Alleged Exploitation of Natural Resources
1. The Sahara region benefits from an ambitious program of sustainable development in the framework of a global approach that takes into account, in accordance with the legality and international law, the interests and the socio-economic claims, expressed by the local population, either directly or through the elected bodies and the representatives of the civil society.
2. No renowned international body has qualified the exploitation by Morocco of living or non-living natural resources as illegal acts of looting, to the detriment of the local inhabitants.
3. In this respect, the legal Adviser concluded, in his opinion to the Security Council, on February 12, 2002, that:
• Exploration Contracts signed by Morocco in the southern provinces coasts are not illegal (paragraph 25);
• Exploitation of natural resources is in line with international law if it is for the benefit of the population, on their behalf, or in consultation with their representatives. The legal Adviser did not confirm Algeria’s claim that “any exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara is a violation of international law and the statute applicable to non-autonomous territories.”
4. In concrete terms, an important budget has been dedicated, since 1976, to the development of this region. This budget exceeds, by far, the takings generated by the exploitation of natural resources:
• For the period of 2001 – 2005, an average amount of 9.5 billion dirhams per year was destined to southern provinces;
• Since the creation of the Agency for the Development of the Southern Provinces, the Government spent more than 7.7 billion dirham, for the period 2006 – 2009.
5. This effort justifies the fact that the human development index in this region is now higher than the national average (schooling, health, education, access to infrastructure …).
6. Moreover, what Morocco gets from the fisheries agreement with the EU is insignificant compared to the financial resources put by Morocco to ensure the development of this sector (ports, fishing villages, port infrastructure …)
7 – Regarding phosphates, phos-Boucraa deposit represents only a small and insignificant part both in sales and reserves of the OCP. Maintaining its operations is, primarily, due to social reasons dictated by the need to preserve jobs for the people already in exercise, and who are responsible for the living of more than 700 families.