Liberal Party demands Norwegian recognition of Western Sahara republic
The Norwegian Liberal Party adopted at a meeting of the National Board on 24th-25th of February a resolution that urges Norway, as the first European state, to recognise Western Sahara as an independent state.
The Liberal Party demands that Norway recognize Western Sahara as an independent state. According to the UN committee for decolonisation, Western Sahara is the last remaining colony on the African continent.
As far back as 1960, the UN General Assembly declared that the people in the then Spanish Sahara has the right to independence. However, when the Spaniards left the territory in 1975, Western Sahara was immediately occupied by Morocco. In October 1975, the International Court of Justice in the Hague rejected the Moroccan claim to the territory; or the Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic (SADR) which is the official name for the territory.
Peace agreement The peace agreement that was agreed to in 1991 between Morocco and the Western Sahara resistance movement, Polisario, had clear provisions for how the conflict was to be settled. The agreement entailed that the inhabitants living in Western Sahara prior to the occupation, through a referendum were to decide whether the area should be an independent state or to be incorporated into a neighbouring country. A UN mission was established to prepare for and implement the referendum. But in spite of this, today, more than 15 years after the peace agreement was signed, a referendum has not yet taken place. This situation is primarily due to the fact that France, being Morocco’s most important ally, has undermined all efforts in the UN Security Council to exercise pressure on the Moroccan authorities.
Although the UN has not succeeded in finding a solution to the conflict, SADR has nonetheless been recognized by more than 80 states.
Human rights violations Human rights are violated on a daily basis in the parts of Western Sahara occupied by Morocco. The Sahrawis are subjected to severe violations of their freedom of expression, of organisation and of movement. Journalists and editors who have raised the subject of independence have been imprisoned. Oppositional teachers and state-employees have been forcibly deported from their communities northwards, into Morocco. And human rights activists have been imprisoned without fair trial.
Western Sahara has substantial phosphate and fish resources, and, very likely, oil reserves along its coastline. Throughout this period, Morocco has illegally exploited Western Sahara’s rich natural resources. In recent years, Norwegian business has become increasingly active in Western Sahara. Norwegian fishing industry has become one of Morocco’s most important partners, and in 2006, major Norwegian projects were started in the occupied areas. In 1999, Norway entered into a trade agreement with Morocco, through the EFTA cooperation. Contrary to a similar US trade agreement, the EFTA agreement does not establish that products manufactured by settlers in Western Sahara can not be defined as Moroccan. Thereby, products made in occupied Western Sahara can be introduced to Norway free of tariff.
The Liberal Party demands: · That Norway recognize the Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic as an independent state, and exert its influence on Moroccan and French authorities in order that the Sahrawis’ legitimate demands are met. · That Norway exercise pressure on Morocco in order that the Sahrawi people’s rights to freedom of expression, organisation and movement are respected, and that all prisoners of conscience are released. · That Norwegian authorities, in cooperation with the other EFTA countries, follow the US example, by demanding that the EFTA-Moroccan Association Agreement precludes products originating from Western Sahara.
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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