Human Rights Council 11th Session – ONU -Geneva


Conseil des Droits de l’homme
11th Session – ONU -Geneva
2-19 June 2009
Oral Statement : item 3 ( Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development)
General debate

Statement by Oretta Bandettini di Poggio, 08.06.09
[see video archive [English] 2 minutes ]

France-Libertés welcomes the opportunity to address the issue of corporations who are exploiting the natural resources of a State without their authorisations being issued by a legal authority. We draw attention in particular to German-based BASF, French/Spanish FMC Foret and the Moroccan-owned OCP and their mineral mining activities in Western Sahara

It is indeed very troubling that such multinational corporations would rely on the government of Morocco for issuing operational agreements and use permits in that area when the status of Western Sahara is very clear, following the ruling of the case by the International Court of Justice. The United Nations system, including the International Court of Justice and the Security Council have ruled on the Sahara situation as one of a non self-governing territory pending the result of a self-determination referendum, with all the attributes this status entails such as the right of a people to manage and control all its own resources. An issue well known to this assembly.

It is even more troubling that the Commission of the European Union granted Morocco an Advanced Status cooperation agreement that does not exclude Western Sahara from its purview and therefore giving a tacit go ahead for the activities of the multinational corporations.

Thus, applying the three part policy framework (protect, respect and remedy) set out by Special Representative Ruggie earlier, discussed in his report A/HRC/11/13, and already soundly endorsed by the Council, we find that the corporations, Morocco, the States of the European Union, and any other States whose corporations operate in Western Sahara without the permission of the Sahrawi authorities are in clear violation of this framework. The States whose corporations operate in Western Sahara have failed in their duty to protect the rights at issue, the corporations have not undertaken due diligence to ensure that their proposed actions fully conform with human rights, including especially the right to self-determination. Neither States not corporations are allowed to claim ignorance, and it would severely tax credibility for any of these corporations to claim they did not know of the status of Western Sahara. The Council should demand that all contracts and agreements must terminate and all operations cease immediately. The Council should also encourage the continued efforts of MINURSO to carry out the now almost forgotten referendum in the immediate future.