Morocco’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York on Friday hosted an international research seminar on “Guaranteing the Success of Experiments in Territorial Autonomy: Devolution of Legislative Powers”.
The seminar was led by prominent experts, researchers and academics from Switzerland, France, Spain, the United States and Mauritius. It was attended by about fifty diplomats, including several ambassadors to New York, senior UN officials and media accredited to the UN.
This meeting provided an opportunity to compare the Autonomy Initiative proposed by the Kingdom of Morocco for the Sahara region with other experiences of autonomy in the world, in particular with regard to the delegation of legislative powers in the Autonomous Communities. The international experts had the opportunity to share the experiences of the Canary Islands, New Caledonia, Puerto Rico and the island of Rodrigues.
The seminar was led by Marc Finaud, senior adviser at the “Geneva Center for Security Policy”. In his opening speech, he recalled the provisions of the Moroccan initiative for the autonomy of the Sahara region and stressed that “it has been qualified as serious and credible in more than ten UN Security Council resolutions and approved by a growing number of countries”.
He specified that the Moroccan initiative contains several provisions guaranteeing the exercise of legislative power in the Sahara region. In this context, he reviewed the guarantees in Articles 5, 12, 19, 20, 22 and 24 and concluded that “Morocco’s proposal for the Sahara region is generous. It is also open to negotiation and will be developed and supplemented”.
In his presentation, Dr. Joan-Josep Vallbé, Professor of Political Science at the University of Barcelona, the development of the legislative system in the Canary Islands since their award of the Statute of Autonomy in 1982, which passed through the major reforms experienced by these islands in 1996 and 2018 He stressed that the legislative power in the region belongs to the regional parliament, which exercises the legislative function in full autonomy, without interference from the central government.
Referring to the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative, he classified Article 12 as “too open”, proposing to create a list of areas with exclusive competences for both the central administration and the region. In addition, he welcomed the guarantees offered in Article 19, in particular as regards the active participation of the local population and the appropriate representation of women.
For his part, Dr. Carine David, Professor of Law at the University of the Antilles in France, a comparison between the legislative powers of New Caledonia and those set out in the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative, noting that the primary function of Congress of New Caledonia is the exercise of legislative power, which translates into in the power conferred on the local assembly to pass laws.
Declares that the State deprived of the powers it has transferred to New Caledonia, irreversibly, can no longer intervene in these matters, and also notes that gender equality is respected in New Caledonian, and proposes in this regard, that the Moroccan initiative provide more details on the reference to “appropriate female representation”.
For his part, Dr. Jorge Farinacci Fernos, professor of law at the University of Puerto Rico, talks at length about the various aspects that characterize Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States in connection with its exercise of legislative power over locals.
He also made a comparative exercise between Puerto Rico’s constitutional status and the various states that make up the United States. With regard to the Moroccan self – government initiative, he dwelled on Articles 5, 6, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20 and 24, which for him constitute the most relevant articles on the exercise of legislative power in the Sahara.
He called the definition of “the autonomous state of the region”, highlighted in Article 24, as “the very basis of the initiative”. In the case of Puerto Rico, several structural restrictions hinder the exercise of legislative powers, he noted, explaining that the U.S. Congress exercises the power to unilaterally amend its agreement with Puerto Rico or eliminate it altogether.
Finally, Mrs Marie Valérie Uppiah, Head of the Legal Department at the University of Mauritius, presented one of the African examples of decentralization of legislative powers by dealing with the case of the Autonomous Community on the island of Rodrigues, which gained its autonomy from Mauritius in 2002.
In this context, she explained that the status of autonomy allows the island of Rodrigues to establish its own system of government. In addition to the three branches of government in Mauritius, Rodrigues Island has set up its own institutions that govern and regulate its administration, including a regional assembly with legislative power, commissions that administer the executive, and courts that are part of the judiciary, she said.
At the same time, she stressed that “the Moroccan self-government initiative is an appropriate solution for the Sahara region” because “it offers different benefits both for Morocco and for the constituents of the Sahara region”.
She concluded that autonomy would give the Sahara region more powers and capacities to carry out its own internal affairs, as it includes, among other things, the legislative, executive and judicial powers, which are the three basic powers necessary for good governance and administration. of any state