Morocco's International Boundaries: A Factual Background

Published on Sep 1, 1963in Journal of Modern African Studies
· DOI :10.1017/S0022278X00001725
Anthony S. Reyner1
Estimated H-index: 1
THE chain reaction set off in Paris by the Franco-Moroccan Declaration of 2 March 1956 still reverberates in the politics of north-west Africa. On that day, France ended 44 years of its protectorate over Morocco, restored to Mohamed V full sovereignty over I62,I20 square miles of land and some seven million people, and pledged 'to respect, and see to it that others respect, the integrity of Moroccan territory, as guaranteed by international treaties'.1 The next month, Moroccan territory grew by 10,808 square miles, when Spain relinquished its Northern Protectorate, a rugged and generally undeveloped strip along the Strait of Gibraltar, which it had acquired from France in I 92, together with a 'Southern Zone'.2 In October 1956 the Tangier International Committee of Control transferred I44 square miles with more than 200,000 inhabitants to Moroccan administration. (This city and its immediate surroundings have been 'permanently neutralised and demilitarised' since I923, except for violation of its international status by Spain during World War II.)3 Finally, in April 1958, Spain ceded to Morocco the Southern Protectorate, also known as Tarfaya (after its capital) or Tekna. A handful of nomads, who graze sheep and goats south of the Oued Dra and north of Spanish Sahara, inhabit these I3,297 miles of arid wasteland.4 (See Map I.) The straight-line border between Morocco and Spanish Sahara, which follows latitude 27? 40' North for a distance of some 275 miles from the * Professor and Head of the Geography Department, Howard University, Washington, D.C. He has been for several years a consultant on international boundaries to the U.S. Department of State. 1 The protectorate had been established by the Treaty of Fez. An English translation appears in The American Journal of International Law (Washington), Supplement, vi, p. 207. The official English translation of the 1956 Joint Declaration was reprinted in The American Journal oflnternational Law, LI, p. 676. 2 Declaration by the Governments of Spain and Morocco on the Independence of Morocco (and Protocol), dated 7 April 1956. See Royal Institute of International Affairs, Documents on International Affairs (Oxford University Press, I956), p. 694. 3 For documents dealing with the internationalisation of the Tangier Zone, see its 'Statute', the Anglo-Franco-Spanish Convention of I8 December 1923 (recognised by Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and the United States), in British and Foreign State Papers (London), cxIx, p. 480; cxxi, p. 922; and cxxIi, p. 689. 4 Cf. The Geographer, U.S. Department of State, Morocco-Spanish Sahara Boundary (International Boundary Study Series, no. 9, 14 September 1961), p. i.
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