5 December 2018

Africa: First Western Sahara Talks At UN in Six Years, Begin in Geneva

Photo: Martine Perret/UN Photo
Peacekeepers with the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) consult a map as they drive through vast desert areas in Smara, Western Sahara.

Talks have begun at the UN on the future of Western Sahara - the first in years - the Organization announced on Wednesday.

In 1991, the UN helped bring an end to fighting in the territory, before setting up a peacekeeping mission there: the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Delegations from Morocco, the Frente POLISARIO, Algeria and Mauritania are present at the roundtable meeting in Geneva.

It will involve two days of talks that have been convened by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, former President Horst Köhler of Germany, the UN confirmed in a statement.

"The meeting is the first of its kind in six years and takes place in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2440 as a first step towards a renewed negotiations process with the aim of reaching a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara," the communiqué said.

In adopting Resolution 2440, the UN Security Council called on the parties to the dispute over the territory "to engage constructively" in talks, according to a Council statement published on 31 October.

Parties should "demonstrate political will in order to advance the negotiations", Council Members said at the time, while also emphasizing the importance of an "enduring political solution based on compromise and the need to provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in a manner consistent with the Charter of the United Nations".

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