A respected international lawyer has published an article, claiming that the fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco is illegal, as it doesn’t contain a specific reference to the fishing zone off the coast of Western Sahara, and that the UN Security Council (UNSC) should examine the issue.
Hans Corell, Former Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal Counsel of the United Nations, writes in the International Judicial Monitor that UNSC should examine the legality of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement.
Corell, who, at the request of the UNSC delivered in 2002 a legal opinion relating to the Western Sahara, says that in the meantime, he has followed developments from a distance.
“A very serious question in this context is the fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco which does not contain one word – apart from the cryptic “sovereignty or jurisdiction” in Article 2 (a) – about the fact that Morocco’s ‘jurisdiction’ in the waters of Western Sahara is limited by the international rules on self-determination. Instead, the agreement and its protocols are replete with references to the “Moroccan fishing zones”, Corell writes.
He further argues that to be legal, an agreement of this nature would have to contain an explicit reference to the fishing zone off the coast of Western Sahara, defined by coordinates.
Corell stresses that the regime for issuing fishing licences within this zone would have to be completely separate from the regime that applies in the Moroccan fishing zone, and that revenues generated by the licences in the zone of the Western Sahara would have to be delivered not to Morocco’s public treasury or equivalent, but to a separate account that can be audited independently by representatives of the people of the Western Sahara.
Against this background, Corell writes that the UNSC should examine the legality of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement.
“The appropriate way to receive an authoritative answer to this question is for the Council to request the International Court of Justice to give an advisory opinion on the question in accordance with article 96 of the UN Charter. In case the Council is unable to unite behind such action, the General Assembly could take the initiative”, the international lawyer writes.
Corell also writes that companies developing natural resources in the Cap Boujdour area off the coast of Western Sahara, such as Glencore and Kosmos, are also in breach of international law.