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Special Political and Decolonization Western Sahara - IDIA

Special Political and Decolonization Western Sahara - IDIA

Rutgers Model United

Rutgers Model United Nations 17 Saharan conflict “settled.” However, the POLISARIO disagreed with the electorate provided by the Framework Agreement, which stated that to be able to vote on the finalstatus referendum a voter had to be a full time resident of the Western Sahara for the preceding one year. 64 Both the Algeria and the Polisario Front claimed that the plan was biased toward integration with it heavily favoring Morocco. Disputes regarding voter eligibility emerged again in 2003 with the Baker Peace Plan, which pitted native Western Saharans against Moroccans. 65 Morocco disagreed with the prescribed eligibility guidelines because the cut-off date for voter enfranchisement was 1999. On the other hand, the Polisario Front argued that the final status electorate would be “unfair and fatal to the Saharan people.” 66 Securing Natural Resources Natural resources, specifically the phosphate reserves in Western Sahara, have fueled Moroccan determination in gaining and maintaining sovereignty over the territory. The UN Visiting Mission to, then Spanish Sahara in 1975, noted that, “the territory will be among the largest exporters of phosphates in the world.” 67 At the signing of the Madrid Agreements, the importance of the Saharan phosphate reserves did not escape the signatories. Morocco gained its third largest reserve, Bou Craa, with Spain receiving thirty-five percent of the phosphate industry. 68 At the time of the signing of the Madrid Agreement, seventy per cent of Moroccan exports came from the phosphate industry. Gaining control of the phosphate reserves in Western Sahara would only bolster the Moroccan economy, as it would enable them to become one of the leading phosphate producers in the world. Another increasingly important resource for the Moroccan economy is fish. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, overfishing has greatly reduced 64 Zunes and Mundy, 223 65 Zunes and Mundy, 230 66 Zunes and Mundy, 233 67 Hans Morten Haugen, “The Right to Self-Determination and Natural Resources: The Case of Western Sahara,” Law, Environment, and Development Journal (2007): 77, (Accessed 11 April 2012). 68 Ibid, 77

Rutgers Model United Nations 18 the sardine-catch in Moroccan controlled waters by eighty per cent. However, waters off the coast of Western Sahara remain healthy. 69 According to Toby Shelley, the waters of the coast of Western Sahara are important to the economy of Morocco for three reasons: 1. Development of Moroccan fishing industry as a generator of income and employment 2. Growing international demand for seafood 3. The massive increase in the proportion of the Moroccan catch accounted for by Saharan waters. 70 Additionally, Morocco stands to gain from control of these waters as it has entered into an agreement with the European Union (EU), which gives 119 vessels access to waters “under the sovereignty or jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Morocco.” 71 The agreement between the EU and Morocco is another source of contention as many argue that the agreement is a de facto recognition of Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. Furthermore, the actions of Morocco violate international law. Western Sahara is on the UN’s list of Non-Self Governing Territories and numerous UN Resolutions have guaranteed the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources. 72 Irreconcilable Positions At the heart of the conflict is the inability of the two main sides Morocco and the POLISARIO to reach a consensus. In the past both acknowledged that a referendum needed to be held. However, Morocco refused any referendum that contained independence as an option, which is a compromise the Polisario Front is unwilling to make. Morocco, in 2007, then offered what would be dubbed the Moroccan Plan, which granted the Sahrawi people autonomy within the greater Morocco. The Moroccan Plan is an “autonomy proposal for the Sahara, within the framework of the Kingdom’s 69 Shelley, 18 70 Ibid, 17 71 Haugen, 78 72 General Assembly, Right of Non-Self Governing Territories to Self-Determination Reaffirmed, As Fourth Committee Approves Nine Decolonization Texts, 10 April 2002 (Accessed 11 April 2012)

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