While most nations welcomed the resolution, both South Africa and Russia abstained from the vote.
Rabat – Most of the permanent and non-permanent members at the UN Security Council expressed support for the renewal of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO. The council adopted Resolution 2494 following a vote on October 30.
The resolution gained support from 13 members, with only two abstentions.
Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council and South Africa a non-permanent member both abstained from the vote.
Non-permanent members of the UN Security Council including Kuwait, the Dominican Republic, and Equatorial Guinea were among the countries to vocalize their support for Morocco’s efforts to cooperate with MINURSO and the UN-led political solution.
MINRUSO’s mission is to find a mutually acceptable and an agreed-upon solution for the Western Sahara conflict. The three non-member states also expressed their support for the Moroccan position on the conflict.
Fawaz Bourisly, Kuwaiti representative at the Security Council, welcomed the adoption of Resolution 2494.
He said that the resolution “provides hope for a mutually acceptable solution,” emphasizing the importance of Morocco’s proposed initiative: the Autonomy Plan.
The Kuwaiti diplomat stressed the need to “uphold [Morocco’s] sovereignty.”
Remos Ondo Angue, a diplomat from Equatorial Guinea, made clear his country’s support for the extension of the MINURSO mandate.
The new resolution extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping operation to one. The previous three extensions to the mandate have been for six month periods.
Angue also expressed hopes that the UN will appoint a new envoy to replace Horst Kohler, and that the envoy “will be able to hold a third-round table meeting as soon as possible.”
Kohler managed to convene all parties to the conflict, including Morocco, Algeria, Polisario, and Mauritania, at two round tables in Geneva in 2018 and 2019.
The Equatorial Guinean diplomat also welcomed Morocco’s efforts to uphold human rights.
For the Dominican Republic, the resolution is a balanced text that emphasizes MINURSO’s important role.
The representative of the Dominican Republic, Jose Manuel Trullols Yabra said that the resolution supports a “compromise-based solution.”
He also expressed his country’s support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, describing the proposal as a “viable route towards a just and mutually acceptable solution.”
Cote D’Ivoire also welcomed Morocco’s cooperation with the UN human rights procedures.
Permanent Members of the Security Council
The vast majority of permanent members of the Security Council were also vocal in their support for the new resolution.
The US Security Council representative, Michael Barkin, reiterated his country’s support for MINURSO.
The diplomat, however, said that he “would have preferred a unified, consensus text,” commenting on the abstentions of Russia and South Africa in the vote to adopt the resolution.
He argued that what is important now is that the political process continues without “delay.”
“The mandate renewal does not mean a return to business as usual. The process must move forward,” he stressed.
France has long advocated for a one-year mandate for MINURSO and expressed satisfaction with the new resolution.
French representative Nicolas de Rivière welcomed the return to a one‑year mandate for MINURSO, saying “it should be standard for peacekeeping.”
South Africa’s African Union agenda
Despite the solid backing for the resolution, South Africa was not among the voices in support of the mandate renewal. The continental heavy-weight maintains that the conflict should be an issue for the African Union.
Though South Africa has voiced support for the widely-held belief that the UN-led process is the sole option in finding a resolution for the conflict, Pretoria has also expressed doubts about the balance of the resolution.
Jerry Matthews Matjila, Council president for October, spoke to the Council in his role as South African representative, maintaining that the resolution is “not balanced and does not fully represent the perspective of African Union member states.”
South Africa has long supported the Polisario Front narrative as well its calls for an independent state, so veering off the path of neutrality and trust in the United Nation’s capacity as the only body able to lead the negotiations to a mutually acceptable solution.
Matjila criticized the resolution’s language, suggesting that it favors of Morocco’s position and “undermines the principle of self-determination.”
The South African diplomat voiced his frustration with the decision of the Council not to impose a mechanism to monitor human rights in Western Sahara and Tindouf, a move that South Africa strongly advocated for.