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.
Introduction (Marco Balboni / Giuliana Laschi)
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Marco BALBONI & Giuliana LASCHI
University of Bologna1
Colonialism left an indelible mark on Africa and the Sahrawi people are one of the many groups who are still reckoning with the inheritance left them by Europeans. The Western Sahara was subjected to more than a century of illegal occupation firstly with Spanish colonisation and subsequently under Moroccan occupation. After winning their independence from Spain the Sahrawi people fought a resistance war against Moroccan occupation until the United Nations negotiated a ceasefire in exchange for a self-determination referendum. Morocco has never allowed this referendum to take place, however, and has consistently blocked UN mediation efforts2.
The Sahrawi people are the victims of rushed decolonisation and after the Spanish departed they were obliged to abandon the land they had lived on for centuries. Immediately after the withdrawal of the Spanish colonial occupiers in 1976 Moroccan troops from the north and Mauritanian soldiers from the south invaded the Western Sahara and the Sahrawi people were forced into refugee camps on Algerian territory. Morocco has continued to illegally occupy the territory and the Sahrawi have been a divided people ever since. Approximately 70% of them live in occupied areas and 30% in refugee camps. They have been a people in exile for forty years and have never succeeded in exercising their right to self-determination. The crisis in the Western Sahara is emblematic of the frequent ineffectiveness of the international community and its...
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