dissabte, de juliol 21, 2012

WSRW requests UN to refrain from paying for Moroccan King in Western Sahara

WSRW requests UN to refrain from paying for Moroccan King in Western Sahara

The UN’s Clean Development Mechanism has been considering supporting the work of the Moroccan King in occupied Western Sahara. WSRW has asked the UN to reconsider.

At the same time that the UN is working hard to create trust between the parties to negotiate a solution to the conflict, the same UN is now considering to finance the King of Morocco’s personal companies doing business in the occupied territory. 

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was established under the Kyoto protocol to promote clean development in developing countries.

1.                  Foum El Oued Wind Farm Project

The CDM mechanism is considering an application to finance the construction of the Foum El Oued Wind Farm Project. A Project Design Document details the proposed construction and operation of forty-four 2.3 megawatt turbines in “a 100 megawatt (MW) grid-connected wind farm in the municipality of Laayoune, 9 km east of the wharf in the south of Morocco [sic]”. 

However, the mentioned municipality is not in Morocco, but in the territory that Morocco illegally occupies in Western Sahara, under UN condemnation. 

NAREVA Holding, a Moroccan industrial and financial group is to own and operate the wind farm. According to a recent book regarding the Moroccan king’s personal wealth, Nareva is controlled by the royal family. 

The project currently remains at the validation stage and so at the present time has not yet been granted final approval. CDM financing is said to be required to ensure that the project is attractive to NAREVA Holding by revenues through the sale of Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs).

The highly questionable project has been questioned by many - including by Polisario, Western Sahara's liberation movement. Polisario is currently in peace talks with Morocco, exactly on the issue of natural resources management. 

Western Sahara Resource Watch believes that CDM now risks to directly undermine the very same peace talks that UN is facilitating. “The project would be done in a territory illegally occupied by Morocco and held by armed force”, stated a letter from WSRW to the UNFCCC secretariat 14 May 2012. “We respectfully request that validation of the Foum el Oued wind park project be withheld”, the letter stated.

WSRW’s complete request to have CDM reconsider the involvement in Western Sahara is available via the webpages of the UNFCCC.

2.                  The fish industry

A solar project called "Greenhouse Gas Emission in the Fish Meal Industry in Morocco - Central Steam Production Plant" is currently under validation by the UN’s climate initiative Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), just as the case of Nareva for the wind power project at Foum el Oued outside el Aauin.

One argument in the Project Design Document illustrates how off-course that the CDM currently is in relation to the rest of the UN.

“It is nearly impossible to find a foreign investor for that kind of project, especially in this area of Morocco (keyword: Western Sahara-conflict)”, the document notes, which underlines that the project “received the blessing” of the king of Morocco - who’s predecessor occupied the territory in 1975.

Western Sahara Resource Watch calls on CDM to stop the funding, exactly of the same reasons why other investors have refuted establishing in the territory. 

“Numerous private investors refuse to invest in Western Sahara, precisely to prevent undermining the UN’s efforts to solve the conflict, and in respect of the legal opinion of the UN. How ironic is it then, that the Clean Development Mechanism considers supporting it because private investors refuse due to consideration of the UN legal office and international law?”, stated Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

If the project becomes validated, it will indirectly receive funding through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, CDM/UNFCCC.

The UN has stated that the exploiting of natural resources in Western Sahara is in violation of international law. The former UN legal counsel, Hans Corell who wrote a legal opinion on the topic, has on a number of occasions highly criticized the international fisheries industry in the territory. In his letter to the Security Council, he underlined how the similar case of the Non-Self-Governing territory of Namibia, under South African occupation, had been placed under UN sanctions. 

No reference is made in any point through the document as to how the project is in accordance with “the wishes and interests of the people of Western Sahara”, as the UN legal office requires. There are no references to Saharawi groups, nor of Saharawi people’s representative Frente Polisario, which is in UN talks with Morocco – exactly over the issue of natural resource management.

“How can the UN credibly facilitate peace talks in Western Sahara – particularly on the natural resources management – if a UN institution were to illegally support the Moroccan plunder with the blessing of the Moroccan king? Would the CDM support energy projects in other illegally occupied parts of the world also?” asks Eyckmans of WSRW. The last Security Council resolution of Western Sahara specifically makes reference to the natural resources talks between the parties.

Instead of underlining consultation with the Saharawis, the project document merely states that the Moroccan king has “blessed” the project, and that there have been “personal discussions” between the project developers and different national and local authorities and business interests.”

Read the Project Design Document here, outlining the fish meal project.

The project is expected to benefit 8 fish meal factories in Western Sahara: Copelit, Delta Ocean, KB Fish, Laayoune Elevage, Laayoune Proteine, Sepomer, Somatraps, Sotragel. The contact person, Mr. Sentissi al Idrissi, is the president of the association of Moroccan fish meal and fish oil producers, ANAFAP.

The certification company currently validating the project is German company TÜV SÜD Industrie Service GmbH. 

See also this earlier version of the Project Design Document, dated a few months before the one already mentioned. The strange Western Sahara reference above is here stated somewhat differently “It is nearly impossible to find a foreign investor for that kind of project in Morocco”.

3.                  Morocco preparing more applications for UN funding

WSRW can reveal that two more “green projects” are on their way through the same pipeline, directly contributing to maintain Morocco’s illegal and brutal occupation of Western Sahara. 

If any project were to receive funding through CDM – it would be in stark contrast to other UN institutions such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP). By coincidence, the UNDP is a key partner of CDM in Morocco

The UNDP has expressly stated that it does not intend to support programmes south of the internationally recognised border between Morocco and the territory it annexed in 1975. All agreements they have with the Moroccan government “explicitly state that the projects’ activities are restricted to particular localities north of the UN line”. The UNDPs programmes “are limited to the internationally recognised borders of Morocco”, states the organisation. The UN qualifies that it would be in violation of international law, while the International Court of Justice has clearly rejected Morocco’s claims to the territory.

“We urge the Clean Development Mechanism to follow the opinion of the UN legal services, as well as the UNDP, and not allow funding to projects in Western Sahara”, stated WSRW coordinator Sara Eyckmans.

See the conclusion of the 2002 UN legal opinion on such industries to the right.

The webpages of CDM Morocco tells about two more projects planned in Western Sahara:

1. Energy for cement production

The current production is carried out by the Moroccan company Ciments du Maroc (a subsidiary of the Italian group Italcementi). A Project Information Note for a 10 MW Wind Power project by Ciments du Maroc has been approved by the CDM board of Morocco, but the further validation processes appear to have not yet started. A “Project Information Note”, is a first project outline, communicated between the applying company and the CDM national board.

2. Energy for phosphate production
OCP is the Moroccan state owned phosphate company exploiting phosphate resources in Western Sahara. A number of international investors have divested from the trade of ethical reasons. The Norwegian government pension fund, for instance, has concluded that the company’s operation “represents particularly serious violations of fundamental ethical norms”. Three private importing companies have stopped the imports after being made aware of the controversies surrounding international law, the UN's efforts to decolonise the territory and the controversial aspects of the trade.
A "Project idea" for a 'wet port' in El Aaiun has been drafted by OCP for the Moroccan CDM board. El Aaiun harbour is used to export the Saharawi phosphate wealth from the Bu Craa mines.