Association For the Monitoring of Resources and for the Protection of the Environment in Western Sahara. (AMRPENWS).
El-AAiun: June 11th, 2016
Re: Do not interfere with the ECJ ruling at the expense of the Western Sahara Cause!
Dear Sir and Madam,
Western Sahara is a non-autonomous territory under Article 73 of the UN Charter, which Morocco occupied in total neglect of the international humanitarian law xhixh since 1960 has called for the right of self-determination for the Saharawi people. Despite the Moroccan presence in Western Sahara and the De Facto Moroccan adminsitration of the territory, Spain is a key element in this conflict which has lasted for forty years . Spain remains, as a former colonial power, part of the Group of Friends of Western Sahara, with the United States, Russia, France and the UK. Spain´s opinion and stance is heard in this context and especially at the level of the EU and the UN.
It is sad to see that Spain missed many chance to unlock the conflict in Western Sahara and reconcile with one of its darkest pages of its contemporary diplomacy in all its history. The Spanish government missed its temporary presence at the UN Security Council to give a decisive impetus to the resolution of this conflict that lasted over 40 years. First of all, The Spanish diplomacy quietly for years has supported the Moroccan autonomy initiative proposed in 2007 to resolve the Western Sahara conflict. This is no news as it was revealed in different secret cables publicly published by the famous WikiLeaks late 2010. In 2013 Spanish diplomats were alongside the French to abort the initiative of the Ambassador of the United States to the UN, Susan Rice, who wanted to expand the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in the Sahara Western (MINURSO) so that it would include the monitoring of the human rights in the Moroccan controlled Western Sahara and in the Saharawi refugee camps southwest Algeria. Just recently, Spain backed up Morocco in its crisis with the UN Secretary General, and intervened in favor of Morocco.
Meanwhile, Spanish public opinion has always had that kind of guoilt and bad conscience about abandoning Saharawi people at the mercy of Morocco. Some local municipalities and local governments have always supported the Saharawi cause and Saharawis. More than 50.000 Saharawi kids benefit from the ¨Peace Vacation ¨ program where they spend summer in Spain hosted by Spanish families.There are also executives and elected PP who, for example, tried to go to the Sahara to show their solidarity and support. Some Spanish NGO´s have also finoanced and sponsored many soical projects in the camps as well as organizing festivals and raising awareness about the Saharawi conflict. Some went further and visited the Moroccan controlled Western Sahara. Yet, this clearly shown a huge gap between the Politicians and the civil society action. Hypocracy is deeply rooted in the Spanish system. Spanish governments have never raised their voices in protest against the eviction of delegations, including MPs, who wanted to go to the Sahara.
Recently, on December 2015, The European Court of Justice issued a ruling whereby it annulled the EU- Moroccan Trade Agrement because it included the Western Sahara in contraction wit the international law and the different UN resolutions. . In its ruling, the said the Trade Agreement Protocol hadn’t carried out its duties to ensure it considered all aspects of the deal, including its impact on the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara and who controls the region’s natural resources. Such a ruling should have no immediate impact on commerce between the two sides, which totaled close to €30 billion ($32.8 billion) last year.
On 19 February 2016 the legal services of the Council of Ministers of the European Union flied an appeal against the ECJ’s decision which ruled to annul the EU-Morocco trade agreement signed in 2012.Spain, France and Portugal as EU Member States will intervene in the hearing that is expected to take place. Spain will be an accomplice to the Moroccan regime as it intends to intervene in favor of Morocco’s position, alongside with the European Council, in order convince the Court to retract its decision. The interventions will take place during a hearing, which is probably going to take place very soon. Spain is still the administrative power of the territory, as stipulated in the legal opinion issued in 2002 by Hans Corell, the former Legal Affairs of the United Nations, and ,therefore, should play a more active role to promote the right of self-determination in Western Sahara.
AMRPENWS notes that such an agreement is bad even for Spain. We noted that the trade deal allowed Morocco increase the volume of Moroccan products imported into the EU, of tomatoes in particular. It is considered to be a hard blow for Spanish agriculture, which is the main exporter to the other EU countries. Furthermore, Spanish farm unions insist that the deal would put 450,000 jobs at risk in a country that already has the highest unemployment rate in Europe, hitting 22.9 percent in December 2011. Meanwhile, the 2015/16 season has been disastrous for tomato producers in Spain and in the EU. In Spain, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, the average price at origin has stood at 0.50 €/kilo, with record lows of 0.20 €/kilo, according to data from the sector reported by COAG. Needless to say that Morocco’s record in respecting human rights in Western Sahara is very unclean and is, in fact, disastrous.
Even tough Morocco is seen as a key strategic partner and a haven of stability worthy of EU support in a volatile African region, politics, deals, and partnerships can not be practiced and signed at the expense of the rights of the people of Western Sahara. Europe and Spain in particular have to stop the double standard policy, and, thus, abide by the international law. Spain has a historical obligation towards the Saharawis whom it abandoned and sold to Morocco in 1975 without any respect for their will and their aspirations. Overall, It is very controversial to see that the European Union won the Nobel Peace in 2012, and is disrespecting and ignoring the rights of the people of Western Sahara.
AMRPENS urges the Spanish government to assume its historical responsibilities towards the people of Western Sahara by defending their cause and their rights at the level of the ECJ, the EU and the UN. There is not room left for hypocrisy and double standards policy.
AMRPENS hails the independence and the impartiality of the European justice system. Such a system made it clear that the rights of the people of Western Sahara has to be preserved and protected. It also called to exclude any deals that would incorporate Western Sahara.
AMRPENS calls upon the EU to stop ignoring the rights of the Saharawis. EU claims it is promoting human rights while it is ¨pampering¨Morocco and legitimizing its presence in Western Sahara at the expense of the rights of the Saharawis and in contradiction with the international law.
Board of Trustees
Association For the Monitoring of Resources and for the Protection of the Environment in Western Sahara. (AMRPENWS)