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EU court offers clear message to NZ phosphate importing companies

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

On September 29, the General Court of the European Union issued a landmark ruling, one of significant importance in international law for Western Sahara. Western Sahara is Africa’s last colony, occupied illegally by Morocco since 1975, and even in the face of a UN administered self-determination referendum agreed upon in 1991. New Zealand is a large-scale importer of high-quality phosphate rock from Western Sahara. In 2017-18, the High Court of South Africa noted that the Saharawi people are the rightful owner of the resource.

The European Court ruled that revised 2019 fisheries and trade agreements concluded by the European Union with the Kingdom of Morocco were invalid insofar as they illegally included the Western Sahara territory.

The Court confirmed its previous rulings which concluded the absence of any sovereign ties between Morocco and Western Sahara because they are separate and distinct territories.

The Court recognised the Frente POLISARIO's legal personality and its standing to plead before the courts, and capacity to represent the people of Western Sahara and defend their political and economic interests.

The Court also concluded that the consent of the people of Western Sahara is required for agreements proposed to extend to or cover the territory. The steps in 2019 and later by EU authorities could not be regarded as having secured that consent.

Kamal Fadel, the Polisario representative to Australia and New Zealand urged that "In light of the EU high court historic decision, it is time for New Zealand companies Ballance Agri-

Nutrients and Ravensdown to immediately cease their illegal involvement in the plunder of Western Sahara phosphates through deals made with the occupying power, Morocco". He added that "Ballance and Ravensdown have never sought the consent of the Saharawi people and ignored calls to end the plunder of Saharawi phosphates."

Mr Fadel added that "the Frente Polisario as the legitimate representative of the people of Western Sahara reserves the right to seek reparations from the two Kiwi companies for monetary damage cause during the past three decades if the companies persist in their illegal trade in stolen goods from Western Sahara."

Sahrawi authorities have noted that the territory of Western Sahara has been in a state of war since Morocco violated the cease-fire on 13 November 2020 and reaffirm that they cannot guarantee the safety of foreign entities involved with the Moroccan occupier in the plunder of Saharawi natural resources, considered to be aiding and abetting occupation crimes against the Sahrawi people.

The Sahrawi authorities also observe that International Humanitarian Law applies in Western Sahara and that Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits pillage of the resources of an occupied territory.

The Saharawi authorities are ready and willing to enter into discussions and cooperate with international investors and those interested in Western Sahara's significant natural resources.

For further information please check:

General Court of the European Union Press Release: https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-09/cp210166en.pdf

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