Morocco’s Entry into the African Union and the Revival of the Western Sahara Dispute

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Guest Post by: Arpan Banerjee, NALSAR University of Law 


Thirty-three years after its withdrawal from the Organisation for African Unity, the predecessor of the present African Union (AU), Morocco was admitted in January as a member state of the pan-African regional body. At the 28th AU Summit held in Addis Ababa, 39 of the 54 members of the African Union voted in favour of Moroccan entry, making it the final nation in Africa to join. Moroccan entry into the AU, however, has been met by resistance from certain major players in the African Union, particularly Algeria and South Africa, due to the Morocco’s involvement in the ongoing dispute in Western Sahara. This piece seeks to analyze the impact of Moroccan entry to the AU on the dispute regarding the statehood of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)–the contested territory in Western Sahara. It explores the key question of whether admission to the AU, to which SADR is a member, amounts to recognition of the SADR as a state and creates obligations on Morocco under international law.

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Preserving Self-Determination in the Search for Peace in South Sudan

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By Guest Contributor:

Laura Nyantung Beny Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School Co-editor of Sudan’s Killing Fields: Political Violence and Fragmentation



Following decades of civil war in Sudan, in 2011 South Sudan became an independent nation due to an internationally brokered peace agreement and referendum on secession. At independence, Southern Sudanese and many international supporters were jubilant and full of great hope for the new country, a region which had been in nearly perpetual conflict.

Early hopes and celebration gave way in December 2013 to an intractable conflict, now recognized as a civil war, between rival factions of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (the “SPLM/A”). The competing factions include forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and former Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer. The humanitarian situation is dire. The United Nations (UN) and other bodies have issued warnings about ethnic cleansing and impending genocide. Over 3 million people have been displaced, internally and in neighboring countries. The UN has declared famine status in several regions. Reports chronicle massive human rights abuses, including gender-based violations, such as rape and sexual harassment. Peace remains elusive.

The UN Security Council, governments, and civil society groups have put forth multiple proposals to end the conflict and restore peace to South Sudan. Proposed measures include: UN sanctions (general and targeted); criminal tribunals for culpable leaders; international peacekeeping forces (AU and UN); and national dialogue. Ironically, some have even proposed “neo-trusteeship” for South Sudan.

None of these preceding measures alone is sufficient to end the conflict. Some, like national dialogue, are necessary, while others, like criminal tribunals or sanctions, might be unnecessary for peace. This commentary gives an overview of several of the proposed measures and potential obstacles to their success. It concludes that the most promising, indeed indispensable, measure is an indigenous, all-inclusive peace process. Trusteeship is especially problematic, as it would entail a break from the foundational basis of South Sudan’s sovereignty – self-determination.

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In Case You Missed It: Last Week’s International News, Today: November 15th

Below are a few stories that caught our eyes this week.


The American election has dominated the news cycle in the last week. What does a President Trump mean for those interested in international law? Opinio Juris has published several interesting pieces in the last week worth reading on implications for international human rights, Israel, the Paris Agreement, Syria, and much more.

Kenya Protests

UN Human Rights experts have condemned violence in Kenya against protestors and journalists, calling it “a violent clampdown on a peaceful protest.”

Revised FARC Deal

After citizens voted down a previous deal between Columbia and the FARC, the government and FARC came to a new deal attempting to address some of the concerns raised. This deal aims to end the longest war in Latin America.

Australia Refugees

In an attempt to address international backlash over the way over a thousand refugees are currently interned on Nauru and Manus island of the coast of Australia, the U.S. and Australia struck a deal allowing U.S. officials to screen those being held for resettlement in the U.S. in a one-time deal.