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Western Sahara

On 18 May, cargo ship Ultra Innovation was stopped going through the Panama canal while carrying 55,000 tonnes of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara to Canada.

A few days earlier, the NM Cherry Blossom, carrying 50,000 tonnes of Sahrawi phosphate to New Zealand, was halted in South Africa by a local court.
These were (perhaps temporary) legal victories for Western Sahara’s national liberation movement.

Polisario argued in court that the exports were unlawful as Morocco has illegally occupied the territory of Western Sahara since 1975, and, according to international law, such resources cannot be extracted without the consent of the people being occupied.

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) commented: ‘The question for the South African court, then, is who owns the cargo on board.

‘Morocco has alleged that it has the right to export the non-renewable minerals from the Bou Craa mine, despite no state in the world, nor the United Nations, recognis[ing] the Moroccan claims to the land.’

According to WSRW, New Zealand importers Ballance Agri-Nutrients ‘never answered questions as to whether they had obtained permission from the owners of the phosphate rock to import’.

More info: www.wsrw.org

Topics: Western Sahara