Association for the Monitoring of Resources and for the Protection of the Environment in Western Sahara (AMRPENWS).
El-Aaiun, Western Sahara
New Age (African Global Energy) Ltd
La Cour des Casernes
T +44(0)1534 760000
F +44(0)1534 760007
Re: Commencing oil Exploration in Western Sahara is a provocation and is challenging the International law.
July 21st, 2016
Dear Sir or Madam,
We are writing to you to let you know that we are a Saharawi ONG based in Western Sahara, and we are deeply concerned with the recent agreement you singed with the Moroccan Government regarding oil exploration off-shore Western Sahara at Oum-Oughnit zone. This agreement should be annulled and is considered illegal for many reasons.
As stated by the international law and the advisory opinion of the UN legal advisor, Mr. Hans Corell, offshore drilling is inherently dirty, dangerous and above all illegal and ethical. The UN resolution (A/res/46/64 dated December 11, 1991) says that “the exploitation and plundering of colonial and non-self-governing territories by foreign economic interests, in violation of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations is a grave threat to the integrity and prosperity of those Territories.” The international law is clear when it comes to foreign oil companies conducting business in Western Sahara: No company should do so without the involvement of the people of Western Sahara in the whole process. Saharawis should benefit from these contracts and business deals while consenting to any such activities.
According to the international law, your business activities in Western Sahara are considered illegal and unethical, as it is a clear illustration of pillage of the territory’s natural resources. The coastal waters of Western Sahara as well as its soil all belong to the Saharawis, people of Western Sahara. Morocco does not have the sovereignty over these soil and waters. Only Saharawis can give you the right to do so. Your action of oil drilling will give Morocco a golden opportunity in its plight to legitimize its control of Western Sahara. This is a very dangerous act and can ignite political turmoil in Western Sahara and thus hurt all UN efforts in solving the conflict. Also, your petroleum activities will mean more damage to the environment and to the ozone. So far, the Saharawi shores are clean and still unpolluted. Your oil exploration will mean more pollution for the water, the earth and for the ozone. This will mean more contribution to the global warming.
Another huge mistake you did was to incorporate Western Sahara and the intended exploration site: Oum-Oughnit as part of Morocco. This is totally unacceptable and is against the internationally recognized borders. No country in the world recognizes the sovereignty of Morocco over Western Sahara. There is a UN-sponsored peace settlement plan in the region in order to finalize a just, lasting, air and political solution to he conflict. You actions will only undermine the progress and the effectiveness of such a plan. The Polisario is the legal representative of the Saharawis, and thus any deal should be conducted with the Polisario and the Saharawis. The ECJ ruled last year against the Moroccan – European trade agreement because it included the territory of Western Sahara. Therefore, you should abide by the law and cease your intended activities in the territory of Western Sahara. Ignoring the rights of the Saharawis might only lead your company to a legal battle where the international law will be the dominant.
To conclude, we urge you to refrain from starting the oil- exploration in the off-shores of Western Sahara until you meet the Saharawis demands while respecting the international law.
Looking forward to your reply and resolution of this problem
Dalil Lahcen, President o : fAssociation for the Monitoring of Resources and for the Protection of the Environment in Western Sahara (AMRPENWS).