Polisario case reveals high stakes behind investors’ ESG enthusiasm

Legal action over disputed African territory affects EU links with Morocco

Financial Times / JOHN DIZARD. .- What the military calls asymmetric warfare — guerrillas fighting regular armies — has come to the compliance world.

Political movements with few financial assets, let alone military superiority, can win in court against corporate or government players.

Thanks to their ability to make use of their wins by influencing trillions of investors’ money, or sensitive sovereign wealth funds, they can generate a huge effect.

Take a case filed in the European Court of Justice on April 29 by the Polisario Front, a political group that demands full sovereignty for Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. Its lawyers claim Brussels is violating EU human rights law by allowing, even encouraging, the import of natural resources from the territory. Read more

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Can John Bolton Thaw Western Sahara’s Long-Frozen Conflict?

FAROUK BATICHE/AFP/Getty Images

The Polisario Front has created an international diplomatic presence on a shoestring budget and sees the Trump administration as its best hope in decades to gain independence from Morocco.

BY R. JOSEPH HUDDLESTON | MAY 9, 2019 | foreignpolicy.com

Members of the Sahrawi People’s Liberation Army take part in a ceremony to mark 40 years after the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic was proclaimed by the Polisario Front in the disputed territory of Western Sahara at the Rabouni Sahrawi refugee camp in Tindouf, Algeria, on Feb. 26, 2016. FAROUK BATICHE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

In March, the United Nations secretary-general’s personal envoy for Western Sahara, Horst Köhler, hostedthe second in a series of roundtable talks to move a long-frozen conflict toward a peaceful resolution. This conflict has been suspended in a stalemate since a 1991 cease-fire agreement halted a 16-year-long civil war between the Moroccan monarchy and Western Sahara’s liberation movement, called the Polisario Front.

In addition to fighting the U.S.- and French-backed Moroccan military for 16 years, Polisario built several sprawling refugee camps in southern Algeria to accommodate thousands of families who fled the violence. An estimated 165,000 Sahrawi refugees, as those who fled Western Sahara are known, continue to live in these camps, as they have since the conflict began. Read more

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