EU seized on illegality of economic activities in Western Sahara

Bruxelles, 24 January 2022 (SPS) -  Many Sahrawi civil society organizations have seized the high institutions of the European Union to denounce the illegality of the EU's economic activities and exploitation of natural resources in occupied Western Sahara, without the consent of the Sahrawi people, believing that these activities help perpetuate an illegal occupation.

One hundred and twenty-six (126) organizations representing a broad cross-section of the Sahrawi people on Sunday sent a letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, in which they denounce economic activities and the exploitation of natural resources in occupied areas of Western Sahara, drawing attention to inaccuracies in a recent EU report alleging "advantages" of such activities.

"Such activities are illegal - since they do not have the consent of the Sahrawi people and are in no way an advantage for them. On the contrary, these activities of the EU institutions help to perpetuate an illegal occupation, which itself an act of aggression and participation in the efforts of the occupier, namely Morocco, to annex Western Sahara," the organizations wrote in their letter.

In this context, the organizations reaffirmed the "sovereignty" and the exclusive right of the Sahrawi people to determine its international legal status, including that of governing economic activities and activities related to natural resources of its territory.

"This sovereignty is embodied in our elected institutions, including the government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a full state (...) as well as the Polisario Front, as the sole representative of the Sahrawi people according to UN resolutions," the organizations stressed.

"EU activities involving Western Sahara - without the active and continued consent of the Sahrawi people - directly contravene the accepted sovereignty of the Sahrawi people under Articles 2 and 73 of the UN Charter. Such activities indirectly contribute to the undermining of that sovereignty by the occupying power (Morocco)," they warned.

Furthermore, the organizations criticized the European Commission's report published in December 2021 entitled, "2021 Report on the benefits for the people of Western Sahara regarding the extension of tariff preferences to Western Saharan products", indicating that it is used to maintain the illusion that the EU's activities in Western Sahara would be "beneficial" to the Saharawi people.