20 December 2013
The government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) unreservedly rejects the statements made by the managing officers of Incitec Pivot Limited, an Australian publicly traded corporation, in its 2013 Sustainability Report. Particular statements made in the Report about Western Sahara are factually wrong and incorrect as a matter of law.
Investors considering the Report should take note of significant flaws in that part which addresses the import of phosphate mineral rock illegally exported from occupied Western Sahara to Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) in Australia. (See, notably, page 30.)
The SADR government takes the present opportunity to correct the factual record.
Western Sahara remains substantially occupied by Morocco. The occupation has subsisted since 1975, and has been declared contrary to international law – illegal – by the United Nations General Assembly. Fully half the original population of Western Sahara, the Saharawi people, remain under the occupation of abut165,000 Moroccan soldiers in addition to paramilitary and police officers. The remainder of the Saharawi population lives in liberated areas and in exile as refugees just inside Algeria.
The International Court of Justice has declared the clear right of the Saharawi people to self-determination, which includes for them the option – as in the cases of East Timor and Namibia – of independence. They continue to be denied that right.
It is important to note that the International Court of Justice in its Western Sahara advisory opinion concluded that Morocco had no territorial claim to the territory. That is why no state recognizes Morocco’s claim to the territory and neither does the UN or the African Union (AU).
IPL asserts in the 2013 Report that it has engaged in dialogue with others about its trade in phosphate rock from Western Sahara. It is important to note that no Saharawi leader or government official, civil society representative or organization, has been contacted or engaged by IPL to discuss the facts of the matter. In our government’s many letters protesting shipments of the resource, we have sought a reply and attempted to meaningfully engage with IPL, to no avail.
In 2013, about 2.6 million tonnes of high quality phosphate rock from the Bou Craa mine site in occupied Western Sahara will be exported. Both parts of the Saharawi population will see little benefit from this the export trade. A small minority of the 1,600 workers in the industry are Saharawi. More importantly, the revenue from such exports, and the industrial activity needed for them, goes to entrench Morocco’s occupation.
All competent observers, including the then chief legal officer for the United Nations, Hans Corell in 2002, have concluded Morocco to be occupying Western Sahara and that the Saharawi people are the sole and rightful sovereigns of the resources of their land. Two clear legal requirements for the export trade in phosphate have not been met, namely, the obligation to obtain the consent of the Saharawi people to the production and trade in the resources, and that they alone (and not an illegally introduced population of settlers) benefit from it.
History offers a tragic list of recent similar cases, ones met with reforms in the law and the eventual making of compensation (or reparations). They include the Nazi plunder of Eastern Europe during the Second World War and pillage in the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s.
The international community and investors are cautioned to be mindful of the place and potential for reparations to be pursued by the Saharawi people from IPL, and of the prospects for criminal proceedings against persons particularly responsible for the aiding and abetting of the war crime of pillage in the export trade of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara. Substantial reputational, personal, financial and corporate acceptability risks inhere to IPL because of its continued purchase of Saharawi phosphate.
For further information please contact:
SADR Petroleum and Mines Authority