From the Desert to the Sea: The Maritime Jurisdiction of an Independent Western Sahara
Smith, Jeffrey J.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Laws in International Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: Western Sahara is the last colonial territory in Africa. Its people have been unable to realize their right of self-determination since the former colonial power, Spain, ceded the territory to Mauritania and Morocco in 1975. The presumptive maritime or ocean ... read morejurisdiction of an independent Western Sahara, formally known as the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR), is examined. The analysis begins with the history of the territorys creation, the establishment of its land boundaries in the colonial era and its natural resources. The events relating to the territorys stalled decolonization are then canvassed. The current maritime jurisdictional claims of States in the Saharan Atlantic region are considered, together with continuing fisheries uses in Saharan waters, as well as the results of the 2009 enactment of the authors ocean jurisdiction legislation for the SADR. The law of maritime delimitation, which includes the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, decisions of the International Court of Justice and other tribunals, and state practice, is reviewed and applied to determine the likely or probable maritime jurisdiction of the SADR, including its territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. Issues concerning a possible claim to the extended continental shelf are addressed. Conclusions about maritime jurisdictional areas (or zones) are given in a series of purpose-drawn maps showing the SADRs likely maritime boundaries. The possibility of the SADR acceding to the Law of the Sea Convention is then addressed in the context of remedial measures to restrain the taking of ocean resources from the maritime area of the territory pending resolution of the "question" of Western Sahara and the exercise by its people of their right of self determination.read less