International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Western Sahara

International Court Of Justice Advisory Opinion On Western Sahara

International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Western Sahara

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One of the main functions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is to provide Advisory Opinions - non-binding legal interpretations admitted by United Nations organs. In the summer of 1975, the court considered two questions regarding the disputed territory of Western Sahara (then Spanish Sahara). In 1969, Spain returned the region of Ifni to Morocco.


Since its accession to independence in 1956, Morocco has considered Spanish Sahara to be part of its pre-colonial territory, and Spain had largely decolonized its foreign holdings, including much of Spanish Morocco, but had retained the Spanish Sahara. In 1958, the Moroccan Army of Liberation fought the Spanish forces in the Ifni War. After support from France, Spain regained control of the region but returned the regions of Tarfaya, and Tantan to Morocco. Morocco continued to demand the return the remaining regions, Ifni, Saguia el-Hamra and Rio De Oro and several other regions (Mauritania, part of Algeria & part of Mali) colonized by France. During the 1960s, Morocco succeeded in getting Spanish Sahara to be listed on the list of territories to be decolonized, and on December 20, 1966, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2229 called on Spain to hold a referendum on self-determination in the region.

After initially resisting all...
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