I thank the Permanent Mission of the United States for having prepared the draft of resolution 2218 (2015), concerning Western Sahara. France voted in favour of the resolution, which it also sponsored, as it appropriately addresses the whole host of aspects pertaining to the question of Western Sahara. It provides the necessary impetus to the political process. It renews for a year the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). And, lastly, it refers to the human dimension of the situation in the territory.
This resolution, which we adopted unanimously, provides the necessary momentum to the political situation. The text clearly indicates that the consolidation of the status quo is not acceptable, and that the parties must engage with more resolve and demonstrate greater political will, realism and spirit of compromise in order to advance towards a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.
Resolving the question of Western Sahara is necessary to respond to the expectations of the population of the territory, to achieve the political and economic integration of the Maghreb and to respond to the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel, where we must together overcome the challenge posed by the heightened threat of terrorism.
The historic differences can be resolved. The United Nations has a responsibility to help the parties to move ahead in the negotiations. In that regard, we reiterate our full support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Ambassador Christopher Ross, whose shuttle diplomacy is necessary to facilitate dialogue and bring the positions closer together. Moreover, France believes that the autonomy plan presented by Morocco to the Secretary-General on 7 April is a serious and credible basis for a negotiated solution.
This resolution renews MINURSO’s mandate. France supports the role of MINURSO and of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ms. Kim Bolduc, with whom the parties should continue their full cooperation. For more than 20 years, MINURSO has been making a contribution to maintaining calm in a region experiencing numerous challenges. It has done so by carrying out the three aspects of its mandate, namely, monitoring the ceasefire, contributing to de-mining activities and supporting confidence-building measures, especially the family visit programme, to which the resolution refers. In that connection, we regret the suspension of the programme, which was put in place by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and which provided relief to refugee families while maintaining channels for dialogue. We hope that the programme will resume without delay.
Lastly, the resolution appropriately addresses the human aspect of the issue of Western Sahara. We urge the parties to continue their efforts to strengthen and promote human rights in Western Sahara and in the Tindouf refugee camps. As the resolution underscores, Morocco has taken steps to strengthen its National Council on Human Rights commissions operating in Dakhla and Laayoune, as well as its interaction with the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. We welcome those initiatives and the other structural reforms carried out by Morocco — such as its ratification of the additional protocol to the Convention against Torture and its reform of the law on military tribunals — which benefit the population of Western Sahara. The situation also recalls that the very precarious situation of the Saharaoui population in the Tindouf camps must not be forgotten. In that connection, it calls for further efforts to be made in order to register the refugees in the camps. This is in the general direction of the goal of maintaining the necessary provision of international humanitarian assistance in the camps.