Last year lobbyists working for the separatist Polisario movement lodged documents in the New Zealand high court saying that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF), with $45 billion under management, unlawfully invested in farms that use phosphate from the southern provinces of Morocco, and interests in companies operating in the Moroccan Sahara.
Fertiliser companies Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients in New Zealand import phosphate from the Sahara in Morocco which is spread on New Zealand farms. The phosphate rock mined in Morocco is well suited for use in New Zealand
The lobbyists were trying to stop the legitimate trade of Moroccan Phosphates from the Kingdom’s southern provinces, claiming that the Sahrawi population owned the natural resources. They launched legal action in a bid to stop the extraction of phosphates which they claimed were resources that belonged to them.
On 15 March, the New Zealand High Court in Auckland issued a landmark decision on the case, asserting that Polisario does not have a recognised legal status. The suit therefore had the status of a personal intervention from a private person, namely Mr Kamal Fadel. This was an important principle that underlines the fragility of any legal status of the Polisario separatist movement.
Secondly, the High Court affirmed that the regional dispute over the sovereignty of the Moroccan Sahara is of a geopolitical nature and does not fall within the competence of the court. The High Court is a national judicial institution of New Zealand, and it does not have any authority to decide under international law on the status of a territory. In this regard, the court ruled that no local jurisdiction is allowed to have a say on an international geopolitical conflict, and it rejected all claims advanced by the plaintiffs in their attempt to misuse and misinterpret the law system in New Zealand.
The court based its decision on New Zealand’s National legislation and concluded that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF)’s investments were in full compliance with its obligations as a responsible institution in a renowned country internationally.
The High Court affirmed that the Fund had abided by New Zealand’s “Statement of Investment Policies & Procedures” (SIPSP) as well the fund’s Responsible Investment Framework (RIF). The SIPSP is in turn based on the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) and the UN Global Compact (UNGC)”.
The allegations put forward by the Polisario representative and his lobbyist based in New Zealand were summarily rejected in their entirety in terms of substance and form by the New Zealand Court. The decision went even further to question the reasons behind the insistence of the separatist’s lobbyist to abuse the New Zealand legal system for the sake of serving a foreign agenda.
This is not the first time that the Polisario separatists have failed in their bid to disrupt the export of phosphates from Morocco’s southern provinces. A similar attempt to block cargo in Panama in 2017 was likewise given short shrift by the courts.