Ahead of this month’s UN talks on Western Sahara, there is a mixture of increasing hopes and abiding doubts over the UN’s ability to maintain the overtures made in recent months.
Rabat – Omar Hilale, Morocco’s permanent representative to the UN, has reiterated the increasingly popular notion that Morocco’s 2007 Autonomy Plan is the most credible and pragmatic solution to the decades-long territorial dispute in Western Sahara.
Hilale made the comments on Wednesday, October 23, as he headed a Moroccan delegation at a preparatory inter-ministerial meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, in prelude of the 18th summit of the Non-aligned Movement.
Created in 1961 in Belgrade to affirm the neutrality of newly independent Asian and African countries in the hegemonic war between the Eastern and Western blocs during the cold war, the Non-aligned Movement also sought to uphold the autonomy of developing countries in their policy choices and actions on the international stage.
Today, decades after the end of the cold war, the movement still counts 125 member states and 25 observer states, all committed to preserving “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of non-aligned countries.”
Referring to those non-aligned principles of protecting the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member states, Hilale said at the Baku meeting that the Western Sahara issue is an “artificial conflict” initiated to destabilize Morocco and challenge its territorial integrity.
He explained how Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, which calls for a compromise-based and politically negotiated resolution, is more reflective of the non-aligned movement’s preference for peaceful crisis management.
“The realization of our common aspirations rests on the mobilization of constructive efforts from within different parts of our movement to contribute to finding peaceful solutions to regional and international conflicts, in strict respect of the movement’s constant principles,” Hilale said.
Hilale’s comments come days ahead of the planned UN talks on the peacekeeping efforts in the disputed region.
The latest developments in the UN-led political process in Western Sahara point to an increasing Morocco-friendly momentum.
Referring to the support and positive comments Morocco’s Autonomy Plan has received from the majority of the international community, Hilale said that the growing consensus is a further indication that Morocco’s proposal is the “only solution” to the longstanding conflict.
Despite persisting doubts over the UN’s ability to maintain the momentum achieved under Horst Kohler, the Moroccan official expressed hope about the prospects of the UN-moderated process.
He warned, however, that any failure to uphold the spirit of Resolution 2468, the latest UN resolution calling for pragmatism and compromise as the foundations of a lasting settlement in Western Sahara, would jeopardize the significant diplomatic overtures made in the past months.