British MPs call on amending EU-Moroccan fisheries agreement
The Western Sahara group on the British parliament, consisting of 20 parliamentarians from all political parties, call on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to take immediate steps to resolve the crisis in Western Sahara. 12 June, the group handed over letter to the government, urging the UK to take a lead in the Security Council, and to work for the halt of the resource plundering in the occupied territory.
"Our collective failure to address Morocco’s ongoing violation of countless UN Resolutions, to stop the illegal plundering of Western Sahara’s natural resources and to allow human rights abuses to be committed with impunity diminishes Britain, it diminishes the United Nations and it is an affront to all those with a belief in justice", stated Chair of the group, MP Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) in a press release on 12 June 2009.
The press release announces that a delegation of MP’s, High Commissioners and representatives of the exiled Western Saharan government was going to 10 Downing Street to call on the British government to take the lead in resolving the Western Sahara conflict.
Read the release.
"We call on Gordon Brown to take a principled stand and take urgent steps to ensure that the UK takes a lead within the UN Security Council to fulfil its obligation to ensure the referendum on self-determination that was agreed under the terms of the UN ceasefire agreement in 1991", Mr. Corbyn stated.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Western Sahara sent the below letter to the British Prime minister.
The Rt Hon Gordon Brown Prime Minister 10 Downing St LONDON SW1A OAA
12th June 2009
Dear Prime Minister
We are delivering this letter on the day of the launch of a major new awareness-raising campaign to urge your Government to take immediate steps to resolve the crisis in Western Sahara, now in its 33rd year. The continuing occupation of the Western Sahara by Morocco, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and the judgement of the International Court of Justice, has left 165,000 indigenous Saharawi refugees to languish in camps in the Algerian desert for over three decades. Mindful of your long-standing commitment to Africa, we hope you will take urgent steps to ensure that the UK takes a lead within the UN Security Council to fulfil its obligation to ensure a referendum on self-determination takes place, as was agreed under the terms of the UN ceasefire agreement in 1991.
Two areas that require immediate action are:
1. Human rights It is incumbent upon the UN Security Council to install human rights monitoring in occupied Western Sahara as recommended by the OHCHR report, and as called for in recent reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and most recently the European Parliament. We were pleased to see the statement by John Sawers, the UK Ambassador to the UN, referring to Security Council resolution 1871 (2009): extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), saying that it explicitly includes humanitarian measures and human rights.
The UK must also demonstrate its stated commitment to promoting human rights by taking a lead in Europe to address the failure of the EU to tackle Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara in its relations with the kingdom of Morocco. The EU is in a position to exert influence on Morocco to respect international law and human rights.
2. The illegal exploitation of the resources of Western Sahara Large reserves of phosphate, vast fishing grounds and potential offshore reserves of oil and gas have meant that many Western governments and companies are involved in lucrative trade deals with the Moroccans, in defiance of international law. Agreements between the EU and Morocco, whether the Neighbourhood Policy or the Fisheries Agreement, must be limited to the territory of Morocco and these limits must be clearly stated.
The failure to address Morocco’s ongoing violation of over 100 UN Resolutions preventing the illegal plundering of Western Sahara’s natural resource, and thus to allow human rights abuses to be committed with impunity diminishes Britain. It also diminishes the United Nations and it is an affront to all those with a belief in justice. By ensuring human rights are respected and the illegal exploitation of the resources are challenged, the UK Government will show the moral leadership that is necessary to resolve the conflict, through ensuring a UN supervised referendum on self-determination.
Jeremy Corbyn (Chair of the APPG on Western Sahara)
NOTE: Members of the APPG on Western Sahara Jeremy Corbyn MP David Drew MP Hywel Williams MP Ann Clwyd MP Joan Walley MP Sally Keeble MP Katy Clark MP Kelvin Hopkins MP Mike Hancock MP Paul Flynn MP John Grogan MP Bob Spink MP John Austin MP John Bercow MP Mark Williams MP Daniel Kawczynski MP Peter Bottomley MP George Young MP Nigel Evans MP Robert Walter MP
The EU considers to pay Morocco to fish in occupied Western Sahara. An EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement from 2013 would be both politically controversial and in violation of international law.
The international Fish Elsewhere! campaign demands the EU to avoid such unethical operations, and go fishing somewhere else. No fishing in Western Sahara should take place until the conflict is solved.