Norway's Young Conservatives demand recognition of the Republic
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The national board meeting of Young Conservatives demands respect for human rights in occupied Western Sahara, along with a widening of the UN forces mandate, increased financial aid, and recognition by Norway of the Western Sahara Republic.

Published 20 November 2007

This resolution was adopted on the national board meeting of Norway's Young Conservatives on October 28th, 2007. 

The greater part of Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.

The Young Conservatives support the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination and liberation from occupation. Over half of the Sahrawi population is at present living in refugee camps in the Algerian desert. In contravention of international law, Morocco has forcibly re-located many of their own citizens to Western Sahara and in such numbers that they now comprise a majority group in comparison with the Sahrawi population. 

Background 
As long ago as in 1960, the UN General Assembly decided that the population of Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara) has a right to independence. Since that date the decision has been confirmed by more than 100 resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. Today the UN treats Western Sahara as the last remaining colonial issue in Africa. On the withdrawal of Spain from the colony in 1975, Morocco and Mauritania immediately invaded Western Sahara from two sides. Both countries maintained that they had historical rights to the area, but these claims were rejected by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

After three years of armed conflict with Polisario (Sahrawi Liberation Movement), Mauritania withdrew from the territory. Sixteen years of conflict between Polisario and Morocco ended with a conditional cease-fire in 1991, the condition being that a referendum would be held to decide the future of the Western Sahara. The referendum was planned for the spring of 1992, and UN Security Council appointed a UN force to implement it (MINURSO). Morocco has, ever since, prevented the UN process of identifying those eligible to vote, thus preventing the referendum from being carried out. 

The first direct meeting between Morocco and Polisario in 10 years took place in June 2007. Morocco stated that negotiations could only proceed on the understanding that Western Sahara would become an integral part of Morocco. Polisario, on the other hand, demanded that Morocco respect the Sahrawi people�s right to self-determination in accordance with UN referendum resolutions. The respective principles of the two parties remain firm; as a result, the negotiations have stalled before they have really gotten started.

Young Conservatives view Morocco's proposal for solving the conflict as a clear breach of the road map that the UN and both of the main parties have drawn up. The proposal completely denies the Sahrawi people�s right to self-determination, a right that is confirmed in more than 100 resolutions by the UN General Assembly and Security Council.

Young Conservatives do not believe that any proposal, unilaterally dictated from Rabat, can possibly lead to a sustainable and peaceful solution of the conflict. Only a solution that respects the Sahrawis' fundamental rights will provide a foundation for real peace and stability in the region.

Approximately 70 countries have officially recognised the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and it is accepted as a full member of The African Union. One result of Morocco's new political stance is an increase in the number of countries that, over the past few years, have officially recognised the Republic, South Africa being one of them. 

Young Conservatives request that the Norwegian government continue the progressive policies of former Foreign Minister Jan Petersen in relation to the problem of Western Sahara and to officially recognise the Western Sahara Republic.

Young Conservatives believe that the international community should react to Morocco's change of policy. Norway should now make its demands clear to Morocco and search for new methods to support the Sahrawi people's non-violent conflict for a free Western Sahara. 

The continuing serious harassment of the Sahrawi population by Morocco gives additional grounds for a reaction. Arrests and physical abuse of political activists are continually being reported. Torture and other human rights violations take place regularly against Sahrawis in Moroccan prisons. In October of this year the establishment of the leading human rights organisation in Western Sahara, CODESA, was denied. 

Young Conservatives request the Government to consider the following: 
 

  • Young Conservatives request the government to actively support the ethical guidelines of the Government Pension Fund - Global by withdrawing all investments in companies that exploit the natural resources of the territory. 
  • Request that the human rights situation be taken up with the Moroccan authorities, especially that of respect for the rights of Sahrawis to organise politically, to speak freely, and to assemble freely. 
  • Request that Morocco release all political prisoners. 
  • To take the offensive in working for the widening of MINURSO's (UN forces) mandate to also include the reporting on the human rights situation in Western Sahara. 
  • To follow in the steps of the African Union by officially recognising the Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic as an independent State. 
  • To work towards a more stable and predictable system of increased financial support to Sahrawi refugees. 

    Translated to English by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara. 
    See original text here (in Norwegian).
     

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