The United Nations (UN) underlined, the Saharawi people right to self-determination and the right to their own political status, following the deliberations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Sitting recently in Geneva for the review of Morocco’s fourth periodic report, the UN Committee recommended to the Moroccan authorities to “redouble their efforts under the aegis of the UN, to find a solution to Western Sahara self-determination question as prescribed in the article1 of the Covenant that recognizes the right of peoples to freely determine their political status and freely achieve their economic, social and cultural development.”
The Committee also recalled that States parties to the Covenant in the Non-Self-Governing Territory are required to “facilitate the achievement of the right of peoples to self-determination, and shall respect that right, in accordance with the UN Charter.”
The UN body has also recommended that Morocco takes measures to respect the rights of Sahrawis “so that they can exercise their right to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their natural wealth and resources and to enjoy their cultural rights, in accordance with Article 25 of the Covenant.”
The Committee was also “deeply concerned” that the 2700 km long sand wall (between the occupied and liberated territories), fortified with anti-personnel mines, built by Morocco prevents Sahrawi from fully enjoying their rights stated in the Covenant.
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is a partially recognized state that controls a thin strip of 102,703 sq mi area in the Western Sahara region and claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. SADR was proclaimed on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlou, Western Sahara. The Saharawis are ethnically mixed descendants of Berbers, Arabs, and Black Africans. They speak an Arabic dialect called Hassaniya and have practiced Sunni Islam since the late 7th century. The SADR government controls about 20–25% of the territory it claims which inhabits 502,585 people. It calls the territories under its control the Liberated Territories or the Free Zone.
Morocco controls and administers the rest of the disputed territory and calls these lands its Southern Provinces. The SADR government considers the Moroccan-held territory to be occupied territory, while Morocco considers the much smaller SADR-held territory to be a buffer zone. The claimed capital of the SADR is El Aaiún, while the temporary capital (due to the placing of its government) is Tifariti.