Testimony Before the United Nations Regarding Western Sahara
Referendum for Western Sahara (MINURSO Peacekeeping Operation), Board of Director for the Defense Forum Foundation
RES IPSA LOQUITUR: THE THING SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
Statement before the Fourth Committee of The United Nations, October 10, 2005.
Over the past 30 years we have heard Philadelphia lawyers come up with ingenious arguments to make Morocco’s land grab acceptable to the international community. Invading Western Sahara was the “Green March” as if calling an invasion in the name of a color respected in Islam somehow justified it. Morocco, which railed against Spain’s colonization of Western Sahara, now replaces Spain as the new colonizer of Western Sahara. The British journal, The Economist, was right when it referred to Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara as a modern Anschluss.
Morocco wasn’t really fooling anyone. They sought an opinion from the World Court as to their rights over Western Sahara, and the World Court denied their right to sovereignty over the area. That’s when Morocco invaded. To hear the Moroccan version, the World Court supported their position and justified their invasion. I ask those of you who are interested in this question: read the World Court’s opinion. It unequivocally denies Morocco’s rights over Western Sahara and endorses the referendum for the Saharawi people that the U.N. has yet to hold.
If that were not enough, the Security Council twice condemned Morocco’s invasion, not that a Security Council condemnation could deter Morocco. Morocco continues to occupy, colonize and terrorize the nation of Western Sahara and its inhabitants without a care for international sanctions because frankly, there are no international sanctions for Morocco’s lawlessness. When it comes to violating international law, some countries, like Iraq, invade and pay a price. Others, like Morocco, invade and get away with it.
There was supposed to be a referendum back in 1991 to allow the people of Western Sahara to decide whether to be free or part of Morocco. All this was worked out through the U.N. which set up a peacekeeping mission called MINURSO to supervise the referendum. In 1994 the referendum began in earnest. I know because I ran it. The problem was that Morocco sabotaged the referendum with the help of a feeble and feckless representative of the Secretary General. The Moroccans effectively took control of MINURSO, screening (and eliminating voters) and terrorizing the local population. Once they saw the handwriting on the wall, that is to say, once they saw the desire of the Sahrawis, the indigenous people of Western Sahara, to reject unity with Morocco, the Moroccans saw to it that there would never be a referendum. This is not simply my view, but the view of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and of every independent observer and journalist who has commented on the situation there.
Now there is discussion of a plan whereby Morocco would rule Western Sahara for a certain period of time, and then there would be referendum. Even that isn’t good enough for Morocco.
We can continue with legal niceties such as whether members of this tribe or that should be qualified to vote, all the while Morocco is sending thousands of subsidized Moroccan citizens into Western Sahara to strengthen its hold there.
There is a Common Law doctrine called Res Ipsa Loquitur. That is Latin for the thing speaks for itself. It means that where the accused’s fault is obvious merely by reciting the facts, no proof is necessary. A recitation of Morocco’s crimes, its invasion of Western Sahara by Morocco, its occupation and colonization for 30 years and its cynical destruction of the referendum set up by the U.N. to settle the question, speak for themselves and for Morocco’s guilt. Morocco has acted lawlessly and notoriously. The question is whether the U.N. is willing or able to restrain Morocco’s lawlessness. Shamefully, the answer so far has been an unequivocal no.