Western Sahara

Is Western Sahara conflict a problem of sovereignty? (Opinion)

Ibrahim Sidina

According to international law, the common assertion that the case of the Western Sahara is one of competing sovereignties is incorrect. According to the ICJ’s 1975 ruling the right of sovereignty in the case of the Western Sahara only belong to the Sahrawi people. Morocco’s original claims to the territory based on historical ties not only are invalid, but also its subsequent occupation and annexation of the Western Sahara are in violation of international law.

The ICJ found several arguments that supports the Saharawi people’s claims to sovereignty over the Western Sahara. After hearding arguments from Morocco explaining that their claims of sovereignty over the Western Sahara were based on historical ties between the Sultan of Morocco and Saharawi tribes, the ICJ found that the Sultan’s administrative control did not evenly apply to the whole territory because some tribes refused to accept Sultan political leadership in their terrotory. Therefore, the Court concluded that sovereignty power is vested in the native Western Sahara people.

That’s why Morocco’s occupation and annexation of the Western Sahara is in violation of Article 2(4) of the UN charter, which states as follow: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”

Meaning that UN member states, which includes Morocco, must refrain from using force to acquire new territory and from blocking the self-determination of peoples in that territory. Therefore, Morocco’s actions are in explicit violation of international law and the well being of the international community. Because of Morocco’s de facto control over the Western Sahara it becomes the duty of the rest of the international community under international law not to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara.


Tags : Western Sahara, Morocco, Polisario

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