Memorandum on the Moroccan Sahara issue
- The Kingdom of Morocco holds a unique experience in the history of colonization, as well as in the decolonization process, that deviates from the usual model. Thus it was in 1912, that the Moroccan territory was effectively split up into several zones of occupation. Forty years later, through international agreements negotiated with the various colonial powers; the Kingdom of Morocco began to gradually recover its territorial integrity. It is in this context that the Kingdom of Morocco, after its independence in 1956, entered into negotiations with Spain that brought about the progressive recovery of certain areas located in the south of the Kingdom, namely Tarfaya in 1958, Sidi Ifni in 1969 and the Saquiet al Hamra and Oued Eddahab in 1975, known since then as the Sahara, following the Madrid Agreements which was acknowledged by the General Assembly.
2. For geopolitical reasons related to the context of Cold War, Algeria has opposed to the process of completion of Morocco’s territorial integrity and has embarked on a deliberate policy to systematically thwart the legitimate rights of the Kingdom.
- The African mediation, undertaken in 1976, having failed, the Sahara issue was entrusted to the UN.
I- Development of the issue within the United Nations:
- Morocco participated in good faith to the implementation of the Settlement Plan proposed, in 1991, by the United Nations to resolve the dispute over the Sahara.
- However, the complex and delicate nature of the identification process, the deliberate will of other parties to exclude important constituencies of the Sahrawi tribes from this process, as well as the fundamental differences that characterized the positions of the parties on important aspects of the Plan, led the Secretary-General and the Security Council of the United Nations to conclude on the inapplicability of the Settlement Plan.
- Thus, the Secretary-General underlined in his report S/2000/13 of February 17, 2000 that «it has not been possible during this period to implement in full any of the main provisions of the United Nations Settlement Plan", due to “fundamental differences between the parties over the interpretation of its main provisions”.
- The Security Council, drawing the necessary conclusions from this report, recommended to the Secretary-General in its resolution 1292 of February 29, 2000 “to consult the parties and, taking into account existing and potential obstacles, to explore ways and means to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute, that would define their respective rights and obligations in Western Sahara”.
- In application of this recommendation, Mr. James Baker, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, held in the year 2000, in London and in Berlin, a series of consultations during which he invited the parties to consider a solution of compromise, deemed a “3rd way” by appealing to the parties to “begin negotiating a political solution that could settle the dispute over the Western Sahara” (Report S/2000/683 of 13 July 2000).
- Upon presenting the draft Framework Agreement, (Baker Plan I) in June 2001, the Secretary General and his Personal Envoy considered that this plan “offers what could be the last chance for the upcoming years” and urged all concerned parties to “seize this opportunity, for it serves the interests of the population of Western Sahara as well as the countries of the region”.
- By its resolution 1359 of 29 June 2001, the Security Council confirmed this recommendation and «encouraged the parties to discuss the draft Framework Agreement and to negotiate any specific changes they would like to see in this proposal, as well as to discuss any other proposal for a political solution, which may be put forward by the parties, to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement".
- In response to this resolution, Morocco accepted the draft Framework Agreement, as a basis for negotiation, in order to definitely settle this regional dispute. However, Algeria and the Polisario rejected this proposal and refused the negotiations which were proposed to them by the Secretary-General.
- Algeria went so far as to submit, on the 2nd of November 2001, to Mr. Baker, in Houston, a proposal whereby the territory and population of the Western Sahara would be partitioned. Needless to say, this proposal sacrifices both the principle of self-determination and the myth of “the Sahrawi territory and people” which have always constituted the basis of the position, or at least the officially declared one, of Algeria in relation to this dispute.
- It is worth noting that Algeria deliberately ignored Baker Plan I and the Algerian proposal whereby the territory would be partitioned, an important step that has marked the process of resolving the issue within the United Nations.
- Following these important developments, Mr. Baker submitted the “Peace Plan” (Baker Plan II). By its resolution 1495 of July 31, 2003, the Security Council conditioned its support for this plan to the agreement of the parties. Due to the fundamental disagreements between the parties concerning this second Baker Plan, the condition set by the Security Council for its support was, de facto, not met and thereby rendered it invalid.
- In this framework, the Security Council, by its Resolution 1541 of 29 April 2004, clarified, once for all, the modality recommended by the international community for the final settlement of the question of Sahara, as consisting solely of a negotiated solution. The Security Council also placed this dispute in its actual regional context while calling on the States of the region to cooperate for this purpose with the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy.
- Following the resignation of Mr. James Baker in June 2004, Mr. Kofi Annan appointed Mr. Alvaro De Soto to succeed him, entrusting him with a mandate to continue working with the parties and States of the region in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable political solution, with no reference to Baker Plan II.
This decision generated a radicalisation of the Algerian position, particularly illustrated by the refusal to cooperate with Mr. De Soto and by the insistent demands to have him replaced.
- Following Algeria’s refusal to cooperate with his Special Representative, Mr. Alvaro De Soto, the Secretary-General appointed in July 2005, Mr.Peter Van Walsum as his new Personal Envoy for the Sahara. The Secretary General entrusted him with a mandate to “evaluate the situation and search, with all the parties, the neighbouring States and other protagonists, for the best way to overcome the present political deadlock”. (Letter of the Secretary-General S/2005/497).
- In this regard, M. Van Walsum presented on January 18, 2006 to the Security Council his vision of a possible solution to the Sahara issue. He thus carefully considered the situation and made an analysis of the reality surrounding this dispute, calling upon all parties to engage in negotiations. In this regard, he urged the international community to “convince Algeria to participate to the negotiations because it holds the key to the solution”.
- This approach was confirmed by the UN Secretary General in its reports of April and October 2006 (S/2006/249).
II-Moroccan initiative and starting a new process:
- In response to the numerous calls made by the Security Council to end the political impasse, Morocco submitted to the Secretary General of the United Nations, on April 11th 2007, “the Moroccan Initiative for negotiating an autonomous statute for the Sahara region”.
- This initiative is the result of a large consultation process at national and local levels, bringing together political parties, people and politicians of the region, through the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, to gather their views on the draft implementation of autonomy to the Sahara region. This internal consultation process has also been supplemented by dialogues at regional and international levels in order to gather the views of the countries concerned and interested in this regional dispute.
- Through this initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees to the population of the region, their position and role, without discrimination or exclusion, in its bodies and institutions. Thus, populations of the Sahara can democratically manage their affairs, through legislative, executive and judicial exclusive power. They have the financial resources to develop the region in all areas and to participate actively in the economic, social and cultural development of the nation.
- This is an initiative of compromise that is consistent with international law, the UN Charter, resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council, as well as the right to self determination.
Indeed, the autonomous status of the Sahara will be negotiated and will be subject to a free referendum of the people concerned.
- In a desperate effort to thwart this new dynamic, the polisario has submitted a proposal containing outdated proposals with no constructive element to help solve the regional dispute over the Sahara.
- On April 30th 2007, the Security Council adopted resolution 1754 which represents a major turning point and whose fundamentals are as follows:
- No reference to previous proposals namely the Baker Plan II;
- Calls upon the parties and States of the region to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations and with each other to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution;
- The appreciation of the “serious and credible” efforts of Morocco;
- The consecration of negotiations as the means chosen by the International Community for the resolution of this conflict as well as a way to satisfy the right to self-determination;
- Calls upon parties to enter into negotiations without preconditions in good faith, taking into account the developments of the last months with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.
- While the Security Council opted for a genuine major turning point by adopting resolution 1754, the General Assembly foreclosed this option by affirming the departure from the earlier approaches.
- In application of resolution 1754, the Secretary-General invited the parties and States of the region to the first two rounds of negotiations, which were held respectively on 18 and 19 June and 10 and August 11, 2007 in Manhasset.
- This rupture was confirmed by the adoption without a vote by the General Assembly of resolution 62/116 of 17 December 2007, endorsing the approach chosen by the Security Council and expanding the scope of self-determination to all available options of expression for self-determination, as long they are in accordance with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned and in conformity with the principles clearly defined contained in general Assembly resolutions 1514 and 1541 and other resolutions.
- This resolution of the General Assembly therefore no longer makes any reference to previous plans and strongly supports Security Council resolution 1754 and welcomes the process of negotiation that has begun. Thus the General Assembly is now in accord with the Security Council.
- In resolution 1783 adopted in October 2007, the Security Council confirmed the pre-eminence of the Moroccan autonomy proposal. It also calls for the pursuance of negotiations “while taking into account the efforts made since 2006” in reference to the actions taken by Morocco in the elaboration, the promotion and presentation of the Moroccan initiative.
- After four rounds of negotiation, held in Manhasset, pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions 1754 and 1783, respectively in June and August 2007 as well as in January and March 2008, the Secretary-General recommended in his report S/2008/251 issued on 14 April 2008 that there should be intensive and substantive negotiations with a sense of realism and a spirit of compromise.
- This report also underlines that the Personal Envoy would “brief the parties as well as the Security Council on the way forward”, which would clearly be consistent with the assessment of the situation that the Personal Envoy will make at a later stage.
- In his briefing to the Security Council on April 21st 2008, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary General, M. Peter Van Walsum, underlined that “the independence of the Sahara is not a realistic option”.
- This conclusion is the result of the sound assessment of the Personal Envoy based upon numerous visits to the region, talks with all concerned parties as well as consultations with other members of the international community involved or interested in this regional dispute.
35. In resolution 1813, the Security Council while reaffirming its strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, calls upon the parties to engage in substantive negotiations and underlines that realism and spirit of compromise by the parties are essential to maintain the momentum of the process of negotiations.
36. From his part, the Secretary General in his report to the 63rd session of the General Assembly (A/63/131 dated 15th July 2008), the Secretary General “concurred with his Personnel Envoy that the momentum could only be maintained by trying to find a way out of the current political impasse to realism and a spirit of compromise from the parties”.
37. On the other hand, Algeria and the Polisario have multiplied their public and violent attacks against the person and mandate of Mr. Van Walsum. This attitude is reminiscent of that adopted against Mr. De Soto in 2004. Over and beyond the hostility displayed towards the most recent Personal Envoys, Algeria is confirming its opposition to any prospect for the political solution that is sought by the international community.
38. Even though they first welcomed the adoption of resolution 1813 that in fact endorsed the approach based on realism and the spirit of compromise (op. para. 2), Algeria and the Polisario quickly made the person of the Personal Envoy the target of their increasingly violent attacks culminating in the proclamation of breakdown and the rejection of his mediation.
39. The General Assembly, for its part, has adopted the resolution 63/105, on December 5th, 2008, which buries sterile and backward-looking approaches, whose inapplicability has been established by the United Nations, and consecrates the multisided referential and diverse forms of principle of self-determination. This Resolution also reinforces the centrality of negotiations in order to reach a mutually acceptable solution, engaged by resolutions 1754, 1783 and, 1813 of the Security Council, and seals the cohesion between the Security Council and the General Assembly with regard to the Sahara issue.
40. After the end of Mr. Van Walsum’s mandate, the Secretary General of the United Nations appointed, on January 6th 2009, Mr. Christopher Ross as the new Personal Envoy, with the mandate to work with the parties and neighboring states on the basis of resolution 1813 and previous resolutions, and by taking into account the progress made so far towards reaching a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Sahara issue.
41. His first visit to Morocco and to the region from 18 to 24 February 2009, was the occasion for him to get in touch with the parties, to hear their views on the next phase of negotiations, and to study the conditions for the preparation of a fifth round.
42. Morocco has reaffirmed to the Personal Envoy, its commitment to implement the contents of Resolution 1813, under the continuation of the work done by Mr. Van Walsum, and to enter a phase of intense and substantive negotiations on the basis of the Moroccan autonomy initiative.
43. The report of the UN Secretary-General on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara (S/2009/200 of 13 April 2009) reaffirmed the primacy of resolution 1813 and the need for the parties to enter into substantive negotiations, while stressing on the importance of good preparation for the next round of negotiations through the holding of one or several small preparatory meetings in this regard.
44. The Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 1871 on 30 April 2009, reaffirming and reinforcing the Council's support to all the provisions of resolution 1813 of April 2008, thus consolidating the fundamental and indispensable reference defined by the United Nations to achieve a political and final solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.
In addition, this new text retains all the provisions of resolution 1813, and, therefore, put the United Nations and the efforts of the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on the path of continuity, refusing a step backwards, as it has been advocated by the other parties, and consolidates further the ongoing process since April 2007 thanks to the Moroccan autonomy Initiative.
It also confirmed the centrality of the negotiation process and refused to give in to political blackmail, shameless practices of harassment and instrumentalisation that accompany it, and to attempts to avoid the fundamental track of negotiation.
45. After the 2nd visit of Mr. Ross to the region from 25 to 30 June 2009, Morocco has stressed on the strong commitment of the Moroccan Government to facilitate the mission of the UN Envoy, including the participation in the informal meetings called for by M. Ross as part of its pragmatic approach with a view to holding the 5th round of the negotiations.
46. Morocco has expressed the wish for a positive and effective participation of all parties in order to ensure adequate preparation for the 5th round of negotiations recommended by the Security Council’s resolutions, particularly resolution 1871.
47. In this context, Morocco took part in the first informal talks held in Vienna, from 9 till 11 of August 2009, under the auspices of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary General, in implementation of the Security Council resolution 1871. These talks were a new occasion for Morocco to re-introduce the content, the scope and the philosophy of the Moroccan Initiative, as a compromise solution to end the artificial dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.
48. The other parties, namely Algeria and polisario stood at their obsolete positions, presenting options and solutions which inapplicability were proved and verified.
49. The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted by consensus, on December 10, 2009, the resolution 64/101 on the Sahara issue, which supports the ongoing process of negotiation and emphasizes the responsibility of the parties and States of the region to cooperate fully with the Secretary General and his Personal Envoy and with each other to contribute to progress toward a compromise political solution to the dispute on the Regional Sahara.
Like the four resolutions of the Security Council (1754, 1783, 1813 et 1871), this resolution reinforces the negotiation as the unique mean to reach a political and mutually acceptable solution to the Sahara issue, and excludes the reference to the referendum as a tool to ensure the right to self-determination and settlement of the issue of the Moroccan Sahara.
50. The second informal talks on the Sahara, held on February 10-11 in Armonk (New York), in application of Security Council resolution 1871, provided an opportunity for Morocco to demonstrate the purpose, justness and full conformity of its autonomy initiative with the international legality, as well as with the spirit and the letter of the UN Security Council resolutions. Morocco expressed its willingness to negotiate a realistic solution on the basis of its autonomy Initiative, whose primacy was explicitly underlined by the Security Council.
Furthermore, Morocco showed the out-dated reference of the so-called proposal of the other parties, its obsolete content and its biased interpretation of the principle of self-determination, as well as the inapplicability of the referendum with extreme options.
51. The positions of the other parties, Algeria and polisario, remained frozen, advocating extremist options for the settlement of the Sahara issue, compromising, thus, the efforts of the United Nations to reach a political and lasting solution to this conflict.
III- The recent developments during 2010:
52. The report of the UN Secretary General S/2010/75 dated April 6th, 2010, reconfirmed the need for the parties to show the political will required to enter into substantive discussions and ensure the success of the negotiations. Furthermore, the report urges that appropriate attention should be paid to the issues of conducting a census of refugees and implementing a program of individual interviews.
53. Resolution 1920, adopted unanimously by the Security Council on April 30th, 2010, confirms and consolidates the new guidelines and the important parameters set by the recent Security Council resolutions, which should govern the pursuit of the political process, and guide the work of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary General to achieve a political solution.
54. In addition, it reinforces the determination of the international community to preserve and strengthen the positive dynamic, initiated by the submission of the Moroccan autonomy initiative. It reiterates, also, the appreciation of the serious and credible efforts of Morocco to end the impasse, calling for intensive and substantial negotiations, based on realism and spirit of compromise, taking into account the efforts since 2006.
This resolution considers that the consolidation of the status quo is not acceptable in the long term and emphasizes the need to make progress. It calls upon the parties and the States of the Region to cooperate more fully with the UN and with each other to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution. It also calls upon the parties to continue to show political will so as to move ahead in negotiations, taking into account the pre-eminence of the Moroccan autonomy initiative, through its rich and substantial content, its strategic vision, its compliance with international law, its democratic and open criteria’s, and its philosophy that goes along the logic of compromise and the "third way".
55. The Fourth Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted by consensus, on October 11th, 2010, the resolution on the Sahara issue A/C.4/65/L.5, which supports the ongoing process of negotiation and emphasizes the responsibility of the parties and States of the region to cooperate fully with the Secretary General and his Personal Envoy and with each other to contribute to progress towards a political solution to the regional dispute on the Moroccan Sahara
56. Under the auspices of the Personnel Envoy of the UN Secretary General, the parties the 3rd informal meeting was held on November, 8th and 9th 2010, in Manhasett (New York), in application of Security Council resolution 1920. During this meeting, Morocco underlined the necessity to give a new impetus to the negotiations, on the basis of a new methodology, so as to overcome the deadlock. This proposal was accepted by the Personnel Envoy, Ambassador Christopher Ross.
During this meeting, Morocco reiterated his readiness to engage in a more substantial and intensive negotiations, according to the parameters defined by the Security Council resolutions, and in particular on the basis of the Moroccan autonomy initiative described by the international community as serious and credible. Morocco expressed its willingness to negotiate a realistic and feasible solution on the basis of its autonomy Initiative, whose primacy was explicitly underlined by the Security Council. Furthermore, Morocco reaffirmed that the so-called proposals of the other parties are obsolete and reiterated the inapplicability of the referendum with extreme options.
57. In pursuit of this process of negotiations, the fourth informal meeting, held under the auspices of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, in Manhasett on 16, 17 and 18 of December 2010, was an opportunity for the Moroccan delegation to present a number of initiatives and proposals to give a further chance for negotiation, accelerate and improve its relevance and vision. It was also an opportunity to discuss the need to no longer restrict tours of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Sahara, to preparation of rounds of negotiation, but to enroll in a dynamic to listen to those who can facilitate the process in the region, towards reaching a settlement serving the interests of the Arab Maghreb.
The Moroccan delegation expressed the strong will of Morocco to reach a final solution to the Sahara issue on the basis of realism and the Moroccan autonomy initiative welcomed by the entire international community, stressing that the autonomy plan represents a real opportunity for all peoples of the region.
58. During the 5th informal meeting, held from the 21st to the 23rd January 2011, in Green tree, Long Island, USA, the Kingdom has presented numerous and concrete ideas, so as to accelerate the rhythm of negotiations around the Sahara dispute. The Kingdom has proposed to diversify the mission of the Personal Envoy, to extend the negotiation to the representatives of the local population and to examine the real state of the natural resources of the region and the positive way to manage it for the benefit of the local population.
The Kingdom has reaffirmed its availability to come up with a political solution to the regional dispute, based on the Moroccan Initiative for Autonomy.
59. During the 6th informal meeting, held the 7th, 8th and 9th March 2011 in Malta, the Kingdom showed its full acceptance to the Personal Envoy initiative aiming to explore new approaches and to discuss new themes. It was also the occasion for the Moroccan delegation to highlight the relevance and the reasonableness of the Moroccan Initiative for Autonomy, as it was confirmed by the Security Council. The meeting was also the occasion for the Kingdom to highlight the limits of the polisario’s proposition, based on obsolete thesis and inapplicable contents.
On the other hand, the Kingdom has also expressed its astonishment towards the refusal of the other parties to talk about the question of the human rights, initially insistently introduced by the polisario. This has proven that the question of Human Rights is a media oriented maneuver aiming at disturbing the whole process of negotiation.
60. The Security Council adopted unanimously on April 27th 2011, the Resolution 1979 on the Sahara, encouraging the efforts made by the Kingdom, through its Initiative for Autonomy Plan and actions conducted by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, aiming at protecting and promoting human rights at the regional and national levels.
The Council recalls the Initiative for Autonomy Plan supremacy, the serious and credible efforts made by Morocco and the necessity to conduct serious negotiations based on spirit of compromise and realism, which is the only possible settlement for the dispute over the Sahara.
The Resolution encourages Morocco’s propositions that lie within the innovative approach for the negotiations processes, through a better contribution of the legitimate local population’s representatives in the settlement of the dispute and the setting up of thematic debates on governance, enabling thereby Morocco to assert the total conformity with international law of the Moroccan Initiative for Autonomy Plan.
The Resolution highlights parties’ responsibility in the actual political deadlock and in the dramatic humanitarian situation prevailing in Tindouf camps in Algeria.
Concerning human rights, the Resolution does not refer to an international monitoring mechanism of human rights, congratulates the efforts expanded by Morocco in that field and, in so doing, rejects other parties’ attempts to discredit the achievements and the reforms announced through His Majesty speech, concerning the establishment of the National Council for Human Rights and the Ombudsman Institution.
On the other hand, the Council congratulates the Kingdom’s will to keep on interacting positively with the UN Human Rights Council, through the newest Inter ministerial Delegation for human rights.
For the first time, the Security Council calls the UN HCR to register the population in the Tindouf camps in order to ensure its international protection and to take into account their political will, through individual interviews.
61. The Security Council Resolution, 1979, was the centre of the 7th informal talks, held in Manhasset the 6th , the 7th and the 8th of June 2011, and is considered as a framework of orientation for the coming negotiations.
These negotiations were the occasion for the Kingdom to recall, through the adoption of this resolution, the supremacy of the Moroccan initiative for autonomy as a basis for negotiation, and the Security Council calls to Algeria to enable the population census in Tindouf camps, in accordance with its international obligations, as a state party of the Convention of 1951on refugees.
The Kingdom called the neighbouring states and to Algeria to engage in intensive negotiations and to cooperate with Morocco to end the dispute over the Sahara, as highlighted in the Resolution.
On the human rights field, the international community recognized the substantial efforts made the Kingdom, where as the other parties’ commitment to respect and protect the human rights, in particular in Tindouf camps in Algeria, remains uncertain.
With regard the innovative approach for the negotiation process, the Kingdom proposed the participation of the population legitimate’ representatives in the quest for a political solution and in the governance, in conformity with the Moroccan Initiative for autonomy.
The Kingdom also insisted on the fact that the legitimacy of the representation derives from the holding of a free, regular and fair elections, as it is the case in Morocco, refuting thereby polisario’s claim as a legitimate representative of the local population.
62. During the 8th informal talks, which were held in Manhasset from the 19th to 21st of July 2011, Morocco highlighted the accuracy of the United Nations’ innovative approach that can help evolve the current situation through a full involvement of the population legitimate representatives.
Morocco disclosed the status quo installed by the other parties and reiterates its call to the international community and to Algeria, as a country host of the refugees, to apply the international humanitarian law, in particular the organization and the registration of the population living in the Tindouf camps in Algeria.
Morocco has denounced polisario’s refusal to engage talks on the human rights question, that it claimed and that Morocco accepted, with its strong legal framework in the field of the human rights.
In the meantime, Morocco insisted on the necessity to conduct the next informal talks with the participation of the local population legitimate representatives, in order to contribute to a final settlement.
These talks were the occasion for Morocco to highlight the evolvement of its position through the Moroccan initiative for autonomy and to recall its legitimacy and its conformity with the international law, as highlighted by the Security Council.
63. On October 10th, 2011, the 4th Committee of the General Assembly adopted a draft resolution on the Sahara issue (A/C.4/66/L.5), welcoming the process of negotiations and encouraging a mutually acceptable political solution to the dispute
The resolution also calls upon the parties and the states of the region to cooperate fully with the Secretary General and its personal Envoy to find a political solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.
64. Regarding the humanitarian dimension, Morocco has participated in several meetings and initiatives for the sole purpose of alleviating the suffering of the Tindouf camps populations in Algeria. In this context, it should be noted that the family visit program has been strengthened and continued without interruption, despite attempts to politicize this humanitarian activity by other parties.
In the same context, a seminar on the Hassani culture was organized under the aegis of the UNHCR in Madeira (Portugal) in September 2011.
The parties held under the auspices of UNHCR and in the presence of the Personal Envoy, the second review meeting on implementation of confidence-building measures in Geneva on 24 and 25 January in 2012. During this meeting, Morocco contributed positively to the adoption of new measures, including increasing the number of beneficiaries of the family visits program by air, by using larger aircraft. The parties have agreed to hold two new seminars and adopted a new action plan on CBM.
65. During the ninth round of informal talks held in Manhasset from March 11 to 13, 2012, Morocco reiterated its strong commitment to contribute effectively to an innovative solution that goes beyond the classical methods to end the current deadlock on the Sahara issue, expressing its regret that the other parties are sticking to their position, especially regarding the identification and the registration of the Tindouf camps population.
Morocco recalled also that the autonomy initiative is a courageous initiative developed in response to calls of the Security Council of the UN for a political, negotiated and mutually acceptable solution. This initiative is open to discussion and negotiation.
In addition, Morocco has reported that the ninth round of informal talks took place in a context marked by the positive changes due to "Arab Spring", and the new dynamic in the relations between the Maghreb countries. The Moroccan delegation noted, in this respect, that this new regional order requires all parties to change their perception and adopt a constructive new approach.
66. The Security Council resolution 2044 (2012) unanimously adopted April 24, 2012, consolidated the parameters set by the Council to reach a final political solution to the regional dispute over the Sahara. It has reinforced the process of negotiations as single-track dispute resolution and enhanced innovative approaches.
The preeminence of the Moroccan autonomy initiative was reaffirmed along with the cardinal principles of realism and a spirit of compromise as a means of achieving a political solution advocated by the Council.
Similarly, the resolution reaffirmed the determination of the international community to promote responsible and sincere commitment of all parties in intensive and substantive phase of negotiations and avoid blocking strategies.
Despite repeated attempts to instrumentalize the issue of human rights in the Moroccan Sahara, the Security Council welcomed the measures taken by Morocco, in the process of deepening political reforms in the Kingdom.
Hence, the Council welcomed the operationalization of the two regional offices of National Human Rights Council in Lâayoune and Dakhla, and the positive interaction with special procedures of the Human Rights Council.
The Security Council reiterated, for the second time, his appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to proceed in accordance with its mandate and practice, to the identification of the Tindouf camps, in consultation with Algeria as the host country. This operation is no longer just a moral or legal responsibility, it is a political obligation confirmed by the Security Council.
67. Morocco, while considering that the question of Sahara is currently going through an important stage, has undertaken a global assessment of the last developments which gave to the following three conclusions:
- The stalemate of the negotiations process after the nine rounds of informal negotiations without any perspective of progress;
- The unacceptable lapses in the last report of the Secretary General which are considered as unfair to Morocco;
- The acts, statements and initiatives of the personal envoy and his unbalanced and partial course of action which are contrary to the mission he was entrusted with by the SG of the UN in his nomination letter dated January 2009, and in violation of the parameters defined by the Security Council of the United Nations,
68. Morocco shared this assessment with the SG of the UN and requested him to take the necessary measures in this regard,
69. On 15 June 2012, the SG of the UN appointed Mr. Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber (Germany) as the new Special and head of the MINURSO in replacement of Mr. Hany Abdel-Aziz whose term ended in April 2012.
70. Morocco took part to the 3rd meeting of the CBMs evaluation program conducted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) between the populations of the provinces of the south and their families in Tindouf camps in Algeria, on 19 through 20 September, in Geneva with the participation of delegations from Algeria, Mauritania and polisario.
The meeting focused mainly on the assessment of the family visits by plane and to the nonpolitical seminars organized in the framework of the CBMs. Implemented under the auspices of the UNHCR humanitarian protection global mandate and in conformity to the relevant international conventions, practices and decisions of the High Commissioner for Refugees.
71- The Personal Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations for the Moroccan Sahara, Mr.Christopher Ross, visited Morocco on 27 October, 2012.
This visit is part of the efforts being made to relaunch the political process with a view to finding out a political, definitive and consensual solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.
72- The visit followed also the telephone conversation of 25 August 2012, between His Majesty King Mohammed VI, May God Assist Him, and Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, which was the occasion to insist on the necessity to realize a progress in the settlement process on solid and sound basis, to abide by the clear parameters contained in the UN Security Council resolutions, in particular, realism and compromise spirit and the recognition of the serious and credible nature of the efforts made by Morocco in the framework of the autonomy initiative.
73- On 28th November 2012, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General in charge of the Sahara, presented to the Security Council his report which came in conformity with SC resolution 2044 (2012). The report also followed the phone conversation, dated 25 August 2012, of His Majesty the King, may God Assists Him with the UN Secretary General and the regional visit of the Personnel Invoice of the UN SG in charge of the Sahara, M.Ross which covered Morocco (Rabat and provinces of the South), Algeria (Algiers, Tindouf camps), Mauritania, Spain and France;
74-The report confirms Morocco's position with regard the negotiation process including:
- The stalemate in the negotiations and the need to give a new dynamic through a new approach while focusing on key parameters set by the Security Council for the visibility for this process
- The need for a differentiation between the political, military, humanitarian and human rights aspects, while stating that it is the political aspect that is solely the responsibility of the Special Envoy;
- The role and responsibility of Algeria to find out a solution to this artificial regional dispute and the need to normalize relations between Algeria and Morocco to progress in the negotiations;
- Security threats and developments in the region impose a new approach based on greater coordination between Morocco and Algeria to counter threats including security in the camps of Tindouf.
75-The report has received positive feedback from some members of the Security Council who reiterated their support to the process of negotiations for a political solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara while emphasizing the realism and seriousness of the Moroccan initiative of autonomy as a basis for the settlement of this dispute. They also welcomed Morocco's efforts in strengthening human rights through national mechanisms and positive interaction with the relevant measures of the Council of Human Rights. They also reiterated the need to give the possibility to the High Commissioner for Refugees to carry out population census of Tindouf.
76- The Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara, Mr. Christopher Ross, paid a visit to Morocco from 20 to 24 March 2013 as part of a regional tour including Algeria (Algiers and Tindouf camps), Mauritania and Spain. The aim of the visit was to relaunch the process of negotiations on clear foundations such as defined by the UN Security Council resolutions, in order to reach a negotiated political and mutually acceptable solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara. The visit comes in a special context, marked by the recent security developments in the Sahel region and the various calls aimed at finding a political solution to the dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.
During his visit to Rabat, the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara had meetings with the Chief of the Government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the two Presidents of the Houses of Representatives and Counselors, officials from the National Council for Human Rights, the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Issues, and the Economic, Social and Environmental Council as well as with representatives from the Civil Society and Moroccan ONGs.
The different Moroccan officials reiterated Morocco's willingness to facilitate the resumption of the negotiation process in order to achieve a political solution to this regional dispute, which would permit the return of Sahraoui families to their homeland and the edification of the Maghreb. They also underlined the security threats posed by terrorist groups in the region and the need to address them, while stressing the importance of the normalization of the relations between Morocco and Algeria.
Mr. Ross also had talks with the local authorities in Lâayoune and Dakhla as well as with the representatives of the civil society and NGOs.
78- On April 25th 2013, the Security Council adopted unanimously resolution 2099 which comes as a continuation of previous resolutions adopted since 2007 by:
- Confirming, once again, the pre-eminence of the autonomy initiative presented by Morocco and the parameters for a final political settlement based on realism and compromise ;
- Requesting the parties to invest, in good faith, in the negotiation process while taking into account efforts made by Morocco since 2006;
- Calling up on Algeria to invest, in a constructive manner, in the quest of a political solution to this regional conflict, through a direct and precise call made to neighbouring States to be more resolutely involved, in order to end the present deadlock and move forward to a final political solution;
- Recognizing explicitly that the dispute settlement, combined with cooperation between the UMA Member-States, will contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region;
- Comforting the Moroccan position and underlying the request for a census of the Tindouf camps population, and encouraging, for the first time, efforts made to this end.
Despite the other parties’ attempts to exploit human rights issues to achieve political ends, the resolution confirms that the MINURSO mandate and activities will be maintained in their current state, and does not stipulate any mechanism implying directly or indirectly, any sort of international human rights monitoring. On the contrary, it recognizes and hails the stages covered by Morocco in the consolidation of the National human rights council as well as the Kingdom’s voluntary interaction with special procedures stemming from the Human rights Council.
79- The 68th session of the UN General Assembly adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution (A/C.4/68/L.5) that supports the negotiation process in order to achieve a just, lasting political and mutually acceptable solution and welcomes the commitment of the parties to continue to show the political will continuously shown and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to enter, in good faith and without preconditions, in a more intensive negotiations phase taking into account efforts made and developments since 2006.
80- The Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara, Mr. Christopher Ross undertook a visit to Morocco on 14 to 18 October 2013. This visit is part of efforts to revitalize the political process aimed at reaching a final and consensual political solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara. It comes as well as part of a tour in the camps of Tindouf, Mauritania and Algeria.
During this visit, Dr. Ross held a meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr.Abdelilah Benkirane, as well as with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Salahddine Mezouar in the presence of the Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mrs. Mbarka Bouaida, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Hassad, the President of the House of Counselors, Mr.Biadillah and the President the House of Representatives, M.Ghellab. During this visit, the UN official also met, Mr.Christopher Ross also held talks with representatives of political parties and the civil society as well as with local officials in the southern provinces
Discussions with the UN official focused on ways and means to lay the proper foundation for a resumption of negotiations between the parties. Moroccan officials reaffirmed their commitment to the autonomy plan in the southern provinces proposed by Morocco, as «the only way «to solve the artificial dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.
81- On April 29, 2014, the Security Council adopted, by the unanimity of its members, the resolution on RES/2152/2014 on the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara which confirms strongly and without any ambiguity, the line of work that was his, in recent years.
His Majesty the King Mohammed VI had, during a telephone conversation with the Secretary General of the United Nations, underlined the need to preserve the parameters of the negotiation as defined by the Security Council, to maintain the current procedures for the involvement of the United Nations.
The UN resolution RES/2152/2014:
- Preserves the framework and the facilitation parameters conducted by the United Nations to put an end to this regional dispute. Indeed, the Security Council underlines the centrality of negotiation as the only way of resolving this dispute, and reaffirms the primacy of the autonomy initiative presented by Morocco, whose efforts for its development have been qualified as " serious and credible ", and further calls for negotiations on the basis of " realism and a spirit of compromise " to reach a final political solution to this regional dispute.
- Stresses, particularly, on the regional dimension of the dispute and calls Algeria:
- To get involved, constructively and directly in the process of finding a political solution, since it requests it, anew, to cooperate fully with the United Nations and with one another, and to engage more decisively to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution;
- Regarding the responsibilities of Algeria on "the unprecedented human and humanitarian situation in the camps of Tindouf ," the resolution requests again that the registration of refugees in Tindouf camps be considered, and encourages making efforts in this regard;
- To strengthen regional cooperation, since the Council has recognized, anew, that the political solution to this long-standing dispute and the strengthening of the cooperation between the Member States of the Maghreb Arab Union, would contribute to the stability and security in the Sahel region.
- Highlights the actions of Morocco in the consolidation of the promotion and protection of human rights, while welcoming the recent measures and initiatives taken by Morocco to enhance the Committees of the CNDH in Dakhla and Lâayoune, and the current interaction of the Kingdom with the special procedures of the Human Rights Council.
82- Morocco remains committed with seriousness and good faith to the initiatives and efforts of the UN aimed at overcoming the deadlock and ending the current situation, in order to reach a realistic, definitive and mutually accepted political solution on the basis of the Moroccan initiative and in total respect of the sovereignty and integrity of the Kingdom.
SOURCE : Internal note of morocca foreign affairs ministry