As expected, the fifteen-member Security Council unanimously adopted a new resolution to extend MINURSO in the Western Sahara until 30 April 2013.
New York – The resolution did not bring any new major elements, except for some technical changes to the wording of some paragraphs.
As in last year’s resolution, the Security Council renews its call on parties to the conflict, Morocco and the Polisario Front, without preconditions and in good faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and subsequent developments, with a view to achieving a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution.
The resolution calls on both sides to respect human rights and welcomes Morocco’s decision to set up a national council on rights and grant access to the monitoring mission dispatched by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council. Previous resolutions had made only a vague reference to the “human dimension” of the conflict.
The resolution “takes note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcomes serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution.”
It also reiterated its call on Algeria to “allow a registration by the UNHCR of the population in Tindouf camps.”
However, the question that comes to mind now, is how long will the United Nations continue to adopt the same resolutions every year and invite the parties to continue negotiations, with the knowledge that these negotiations will not lead to anything, as long as the approach adopted by the United Nations, has proved ineffective in bringing about a solution to the conflict.
The reason behind this failure lies in the fact that United Nations calls upon the parties to reach a negotiated solution acceptable to both parties, while at the same time insists that any solution should provide for the “self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.”
Therefore, it is time that the Security Council adopted a new more innovative approach, and became clear in addressing the issue of self-determination. Does self-determination as referred to in the UN resolution necessarily have the same sacro-saint interpretation as it did in the sixties? Or could this concept be subject to other interpretations, including in some cases, that the best way to decide the fate of a minority of a separatist group is to allow it greater autonomy, as provided for in the autonomy proposal put forward by Morocco five years ago?
The peacekeepers, officially known as the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), were deployed in the region in 1991 and were tasked with the mission to make the necessary arrangement for the holding of a referendum. However, due to profound disagreement between the two parties over the eligibility of voters, this option has proved unfeasible.
Back in 2000, in his report to the Security Council on the Situation in the Western Sahara (S/2000/461) Kofi Annan, then Secretary General of the United Nations, stated that it is essential that the parties be “prepared to consider other ways of achieving an early, durable and agreed resolution over their dispute over the Western Sahara.
Over the past two years, Morocco and the Polisario have held 9 informal rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy, Christopher Ross. The last round of negotiations was held last March in New York. All of these negotiations have ended without any progress.
Many analysts voice their concern that the current informal negotiations over the future of the Western Sahara are leading nowhere and that the Security Council ought to adopt a new approach in order to put an end to this long-lasting dispute.
Over the last decade, many observers have stated that an independent Sahrawi State cannot be envisaged as a “realistic option”. This was the message conveyed by the spokesman of the American Department of State on April 30th 2008 before the UN Security Council, on the occasion of the vote of resolution S/RES/1813. Similarly, in an interview given to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the Western Sahara, Peter Walsum, stated that the establishment of a Sahrawi State is not an “accessible objective”.
Samir Bennis is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Morocco World News
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