27 November 2012

Morocco: Polisario Front Expresses Its Willingness for Intensifying and Accelerating Negotiations With Morocco At Highest Level


The Representative of the Polisario Front to the United Nations, Ahmed Boukhari, expressed on Tuesday,the willingness of the Polisario Front to "consider approaches for intensifying and accelerating talks at the highest level by including a clear timetable and deadline for the holding of a referendum, as required by international law" according to a message sent to the current president of the Security Council of the United Nations ambassador,Hardeep Singh Puri.

Here is the full context of the message which a copy reached SPS

H.E. Hardeep Singh Puri

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations

President of the Security Council

26 November 2012

Mr. President,

I have the honour to refer to upcoming consultations of the Security Council on the situation in Western Sahara.

In recent months, the members of the Security Council have repeatedly voiced their support for political transitions reflecting democratic principles and respect for human rights in the Middle East and North Africa region. These events have demonstrated that any solution to the conflict in Western Sahara must reflect the will of its people if it is to be credible, sustainable, and foster peace, security and regional integration in the long term. It is essential that the Security Council now take decisive steps to reinvigorate and drive the negotiation process to a prompt conclusion that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

It is worth recalling that this week's consultations follow months of unfortunate delay in the peace process forced by an unprecedented Moroccan campaign to undermine the United Nations and its efforts to resolve the conflict. As set out in detail in my President's letter of 25 May 2012 to the Presidency of the Security Council, this campaign was particularly evident in Morocco's announcement in May 2012 that it no longer wished to cooperate with the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General (PESG), Ambassador Christopher Ross

Morocco's actions have contradicted its own vote in favour of the UN Security Council Resolution 2044, which explicitly affirmed the Council's support for PESG Ross's work to facilitate negotiations between the parties, and had the unfortunate result of indefinitely postponing two rounds of informal talks scheduled for June and July 2012, and a scheduled visit by PESG Ross to Western Sahara and the region in May

In its Resolutions 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011) and 2044 (2012), the Council recognized that "consolidation of the status quo in Western Sahara is unacceptable," and called for "an intensified pace of meetings and strengthening of contacts" between the Parties. Despite Morocco's unconstructive and disruptive manner, and following on from the PESG's first-ever visit to Western Sahara and his meetings in regional and European capitals, the upcoming Council consultations are an opportunity to break with the past twenty-one years of delay and obstruction, and to reverse the international failure by moving quickly and decisively to organize the referendum that will, once and for all, allow the Saharawi people to choose their own political future

As confirmed by the International Court Justice in 1975 and all relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, there are no facts, legal or otherwise, which affect the inalienable right of the people of the Non-Self Governing Territory of Western Sahara to a process of self-determination, which constitutes the free and genuine expression of their political will.

At this critical juncture, the POLISARIO wishes to confirm its willingness to consider approaches for intensifying and accelerating talks at the highest level. Such an approach would be strengthened by including a clear timetable and deadline for the holding of a referendum, as required by international law and contemplated by the parties' respective proposals of April 2007. As the Secretary-General himself noted in his 2011 report on the situation in Western Sahara (UN Doc. S/2011/249), "it is clear that arrival at a final status on which this population has not clearly and convincingly expressed its view is likely to engender new tensions in Western Sahara and the region

We also look to the UN Security Council to consider and address in detail the challenges confronting MINURSO, as described in the Secretary-General's most recent report on the situation in Western Sahara (UN Doc. S/2012/197). The gradual undermining of the credibility and impartiality of the UN Mission, and its drift from its core mandate, is unacceptable. The POLISARIO is committed to working closely with the United Nations in its efforts to improve the quality of life of the people of Western Sahara, in accordance with the UN's Charter obligations to protect and ensure the wellbeing of the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara

It remains a significant stain on the credibility of the Security Council and the UN system more broadly that MINURSO continues to be the only peacekeeping operation established since 1978 that operates without a human rights capacity. Indeed, the UN's own 'UN Peacekeeping Operations: Principles and Guidelines' provides that the UN's "operations should be conducted in full respect of human rights and should seek to advance human rights through the implementation of their mandates

The current reliance of Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council is grossly insufficient. There have been only two visits by Special Procedures to Western Sahara for a total of just 36 hours in the past 18 months since the adoption of UNSCR 1979. Ad-hoc and thematically-focused visits subject to Moroccan veto cannot provide a regular and overarching picture of the overall situation in the Territory. This was most recently demonstrated by Morocco's refusal in October this year to admit a human rights monitoring mission by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights.

The Frente Polisario continues to believe that only a permanent, in situ and expert human rights monitoring capacity within MINURSO would allow for quick response to emerging situations on the ground, and facilitate direct reporting to the UN membership consistent with the UN's obligations under the UN Charter and successive Security Council resolutions to establish the conditions for a referendum of the people of Western Sahara

In this connection and as a demonstration of its own good faith and commitment to human rights, the Frente POLISARIO has recently communicated to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, its readiness to allow UN human rights officers to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the Tindouf refugee camps

The Frente POLISARIO also wishes to draw attention to the ongoing illegal exploration and exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara. In particular, we would like to express our most serious concern at efforts by the European Union and Morocco to renew arrangements under their 2005 Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) to the extent that such arrangements purport to apply to the waters adjacent to the coast of Western Sahara. Similar arrangements were rejected by the European Parliament in a vote on 14 December 2011 due to concerns that the proposed Protocol violated international law, as reflected in the finding by the UN Legal Counsel in 2002 that activities related to the natural resources of Western Sahara must not proceed in "disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara." (UN Doc. S/2002/161). We call upon Morocco and all foreign entities to halt the unlawful exploitation of Western Sahara's resources and desist from entering into any agreements that would violate the Saharawi people's permanent sovereignty over their natural resources

Finally, the Frente POLISARIO would like to reiterate its commitment to promoting peaceful relations and stability in the Maghreb region. In this regard, the worsening security situation in the Sahel and the political instability in Mali constitute a source of serious concern. The Frente POLISARIO confirms its support for the efforts of the international community, including through the UN and the African Union, to re-establish peace and stability in Mali. At the same time, we note that these emerging concerns again reinforce the need for the UN to do its utmost to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, which continues to constitute a fundamental obstacle to greater cooperation and stability in the region

In conclusion, Mr. President, I wish to confirm the availability of the Frente POLISARIO to address the Security Council during its upcoming consultations

I would be most grateful if you would circulate this letter to the members of the Security Council

Please accept, your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration

Ahmed Boukhari, Representative of the Frente POLISARIO to the United Nations.

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