Western Sahara: UN responsibility over a Non Self-Governing Territory controlled by an Occupying Power

Historical and legal background

In 1963, the UN General Assembly (UNGA)  included Western Sahara in the list of Non Self-Governing Territories, to which UNGA Resolution 1514 (XXV) entitled “Declaration on the granting of Independence to colonial countries and peoples” applied.

On 16 October 1975, the International Court of Justice released an Advisory Opinion stating, inter alia, that “The inferences to be drawn from the information before the Court… are in accord in not providing indications of the existence,… of any legal tie of territorial sovereignty between Western Sahara and the Moroccan State.”

On 6 November 1975, King Hassan II of Morocco, invaded Western Sahara militarily and brought thousands of Moroccan civilians into the Territory (Green march). On the same day, the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 380 declaring “Deplorable the realization of the Green March”. The Security Council requested Morocco to withdraw immediately all the participants in the march from the territory of Western Sahara.

Subsequently, the UNGA, while deeply deploring the continued occupation of Western Sahara, urged the Kingdom of Morocco to end the occupation of the Territory and recognized the Polisario Front as the legitimate representative of the people of Western Sahara. The UNGA reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Since then, the UNGA, in recalling the previous resolution when adopting a new one on the “Question of Western Sahara”, has repeatedly reaffirmed its interpretation of the legal status of the Territory and the inalienable right of the people of that Territory to self-determination and independence. It also consistently reaffirmed the interpretation of the legal status of the Occupying Power in Western Sahara….. READ FULL STATMENT

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