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'Moroccan whitewashing of the blood phosphate trade to NZ'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand is once again the subject of attention by Moroccan agents who seek to perpetuate the illegal import of plundered phosphate rock from Western Sahara. Morocco has dispatched a large delegation to New Zealand to lobby for the continuation of the illegal phosphate trade.

The trade - which featured in a civil court case in South Africa in 2017 - has been fostered despite declining worldwide sales, in an effort to ensure a democratic, progressive New Zealand remains a participant, giving it a veneer of legitimacy.

The Saharawi representative to New Zealand and Australia, Kamal Fadel, observed, " Morocco is once again sending a delegation to New Zealand because of its weak case to sell a Saharawi resource in the face of clear unlawfulness. Ethical investors are fleeing from involvement in enterprises which deal with or receive phosphate rock taken from a Western Sahara that continues to be occupied by armed force."

The Saharawi government notes that the Moroccan delegation present in New Zealand does not represent the views or aspiration of the Saharawi population. It is a group of agents who seek to prop up the waning import of a commodity that by all commentators and not a few courts in Europe, the United Kingdom and South Africa is unlawful.

The people of Western Sahara have not been consulted about the exploitation of their natural resources nor do they benefit from such an exploitation.

Kamal Fadel added, "This trade has caused immense suffering to our people. It encourages Morocco to continue its illegal occupation of our homeland and hamper the UN peace process. It is a criminal wrong, under well-established international law. New Zealand's import - that is, the wilfully blind decisions of a handful of corporate executives in two companies complicit in the matter - is an affront to the values of decolonization, solidarity and international cooperation that New Zealanders rightly pride themselves over. We ask that people study this matter carefully, and reject the notion that trade in the resource is somehow of benefit to resolving an occupation that is rife with human rights abuses. We urge New Zealand Government to put an end to this illegal trade which is damaging the reputation and standing of New Zealand in the world."

Western Sahara was first occupied by Morocco, after a time of Spanish colonialism, in 1975, even as the International Court of Justice concluded that it did not have "any" claim to the territory. For decades the United Nations has insisted the Saharawi people be ensured their right to self-determination including by a referendum that holds the option of independence. No country or international organization in the world recognizes Morocco's territorial claim, something debunked by recent decisions of the European Court of Justice (the CJEU). The taking of high grade phosphate from Western Sahara serves to extend Morocco's civil and military presence in the territory, and to give it a perception of economic development and trading legitimacy. The Saharawi authorities have consistently been outspoken about the mining and export of the phosphate rock, including by representations to New Zealand's importers and by advisories to the New Zealand government.

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