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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Mauritania

Article 19 of Mauritania’s constitution contains provisions for the protection of the environment. It reads: “Every citizen must loyally fulfill his obligations towards the national collectivity and respect public property and private property. The citizens enjoy the same rights and the same duties vis-à-vis the Nation. They participate equally in the construction [edification] of the Fatherland and have the right, under the same conditions, to sustainable development and to an environment balanced and respectful of health.”

Article 57 ensures governance of the general regime of water, of mines, and of hydro-carbons, of fishing and of the merchant marine, of the fauna, of the flora, and of the environment.

Featured Legislation

1996:The Commission Decision 96/293 concerning certain protective measures with regard to fishery products originating in Mauritania was made. The legislation reads that “member States shall prohibit the import or consignments of fishery products in whatever form originating in Mauritania, with the exception of direct landings from fishing vessels in the community"

1997: The ​​Forest Code Law No. 97-007 was introduced. ​​This is why Articles 23 to 26 and Articles 36 to 42 deal with the protection of forest resources as well as respect for the principles of sustainable management of forests and land clearing.

2000: Law No. 2000-045 was enacted. The purpose of this Act is to establish the general principles that should form the basis of the national policy for the protection of the environment and serve as a basis for the harmonization of ecological imperatives with the requirements of sustainable economic and social development. The national environmental policy strives in particular to guarantee

1) the conservation of biological diversity and the rational use of natural resources

2) the fight against desertification

3) the fight against pollution and nuisances

4) improvement and protection of the living environment

5) the harmonization of development with the safeguarding of the natural environment

Articles 31 to 34 relate to the protection of the atmosphere. Article 33 in particular states that when emissions into the atmosphere are likely to pose a threat to people or property, the proponents must implement all appropriate measures to suppress or reduce their pollutant emissions.

2004: Decree 2004-094 was instituted, governing Environmental and Social Impact Studies (ESIA).

2005: The Water Code Law n ° 2005-030 was ratified. The water code gives the principles of water resources management, industry and mining, energy production, navigation, tourism, inland fishing, as well as all other human activities legally exercised.

2007: Law No 2007-055 was signed, creating provisions for the conversion of forests into national heritage sites and bans on  the unauthorized killing of trees.

2007: In order to operationalize the law on the Environment code of 2000, decree n ° 2007-105 was created to modify and supplement certain provisions relating to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA).

2008: A Decree laying down the Plan on fishing efforts relating to national vessels fishing in the area was passed. This Decree sets out the national plan on fishing efforts applicable to vessels flying the flag of Italy and carrying out their activities within the fishing areas covered by the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

2017: The Environmental and Sustainable Development Policy in Mauritania was adopted by the National Strategy for the Environment for Sustainable Development SNEDD and its action plan: PANEDD (2017-2021) and implemented by the Prime Minister. The definition of this environmental policy is placed under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD). The MEDD is responsible for defining national guidelines and strategies for environmental management and for legislating to this effect. PANEDD (2017-2021), which is implemented by the National Committee for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CNEDD) which is under the authority of the Prime Minister.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Mauritania’s biological abundance is under attack, according to environmental activists. Oil development projects have led to shifting petroleum markets, clean-up of environmental hazards related to the industry, and social unrest. In a report by OilWatch, commentators have predicted that oil/gas development offshore in Mauritania serves only to strengthen the government, and not the country’s infrastructure and development initiatives. In 2015, former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz drafted policies which made it easier for petroleum companies to obtain exploration contracts. Unfortunately, heavy ecological and social losses have resulted from non-protective mining policies. Aziz has been known to order the violent suppression of peaceful protesters on multiple occasions – for example, in 2012, mining companies engaged in violence against workers holding a labor meeting, leading to the death of one worker. In 2017, the government responded to environmental activists, arresting and detaining members who expressed concerns about the country’s coasts being threatened by oil drilling. Offshore oil and gas development impacts the sustainability of coastal communities, despite the presence of laws protecting the coast. Meanwhile, the seismic technology being used in development projects is destructive to both fish endocrine systems and the communication systems of marine mammals. The situation is especially bleak because the country’s elite ensures their wealth from the petroleum offshore resources.
  • Former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was charged with money laundering  after joining a small opposition party, Ribat National, in April 2021. Aziz was expelled from the ruling Union for the Republic (UPR) party, which he had founded. The charges followed a year-long probe into his role in handling oil revenue from the numerous offshore oil and gas development projects he oversaw, along with the laundering of money from a Chinese fishing firm. A state prosecutor involved with the investigation in March 2012 said assets worth the equivalent of $115 million have been seized.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Dr. Mohamed -Yahya Lafdal Chah: