Western Sahara: Natural Resources

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered at on 23 April 2021.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make representations to the UN Security Council to call for an end to the illegal extraction of natural resources from Western Sahara against the interests and wishes of the indigenous Saharawi.

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK notes the UN legal view from 2002, which stated that commercial activity in Western Sahara (including the exploration for, and exploitation of natural resources) is not inherently illegal but must not disregard the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara. We also note the European Court of Justice ruling of December 2016 on the applicability of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement to Western Sahara. The Association Agreement was subsequently amended to comply with the ruling following EU consultations with a wide spectrum of Western Saharan representatives, stake-holders, civil society, and other organisations. The UK-Morocco Association Agreement replicates the effects of the existing EU-Morocco Association Agreement, including on the current territorial application and products originating in Western Sahara subject to controls by customs authorities of Morocco.

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