New York - The vote on the new draft resolution addressing the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Organization of a Referendum in Western Sahara, known by its French acronym as MINURSO, will not take place Thursday April 28, as was initially scheduled.
New York – The vote on the new draft resolution addressing the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Organization of a Referendum in Western Sahara, known by its French acronym as MINURSO, will not take place Thursday April 28, as was initially scheduled.
By practice, the resolution on the Western Sahara has been adopted by consensus. However, it appears that divisions among the 15 members of the Security Council is preventing the UN executive body from voting to adopt the resolution as planned. The vote is now scheduled for Friday.
A source from inside the Security Council told Morocco World News that the final draft had been submitted to Security Council members ahead of the informal meeting that was held this afternoon. Unhappy with the fact that the resolution was circulated to other members of the Council on the eve of the vote scheduled for Thursday, Venezuela and New Zealand requested more time to review it.
Earlier this week, the United States, penholder for resolutions on the Western Sahara, circulated the first draft resolution among the Group of Friends of Western Sahara, which in addition to the US includes France, the United Kingdom, Russia and Spain.
The initial version of the draft resolution, which was obtained by Morocco World News demanded the immediate return of MINURSO to its full capacity, and called on the United Nations Secretary-General to inform the Council within 60 days on whether Morocco has abided by this provision of the resolution by allowing the return of MINURSO’s civilian component.
The first draft was perceived as putting much pressure on Morocco by envisaging the possibility that the Council might convene in two months and take a new resolution on the conflict.
However, it appears that the diplomatic efforts made by Morocco and its allies have succeeded in introducing significant changes to the first draft and make it less coercive.
According to the latest draft obtained by Morocco World News, which enjoys the consensus of the five permanent members, the resolution does not echo Ban Ki-moon’s concern that the expulsion of MINURSO civilian component has severely affected its mandate.
While the first draft noted “with concern that the expulsion of MINURSO civilian personnel in March 2016 has significantly affected MINURSO’s ability to carry out its functions,” the most recent draft notes “with concern that MINURSO’s ability to fully carry out its mandate has been affected as the majority of its civilian component, including political personnel, cannot perform their duties within MINURSO’s area of operations.” This latest version makes no mention of the word “expulsion.”
In addition, though the resolution calls for the return of MINURSO, it does not set a timeframe for its return. This means the return of MINURSO’s civilian component will be open to discussions between Morocco and the United Nations without putting pressure on Rabat.
The text of the first draft prepared by the United States had emphasized “strongly the need for MINURSO to return to full functionality immediately. The word “immediately” does not appear in the final version.
In addition, while the third paragraph of the operative section of the first draft resolution called on the Secretary General to brief the Council within 60 days on whether Morocco allowed the return of MINURSO to its full functionality, and considered taking immediate steps to facilitate its return, in the final draft that has been submitted to the Council this afternoon, the language appears more watered down and less binding for Morocco. The revised paragraph calls on the UN chief to brief the Council within 120 days on whether MINURSO has returned to full functionality and expresses its intention, “if MINURSO has not achieved full functionality, to consider how best to facilitate achievement of this goal.”
To the dismay of Angola, Uruguay and Venezuela, who have striven to push the Council to adopt a stronger resolution and called on its members to condemn Morocco for expelling MINURSO’s civilian component, the resolution does not provide for any coercive measure should Morocco refuse to allow its return.
By using the sentence “consider how to facilitate achievement of this goal”, the resolution leaves room open as to what steps it would take to ensure its implementation, and indicates that this goal will be achieved through negotiations with Morocco.
More significant is the fact that the final draft resolution dismissed the call made by Ban Ki-moon’s personal envoy to the Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, to the Council to convene a meeting every two months to review the latest developments in the UN-led political process. During an informal closed-door meeting that the Security Council held on Wednesday afternoon to hear a briefing from Christopher Ross and from Hervé Ladsous, United Nations Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, the UN personal Envoy called on the Council to hold a meeting every two months to hear an oral briefing on the developments in the matter. Ross also called on the Council to include a paragraph that urges the parties to hold at least one round of direct talks. The final draft of the resolution reflects none of Ross’ requests.
A source from inside the Security Council told Morocco World News that the draft resolution improved considerably within the Group of Friends before it was submitted to the other members of the Security Council.
“This has made Angola and Venezuela unhappy,” our source said.