövin.

"We want to stress the position of the European Parliament in its Resolution of 14 December 2011 on a future protocol for a fisheries agreement with Morocco stating that any future fisheries agreement should include a clause of compliance with human rights and it should fully respect international law. Compliance with international law requires that the protocol must be concluded in accordance with the wishes of the people of Western Sahara as well as to their benefit. Until these conditions are met we do not see grounds for approving a new protocol for the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement", the MEPs write in their letter.

The MEPs are also critical on the European Commission's aim to include a human rights clause into the agreement. "We want to stress that the mere inclusion of a human rights clause in a fisheries protocol does not make the agreement compliant with international law", the letter reads. "In addition, the human rights clause makes only sense if it is truly respected. For the time being, we do not evaluate the human rights situation in Morocco and especially in the Moroccan controlled Western Sahara as compliant with international human rights standards", the MEPs continue, referring to recent reports of the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez.

Earlier this month, a delegation of four European Parliamentarians striving to observe the human rights situation in Western Sahara, was barred by Morocco. All four were turned back on arrival at Casablanca airport.

Here is the EU Council's legal advice on fishing in occupied waters

Before voting on the new EU-Morocco fish deal in 2018, extending into occupied Western Sahara, several EU Member States asked for legal advice that would determine their vote. WSRW today publishes that influential legal opinion, which appears to miss the ball entirely.
05 March 2020

Hans Corell criticizes EU fisheries in Western Sahara

The former Legal Counsel to the UN Security Counsel, Mr. Hans Corell, comments on the EU's fisheries activities in Western Sahara.

20 November 2019

EU Court reaffirms position on Western Sahara

Polisario has a case, but it should be pursued when the time is right, Court implies.

28 February 2019

European Parliament disregards Court and adopts Morocco fish deal

Notwithstanding four consecutive rulings of the EU's highest Court calling such a practice illegal, the European Parliament has just now voted in favour of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement that will be applied to the waters of occupied Western Sahara.

12 February 2019