Stephen Zunes’ Testimony before the UN conference on decolonization

freedomsupport June 29, 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.

The Kingdom of Morocco remains in contravention of a series of UN Security Council resolutions calling on that government to allow the people of the territory the right to determine their own future, including the option of independence. Instead, the Moroccan government and its allies have been pushing for a so-called “autonomy” plan. This proposal falls well short of what is required to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Moreover, it sets a dangerous precedent which threatens the very foundations of the post-World War II international legal system.