International Business and Fundamental Human Rights: The Case of Western Sahara

By Oludaja, Bayo | Competition Forum, July 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

International Business and Fundamental Human Rights: The Case of Western Sahara


Oludaja, Bayo, Competition Forum


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The European Union's interest in exploiting the fishing resources of Western Sahara has ignited the debate over Morocco's right to a region that the United Nations has classified as a Non-Self-Governing Territory. This paper examines the genesis of the debate and briefly discuses its ethical implications for companies that opt to do business in Western Sahara.

Keywords: International law, Self-determination, Exploitation, Human rights, Corporate responsibility

INTRODUCTION

There is hardly a mention of Western Sahara in international circles today without its linkage to the principle of self-determination. This is largely because of the struggle of the Western Saharans (the Saharawis) against the occupation of their territory by Morocco, an ongoing struggle that has left its imprint on the evolutionary process of the principle of self-determination. In order to understand how the struggle has been fuelled by the competitive business environment created by globalization it is helpful to consider the historical developments that have given rise to the Western Sahara problem.

BACKGROUND HISTORY

Western Sahara (formerly known as Spanish Sahara) was settled by a mix of thirteenth century Arab and sub-Saharan African immigrants who by the eighteenth century had blended into "a group of nomadic tribes called the Ahl Essahel" (Brazier, 1997:12). Although Spanish settlement in Western Sahara dates back to 1884 when Spain proclaimed the area a "protectorate," it was not until 1934 when the French overcame Western Saharans' (Saharawis') resistance that Spain established its colonial rule over the territory (Hodges, 1983; Brazier, 1997). Even then, the Saharawis carried on their pastoral economy and maintained their system of justice until their brief uprising in 1957-58 (Hodges, 1983). Thus Spain's interest in the territory remained minimal until it discovered that the territory had phosphates. The discovery heightened Spain's interest in Western Sahara. The heightened interest resulted in the introduction of political changes by the Spanish government in 1958, changes that began to transform Western Sahara into a colonial entity. Shortly after, the wind of political independence began to blow over the African continent. In the light of the wind of change, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 1960 resolution of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

Under pressure from the UN General Assembly, Spain endorsed the 1966 UN doctrine of selfdetermination. But in 1967 when the Saharawis formed a liberation movement and demonstrated for their right to self-determination, Spain brutally repressed the demonstrations and banned the movement. In 1973 the Saharawis formed a new movement, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Sanguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front). The new movement resorted to armed struggle against colonialism. Meanwhile, Morocco and Mauritania having gained their own independence from France, and motivated by their desire for the natural resources of Western Sahara and by their political ambitions, began to make sovereignty claims to the territory. But neither was actively involved in fostering the Saharawis anti-colonial struggle against Spain. Thus the Saharawis turned to Libya and Algeria for support (Hodges, 1983). As the United Nations and the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU) increased pressure on Spain to grant independence to

Western Sahara, Mauritania and Morocco intensified their claims to the territory. Morocco claimed that its sultans had historically exercised sovereignty over the territory. On its part, Mauritania based its claim on the ethnic and cultural ties it has had with Western Sahara (Mercer, 1976; Thompson, 1980). However, Spain claimed that before its occupation "the Western Sahara had been terra nullius" (Thompson, 1980:172). As Rezette (1975) notes, "this is historically and legally an open question and hence should, properly speaking be settled by the International Court at Hague" (Rezette, 1975: 149). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

International Business and Fundamental Human Rights: The Case of Western Sahara
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.