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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 5 At every place visited, the Mission was met by mass political demonstrations and had numerous private meetings with representatives of every section of the Saharan community. From all of these, it became evident to the Mission that there was an overwhelming consensus among Saharans within the Territory in favor of independence and opposing integration with any neighboring country. 14 The UN visiting mission to Spanish Sahara verified the wishes of the people residing there. The mission concluded that those residing within the territory were “manifestly in favor of independence.” Furthermore, the mission recommended, “the actions of the United Nations must be directed towards ensuring that the Saharan people freely determine their own destiny, and the administering power and neighboring countries must contribute to this objective in an atmosphere of peace and mutual security.” 15 The Mission also found that for Sahrawi refugees, opinions regarding independence or integration were mixed, often reflecting the policies of Morocco, Mauritania, and Algeria. 16 The varying opinions among sectors of the population would become an important source of contention once it became time to administer the referendum. Given the nomadic history of the Saharan people, conflict arose over defining who was eligible to vote in the referendum. October 1975: International Court of Justice (ICJ) Ruling Central to Morocco’s opposition to a referendum that includes independence on the ballot is Morocco’s claims to sovereignty over the territory. The idea of “Greater Morocco” is rooted in the division of the Kingdom of Morocco, which occurred between the period of 1900 and 1912, among the colonial powers of Spain and France. 17 Looking to prove that there existed legal ties that would justify their annexation of the territory, both Morocco and Mauritania called upon the ICJ to issue a ruling. The ICJ was charged with giving an advisory opinion that would answer two questions: 14 Report of the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation Of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, 59 15 Report of the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation Of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, 107 16 Franck, 708 17 Castellino, Joshua. “Territory and Identity in International Law: The Struggle for Self-Determination in the Western Sahara,” Millennium- Journalof International Studies (1999): 546

Rutgers Model United Nations 6 1. Was Western Sahara at the time of colonization by Spain a territory belonging to no one (terra nullius)? If the answer to the first question was negative: 2. What were the legal ties between this territory and the Kingdom of Morocco and the Mauritanian entity? 18 After viewing documents presented by Mauritania, Morocco, and Spain, the ICJ concluded, “the materials and information present to it do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity.” 19 Furthermore, the court found no legal ties that could affect the decolonization of Western Sahara or the expression of self-determination by the people of the territory. reaffirming decolonization through self-determination. 14 November 1975: Madrid Accords Thus, the ICJ ruling upheld Resolution 1514, in The Madrid Accords, signed by the governments of Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania, formally ended the Spanish presence in Western Sahara. The treaty transferred authority from Spain to Morocco (the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara) and Mauritania (the southern one-third). 20 Through this deal Morocco gained control of the phosphate deposits found in the north, and Mauritania gained vast fishing resources along the coast of Western Sahara. 21 cent share in Fosbucraa, the Saharan phosphate industry. 22 The agreement also granted Spain a thirty-five per The Madrid Accords ignored the various UN resolutions upholding the right to self-determination for the Sahrawi people, and ignored the wishes of the Sahrawi people, which had been demonstrated by the UN visiting mission to Western Sahara. 18 General Assembly, Question of the Spanish Sahara (3292), 22 December 1974 19 International Court of Justice, Western Sahara Advisory Opinion, 16 October 1975 (http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?sum=323&code=sa&p1=3&p2=4&case=61&k=69&p3=5) 20 Gardner, Anne Marie. “Self-Determination in the Western Sahara: Legal Opportunities and Political Roadblocks,” International Peacekeeping (2000): 122 21 Ibid 22 Franck, 715

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