To the Board of Crans Montana Forum,
Adala UK is a British NGO with its headquarters in London and members in several European countries, North America, South America and Africa. Adala UK aims to raise awareness of the conflict and of human rights violations in Western Sahara. We work with a number of Saharawi human rights activists who are based in the occupied territories of Western Sahara and in Morocco. Adala UK gives the Saharawi human rights movement a unified voice at an international level, predominantly by organizing and participating in speaker events and by sending letters and petitions to the appropriate decision makers and authorities and elaborate regularly reports on the human rights violations in occupied Western Sahara.
We were surprised to see that Crans Montana Forum, a Swiss owned organization, announced that it intends to hold its Forum on Africa, in the illegally occupied city of Dakhla.
As you well know Dakhla is part of the Western Sahara territory, that is illegally occupied by the Kingdom of Morocco, as acknowledge by the United Nations the International Court of Law, the African Union and the European Union.
Resolution after resolution of the United Nations in the last 50 years state clearly the illegality of Western Sahara’s occupation by Morocco and its legal status has no room for doubt.
1963 Western Sahara was listed as a non-self-governing territory by the United Nations.
1966 the United Nations General Assembly adopted its first resolution (UN General Assembly, 1966, Resolution 2229 (XXI)). on the territory, urging Spain to organize, as soon as possible, a referendum under UN supervision on the territory’s right to exercise its right to self-determination.
1975 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rendered an advisory opinion on the Western Sahara question, concluding by 14 votes to 2, that while there had been pre-colonial ties between the territory of Western Sahara and Morocco, these ties did not imply sovereignty.
Thus the Court has not found legal ties of such a nature as might affect the application of resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory (ICJ Reports, 1975, p. 68, para. 162.).
6 November 1975, Morocco occupied and later annexed Western Sahara, through the famous “Green march”. This constituted an act of aggression in violation of the UN Charter. The same day, the UN Security Council, in Resolution 380, called upon Morocco “immediately to withdraw all the participants in the march.” Shortly thereafter, Morocco, Mauritania and the colonial power, Spain, entered into an agreement, which in convoluted terms transferred the administration of the territory to Morocco and Mauritania. The agreement did not, however, transfer sovereignty explicitly. (Mauritania later rescinded and left the whole territory to Morocco.)
The people of Western Sahara (the Saharawi) have a right to self-determination, which can be fulfilled through the creation of a fully sovereign state, if they so choose. Under that principle, they also have the right to “freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources”. The Moroccan occupation and annexation of the territory is a serious breach of International Law. Western Sahara is not a part of Morocco and Morocco has no legal title or claim on the territory. Morocco has an obligation to respect the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and to end its illegal annexation and occupation of Western Sahara.
UN Security Council, 1991
“Expresses its full support for the efforts of the Secretary-General for the organization and the supervision, by the United Nations in cooperation with the Organization of African Unity, of a referendum for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, in accordance with the objectives mentioned in this report; …”
UN-Security Council, 2013
“Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect, …”
In addition to that, we are addressing a Swiss owned organization and would like to remind you the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation namely the following articles:
Article 5 Rule of law
3) State Institutions and private people should act in good faith
4) The Confederation and the Cantons should respect international law
Human dignity must be respected and protected
2) The Confederation shall ensure that the independence of Switzerland and its welfare is safeguarded; it shall in particular assist in the alleviation of need and poverty in the world and promote respect for human rights and democracy, the peaceful co-existence of peoples as well as the conservation of natural resources
And also remind you that the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation published the following on its website:
The rule of law is an integral part of everyday life in Switzerland. Switzerland is also keen to hold its international relations to the law, which is why international law is crucially important to Switzerland. It aims to ensure disputes and conflicts in the world are resolved peacefully.
In the list of Global challenges and sustainable development we highlight the following:
Human security, which includes the promotion of peace, human rights,
The Crans Montana Forum website itself refers several times to the respect of human life, dignity, development etc. and in its banner states its mantra “Committed to a more humane and impartial world”, which is in clear opposition to the support of a colonial country.
For all the above it’s is absolutely inconceivable that you announce to host the forum in an illegally occupied territory and Adala UK firmly condemns this, which is a clear intent to give this occupation a moral support.
The violations of human rights in the occupied territories by the Moroccan authorities are well known and documented and we do not believe that the Crans Montana Forum ignores them.
The plundering of natural resources, the gross violations of almost all articles of the Human Rights Charta, the daily vicious attacks the Saharawi suffer in the occupied territories on the hand of the Moroccan authorities are well documented. The kidnappings, the violations and tortures Saharawi have to endure since the first day of occupation, the forced disappearances, the destruction of property, the social, economic and cultural apartheid all is documented and published by the international community, international NGO’s and United Nation’s various committees.
If Crans Montana wishes to publicly show it’s support to a non-peace promoting country like the Moroccan Kingdom, that disrespects and ignores international law, the United Nations resolutions and all the international treaties, agreements and covenants, it should at least do it on legal Moroccan territory.
If Crans Montana Forum decides to held this Meeting in Dakhla City, occupied territories of Western Sahara, although it’s Board can now not claim ignorance over the legal status of Western Sahara, it will show to the world that peace and respect of international law are not among its goals.
President of Adala UK