”The multinational corporations have no other choice than to capitulate. To present day this has cost the Kingdom [of Morocco] four oil companies (…) This opposition has been started from Norway.” Le Journal Hebdomadaire, Moroccan weekly, July 27th 2005
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara (NSCWS) is a membership organisation, formed in 1993. The organisation distributes information on the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. The most important campaign areas have been work towards stopping foreign companies that work for the Moroccan authorities in the occupied territories, and to put pressure on Morocco at the times when Sahrawi civil society is subjected to particularly grave human rights violations.
In addition, NSCWS campaigns for increasing Norwegian aid to the refugee camps in Algeria. Until 2005 we also worked for the release of Moroccan prisoners of war taken during the liberation war in the 1970s and 1980s, by the Western Sahara liberation movement Front Polisario.
The goal of the Support Committee is for the Sahrawi population to achieve its legitimate right of self-determination, and participate in a referendum about the future of their country, as stated in several United Nations Security Council Resolutions
For NSCWS it is important to form alliances with other non-governmental organisations, political parties, trade unions, research communities and governments. Our most important partner in Norway over the last decade has been The Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund (SAIH), who has supported the African liberation movements since the 1960s.
During the last few years NSCWS' work has yielded significant results:
• NSCWS has played an important part in forcing international businesses out of the occupied territories. So far both oil, phosphate and fishing businesses have given up investing in - or trading with goods from the occupied territory.
• Norwegian humanitarian aid to the refugee camps in Algeria is now at several million Norwegian kroner a year.
• NSCWS has put focus on the human rights violations in Western Sahara. In 2002 a Saharawi human rights activist, Sidi Mohammed Daddach, won “The Rafto Prize” after having been nominated by NSCWS.
• NSCWS has also put a lot of effort in strengthening the coordination of around 30 sister organisations in other countries.
The highest organ of the organisation is the General Assembly. Between each Assembly, NSCWS is run by a board. NSCWS builds its work on its laws and political platform, submitted in 2002. The organisation has no employees, but has a goal of establishing a permanent secretariat within a couple of years. So far all work has been done on volunteer basis. NSCWS is a member organisation of The Norwegian Council for Africa and NGO forum for human rights.
Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
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