Demokratischer Juristinnen
und Juristen e.V.


VDJ-Bundessekretariat · Palisadenstr. 40 · 10243 Berlin

To the Members

of the United Nations Security Council

United Nations Headquarters

New York


The Right of the Sahrawi People

to Self-Determination is inalienable

Joint Declaration

of the German Association of Democratic Lawyers (ADL)

and the

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

with respect to the recent report of 20 June 2001 of the UN-Secretary General on the situation concerning Western Sahara

The ADL and EALDH, after having examined the situation in the Sahrawi Refugee Camps nearby Tindouf/Algeria in June 2001, with deep concern took note of the recent report of 20 June 2001 of the UN-Secretary General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (S/2001/613). With this report and the proposed "framework agreement" therein the UN-Secretary General leaves the path for the implementation of a just and peaceful solution of the conflict based on the strict respect of international law. It is instead leading towards a de facto recognition of the illegal Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and shifts the realization of the right to self-determination for the Sahrawi People, if ever, to an uncertain future. It does therefore not comply with the obligation of the Secretary General and the Security Council as mentioned in Art. 24 para. 2 of the UN-Charter to act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations and to promote the enforcement of international law.

The right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination can in no way be questioned or "negotiated". It forms an indispensable part not only of the United Nations Charter (Art. 1) but also of various international instruments, resolutions and agreements both on a universal and a regional level. It is recognized by the international covenants of 19 December 1966 as a fundamental human right (Art. 1 resp.). By adopting these instruments the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its advisory opinion on the question of Western Sahara in 1975 clearly stated that inter alia there is no legal basis for the claims of Morocco which could oppose the exercise of the right to self-determination by the then people of Western Sahara.

The Kingdom of Morocco by its invasion into Western Sahara in November 1975 flagrantly violated this right and put the majority of the Sahrawi People to flight. When agreement was reached in 1991 between the parties and the UN for a settlement plan and the realization of a referendum under the auspices of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), it was the Moroccan attitude, which subsequently brought an ever-increasing delay to its implementation. Since 1975 the Sahrawi People suffer in the Algerian exile under inhuman conditions, which we were able to witness during our recent visit in the Tindouf camps. The survival of these people has been dependent on international assistance in almost everything from the very first days of their refuge. The situation has dramatically deteriorated in recent months due to the increasing unwillingness of some international organizations involved, such as the World Food Programme.

In the above mentioned situation the proposals made by the Secretary General in his report of 20 June 2001 can only be understood as a betrayal of the legitimate rights and hopes of the Sahrawi People. In his report the Secretary General proposes the installation of an Executive Authority in Western Sahara vested with the exclusive competence over local and regional affairs, while all questions of foreign relations, "national security" and external defence as well as "the preservation of the territorial integrity against secessionist attempts whether from within or without the territory" remain in the exclusive competence of Morocco. All activities of the authority must respect and comply with the constitution of Morocco. Although the "framework agreement" still provides a plan for "a referendum" on the status of Western Sahara "within the five year period following the initial actions to implement this agreement", it contains a modified procedure for the referendum by qualifying all "full time residents of Western Sahara for the preceding one year" as voters in the referendum. The proposed "framework agreement" thus offers to the Sahrawi People the doubtful "option" to reach self-determination after a period of five years of submission to Moroccan law and through a referendum that obviously can be dominated by Moroccan individuals then brought to Western Sahara. With respect to the experiences made since the adoption of the settlement agreement in 1991, which _ it might be recalled_ already provides for a referendum on the status of Western Sahara, there can hardly be seen any advantage with the proposed "framework agreement" for the Sahrawi People and their inalienable right to self-determination. The ADL and the EALDH support all efforts to revive the process of dispute-resolution, by direct or proximity talks under the auspices of the UN, but it considers the recent proposals of the Secretary General to be the wrong way.

The ADL and EALDH therefore urge all members of the United Nations Security Council

Geneva/Berlin, 11 July 2001


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