SADR Government: “unilateral Moroccan act to claim Western Sahara maritime zones is null and void”

Bir Lehlu, 18 December 2019 (SPS) -  The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) has considered the unilateral Moroccan act to claim Western Sahara maritime zones as null and void, in a communique made public today.

“It is noted that Morocco’s enabling legislation to claim what can be called a “Saharan maritime area” is not yet in force.  Should it be purported to be brought into effect, the legislation would violate peremptory norms of international law.  Such legislation, being the nature of a territorial claim, would also be a clear breach of the 1991 Settlement Plan to which the United Nations, Morocco and the Frente Polisario as the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people are parties, said the communique.

“This Moroccan act of expansionism will not affect the nature of Western Sahara as a Non-Self-Governing Territory entitle to a proper decolonization process and full independence.”

“Individual persons, governments and corporations are counselled to exercise the greatest possible caution in any matter involving them in or pertaining to Western Sahara, including its ocean area.  Well-established legal precedent and recent cases brought by the Saharawi government illustrate current and long-term risks of accepting or dealing with Morocco in the circumstances of an illegal occupation,” it added. 

The following is the full read of the communique of the SADR Government:

“COMMUNIQUE

Bir Lehlu (18 December 2019) - The government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) notes that recent statements in the media report the advancement or pending implementation of legislation by Morocco to define and claim maritime zones on the coast of occupied Western Sahara. 

The SADR government considers such reports an opportunity to remind the international community, and interested persons and corporations, that the status of Western Sahara and therefore its ocean area have been settled as a matter of international law since 1975.  As the International Court of Justice concluded that year, Morocco has no territorial or other lawful claim to Western Sahara.  It is for this reason that there continues a process of self-determination for the Saharawi people as the original inhabitants of Western Sahara and why no nation-state has recognized Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara or unlawful occupation of the territory, which continues. 

It is noted that Morocco’s enabling legislation to claim what can be called a “Saharan maritime area” is not yet in force.  Should it be purported to be brought into effect, the legislation would violate peremptory norms of international law.  Such legislation, being the nature of a territorial claim, would also be a clear breach of the 1991 Settlement Plan to which the United Nations, Morocco and the Frente Polisario as the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people are parties.

This unilateral Moroccan act to claim Western Sahara maritime zones is null and void, has no legal validity and is not worth the paper it’s written on.

This Moroccan act of expansionism will not affect the nature of Western Sahara as a Non-Self-Governing Territory entitle to a proper decolonization process and full independence.

Morocco’s attempt to impose a fait accompli on its neighbours will ultimately fail as the Saharawi people are determined to achieve their rights and end colonialism in the area.  The SADR Government is willing to negotiate with all its neighbours in a just and transparent manner its maritime borders in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome that will serve the interests of all the nations and peoples of the region particularly our friends in the Canary Islands.

The SADR government is mindful that various courts and tribunals have in recent years affirmed that Western Sahara is not a part of Morocco, South Africa’s High Court in a 2017 decision observing the territory to be occupied by the use of armed force.  Furthermore, the European Court of Justice has on numerous occasions affirmed that Western Sahara is a territory that is 'distinct and separate' from Morocco.

Individual persons, governments and corporations are counselled to exercise the greatest possible caution in any matter involving them in or pertaining to Western Sahara, including its ocean area.  Well-established legal precedent and recent cases brought by the Saharawi government illustrate current and long-term risks of accepting or dealing with Morocco in the circumstances of an illegal occupation. 

The SADR government also recalls that it has enacted legislation for a sovereign Saharan maritime area - including a 12 nautical mile territorial sea and a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone - in 2009.  In addition, a 2018 statute applies without restriction to the Saharan maritime area and its resources, the SADR Natural Resources Sovereignty Act. (SPS)

062/SPS