25 July 2000


Press Release
SC/6894



SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE UNTIL 31 OCTOBER

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Resolution 1309 (2000) Adopted Unanimously

The Security Council this afternoon decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for a further three months until 31 October.

Unanimously adopting Security Council resolution 1309 (2000), it took that decision with the expectation that Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) would meet in direct talks under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy to try to resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan for Western Sahara and to try to agree upon a mutually acceptable political solution to their dispute over the territory.

Noting that fundamental differences between the parties over the implementation of the Settlement Plan remain to be resolved, and regretting the lack of progress when the parties met in London on 28 June, the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide an assessment of the situation before the end of the present mandate.

Today's meeting began at 2:02 p.m. and adjourned at 2:05 p.m.

Text of Resolution

The full text of resolution 1309 (2000), which was sponsored by France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States, reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Reaffirming all its previous resolutions on the Western Sahara, in particular resolutions 1108 (1997) of 22 May 1997, 1292 (2000) of 29 February 2000 and 1301 (2000) of 31 May 2000, and also its resolution 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000,

"Recalling the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel of 9 December 1994,

"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 12 July 2000 (S/2000/683) and the observations and recommendations contained therein, and expressing full support for the role and work of the Personal Envoy,


Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6894 4175th Meeting (PM) 25 July 2000

"Reiterating full support for the continued efforts exerted by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to implement the Settlement Plan and agreements adopted by the parties to hold a free, fair and impartial referendum for the self-determination of the people of the Western Sahara,

"Noting that fundamental differences between the parties over the interpretation of the main provisions of the Settlement Plan remain to be resolved,

"Regretting that there was no progress made during the meeting held in London on 28 June 2000 between the parties,

"1. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 31 October 2000, with the expectation that the parties will meet in direct talks under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy to try to resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan and to try to agree upon a mutually acceptable political solution to their dispute over Western Sahara;

"2. Requests the Secretary-General to provide an assessment of the situation before the end of the present mandate;

"3. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

Report of Secretary-General

When the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it the Secretary-General's report on the situation concerning Western Sahara (document S/2000/683) covering developments since his previous report to the Council dated 22 May 2000.

In the report, the Secretary-General recommends an extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for three months until 31 October, noting that despite the efforts of James Baker III, his Personal Envoy, there was no progress during a London meeting on 28 June between Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO). It was expected that the parties would offer specific and concrete proposals to resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan for Western Sahara and to explore all means to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution to the dispute over the territory.

The Secretary-General states that the Personal Envoy has pointed out that the meeting, instead of resolving the problems, had moved things backwards. After stating their respective positions, neither party appeared willing to offer any concrete proposals to bridge their differences. Both insisted on a winner-take- all approach and did not appear willing to discuss a solution where each would get some, but not all, of what each wanted. Nor did they appear disposed to put aside mutual animosity and begin to negotiate a political solution to their dispute.


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According to the report, the Personal Envoy explained to the parties that a political solution could be: a negotiated agreement for full integration with Morocco; a negotiated agreement for full independence; a negotiated agreement for something in between; or a negotiated agreement permitting a successful implementation of the Settlement Plan. However, the positions of the parties in interpreting key provisions of the Settlement Plan, and the problems encountered over the past nine years to achieve its implementation, do not augur well for that prospect.

The report says the Frente POLISARIO identified two areas of difficulty: the conduct of the appeals process and the repatriation of refugees. Regarding the appeals, it reiterated its willingness to cooperate with the United Nations to resolve all problems encountered in the implementation of the Settlement Plan and to examine any United Nations proposals aimed at launching the appeals process. Concerning refugees, the Frente POLISARIO reconfirmed its commitment to continue its cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in carrying out its mission.

Morocco identified four areas impeding implementation of the Settlement Plan, the report states. They include the conduct of the appeals process; the reversal of the identification results of some 7,000 applicants, which should be reinstated, in Morocco's view; the repatriation of Saharan refugees; and the issue of Saharans who had reached voting age after December 1993, but had not been included in the identification process. According to Morocco, those individuals should be identified, or at least permitted to lodge appeals, in order to allow all Saharans to participate in the referendum.

Despite the lack of progress in London, the Secretary-General expresses the hope that some progress can be achieved during the forthcoming expert-level meetings in Geneva on the questions of appeals, prisoners of war and refugees. He expects his Personal Envoy to meet again with the parties, in the presence of the observer countries, Algeria and Mauritania, to try once again to resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan and to try to agree upon any other political solution to the Western Sahara dispute.

The Secretary-General concludes by suggesting that the Security Council reflect on the problem of ensuring that the parties respect the results of the referendum, if one were to be held. He recalls that, as his Personal Envoy pointed out to the parties in London, the Settlement Plan does not envision an enforcement mechanism, nor is one likely to be proposed, calling for the use of military means to effect enforcement.

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