Stephen Zunes : Western Sahara/Morocco


Trump’s deal on Morocco’s Western Sahara annexation risks more global conflict
15 December 2020

Last week, President Trump formally recognized Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara as part of a deal to get Morocco to normalize relations with Israel. But Morocco’s claim on Western Sahara is rejected by the United Nations, the World Court, the African Union and a broad consensus of international legal scholars that consider the region a non-self-governing territory that must be allowed an act of self-determination. This is why no country had formally recognized Morocco’s takeover — until now.


Trump Recognized Morocco’s Illegal Occupation to Boost the Israeli Occupation
11 December 2020

On December 10, the United States became the only country to formally recognize Morocco’s illegal annexation of Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony forcibly seized by Moroccan forces in 1975. Trump’s proclamation is directly counter to a series of UN Security Council resolutions and a landmark World Court ruling calling for self-determination.


The East Timor Model Offers a Way out for Western Sahara and Morocco
9 December 2020

it’s not often that Western Sahara makes international headlines, but in mid November it did: Nov. 14 marked the tragic—if unsurprising—breakup of a tenuous, 29-year cease-fire in Western Sahara between the occupying Moroccan
government and pro-independence fighters. The outbreak of violence is concerning not only because it flew in the face of nearly three decades of relative stasis, but also because Western governments’ reflexive response to the resurgent conflict may be to upend—and thereby hamper and delegitimize for perpetuity—more than 75 years of established international legal principles. It is imperative that the global community realize that, in both Western Sahara and Morocco, the path forward lies in adhering to international law, not overriding it.


Western Sahara-Morocco dispute remains stalemated as federation proposal advanced
19 August 2016

As Special United Nations Envoy Christopher Ross prepares for his upcoming tour to the Maghreb to help move forward the stalled Western Sahara peace process, he will likely be putting forward a proposal for some kind of federated status between Morocco and Western Sahara.


Testimony before the conference on decolonization
23 June 2016

My interest in the dispute over Western Sahara is based not simply upon my belief in justice for that country’s people, but its implications in regard to international law and the principles upon which the United Nations organization is founded. These include the right of self-determination by non-self-governing territories and the inadmissibility of any country expanding its territory by force. Since I am not from Western Sahara, I have no stake as to whether the people of that country choose integration with Morocco, independence, or some sort of autonomy within the Moroccan kingdom. However, as a non-self-governing territory, they must have the right to make that choice.


Morocco continues occupation of Western Sahara, in defiance of UN
6 June 2016

As Morocco continues to defy the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, and much of the international community in its continued occupation of Western Sahara, the United States continues supporting that autocratic government.


Reasons to oppose the proposed state anti-boycott bill
3 June 2016

The California State Assembly is considering a bill entitled the “Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions of Recognized Sovereign Nations or Peoples Act” (AB 2844) that could lead to penalizing California businesses that boycott any country or any products from a particular country — even if the product is being made in a colony or occupied territory or if it is made under illegal, inhumane or environmentally deleterious conditions. It would also deny state or local government contracts to sole propietorships who participate in such boycotts.


Africa’s Last Colony: Western Saharan Independence Movement Mourns Loss of Polisario Front Leader
2 June 2016

President Abdelaziz was not a defining figure in the revolution. I mean, he was not the equivalent of Ho Chi Minh or Fidel Castro or Mao Zedong. The Polisario has traditionally practiced more of a collective leadership. At the same time, he played a very important role in terms of holding the movement together through a long and arduous struggle. Unlike many liberation struggles, it did not split into factions. They were able to keep a cohesive unit, both during the armed struggle against Morocco and subsequently in the diplomatic efforts to win recognition of so many countries, to keep the issue, if not on the front pages here in the United States, at least in the United Nations and various regional organizations. And we’re seeing the beginnings of an international solidarity movement, as well.


Hillary Clinton, phosphates, and the Western Sahara
20 June 2015

For more than a half-century, a series of United Nations resolutions and rulings by the International Court of Justice have underscored the rights of inhabitants of countries under colonial rule or foreign military occupation. Among these is the right to “freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources,” which “must be based on the principles of equality and of the right of peoples and nations to self-determination.”


Obama Ignores Morocco’s Illegal Occupation and Human Rights Abuses
22 December 2013

Late last month, President Barack Obama met with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI in Washington for their first face-to-face meeting. The result was a bitter disappointment for supporters of human rights and international law.