Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)
Western Sahara vindicated in battle with Morocco
ON SEPTEMBER 29, the EU Court of Justice annulled the long-standing practice of the EU’s trade and fishery agreements with Morocco in a resounding victory for the Saharawi people.
In the first instance, the court rejected the application for inadmissibility, in favour of Frente Polisario, by confirming the legal standing – “even if that recognition is confined to the self-determination process of that territory”. “Furthermore, its participation in that process implies that it has the necessary autonomy and competencies to act within that context.”
The affirmation of the European Court is not just an indictment on Morocco and its European counterpart law-breaker, but a confirmation of the independence of the Saharawi people.
The Western Sahara remains the last colony in Africa. Spain was its initial occupier and subsequently it was colonised by Morocco in 1975, upon the withdrawal of Spain.
The Sahrawi people have since been in a struggle for their selfdetermination and freedom.
Despite the conflict having caught international attention, and resolutions by the UN confirming Western Sahara’s right to self-determination, Morocco persists in its illegal occupation.
Moroccan oppression has resulted in severe human rights violations, political prisoners, violence against women and children, land mineinfested areas, a wall built for separation, and theft of minerals and other resources, including that of phosphate and fisheries, as is the case in this scenario.
Frente Polisario has been given the authority and confirmation to represent the Sahrawi people before the European courts, which had not been the case in the past, and such disrespect was refused by the court in their presentation that “benefits” cannot replace “consent”.
The court, in its exceptionally decisive ruling, further indicated that the EU’s relations with Morocco were not in any means qualified by default to include the Western Sahara from its broad interactions, which then does not limit the ruling to trade and fisheries, but consent with regard to the territory of the Sahrawi people.
The court in this instance took “the view that, in so far as the agreements at issue apply expressly to Western Sahara and, as regards the decision concerning that Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement, to the waters adjacent to that territory, they concern the people of that territory and require the consent of its people”.
The conflict continues to escalate between Morocco and the Western Sahara in the aim of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic fighting for its self-determination, as judgments issued previously by the Court of Justice of the EU in 2016 and 2018.
The deliberate disregard by the EU and Morocco in respect of previous judgments was the unscrupulous inclusion of the Western Sahara territory as part of the trade and fisheries agreement, to the exclusion of people of Western Sahara, in principle the Polisario Front, and the collusion with allegedly 18 Moroccan operators and politicians in the advancement of beneficiation with the EU.
In the final analysis, the court concluded that that the applicant “did not sufficiently take into account all the relevant factors relating to the situation in Western Sahara and wrongly considered that it had a degree of discretion in deciding whether to comply with that requirement”.
The court was simply confirming that the aggression and colonisation of the Western Sahara by Morocco must not be discretionary, and emphasised the need for non-invasion and complete liberation of the Sahrawi people.
The recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’s sovereignty and independence is definitive in comprehending that a state must exercise its decisiveness in protecting its resources, minerals, waters, land, people and determination. It cannot be that in a geopolitical analysis any invasion for the purposes of enriching self-imposed colonisation by Morocco will go without facing the consequences of international law.
It is the might of justice and fairness that prevailed in the ruling of the European Court of Justice that must be celebrated and implemented.
There is no legality in the actions of Morocco.
Morocco continues to demonstrate that theft of resources and abuse of the SADR sovereignty as a state is blatant disregard for the principles enshrined not only in the Constitutive Act of the AU, international instruments and institutions but international law.
The European Court of Justice rejected this and, in my view, sees such invasion as an act of terror against the Western Sahara.
Despite numerous courts internationally having found Moroccan vessels in possession of the resources of the Western Sahara to be illegal, Morocco has demonstrated no corrective measures.
The need for a referendum and the realisation of complete independence of the Western Sahara is long overdue. It is, however, clear that the courts have confirmed that victory is certain.