The UN General Assembly: A Parade of Hypocrisy.

The defense of international law is commensurate with how close it is to the United Nations.

Hasina Mulai Mehdi

10/14/20225 min read


     These last few weeks have been quite active for Sahrawi diplomacy. In contrast, Moroccan diplomacy continues to buy other countries' wills and silences, as it appears to have done with the Netherlands. Apart from meeting with Argentinian, Tunisian, Ecuadorian, and Botswana politicians, Sahrawi diplomats have also held several meetings at the United Nations.


After Pedro Sanchez constantly affirms that Moroccan autonomy is the "most serious, realistic, and credible" proposal to end the conflict in Western Sahara, he also stated in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, "We cannot drag conflicts from the last century (...) Spain supports a mutually acceptable political solution within the framework of the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions." Similar to speeches given in prior years, this one did not mention their change of position, nothing about Morocco's autonomy or "self-determination."

The Polisario Front thinks that the speech shows the contradictions of the Spanish government. Even though they publicly change their position in other forums; "nobody can mention that they are against the process of decolonization of Western Sahara in the UN because the legal nature of the conflict has not changed." However, several countries, including Algeria, recalled and emphasised that the Sahrawi people should be granted their legitimate right to self-determination according to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and resolutions of the General Assembly and the Council. " In addition, President Tebboune said, "The question of Western Sahara (...) is registered in the decolonization committee of the United Nations (...) and will continue to be a part of decolonization committee until the Saharawi people exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through a free referendum," he said this wishing to see a return to the change of position maintained by the European Union in the content of the Spanish president's speech.

 Albares avoided discussing the Algerian insinuations, but he stated that the route map signed with Morocco was "still valid and implemented." However, it is known that the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation website, which relies on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, corrected the map, and included the border line separating Western Sahara from Morocco (unlike the one shown on the Ministry's official website).


When it is well known that Algeria returned to the head of the list of Spain's gas suppliers, a price agreement has been reached. Minister Albares still acknowledges that despite their effort to improve their friendly relations, Algeria continues to block their trade with Spain However, whenever he receives criticism for this situation with the neighboring country of Algeria, he turns to his good relations with Morocco and brags about the significant drop in illegal immigration into Spain "as they multiply in Europe" as well as the agreement to reopen trade borders between Morocco and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla in January, which also entails "recognizing the border" between the two countries. While PSOE members in the autonomous cities celebrate that the Spanish government complies and always acts "for the good of the people of Melilla and Ceuta," PP members distrust them and assert that they have paid a high price because Morocco will not provide Spain with anything new but take away what shouldn't have been taken away with regards to the commercial zone.

     While announcing the commercial opening, Spain promised to contribute to the economic development of its southern neighbor by creating "a Development Promotion Fund worth 20 million euros (...) in order to give microcredit that will help integrate youth and women into the productive sector."


During the four sessions held this October about the Sahrawi conflict, the UN Decolonization Committee met in New York. The dispute over Western Sahara got conducted because it is legally considered a non-self-governing territory awaiting decolonization.

There was a commotion when giving the floor to Spain, the administering power of the territory. The Spanish diplomat cancelled his intervention, and Foreign Ministry sources publicly stated that the intervention was not cancelled but postponed. However, the newspaper states that since 1975, Spain has never been involved in commissions that deal with Western Sahara.

In his speech, Sidi Mohamed Omar, the POLISARIO Front representative to the UN, criticised the organisation for making promises that had not been kept and urged the Committee to "take tangible measures" to finish the decolonization of Western Sahara. In the same vein, representatives of several countries alluded to international law and resolutions that support the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. They called for further efforts in direct negotiations. The Canary delegation relocated to New York to urge the UN to support "a just and final solution to end the conflict in Western Sahara without further delay and give the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination through a referendum" as guaranteed "in the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant resolutions.


Some countries referred to the efforts of the Special Envoy, Steffan de Mistura, in their speeches, who continued to meet with various administrations, such as Russia, Germany, or Belgium, because they were the last countries to reaffirm their support for the Personal Envoy. Albares also mentioned the special envoy's efforts at his first meeting following the Spanish government's support for the autonomy plan in Western Sahara.

The truth is that, despite the meetings that De Mistura conducted, there have been no significant actions (apart from Spain). He has served for a whole year in his position without visiting the occupied territories of Western Sahara. According to Sidi Mohamed Omar, the Saharawi representative to the UN, "the main reason that Mr. De Mistura has not been able to visit Western Sahara is Morocco and its usual obstructionism and delaying tactics."

Despite the UN's silence, Sánchez is still under fire. A few days ago, a declaration was published, signed by 600 experts in international law, condemning the severe violation of legitimacy that presupposes the decision of the Spanish government to support Moroccan autonomy for Western Sahara. Similar to this, Noam Chomsky has spearheaded a campaign calling for the immediate decolonization of Western Sahara and the withdrawal of the occupation in order to go forward with the territory's self-determination process.


One year after the TJEU ruling that invalidated trade agreements between the EU and Morocco and pending the final ruling of the European Court of Justice, the Sahrawi Campaign (WSXUK) declared in front of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom that "the Association Agreement signed between the United Kingdom and Morocco, which includes products from the occupied territories of Western Sahara, is illegal because it does not have a primordial condition, which is the agreement of the Saharawi people," as argued in the European judgement.

As a result, while the Polisario Front is winning court battles to stop the exploitation of the Sahrawi natural resources, other companies continue to turn a deaf ear and collaborate with the occupying power. At the same time, they seek new ways to expand their plunder.