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Home » English » 2016.UN Human Rights Council: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development in Western Sahara

2016.UN Human Rights Council: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development in Western Sahara

Excerpt  from the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food
on her mission to Morocco:

VII.    Dakhla, Western Sahara

  1. On 10 October 2015, the Special Rapporteur visited Dakhla in Western Sahara. During her time there, she visited several agricultural and fishing projects, as well as a women’s cooperative.

  2. Boasting some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, the economy relies heavily on fishing and employs some two thirds of the workforce. During her visit, the Special Rapporteur visited the impressive port of Dakhla, where she witnessed abundant commercial and large-scale fishing projects for both national consumption (the principal objective of the Hout Bladi[1] project) and for export. While it is evident that considerable investment and resources are being poured into the development of the fishing sector, there is concern that not everyone working in the industry is reaping the benefits. Indeed, the Special Rapporteur learned that small-scale fisher folk are among the poorest in Western Sahara. While there have been efforts to integrate the local population by offering supplementary licences, the expert learned that Sahrawi people who are involved in the fishing industry struggle to find employment in the ports in order to sustain their livelihood.

  3. Vulnerability to climate change, which is having a negative environmental and social impact on coastal communities, poses a considerable challenge to small-scale fishers. As a result, many fisher folk are forced to venture beyond the boundary from the shore in order to seek their daily catch.

The exploitation of fisheries has led to several fisheries agreements, notably between Morocco and the European Union, since 2005.[2] In late 2011, the agreement was terminated following a vote against its renewal by the European Parliament, due to concerns citing a failure to fund the development of local fisheries and other shortcomings in terms of

  1. ecological sustainability.[1] The agreement has since been reinstated as of 2014, with European Union lawmakers approving a fisheries agreement with Morocco. The Special Rapporteur notes that any future agreement should be for the benefit of the local population as mentioned in the United Nations Legal Opinion of 2002.[2]

  2. While significant efforts are being made to develop infrastructure in Dakhla and many are benefiting from agricultural projects as well as the exploitation of fisheries, economic growth is not benefiting all. The unemployment rate in Western Sahara stands at 15 per cent, with young people and women faring worst. Women are faced with additional difficulties in accessing employment.[3] The Special Rapporteur is concerned about reports she received highlighting the difficulties faced by the local population in accessing education, especially at the university level. Without access to education, employment opportunities are limited, and the likelihood of falling into poverty and food insecurity is significantly increased. More must be done to ensure that economic growth benefits the local population, and the Special Rapporteur supports the recommendation made by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which suggests that a human rights-based poverty reduction strategy be adopted that specifically targets the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, with sufficient financial and other resources allocated to ensure implementation, and ensures that these resources are fairly distributed among those affected by poverty (E/C.12/MAR/CO/4).

RECOMMENDATIONS:

:Dakhla, Western Sahara

  1. Adopt a human rights-based poverty reduction strategy that specifically targets the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, with sufficient financial and other resources allocated to ensure implementation and guarantee that resources are fairly distributed among all those affected by poverty, in line with the recommendations made by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

  2. Ensure that existing educational resources benefit the local population and introduce mechanisms to significantly reduce unemployment and develop technical training programmes for Sahrawi people as well as incentives for employers to hire young people without discrimination.

  3. Monitor the implementation of education and youth programmes, and ensure that the local population is afforded equal opportunities to education and employment, with a view to reducing poverty and guaranteeing food and nutrition security for all, in line with international law.

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