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Western Sahara

On 19 December, Kosmos Energy of the US and Cairn Energy of Scotland became the first companies ever to drill for oil in Western Sahara, a territory illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.

‘I have seen that they [Kosmos executives] think their actions are in conformity with my legal opinion, and my determined opinion is that they are not’, ambassador Hans Corell, author of a crucial 2002 UN legal opinion, told MEED weekly on 8 January.

Corell was head of the UN secretariat office of legal affairs when he ruled that oil exploration or exploitation would violate international law if it was not in accordance with the wishes and the interests of the people of Western Sahara.

Corell added: ‘Signing an agreement in which Morocco refers to Western Sahara as the southern provinces of the Kingdom of Morocco is at variance with corporate social responsibility and the principles to protect, respect and remedy.’

Topics: Western Sahara