International community called to ensure duty vis-a-vis Saharawi people

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The Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara (253 member organisations) has condemned the breakdown of the ceasefire in force since 1991 in the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara on the part of the Kingdom of Morocco, which did not hesitate to deploy its troops and weapons in front of a group of unarmed civilians who were peacefully demonstrating in the demilitarised zone of Guerguerat in the south-east of the Territory, in a Press Release a copy of which obtained by SPS

“the majority of SC´s members have not fully appreciated the exasperation of the Saharawi people who have been waiting since 1966 (UN General Assembly resolution 2229-XXI) for the organisation of a referendum on self-determination, in application of the UN General Assembly’s “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”. The said Group strongly deplores in its Press Release

The Geneva Support Group has reaffirmed that the universal realization of the right of all peoples, including those under colonial, foreign and alien domination, to self -determination is a fundamental condition for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights and for the preservation and promotion of such rights, declaring its firm opposition to acts of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, calling upon those States responsible to cease immediately their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories and all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment, in particular the brutal and inhuman methods reportedly employed in the execution of those acts against the peoples concerned.

The following is the full Press Release:

The international community must ensure the exercise of the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination

Bir Lehlu / Geneva, 19th November 2020

The Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara (253 member organisations) condemns the breakdown of the ceasefire in force since 1991 in the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara on the part of the Kingdom of Morocco, which did not hesitate to deploy its troops and weapons in front of a group of unarmed civilians who were peacefully demonstrating in the demilitarised zone of Guerguerat in the south-east of the Territory.

The Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara strongly deplores the fact that the majority of the members of the Security Council have not fully appreciated the exasperation of the Saharawi people who have been waiting since 1966 (UN General Assembly resolution 2229-XXI) for the organisation of a referendum on self-determination, in application of the UN General Assembly’s “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”.

As early as 1971, the International Court of Justice recognised that the principles set out in resolution 1514 (XV) have the character of customary law. In the 1975 Advisory Opinion on Western Sahara, the Court confirmed that the right to self-determination of peoples under colonial domination is a fundamental principle of international law. In 1995, in its judgment in the case of Portugal v. Australia, the Court affirmed that the right to self-determination is a right erga omnes, enforceable against all.

Since the adoption of resolution 1514 (XV) in 1960, the inalienable right to self-determination and independence of peoples under colonial domination has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the various organs of the United Nations, most recently in 2000 with the solemn adoption by heads of State and Government of the United Nations Millennium Declaration (General Assembly resolution 55/2) and the 2005 World Summit Outcome (General Assembly resolution 60/1).

Stressing that Western Sahara is the only Non-Self-Governing Territory without a recognized administering Power and that it is also the only one under illegal military occupation, the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara recalls the terms of operative paragraphs 1 to 3 of General Assembly resolution 74/140 (18 December 2019) entitled “Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination”:

Reaffirms that the universal realization of the right of all peoples, including those under colonial, foreign and alien domination, to self -determination is a fundamental condition for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights and for the preservation and promotion of such rights;
Declares its firm opposition to acts of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, since these have resulted in the suppression of the right of peoples to self-determination and other human rights in certain parts of the world;
Calls upon those States responsible to cease immediately their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories and all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment, in particular the brutal and inhuman methods reportedly employed in the execution of those acts against the peoples concerned.
The right to self-determination of peoples under colonial domination cannot be applied in a discriminatory manner; no organ of the United Nations can apply double standards to the exercise of the right to self-determination of peoples under colonial domination simply to satisfy expansionist ambitions deemed illegitimate by the International Court of Justice.

The Geneva NGO Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara solemnly calls on the Powers that have supported the Kingdom of Morocco militarily, financially and politically since 1975 – the United States, France and Spain – to immediately cease their complicity in the systematic violations of human rights and norms of International Humanitarian Law by the Kingdom of Morocco in Western Sahara.

Their unconditional support for a colonial policy of another century totally undermines their action for the protection and promotion of human rights in the world. Their political action on the fringes of and in contradiction with court decisions, both at the level of the UN and the European Union (as far as France and Spain are concerned), undermines the international legal system and the friendly relations between nations as defined by resolution 2625 (XXV) of the UN General Assembly.

Their support, for thirty years, for the diversion of the action of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in the accomplishment of its main mission – the organisation of the free referendum of self-determination – is an abusive squandering of the taxpayers’ money of all the UN member countries and a permanent manifestation of their contempt for the Saharawi People and the exercise of their rights.

In the context of the renewed conflict in Western Sahara, recalling that the Kingdom of Morocco is the only African country that has not ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and drawing attention to the repression exercised by the Moroccan occupying forces on the Saharawi population and human rights defenders in particular, the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara urges:

The International Committee of the Red Cross to monitor violation of the norms of the International Humanitarian Law and in particular of the Fourth Geneva Convention;
the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a report on the human rights situation in Western Sahara at the next session of the Human Rights Council;
The UN Human Rights Council to pay particular attention to the violations of human rights, including the right to self-determination, resulting from the military occupation of Western Sahara by the Kingdom of Morocco, pursuant to operational paragraph 5 of the above-mentioned resolution 74/140;
the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to urgently consider the information that may be submitted to them in the context of this conflict;

the Secretary General of the United Nations to personally assume the role of facilitator so that MINURSO, the only United Nations Mission whose main mandate is the implementation of a fundamental human and peoples’ right, can finally organise the referendum on self-determination for the Saharawi People and thus close a murky chapter of the United Nations.SPS

125/090/

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