Thursday, September 18, 2014

Morocco-Western Sahara and (exploratory) oil drilling

The FT reports on exploratory drilling off the coast of Western Sahara:
Battle for oil fuels Africa’s lengthy conflict

The political issue is that the territory is under Moroccan control, but not settled. Although Morocco promises that any eventual benefits will be shared with the people of Western Sahara, some doubt how "equitable" this will really be.

"But the drilling at the block known as Cap Boujdour is highly controversial: detractors insist it is outright illegal; supporters disagree, even though many also acknowledge that the campaign will test international law. The reason is the complex status of Western Sahara, the world’s only non-self governing territory without a legal administering authority.
The debate centres around a UN legal ruling from 2002 that drilling in the territory would be legal if it were done for the “benefit of the peoples” living there."
The question will be what happens to the frozen conflict if oil is found? Would it provide a basis for establishing peace and provide opportunities for development of all peoples in a way they wish? 

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