The Security Council’s resolution will not extend MINURSO’s mandate to human rights monitoring in the region.
The Security Council will extend the MINURSO mandate for 12 months instead of six months, a source close to the negotiations told Morocco World News.
The current six-month mandate in the region is set to expire tomorrow, October 31.
The vote comes six months after the council adopted Resolution 2468. Since April 2018 the council has renewed the mandate three times for six month periods.
The resolution, according to MWN’s source, will also disregard Polisario’s attempts to extend the mandate of MINURSO to human rights monitoring in the region.
The decision of the council crowns Morocco’s efforts to abort any maneuvers from Polisario, seeking to undermine Morocco’s position.
The US, in its capacity as a penholder, shared the draft resolution to the Group of Friends of Western Sahara on October 23.
The group includes five members: France, Russia, Spain, the UK, and the US.
Aside from the year-long extension to MINURSO’s mandate, the resolution includes no significant changes.
Extending the mission
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, Morocco, and some members of the Group of Friends, including France, have been advocating for an increase from the six month mandate to a one year mission.
The US, however, raised concerns about the huge budgets being allocated to UN peacekeeping missions that, according to the Trump administration, have made no tangible progress.
For Bolton, the mission failed to carry out its mission: a referendum.
The former senior US official also pushed the Trump administration to support shortening the mandate of MINURSO, “frustrated” that the mission had not found a solution to the 44 year-long conflict.
Members of the Security Council also expressed some concerns over developments in the Tindouf camps. Lack of freedom of expression and lack of rights of assembly were among the issues raised.
Another serious matter for the Security Council was the lack of a personal envoy in the wake of UN Personal Envoy Horst Kohler’s resignation.
A glimmer of hope
Kohler was key to the progress achieved in the region. The former envoy managed to convene all parties to the conflict, including Morocco, Algeria, the Polisario and Mauritania, to two roundtables in December 2018 and March of this year.
His resignation in May prompted concerns among the parties who feared it would lead to stagnation in negotiations.
Some members of the council, who received the draft resolution on October 24, cited the lack of an emissary as well as the decision to extend the mandate for 12 months as causes for concern. They suggested that a longer mandate would ease pressure on parties to work towards a political solution to the conflict.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, along with Kohler, believes that there is still a glimmer of hope, despite the reluctance of both the Polisario Front and its supporter Algeria to enter into negotiations.
The Algerian-backed separatist group has rejected Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, a proposal submitted to the Security Council in 2007 as a political solution to the conflict, and refuses to consider any option other than “complete independence.”
Morocco’s proposal takes into account the demands of Sahrawis, granting them the right to benefit from the natural resources of the region and full autonomy through devolved government, while making sure they remain connected to their historical motherland.
The vote also comes as Morocco continues to gain international support for its position from an increasing number of nations.
The UK recently extolled Morocco’s efforts in the UN-led political process.
Thomas Reilly, the UK ambassador to Morocco, spoke in favor of the Moroccan proposal of the autonomy plan, welcoming the “serious and credible efforts of Morocco to find a solution to the conflict.”
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE also expressed their support for Morocco’s position at the UN’s Fourth Committee held earlier this month.