EU Should Rethink Ties with Morocco

Published on 26th July 2023

Morocco’s aspirations to chair the Human Rights Council and that of its candidates to be elected to important posts in AU organs dashed

The 43rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) concluded its work on Saturday, 14 July 2023, in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, after two days of deliberations.

In his opening remarks, Kenya’s Minister of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Dr Alfred Mutua, asserted that Africa remains well endowed with resources, despite its underdevelopment. The Kenyan minister called on African countries to remove restrictions on the free movement of people and goods across the African continent to accelerate integration.

“Kenya is committed to progressively abolish visas to citizens from African Union Member States and make it easier to invest and do business in Kenya and across our continent,” the Kenyan diplomat added.

Comoran Foreign Minister Doihir Doulkamal, the current chairman of the Executive Council (Council of Ministers of AU Member States), emphasised that the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is paramount to Africa’s economic integration.

During the deliberations of their 43rd Ordinary Session in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the African Union Member States made clear their refusal to grant Morocco’s candidacy the endorsement of the African Union, requested by the latter, to run, on behalf of this continental organisation, for the next presidency of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

This refusal is basically explained by the lack of consensus within the Executive Council for several reasons, which is a real setback for Moroccan diplomacy; its chances of achieving its goal of “chairing” the Human Rights Council are diminishing day by day, and its strategy of a letter of marque in this regard will make it bite the dust.

Indeed, during the Executive Council’s deliberations, many delegations expressed their reservations about Morocco’s absurd candidacy. The arguments competing against such a candidacy are innumerable and, in fact, the Sahrawi delegation during its speaking time threatened to address in depth the dramatic situation of individual and collective rights in the parts of SADR illegally occupied by Morocco if the latter were to continue to hold on to a candidacy to “chair” the Human Rights Council.

Africans wonder how an oppressive state like Morocco can claim to hold the prestigious presidency of the Human Rights Council.

Africa cannot support a country like the Kingdom of Morocco, because it would be an affront to Africa and to the human dignity of all Africans; a country that, moreover, is not yet a signatory to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a country that prevents visits to the SADR’s territories which illegally occupies, expels international observers and foreign journalists from those territories manu militari. In other words, Morocco’s human rights record is so dismal that few countries would have the courage to come to its aid.

Given that Morocco is far from being a paradigm of respect for human rights, but rather the opposite, our continental organisation wanted to make it clear to Morocco that its position in relation to the Moroccan candidacy is “not in our name”, to avoid an unfair recognition of its record and because it would be outrageous for Morocco to be the authoritative voice for all those unheard voices of African victims.

Participation in the election of the President of the Human Rights Council means for any self-respecting organisation or state to highlight a need common to all places ravaged by violent conflict, that of listening to and accompanying the victims and duly confronting the crimes committed in order to build democratic, inclusive and peaceful societies.

The Chair of the 43rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council should forward the proposals of African countries wishing to run for the presidency of the UN Human Rights Council to the African Group within the Human Rights Council for consideration.

It goes without saying that 313 human rights and other non-governmental organisations urged African Union Member States to reject Morocco’s candidacy for the presidency of the United Nations Human Rights Council, because it would set a bad precedent and call into question the reputation of this international body in charge of promoting and protecting human rights.

The candidates put forward by Morocco for important posts in the African Union’s organs during this 43rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council suffered a real setback when none of them were elected to these posts, in contrast to other candidates, such as Algeria’s, who emerged victorious in the voting.

This setback for the Moroccan candidates is a clear indication of Morocco’s lack of political relevance within the AU, no matter how much the Makhzen’s media phalanx tries to claim otherwise.

In conclusion, the European Union, as the largest economic bloc made up of consolidated democracies, is called upon to take into consideration the conclusions and recommendations of this 43rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union, especially with regard to the scrupulous respect for human rights and to reconsider the Advanced Status granted by the EU to Morocco and subsidised with European taxpayers’ money.

M. Limam Mohamed Ali Sidi Bachir

SADR’s Ambassador to Kenya

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