More than thirty organizations in defense of the rights of the Sahrawis have launched a campaign against Morocco’s candidacy to preside over the UN Human Rights Council next year. “Allowing Rabat to occupy the presidency of the Council is like putting the wolf to guard the sheep,” they warn in a joint statement.
“Morocco’s terrible human rights record, including its colonial occupation of the Occidental Sahara and the Sahrawi people, should exclude him from presiding over the UN Human Rights Council,” they say. The Moroccan initiative has had the support of the Arab League since last September.
Organizations spearheading this campaign include Sahrawi associations who work both within the occupied territories and in exile. The main task of all of them is to denounce the violations of international law committed by the Moroccan authorities against the inhabitants of the Sahara.
“Western Saharan civil society urges the Council to reject Rabat’s candidacy, pointing out the occupation and colonization of his homeland, the lack of cooperation with UN mechanisms and his attack and harassment of human rights defenders, journalists and others for cooperating with the UN. Morocco neither defends nor complies with the Human Rights standards required for members of the Human Rights Council (ISHR, 2022)”, they argue.
The statement recalls the multiple human rights violations and international law committed by the Alawite regime in the territory of Western Sahara, under Moroccan occupation since 1975. “To this day, Morocco continues to deny the people of Western Sahara their right to self-determination, the prerequisite and basis on which on which all other human rights rest, openly defying the UN Security Council resolutions that since the early 1990s called for a referendum for the people of Western Sahara,” they denounce.
They also point out the events that occurred in the Melilla tragedy in June 2022, when at least 37 migrants died and dozens remain missing after jumping the border fence. Some facts that, according to the signatory organizations, have shown “how Morocco uses the lives of immigrants as a political weapon“.
“A State that tries to obstruct dialogue with the UN, refusing to implement and follow the bodies’ recommendations and even publicly attacking UN experts while punishing human rights defenders for their participation in the Human Rights Council, act as its president. It will destroy the very legitimacy on which the Council depends for its survival, while at the same time will abandon a town which has been under occupation since 1975,” the statement concludes.