An upcoming explanation of vote from the German government indicates that Germany might have been misled as they considered their position on the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement in occupied Western Sahara.
Western Sahara Resource Watch has been informed that Germany will soon issue a statement explaining their support for the much debated one-year extension of the divisive EU-Morocco fish pact.
Sources indicate that a draft of the statement reads: "Germany appreciates the Commission Services’ analysis of the documents provided by the government of Morocco on the utilization of the financial resources stemming from the fisheries agreement. The regional break-down shows that a considerable part of these resources was spent on measures supporting the modernisation of the fisheries sector in the Western Sahara and hence came to the benefit of the people of Western Sahara. Additional measures are planned."
WSRW is aware, however, that information provided by Morocco does not include a clear geographical break-down of investments in Western Sahara and does not include references to Western Sahara. Furthermore, the information provided by Morocco to the Commission does not make any reference to the population of Western Sahara nor to the Saharawi people.
Germany has previously stated that benefits flowing to the population of Western Sahara under the fisheries agreement are a pre-requisite for the renewal of the protocol to the agreement. Unfortunately, Germany’s statement does not contain any reference to the well-recognised legal requirement that countries exploiting the natural resources of a Non-Self-Governing Territory, such as Western Sahara, must first consult and secure the prior consent of the indigenous population (in this case, the Saharawi people), as stipulated by a UN Legal Opinion for the Security Council in 2002, and repeated in a legal opinion for the European Parliament in 2009.
The author of the UN Legal Opinion, Dr. Hans Corell, has recently questioned the appropriateness of accepting Morocco to act as an interlocutor on the benefits of the fish deal to the people it oppresses.
"It has been suggested to me that the European Commission is of the opinion that it is for Morocco to see to it that the agreement is implemented in a manner that the interests of the Saharawi are taken into consideration. In view of the circumstances, in particular the political dispute over many years between Morocco and the Frente Polisario, this position is simply not acceptable. An honourable actor in the international arena must demonstrate a higher standard. This applies in particular to Europe where actions by States should be based on the Charter of the UN and modern treaties on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms", Corell wrote in the article “Western Sahara – status and resources” in New Routes, April last year. A copy of that article is available here.
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.