The resolution is the first of its kind to extend the mandate of MINURSO for one year since April 2018.
The new resolution has not brought any major changes aside from lengthening the MINURSO mandate to twelve months as opposed to a six month mission.
Since April 2018, the council extended the mandate for only for six months at a time.
Both Russia and South Africa abstained from the on the adoption of the new resolution.
Some members of the Security Council, including South Africa , argued that a shorter mandate would put pressure on the involved parties, Morocco, Algeria, the Polisario Front, and Mauritania, to enter into negotiations and assist the UN-led political process.
The Security Council, through its new resolution welcomes the momentum of both MINURSO and the United Nations Secretary General’s efforts to preserve peace in the region.
Resolution 2494 repeats the same language as its recent resolutions on Western Sahara, calling on all parties to work with the UN to help find a mutual, realistic, pragmatic, and enduring political solution to the Western Sahara conflict.
The text emphasized the need to reach a practical political solution, based on compromise, suggesting that the UN will not accept any proposal that is against an agreed upon and consensual solution for the conflict.
The language of the resolution is in line with Morocco’s position, who has been expressing determination to fully adhere to the UN-led political solution to find a mutually acceptable solution for the conflict
The Security Council “welcomes” Morocco’s “serious and credible” efforts to reach a mutually agreed solution.
The text also refers to Algeria and Mauritania as parties to the conflict, echoing Morocco’s calls that no solution can be reached without the involvement of Algeria and Mauritania as main parties.
The new resolution mentions Algeria five times, three times in the preamble and twice in operative paragraphs.
The text also calls upon Morocco, Polisario, Algeria, and Mauritania to fully cooperate with each other to build trust and to strengthen their involvement in the political process to achieve progress. It also reiterated that finding a political solution to the conflict requires strong commitment from all parties as a solution would contribute to creating stability and more security in the region.
In outlining MINRUSO’s mission, the UN emphasizes “the importance of a renewed commitment by the parties to advancing the political process in preparation for further negotiations.”
The Security Council also stressed that “realism and spirit of compromise by the parties are essential to achieve progress in negotiations, and encourages the neighboring countries to make important, active contributions to this process.”
The resolution stipulates that the Security Council’s ultimate goal and role in the process is to assist the United Nations and the parties to the conflict in reaching a long-lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict.
By choosing not to institute a mechanism to monitor human rights in Western Sahara and Tindouf camps, the Council is implicitly reiterating their focus on finding a compromise-based solution through open dialogue between all parties.
The resolution also calls upon all parties to cooperate with MINURSO, welcoming “,steps and initiatives taken by Morocco, and the role played by the National Council on Human Rights Commissions operating in Dakhla and Laayoune, and Morocco’s interaction with Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council.”
Open defiance of MINRUSO
The extension of the MINRUSO mandate comes just weeks after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres released his annual report to the Security Council. In the report, Guterres underlined the obstacles facing MINURSO in the region, among them the Polisario Front’s refusal to adhere to MINURSO requests.
Citing the Polisario’s “failure to comply with MINURSO,” Guterres outlines several violations by the Polisario east of the berm, or security wall.
Among other building violations, the Secretary General made particular mention of; “A logistics hub consisting of 10 new buildings located inside the restricted area near Bir Lahlou, which had already been declared a violation in 2017 and included in the list of long-standing violations in 2018, remained operational.”
The report also cited the Polisario’s refusal to remove a security detachment in Tifariti. Such acts of open defiance are a serious threat to progress in the UN-led peace process.
Further violations included; “The military post of Frente Polisario at ‘waypoint 6 … in the restricted area 16.6 east of Guerguerat, consisting of two tents, two to three vehicles and between two to six personnel was again declared a violation in April, although it had been moved out of the buffer strip, it remained in the restricted area.”
On top of the Polisario’s open defiance of the UN peacekeeping mission, Guterres warned that the seperatist group’s lack of communication with MINRUSO also serves as an obstacle to progress.
According to the report, the Polisario’s move to limit communication “impedes good communication and effective working relationships with the parties, and handicaps MINURSO in the implementation of its mandate.”
Guterres also expressed hopes in his report that all involved parties would engage in dialogue in “good faith” and continue to cooperate with the UN-led process. The Secretary General reported that he sees progress in the journey towards a solution to the conflict, adding that he sees a willingness to “overcome constraints” from the Moroccan side.
Today’s vote took place despite the absence of a UN Personal Envoy to the UNSG after the resignation of the former emissary Horst Kohler in May.
All parties to the conflict, including Morocco regretted the resignation of Kohler, who brought a glimmer of hope to the conflict.
In a groundbreaking move, Kohler managed to convene the parties to the conflict ( Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and Polisario), at the same roundable twice in December 2018 and March 2019 in two separate roundtables in Geneva.
The United Nations Secretary General, Guterres also expressed his regret at Kohler’s resignation.
The Security Council also recalls MINRUSO’s role in “supporting the incoming envoy.”