Morocco challenges maritime frontiers of The Canary Islands, attempting to control the Western Sahara sea

On 6 July, the Moroccan Government approved a bill and a decree to delimit the maritime frontier of the Canary Islands and to bring under its control the waters off ​​the Western Sahara coast, a determination that a Moroccan government spokesman called “a sovereign decision of political character and with economic, strategic and diplomatic dimensions”.

The spokesman said that the new text seeks to end arguments that call into question his country’s sovereignty over Saharawi waters and that it will allow Moroccan authorities “to update their data to call for the expansion of their continental shelf.”

Carmelo Ramírez, the Cabildo de Gran Canaria Councilor for International Solidarity said last Friday that their rejection of Morocco’s decision to delimit the maritime frontiers off the Canary Islands and to incorporate the Western Sahara Sea into its territorial waters will be submitted at the plenary session of the Cabildo on Friday, for approval.

This decision “seriously affects the Canary Islands because of its proximity to Western Sahara, 100 kilometers or so, with consequences for the economy and stability of the islands,” said Ramirez.

He referred also to the possible existence of hydrocarbons and other minerals, such as highly prized tellurium, in waters between the Canaries and Western Sahara as one that may have aroused interests in the area.

This decision of the Government of Morocco, said Carmelo Ramirez, seriously contravenes international law since the territorial sea of ​​the Western Sahara “is not under its sovereignty, but a non-autonomous territory illegally occupied by the Moroccan administration.”

The text of the motion indicates that the initiative violates several regulations, such as UN Resolution 1514 which recognizes the right of self-determination for the Saharawi people and the opinion of the International Court of Justice that states that there are no ties of sovereignty between Western Sahara and Morocco , as well as the numerous resolutions of the UN Security Council that recognise the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.

The Moroccan resolution also stands against an Order of the Spanish National Courts recognising the Spanish state as the power administrator for the territory and the ruling of the European Union Court of Justice that cancels any economic agreements with Morocco, establishing Western Sahara as a territory distinct from Morocco.

In addition, the decision violates the resolutions of the African Union Summit held in July, which ratifies the process of self-determination for Western Sahara. These repeated violations of international law, Ramírez said, demand a UN and EU response, “to force the Moroccan government to be respectful of the regulations.”

Comply with international law

For all the above reasons, the motion proposes that the Cabildo reject the decision of the Government of Morocco to begin delimitation of the territorial sea of ​​Western Sahara, which is not under its sovereignty, and to require the Government of Spain to denounce the situation before other international organisations so as to force Morocco to comply with international law.

In addition, the text urges the Government of the Canary Islands to follow up on the matter and to request that the Governments of Spain and Morocco agree “a position respectful of international regulations” and of the rights of the Saharawi population, in particular their demands to hold a Referendum of Self-determination.

The proposed text asks that Morocco stop the illegal occupation of Western Sahara, to end the violation of the Human Rights of the Saharawi population and to end the plundering of natural resources in Western Sahara.

Source: Cabildo de Gran Canaria