The right of colonial peoples to self-determination is a widely accepted norm of customary international law. This rig ht has been recognized and affirmed by the United Nations and other international bodies, including the International Court of Justice, as the principal right at stake in decolonization. In the case of Western Sahara, a former colonial possession of Spain, self-determination has been thwarted since 1975 by Moroccan military occupation. As of February 28, 1976, the Frente Popular para la Liberaci6n de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (Frente POLISARIO), the dominant political organization in Western Sahara, had declared the establishment of the Saharuie Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). The SADR government in exile and the Frente POLISARIO, headquartered in Algiers, are currently engaged in a war with Morocco seeking to acquire effective control over Western Sahara. Although efforts are currently underway to end the conflict, the lack of a concerted international effort to pressure Morocco to withdraw its armies from Western Sahara and thereby permit effective realization of the right to self-determination by the Saharwi people may be viewed as a reason for the current stalemate in the region.
Robert T. Vance Jr.,
Recognition as an Affirmative Step in the Decolonization Process: The Case of Western Sahara,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol7/iss1/4