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The European Union Approach Towards Western Sahara

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Edited By Marco Balboni and Giuliana Laschi

In the framework of the so-called Barcelona process, the European Union concluded several bilateral agreements with Morocco aimed to deepen their economic integration. The 2000 Association agreement European Union–Morocco is the general legal framework for the development of relationships among the two parties. In this context, the recent Agreement on reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products and fishery products, entered in force in 2012, and the Fisheries Partnership Agreement, issued in 2013, were established. They reiterate and update former agreements. No one of them expressly excludes the territory of Western Sahara from the scope of application, in contrast with other similar agreements negotiated with other countries, such as the Free trade pact between Morocco and the United States of America. The non-exclusion of the territory of Western Sahara raises several concerns on the compliance of these agreements with International Law, not only in relation to the principle of self-determination of peoples but also with the principle of sovereignty of natural resources, the prohibition of exploitation of resources of a territory under occupation, the obligation to not recognise situations arisen in an illegal way, the prohibition to negotiate agreement with an occupying country once the process of decolonisation has begun.

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United Nations

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1. COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS, 22 OCTOBER 2015, CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS ON THE FOURTH PERIODIC REPORT OF MOROCCO, E/C.12/MAR/CO/4.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Morocco

1. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the fourth periodic report of Morocco on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/MAR/4) …omissis…

C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations

Self-determination and natural resources

5. While taking note of the Moroccan Extended Autonomy Initiative, the Committee reiterates its concern about the failure to find a solution to the issue of the right to self-determination of the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara. Likewise, the Committee remains concerned about the precarious situation, upon their return, of the Sahraouis refugees displaced by the conflict in Western Sahara, particularly women and children. It is also concerned that the Sahraouis’ right to participate in the use and exploitation of natural resources is still not respected (arts. 1 and 25).

6. The Committee recommends that the State party:

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