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Western Sahara

There should be no oil drilling in the waters of Western Sahara ‘until the Saharawis have had the chance to exercise their right to self-determination and have freely and fairly decided the political status of their homeland’. So went a joint letter to the UN security council from 243 organisations from around the world, sent on 15 April.

Scottish oil company Cairn Energy is involved in oil exploration off Western Sahara, under licence from Morocco, which has illegally occupied the territory since 1975.

In the UK, signatories included Mary Turner for the GMB union (630,000 members), Max Hyde for the National Union of Teachers (300,000), Billy Hayes for the Communication Workers Union (200,000 members), and Alan McLean for the Fire Brigades Union (44,000 members).

The joint letter argued: ‘The oil companies’ activities in Western Sahara through a deal with the Moroccan government will give Morocco even less incentive to engage in peace talks and fulfill its duties under international law. It furthermore undermines the Saharawi people’s faith in peaceful negotiations. As such, Morocco’s oil development undercuts the UN’s efforts to negotiate a just and lasting solution to the conflict.’


Topics: Western Sahara