Development of Resources in Moroccan Sahara Complies with International Law

Rédigé le 26/06/2020

Rabat - The development of resources in the Moroccan Sahara complies with international law and responds to an economic logic and ultimately benefits the local population, said Dr Firmin C.Kinzounza, Congolese University Professor, International Consultant and Member of the Group of Ten African Experts in Charge of Revitalizing the African Union Recruitment and Selection System.

On the legal level, the development of natural resources is based on the principle of the primacy of the interests of the inhabitants as stipulated by the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and by the Declaration of the General Assembly on the Rights to Development, said Kinzounza during an analysis in the context of the «Sahara Debate», a citizen's program broadcast on social networks, which aims to be an open and democratic platform to shed serene and dispassionate insights on the Moroccan Sahara issue. 

The international expert relied on the advice of the Legal Counsel of the United Nations of 12 February 2002, in which he concluded that the policy of valuing natural resources complies with international law if it is done for the benefit of the people, on their behalf or in consultation with their representatives. 

"It is this approach that the Kingdom of Morocco follows in its policy of valuing the natural resources of the Moroccan Sahara," said the Congolese academic, stressing that the principle of people’s consent has resulted in high participation rates in the Moroccan Sahara elections of 79% in 2015 and 76% in 2016.

For Dr. Kinzounza, the legality of the development of natural resources was clearly confirmed by both the European Parliament and the Commission of the European Union. In this regard, he recalled the overwhelming majority by which the European Parliament renewed the Morocco/EU Agricultural Agreement on 17 January 2019 and the Morocco/EU Fisheries Agreement of 12 February 2019.

On the economic front, the expert stressed the preponderant share of Morocco’s budget in the financing of development projects in the Moroccan Sahara, referring to HM the king’s Speech of 06 November 2014, in which the Sovereign made the following observation: «For every single dirham of revenue from the Sahara, the state invests 7 dirhams there.”

The new development model for the Southern Provinces, launched in 2015, is based primarily on the principle of involving the local population in the elaboration and implementation of development policies, plans and projects, he added.

This model, he underlined, is based on a vision that reconciles the right to development with the consolidation of the Saharan populations' enjoyment of their economic and social rights and that, in this perspective, major financing projects have been implemented, with a completion rate of 70%, to date, covering the fields of health, infrastructure, training, industry, agriculture, renewable energy and sea fishing.

For the African expert, it is undeniable that Morocco intervenes in its Sahara as the first investor, the first employer and the first contributor to its GDP and that it is therefore not surprising that the macroeconomic data in its possession indicate that the natural resources of the Sahara do not constitute in any case a preponderant part in the financing of its development.