Mr. President, Honourable Representatives of the UN Member States
On behalf of the Frente POLISARIO, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to address this important Committee on Decolonisation.
A part of my country, Western Sahara, remains under the illegal occupation of Morocco since 1975.
The Saharawi people have been undertaking a legitimate struggle for their freedom against the occupation and oppression of the occupying power while having full faith in the UN responsibility for eradicating colonialism in all its forms. In 1991, after a protracted war of 16 years, the international community persuaded Morocco to accept the holding of a referendum on self-determination which includes the option of independence. To this end, different peace plans were elaborated such as the Settlement Plan of 1991, the Houston Accords of 1997 and the Baker Plan of 2003. All were approved by the Security Council and accepted by the Frente POLISARIO.
Morocco’s obstruction to the first two plans and rejection to the last one coupled with its persistent policy of violating human rights in the occupied Territory are elements that have caused and continue to cause great damage to the prospects of peace and the UN credibility.
Following its rejection of Baker Plan in 2004, Morocco now is trying to implicate the UN in a process aimed at legitimising its illegal occupation of our country. Its proposal of autonomy for Western Sahara within the framework of what it unilaterally calls “Morocco’s sovereignty” implies, from the outset, the precondition of considering the territory as an integral part of Morocco. This precondition is contradicted by the facts and by international law.
Morocco has no sovereignty over Western Sahara and is not even its legal administering power. Western Sahara is a Non-Self-Governing Territory in the list of the Committee of 24 that is under an illegal occupation. Therefore, its future cannot be decided by the occupying power but by the people of the Territory in conformity with the UN doctrine with regard to decolonisation.
It is on this basis, and with the aim of overcoming the stalemate, that the Frente POLISARIO presented to the UN Secretary-General, on 10 April 2007, a proposal of a just and lasting political solution that provides for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination (see annex). This proposal, of which the Security Council has taken note, is predicated fundamentally on two pillars:
First, it stresses the inescapable need for a referendum on self-determination that includes the options already agreed on by the two parties and endorsed by the United Nations, namely independence, integration, or autonomy for the Territory. Morocco’s proposal has been thus taking into account. The cases of East Timor and Tokelau proved that all options are possible provided that the peoples of the territories under a decolonization process are given the chance to freely decide their future. Why Morocco is allergic to this democratic exercise?
Second, with the prospect of the independence of Western Sahara as a result of this referendum, the Frente POLISARIO will offer Morocco the valuable opportunity to negotiate today the bases for establishing strategic relations between the two countries in security, economic, social and commercial domains.
On 30 April 2007, the Security Council adopted resolution 1754 (2007) in which it called upon both parties “to enter into negotiations without preconditions in good faith with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara” (OP 2). It took note of the two proposals, which are equal in value. There is no proposal of first class and one of economic class.
In the context of this resolution, high level delegations of the Frente POLISARIO and of the Government of Morocco held two rounds of negotiations, under the UN Secretary-General’s auspices, in Manhasset in June and August. A third round is expected to take place by the end of this year.
The Frente POLISARIO has fully cooperated with the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Mr. Van Walsum, in the setting in motion and the continuation of the negotiating process. We have already responded positively to his proposals regarding the location, time, and agenda of the third round. We would like these negotiations to achieve success, a success that is predicated on the respect for certain fundamental principles and benchmarks that are laid down by the General assembly for more than 40 years and reaffirmed in the Security Council resolution 1754 on Western Sahara.
First, we are dealing with a decolonisation question in the agenda of this Committee. Consequently, the full meaning and scope of the right to self-determination should be respected and priceless efforts were made in this direction. However, Morocco decided to undermine all UN peace plans based on this principle, including those which were accepted by Morocco itself. Encouraged by this and by an ostensible degree of impunity, it has, these last years, directed its efforts to try to weaken the role and responsibilities of the UNGA toward a question of decolonization by using, and abusing of, its own notion of consensus. What is disturbing in all this is the fact that Morocco has clearly shown that it had not had and has no intention today to comply with any UN resolution adopted by this Assembly or by the Council aimed at assuring the decolonization of Western Sahara. The passing of thirty two years proved this.
Second, the direct negotiations between the two parties should be carried out in good faith. However, we witnessed in Manhasset provocations and selective readings of the terms of the SC resolution 1754 which were reiterated yesterday before this committee. Third, the ultimate objective of this process is to ensure the exercise by the Saharawi people of their right to self-determination. In this exercise it will be the Saharawi people that will decide, in a free and sovereign manner, whether they want to be an independent nation, or whether they want the territory to be an integral part of, or autonomy within, the Kingdom of Morocco. This is the most democratic and legal way to go forward in the right direction.
We are still hopeful that the third round of negotiations would mark a qualitative development of the decolonization process as a whole, and that, this time, Morocco would come to it with good faith to implement what the international community has been calling for since the sixties, namely a free and fair referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.