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By drawing these parallels with the case of Western Sahara, UNPO hopes to encourage member states of the African Union to engage with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in order to ensure that the Sahrawi people have their fundamental rights protected and promoted.

The article below was published by UNPO:

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UNPO is proud to have been selected by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights as only one of three international organizations – alongside the International Commission of Jurists and Princeton Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination – to submit an Amicus Curiae briefing to the African Court on the issue of state responsibility to facilitate and protect the rights of the people of Western Sahara. Working in collaboration with our partners’ Doctoral Clinic for International Human Rights Law at Aix-Marseille Université, the document was submitted on 5 June 2020.

The UNPO amicus curiae offer an overview of four cases in which unrepresented states have had their right to self-determination promoted by member states of the UN without necessarily having their statehood claim recognized.

Somaliland, Taiwan, Kosovo, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) show that despite the challenges of navigating on the fringes of the international system, states with limited recognition have successfully engaged with some UN member states through bilateral political, military, trade, travel and educational agreements.

By drawing these parallels with the case of Western Sahara, UNPO hopes to encourage member states of the African Union to engage with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in order to ensure that the Sahrawi people have their fundamental rights protected and promoted.

In its legal analysis, the amicus curiae submitted by UNPO reiterates that the continuing occupation of Western Sahara constitutes a violation of the right of the Sahrawi people to sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence. These rights are inextricably linked to the Sahrawi people’s right to self- determination and, by virtue of the specific nature of this right, particular obligations arise for the Defendants.

Finally, the document reminds that international law does provide an obligation to act to “refrain Morocco from further occupying parts of the territory of Western Sahara in any manner whatsoever and howsoever”. Additionally, it specifies measures that may be taken by member states of the African Union to comply with their obligation to act. Both law established under the AU charter and international law compel AU members to be proactive in terms of protecting a country’s autonomy.


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