Polisario suffers another legal setback in New Zealand
The high court in New Zealand has rejected a complaint by the Polisario against the sovereign fund which it said has authority to make investments in line with local laws.
Commending the verdict, the Guardians of NZ Superannuation fund, a government sovereign fund which manages retirement accounts, welcomed the court’s decision.
“We take our obligations as a responsible investor very seriously,” a spokesperson for the fund said.
The fund has important assets in two New Zealand fertilizer companies, Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, which import about $30 million of phosphate from Morocco annually.
This is the fourth legal setback suffered by Algeria and the Polisario in their desperate attempts to challenge the legality of exports of phosphates from Morocco’s Sahara.
The Polisario had in particular incurred a painful defeat in its legal maneuvers against Morocco after the Kingdom’s phosphate company, OCP, restored in May 2018 ownership of 55,000 tons of phosphates rock unlawfully held in South Africa following a legal challenge by the Polisario.
Holding the Moroccan phosphates cargos in international ports in response to complaints filed by a separatist entity that is not recognized by the UN is in itself a violation of international law. Such a case could set a dangerous precedent for other separatist groups.
Besides, the Polisario is not recognized by the International community as a representative of the commercial interests of the population of the Sahara, although it is considered as a party in the political process to find a solution to the Sahara conflict.
In August 2017, it was in Latin America, precisely in Uruguay, that the Polisario attempted to incite a Uruguayan court to order the seizure of a 300-ton shipment of Moroccan phosphate. But, although Uruguay backs the Polisario’s separatist thesis, it turned down the request to seize the shipment as Panama had rejected a similar demand the previous June.
Phosphates and the industries relating to it is an area of excellence for Morocco, the world’s largest producer. Phosphates has also featured prominently in Morocco’s recent economic and diplomatic breakthrough in Africa where support for the Algerian nurtured and sponsored separatist thesis is waning.