The UN secretary-general’s personal envoy for Western Sahara has briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Western Sahara.
The personal envoy, Horst Kohler, expressed Wednesday his gratitude to the Moroccan authorities for facilitating his visit to the southern provinces and enabling him to have access to several people he wished to meet. He was also grateful he could witness directly the economic and social development of the region, according to state-owned news agency MAP.
Several members of the council welcomed the atmosphere in which the regional tour of the personal envoy took place, particularly his visit to the Moroccan Sahara.
The majority of the council members also expressed their satisfaction with the results of the various meetings and visits undertaken by the personal envoy. They called on Kohler to continue working with all parties to maintain the momentum and resume the process to find a solution to the conflict.
In its Resolution 2414 of April 27, 2018, the Security Council called on neighboring states, including Algeria, to contribute to the political process and to engage further in the negotiations.
UN observers said Moroccan authorities have always shown their full cooperation with the UN to relaunch the political process.
MAP noted that many members of the Security Council emphasized, during Wednesday’s briefing, the need to tread carefully to relaunch negotiations in consultation with the parties, and in particular Morocco.
Could this signal a diplomatic milestone?
Kohler’s Wednesday’s briefing emphatically called on all involved parties to make compromises to ease the way towards finding a lasting political settlement to the conflict in Western Sahara.
Negotiations for a mutually acceptable solution hit a wall in 2008, and the Sahara issue has since then been locked in a diplomatic stalemate.
A decade after the failed UN-led attempts at peace, Kohler suggested a resumption of negotiations in hopes of making up for the decade-long diplomatic failure.
But in addition to the UN Security Council’s newfound resolve to finally commit all stakeholders—including Algeria—Kohler’s move comes at an especially propitious moment in continental politics.
During the 31st AU Heads of State Summit on July 1 in Nouakchott, Mauritania, the continental organization unveiled its latest report on the Sahara question.
The much-anticipated report acknowledged—for the first time—the prominence of the UN-led negotiation process in Western Sahara, pledging total allegiance to the UN Security Council’s agenda and priorities.
It noted that Africa will no longer have a “parallel agenda” on Western Sahara, and the AU will limit its involvement in the conflict to “supporting and accompanying UN efforts.”
Bringing Algeria to the negotiation table
Moroccan authorities, while nodding at Kohler’s resolve to resume peace talks, are adamant that Algeria take full part in negotiations.
Rabat insists on the precondition of a comprehensive assessment of the discussions between the personal envoy and the parties in conflict during Kohler’s last regional tour.
Calling for the need of a transparent, responsible, and peaceful dialogue to resume negotiations, Moroccan authorities also asserted that there can be no solution to the regional dispute over Western Sahara without consulting Morocco and without the involvement of Algeria, which they say is the main party responsible for the beginning and maintenance of the dispute.