morocco King Mohammed VI WireImage
Moroccan King Mohammed [Source:]

In a controversial, circuitous and secret ballot, in January, 2024 Omar Zniber from Morocco gained the position of president of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Zniber proclaims that this is a global endorsement of Morocco’s constructive approach and unifying leadership on critical issues such as tolerance, and racial hatred prevention¹.

Omar Zniber [Source:]

He also expressed his commitment to fulfilling the “requirements of our common work,” emphasising the promotion, respect, and guarantee of universally recognised human rights².

On February 14, 2024, barely a month after Zniber’s lofty comments, the following video was recorded, where the illegal occupying forces of Morocco are destroying homes of and displacing Saharawi residents in Western Sahara. See video here.

This most recent example of “Morocco’s constructive approach to tolerance and prevention of racial hatred”, preceded by decades of documented similar human rights abuses, emphasizes the “promotion, respect, and guarantee of universally recognised human rights” that we can expect from a very questionable year of UN imposed human rights under the direction of a Moroccan ambassador.

Allowing Morocco to lead the UN in international human rights protection puts the king of Morocco into the global spotlight. Reflecting the classic folktale of the emperor who wore no clothes, what we see is that, ooops, the king is wearing no pants.

Ooops. The International Court of Justice ruled in 1975 that Morocco holds no jurisdiction over the North African country of Western Sahara, but the king, continuing to defy international law, insists that Western Sahara belongs to him and that “Today as in the past, Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara will never be up for negotiation.”¹ A fine example of supporting human rights.

Ooops. The king of Morocco orders illegal mining from the rich deposits of phosphates inland in Western Sahara, and also orders and carries out illegal fishing off the Western Saharan coast², all the while selling these stolen goods to an eager international market without giving any profits to Western Sahara. Gosh, another solid reason to allow Morocco to set the tone of and model international human rights.

Ooops. Currently, the king’s security forces “regularly use, beatings, stress positions, asphyxiation, simulated drowning, psychological and sexual violence”³ as forms of torture on the Saharawi citizens of Western Sahara in an effort to break the nearly 50 years of both violent and nonviolent struggle against Morocco for Saharawi independence. Wow, now that’s a third example of Moroccan human rights that seems to merit a leadership role at the UN in the human rights arena.

A group of people holding flags

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Saharawi people protesting Moroccan occupation of their land and human rights violations. [Source:]

Ooops. Abderrahim Atmoun, Morocco’s ambassador to Poland, received funds from Moroccan authorities to bribe members of the European Parliament.⁴ While bribery on the international level committed by Morocco might not be viewed by some as strictly in the human rights arena, there does seem to be a behavioral pattern here that might give an indication of what we can expect from a Moroccan director of human rights at the UN who takes orders from his king.

The decision of the United Nations to allow Morocco to lead a department of human rights is one of the most egregious errors (or cheats) that I have ever seen. During a three month unarmed protection of civilians mission in Boujdour, Western Sahara, having personally witnessed the effects of the brutal, cruel and purposeful torture, beatings, and extermination of members of the Saharawi population by Moroccan secret service by order of the king, this horrible move by the UN seems to me to be an indication of the corruption within its ranks.

With such a wasted opportunity to direct the world in a cooperative effort toward peace, my previous faith in the current UN has crumbled.

May this horrendous decision offer us a clear indication of the change that is required at the UN if it hopes to ever set a new tone for world cooperation rather than the international bullying that was certainly required to put Morocco (with multiple and long standing human rights abuses documented and substantiated) at the helm of UN Human Rights.

The flag alley at the United Nations European headquarters is seen during the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland in September 2023. [Source:]

Imagine the arm-twisting that must have taken place within the UN to put Morocco at the head of a purported bastion of support for global human rights. And the United States, with it’s big stick, leading the charade.

Arm-twisting is not new in politics. What might be coined as a newly invented legal term and arm-twisting tool, “Tweet Law” was introduced by Donald Trump in December of 2020. With his simpleton-like post on a social media platform, “Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy by announcing that the United States would recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara as part of a deal in which Morocco would normalize relations with Israel.”⁵ No legal proceedings, no votes, no negotiation, just blathering and political arm-twisting.

Morocco was delighted since this meant that the king could bank on Israeli and U.S. military support, weapons sales, and training to hone Moroccan security forces barbaric torture and intimidation techniques used on the Saharawi people in Western Sahara.

The U.S. and Moroccan and flags beside a State Department-authorized map of Morocco, including disputed Western Sahara, in Rabat on Dec. 12.
The U.S. and Moroccan and flags beside a State Department-authorized map of Morocco, including disputed Western Sahara. [Source:]

The U.S. was tickled pink to have garnered an Arab League country to help “improve relations” with Israel (does that mean to trade genocide techniques?) while at the same time gaining a potential foothold in Northern Africa for future plundering, displacement and land-grab attempts.

And of course, in light of the potential power of this unholy alliance, Israel was also quick to further it’s perceived divine right to continue, albeit more openly, to obliterate an entire country and it’s people.

So let’s take a good look at this. The U.S., still employing and supporting clear colonization techniques and human rights abuses with Israel in Palestine, now introduces Morocco to Israel and backs Morocco’s illegal occupation and vicious human rights abuses in an effort to recolonize the last colony in Africa, Western Sahara. Looks like a win-win-win for all three partners.

A vision appears…Israel, Morocco and the U.S. are holding hands, dancing in a colonization circle to the tune of Ring Around the Rosie around a nighttime fire in the desert. It looks like so much fun. What wonderful plans they must have in store for us. Continued global weapons production and sales by the U.S., out-in-the-open human rights abuses and genocide by Israel in Palestine and Morocco in Western Sahara. Global community and leadership at its best.

But, alas, I have been sidetracked. Let’s continue to look at the type of stellar human rights record it takes for a country like Morocco to get in the human rights driver’s seat at the United Nations.

Blackmailing critics of the Moroccan regime is often a tactic of which the king’s court has been accused. Dozens of critics of the king have faced “smear campaigns” in Morocco.⁵ This highly ethical practice is surely a gem of which to be proud in any human rights organization.

A map of the western sahara

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Physical and sexual abuse by Moroccan security forces against United States citizens also appears to be acceptable human rights behavior. When friends attempted to visit Western Sahara in 2022, they were detained at the airport, not provided any reason for the detention, and were forced to return to the U.S.

The following is an excerpt from a first-hand view of one of the three female travellers:

“We were told to gather our things. Then we were physically pushed outside. A man shouted, put my arm in a pain hold, and touched my breast. I screamed. One of my companions was also treated this way, to the point of leaving large visible bruises on her upper arm.

We were physically forced onto the plane. We told multiple crew members that we wanted to get off the plane. We told the men that if they provided a written legal justification for deporting us, we would comply.

[name removed] was grabbed and pulled towards a seat. I wrapped my arms around her legs. In the scuffle my shirt and bra were pulled up to expose my breast to the plane.

Eventually we were forcibly seated, each surrounded by 4 – 6 agents. The plane took off.

We landed in Casablanca ~10:30 PM and returned to our hotel. We were followed the rest of our time in Casablanca by some of the same Moroccan agents who had forced us onto the plane.”⁶

Truly, a gallant defense of human rights by Moroccan authorities, and one that must be a credit to the newest Moroccan leader of human rights at the United Nations since neither the United States government nor the Moroccan king has acknowledged, criticized, nor prosecuted these clear human rights abuses.

And how about the strong and upright human rights stance Morocco took in 2022 during the nearly 500 day de facto house arrest of the non-violent peace activist Sultana Khaya, her sister and their 84 year old mother in Western Sahara?⁷

A person wearing glasses and a headscarf

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Sultana Khaya [Source:]

The three family members were beaten, terrorized with frequent night break-ins by Moroccan security forces, had the inside of their home destroyed, their well water was poisoned, and the mother was forced to watch her daughter raped by Moroccan forces employed by the king.

I could go on, but am feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of Morocco taking the helm of anything to do with human rights. Actually, anyone who spends less than a minute surfing the Internet can find endless examples of human rights abuses committed by Morocco…and in the monarchy, the king is responsible.

At the risk of ruffling the feathers of some myopic members of the U.S. government who outlandishly support the illegal occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco in a deadly quid pro quo for gaining an Arab state to support Israel’s illegal activities in Palestine, and certainly at risk of jostling a carefully constructed house of mirrors by the Moroccan king and his government to give the appearance that they are champions of human rights (which they are not).

I am compelled, and feel quite at ease, to say, “Excuse me Mr. king of Morocco, you are not wearing any pants.”


1. Western Sahara, Advisory Opinion, 1975 ICJ Rep. 101, 101–02 (Oct. 16) (“[T]he Court finds that neither the internal nor the international acts relied upon by Morocco indicate the existence at the relevant period of either the existence or the international recognition of legal ties of territorial sovereignty between Western Sahara and the Moroccan State.”).







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  1. A startling article. I had known little about human rights abuses in Western Sahara. Yes, shocking that the UN would look to a human rights abusers nation for leadership in human rights.
    Tim seems angry and for sure he should be as an observer of abuses in Western Sahara.

  2. Thank you Tim , it’s a really useful article. I hope others read about the sufferings of my people in the last colony in Africa 🇪🇭

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