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In W. Sahara, Global Compact's Atlas Copco Sells Mining Equipment

By Matthew Russell Lee

  UNITED NATIONS, April 17, updated -- As the annual fight about the UN's Western Sahara “peacekeeping” mission and whether to include human rights monitoring in it heats up, we start with a simpler question.

  Even after the UN ruled that natural resource exploitation in Western Sahara without the residents consent violated international law, can a member of the UN Global Compact do just that, with impunity?

  Apparently yes.

  In 2002, the head of the UN Office of Legal Affairs Hans Corell wrote that “if further exploration and exploitation activities were to proceed in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, they would be in violation of the principles of international law applicable to mineral resource activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories.” Click here for that.

  Now, the Swedish firm Atlas Copco has sold mining equipment 2 Pit Viper PV-275 to Bou Craa.

 Here is the 2 Pit Viper PV-275 drill, here.

  Atlas Copco is a member of the Nordic UN Global Compact and is also member in the the steering group.

  But when asked by a Swedish colleague, Kristen Coco of the UN Global Compact has said that the “Compact has discussed the matter of foreign activities in the Western Sahara territory with the UN Office of Legal Affairs. They advised that they are not in a position to determine whether the activities in Western Sahara would contravene with the principles of the Global Compact. As it is outside the mandate of the Global Compact to monitor or measure participants' performance, we are unable to determine whether the company is in breach of any legal opinion.”

  The Global Compact often says it does not “monitor or measure.” But here, there is a UN legal opinion in place. Is this how UN corporate “responsibility” works, under Ban Ki-moon? Under current OLA chief Patricia O'Brien, who refuses to hold press conference as now challenged by the Free UN Coalition for Access?

  On another simple question, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman if Morocco had removed its flags but not license plates from the MINURSO mission. This was the response:

To: Matthew.Lee [at]
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM
Subject: Re: question on MINURSO

"Regarding your question on MINURSO, here is our answer: Further to the last report of the Secretary-General, Moroccan authorities recently removed all the flags, except one, from the perimeter of the MINURSO compound. Discussions to find pragmatic solutions to the license plates issue are still on-going."

  Watch this site.

Update: the following day, after asking at the UN noon briefing, an answer from Office of Legal Affairs, here.

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