The right of nations to self-determination in international Law: the case of Western Sahara

dc.contributor.authorPeter, Chris Maina
dc.descriptionAvailable in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF JX4054.W4P4)en_US
dc.description.abstractThis work is an attempt to examine the struggle of the people of Western Sahara for their independence in the light of the principle of self-determination in International Law. It is not in dispute that the international community now recognises the right of all peoples to determine their own destiny. We have chosen Western Sahara as our study in point for the following reason. Western Sahara which was under the Spanish domination since the days of “Scramble from Africa” after the Berlin Conference wedged an armed struggle against their country in 1976. Immediately thereafter Spain was replaced by two independent African countries, Morocco and Mauritania who occupied the territory in an agreement with Spain basing their claims on historical, geographical, cultural and religious ties. Therefore the struggle for the right of self-determination had to continue against new aggressors. In 1979 Mauritania surrendered, retraced her claims over Sahara, recognised POLISARIO as the sole representative of the Saharawi people and it has recently recognised the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) declared by POLISARIO in 1976. Despite the recognition of the right of self-determination of the people of Western Sahara by International and regional organisations and more than 50 countries, Morocco with persistency has flagrantly violated that principle with strong support of some countries in the world. This has forced the people of Western Sahara to go to the battlefield where they are increasingly gaining military and diplomatic support. The dissertation is divided into five chapters. The first chapter is theoretical. It examines the principle of self-determination, its historical roots, the content of the principle, its recognition and its development from a mere principle in municipal law to its acceptability in international law and eventually as an enforceable right even by an armed struggle. The second chapter is mainly geographical but also touching on some socio-economic aspects of Western Sahara. It introduces Sahara, its location, physical features, people and the natural resources of the territory especially phosphate. We attempt to show that phosphate actually is the bone of contention in this dispute. We note that the discovery of the phosphate in Bu Craa inside Sahara has multiplied interests of various parties to the dispute. Chapter three deals with the actual struggle for self-determination in Western Sahara. We outline the role played by the United Nations in attempting to resolve the problem, and the Advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1975 which was in favour of the Saharawi people. It looks at the decision of Morocco to invade the territory in the so-called “Green March” and Madrid Agreement between Morocco, Mauritania and Spain under which Spain left the territory in the hands of the other two and the reaction of the international community to the agreement. The fourth chapter begins with the declaration of independence by the Saharawi people and the birth of SADR in February 1976. Consequently the nature of war in Western Sahara changed from that of national liberation to defence against aggression of an independent state. The chapter addresses itself to the effects of the war, the special sacrifice made by the people of Algeria to the principle of self-determination specifically in Western Sahara. This in coupled with a discussion on the role of the O.A.U. in this dispute, its position on artificial boundaries in Africa, Assembly of Heads of State and Government and Council of Minister’s of O.A.U resolutions on Western Sahara and an analysis of the admission of SADR in the O.A.U. in 1982 and its effects to the O.A.U. is made in this chapter. On the issue of admission the Organisation is divided into two groups the majority who are progressive support the admission and the minority reactionaries who have ganged around intransigent Morocco to bar it. In the same chapter we discuss the negative role played by Imperialism in African Politics in general and the Saharawi question in particular. We show the role played by Western European countries under the hegemony of U.S. in the issue and how they directly influence African countries opposed to SADR and the attempts made so far to wreck the O.A.U. The last chapter which is the conclusion makes an overall survey of the arguments and analysis made in the preceding chapters. We conclude that the question of Western Sahara which prima facie may seem to be a purely boundary question is more serious and in reality not one of that nature. It is a problem of economic interests of Imperialism to ensure supply of vital natural resources from that territory. It is an issue of military and geo-political interests of Imperialism. This overlapping of interest makes the problem of Western Sahara to acquire many dimensions. However what remains to be the central issue and irreversible fact and reality is that the people of Sahara have the right to self-determination and history is on their side.en_US
dc.identifier.citationPeter, C. M (1984) The right of nations to self-determination in international Law: the case of Western Sahara,Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaamen_US
dc.publisherUniversity of Dar es Salaamen_US
dc.subjectPolitics and Governmenten_US
dc.titleThe right of nations to self-determination in international Law: the case of Western Saharaen_US