Home > Letter from ELDH to Ban Ki-moon

Letter from ELDH to Ban Ki-moon

by Open-Publishing - Tuesday 16 March 2010

Democracy International

The Honourable Ban Ki-Moon

Secretary General

760 United Nations Plaza

United Nations

New York, NY 10017


Western Sahara


Dear Sir,

On behalf of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights I would like to thank you for your action in the Case of Aminatou Haidar as well as your comments on the need for a settlement of this conflict.

As you will know, the human rights abuses against those who peacefully oppose the Morocco occupation continue. There is the well know case of the 7 prisoners of conscience currently awaiting trial. The Sahrawi people in the part of Western Sahara which is occupied by Morocco are the victims of severe oppression in exercising their right to free and peaceful expression of their views, in particular their opinions concerning the future of Western Sahara and its independence. Only a few days ago in Dajla participants of a peaceful demonstration were beaten up and several of severely injured by Moroccan Soldiers and police forces. One day later the same thing happened in El Ayun.

In this context I would like to mention the mandate of MINURSO which is without any comprehensible reason limited to peacekeeping instead of including the monitoring of human rights. We esteem it absolutely necessary to establish an independent mechanism for human rights monitoring in the mandate of MINURSO.

Finally – and this is the source of the conflict – I am obliged to remind you that for the last 35 years around 160.000 Sahrawi people in the refugee camps, as well as several hundred thousand Sahrawi in the part of Western Sahara occupied by Morocco, have been denied by Morocco the exercise of their right to self-determination. They are entitled in international law to a referendum that would give them the possibility to vote for the independence of Western Sahara. The Kingdom of Morocco has ignored numerous resolutions of the UN Security Council, as well as the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 1975. The Court held that it had not “found legal ties [to Morocco or Mauretania] of such a nature as might affect the application of resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory.” (para 162, Opinion of 16 October 1975). Morocco’s actions are therefore unlawful in international law. ELDH is therefore insisting that a referendum which includes the option of independence is implemented without delay.

Yours sincerely

Thomas Schmidt

ELDH Secretary General, March 15 2010

ELDH (European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights)