The Moroccan autonomy initiative has received widespread applause from the international community, including from permanent members at the Security Council.
Rabat – A group of 3,000 lawyers, academics, journalism, and civil society actors has expressed a joint determination to see the Security Council support Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as the basis to end the conflict over Western Sahara.
The intellectuals, who are members of the International Platform for the Defense and Support of the Moroccan Sahara, put together a manifesto that stressed the efficiency of the Autonomy Plan as the only solution to end the Sahara conflict.
For the group, the Moroccan Autonomy Plan guarantees the exercise of the right to self-determination for the populations in the southern provinces.
Pointing out the legal, social, and historical bases of the Moroccan position on the Sahara question, the intellectuals expressed their commitment to defend the Moroccan character of the Sahara.
“The 3,000 members of this platform welcomed the historic decision of the United States to fully recognize the sovereignty of Morocco over its Sahara,” the manifesto said.
The US recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara on December 10.
The intellectuals welcomed the development, arguing such a move from global power as influential as the US is bound to profoundly impact debates on the Sahara conflict.
“Such a position is the only one to be truly in conformity with international law, taking into consideration that the Moroccan character of the Sahara is attested from a historical and legal point of view and starting from the fundamental standard of the territorial integrity of states.”
The manifesto also emphasized the importance of the US’ decision to open a consulate in Dakhla to promote investments in the region.
The group of intellectuals also expressed support for the decision of other African and Arab states who have opened consulates in the southern provinces.
Over the years, the UN Security Council has acknowledged the Moroccan autonomy proposal as a realistic approach to solve the territorial dispute. France and the US, two of the council’s permanent members, have repeatedly described the Moroccan proposal as a serious and a viable route to a lasting political settlement.
In most of its latest resolutions, the Security Council described the “credible” and “serious” efforts Morocco has made within the framework of the UN-led political process.
Morocco proposed the Autonomy Plan to the UN in 2007. The plan suggests making Western Sahara a semi-autonomous region that remains under Morocco’s sovereignty. The initiative also seeks to allow the region’s inhabitants to manage their social, economic, and political affairs while Morocco handles defense and diplomacy.