Tuesday, 9 December 2008

426 organisations demand exclusion of Western Sahara from EU-Moroccan cooperation


Western Sahara Resource Watch (www.wsrw.org ) via Australia Western Sahara Association

Melbourne, Brussels, Madrid,

December 5th 2008

No less than 426 organisations signed a petition letter, demanding from the EU Commission that occupied Western Sahara be kept clearly outside of the so- called Advanced Status cooperation that Morocco currently is being granted. The petition was sent to the EU Commission this morning.

The larger part of Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. Morocco tries to integrate the occupied country into its own economy, and through the new “EU membership light”, the EU risks lending further legitimacy to that process.

The EU-Moroccan talks have to this day not stated that the occupied Western Sahara be kept outside of the cooperation.

“If the EU does not clearly exclude Western Sahara from the Advanced Status cooperation, it could end up supporting Morocco’s illegal occupation of its neighbouring country”, said Cate Lewis, International Coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), the organisers behind the petition.

“If the EU has lost this fundamental perspective on ethics and on international law, it is up to the international civil society to point them to their responsibilities”, Lewis said.

All the main Sahrawi organisations and networks working in the occupied country and in exile have joined the campaign named “Say no to Advanced Status for Occupied Country”. The letter was sent to Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for Foreign Affairs.

“In the mere 4 weeks since we opened this petition we’ve seen an avalanche of organisations joining the appeal. This massive global support also reflects the real preoccupation by the Sahrawi people over the EU’s intentions”, stated Lewis.

Among the other signatories, one finds prominent international organisations such as Solidar, the Rafto Foundation, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation and War on Want, shoulder to shoulder with individual trade unions such as the South African COSATU, the Spanish CCOO Comisiones Obreras and Unión Sindical Obrera (USO), as well as the umbrella organisation The World Federation of Trade Unions.

The petition also drew support from political parties, such as the Norwegian Liberal Party, the South African Communist Party, the Australian Socialist Alliance and the Spanish Unión Progreso y Democracia. The demand to exclude Western Sahara from the Moroccan Advanced Status was even backed up from within the European Institutions, through the signature of the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Western Sahara.

See a list of the 426 signatories here: http://www.wsrw.org/index.php?cat=132&art=920

Find the petition text here: http://www.wsrw.org/index.php?cat=105&art=801

For questions and comments:

Sara Eyckmans, Brussels, WSRW EU Coordinator, mob (+32) 475-458695

Cate Lewis, Melbourne, WSRW International Coordinator, mob (+61) 407 288 358

Javier García Lachica, Madrid, WSRW Spain, (+34) 615-917-339


Over 100 UN Resolutions call for the Western Sahara’s people’s right to self-determination. The UN treats Western Sahara as a decolonisation issue, and has labelled it both “occupied” and “annexed”. Furthermore, Morocco’s unfounded claim on the territory has been rejected by the International Court of Justice.

WSRW is a global network with member organisations in more than 30 countries worldwide, working to protect the Sahrawi people’s natural resources against Moroccan and foreign business interests in occupied Western Sahara.

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