Western Sahara is rich in natural resources, which the EU and the international community exploit through trade deals with Morocco. The profits from this illegal activity are helping to both fund and legitimise Morocco’s occupation.
Resources targeted for exploitation include oil, phosphates, fish, and agricultural produce, including the tomatoes we see in British supermarkets.
Exploitation of Western Sahara’s resources include:
The EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement. This allows EU boats to fish in the waters of Western Sahara. In 2011, with concerns over the legality of the agreement, the European Parliament rejected the extension of the existing agreement. However in 2014, EU fishing vessels returned to the waters of Western Sahara, following ratification of a new agreement.
Agriculture: There are 11 plantations in Western Sahara producing agricultural products. All farms are owned by Moroccan conglomerates, French multinational firms or the Moroccan royal family.
Oil: Morocco has issued six licenses for oil exploration and production in Western Sahara. Four of these are to British firms Cairn Energy, San Leon Morocco Ltd, PetroMaroc and Xplorer PLC. None of the companies involved have at any point sought the consent of the people of the territory, a prerequisite for determining their legality.
All these agreements have been strongly condemned by the POLISARIO and Saharawi civil society, who have launched an active campaign against the plundering of their resources.
The UN’s own legal opinion states that exploitation of Western Sahara’s resources is illegal if it disregards the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara. In the 2002 legal opinion requested by the UN Security Council, Hans Corell, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal Counsel of the United Nations concluded: “if further exploration and exploitation activities were to proceed in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, they would be in violation of the principles of international law".
In 2018, the Western Sahara Campaign won a landmark legal victory against the British government for its role in exploiting the resources of Western Sahara. Read more about this here.
The Western Sahara Campaign is a core member of the Western Sahara Resource Watch network that campaigns to stop the theft of resources from Western Sahara. Read more about that herehere
WESTERN SAHARA CAMPAIGN UK
The Western Sahara Campaign works in solidarity with the Saharawi people to generate political support in order to advance their right to self-determination and to promote their human rights.
Our role is to lobby the UK Government and the EU. You can help us to ensure the UK does not ignore the voice of the Saharawi people.
Follow the news about EU's illegal fisheries in Western Sahara