A cross-party Group of Friends for Western Sahara was established today, first time ever, in the Norwegian Parliament. The group's goal is to contribute to defend the right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.
“World peace is dependent on the abidance of international law and internationally set norms. This also applies in Western Sahara. The people of Western Sahara have the right to self-determination - a right which is everyone's responsibility to promote. The time where states could exploit territories outside of their own internationally recognized borders has passed”, said Trine Skei Grande (the Liberal Party).
The new group currently consists of around ten Parliamentarians from five political parties (the Labour Party, the Conservatives, the Christian Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, the Socialist Left Party). The group is to be coordinated collectively by Trine Skei Grande (the Liberal Party) and Åsmund Aukrust (the Labour Party).
It is the first time such group is established in the Norwegian parliament.
"It is up to the Sahrawi people to determine the status of the territory. While we have celebrated the bicentennial of the Norwegian constitution in Norway this year it is important to remember the support we have been shown when our sovereignty and our rights were put at risk. It is now time to pass on the international solidarity that we have been given throughout history to the people of Western Sahara", said Åsmund Aukrust.
Western Sahara is treated by the UN as a non-self-governing territory, which is the technical term for a colony. Part of the territory is occupied by the neighboring state, Morocco. No state in the world recognizes Morocco's claim to the territory.
The UN Security Council assumes that a political solution to the conflict respects the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination. More than one hundred UN resolutions have underscored this right. There is full bipartisan agreement concerning the issue in Norway.
This week Morocco is starting to drill for oil in Western Sahara for the first time ever. Simultaneously, the Norwegian seismic company SeaBird is examining the adjacent block. These actions are contrary to international law and the Law of the Sea.
The newly established Group of Friends have set two main goals for its work: pressuring for independent and permanent monitoring of human rights in the territory, as well as defending the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination through a UN supervised referendum.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled in favour of the two Saharawi sisters Sultana and Luara Khaya.
The torture and detention of 10 Saharawi students by Moroccan authorities must be investigated and denounced. This is the demand in a complaint submitted today to the UN Special Procedures.
A 16 day-long campaign will shed light on violence committed against women in occupied Western Sahara.
One film festival in the world is different from all others. Read Asria Taleb's encounter with a festival audience in the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria - including her connection with a complete stranger.