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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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Non-Governmental Associations

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9. NEW YORK CITY BAR ASSOCIATION, COMMITTEE ON UNITED NATIONS, REPORT ON LEGAL ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE WESTERN SAHARA DISPUTE: USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES, NEW YORK, APRIL 2011.

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REPORT ON LEGAL ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE WESTERN SAHARA DISPUTE: USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES

ABSTRACT

The present report, issued by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (the “Association”) and prepared by the Association’s United Nations Committee, examines the legal issues involved in the use by Morocco of the natural resources within the territory of Western Sahara. The report is the result of more than 16 months of research, fact gathering and analysis. While acknowledging the well-known dispute as to the legal status of Morocco’s presence within Western Sahara, the report concludes that assuming the legal status most favorable to the Moroccan position – that is, treating Morocco as an administering power in the territory – to the extent Morocco is using natural resources located within the territory of Western Sahara, unless such use is in consultation with and to the direct benefit of the people of Western Sahara, Morocco’s use of the natural resources of the territory constitutes a violation of international law.

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II. LEGAL STATUS OF MOROCCO’S USE OF THE NATURAL RESOURCES OF WESTERN SAHARA

A. Factual Background

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