30 October 2000


Press Release
SC/6941



SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE UNTIL 28 FEBRUARY 2001, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTS RESOLUTION 1324 (2000)

20001030

The Security Council this morning decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 28 February 2001.

The Council took that action as it unanimously adopted resolution 1324 (2000). That decision was also taken with the expectation that the parties, under the auspices of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, James A. Baker III, would continue to resolve the multiple problems related to implementation of the Settlement Plan, and try to agree upon a mutually acceptable political solution to their dispute over Western Sahara.

By other terms of the text, the Council also asked the Secretary-General to provide an assessment of the situation before the end of the present mandate.

The meeting began at 10:31 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:34 a.m.

Resolution

Following is the text of the resolution:

“The Security Council,

“Reaffirming all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara, in particular resolutions 1108 (1997) of 22 May 1997, 1292 (2000) of 29 February 2000, 1301 (2000) of 31 May 2000 and 1309 (2000) of 25 July 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 26 October 2000 (S/2000/1029) and the observations and recommendations contained therein, and expressing full support for the role and work of the Personal Envoy,

“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 Western Sahara,

Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6941 4210th Meeting (AM) 30 October 2000

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

“1. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 28 February 2001, with the expectation that the parties, under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, will continue to try to resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan and 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

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Western Sahara. It had before it a report of the Secretary-General which provides an assessment of the situation. On 25 July, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in the expectation that Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el- Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front) would meet in direct talks to try to resolve the problems relating to the implementation of the United Nations Settlement Plan and to try to agree on a political solution to their dispute over Western Sahara.

The Secretary-General regrets the lack of progress in overcoming the obstacles to the implementation of the Settlement Plan, the report states. In view of the positions of the parties, and to provide time to determine whether the Government of Morocco will offer or support some devolution of governmental authority, or whether MINURSO will commence the hearings on the appeals on an expedited basis, the Secretary General recommends that the Council extend the mandate of MINURSO for a period of four months until 28 February 2001.

The Secretary-General reviews a technical meeting in Geneva on 20 and 21 July 2000 which failed to make progress on the main issues: prisoners of war, confidence-building measures for refugees, and the appeals process. The only positive development has been Morocco's accounting of the status of the 207 presumed political detainees. It has not been possible, however, to begin even a simple pilot programme on confidence-building measures because of the concerns expressed by Morocco.

At the Berlin meeting of 28 September 2000, the two parties reiterated their well-known views, while expressing their continued commitment to the Settlement Plan and their wish to cooperate with the United Nations, the report notes. At the conclusion of the meeting, while the POLISARIO Front stated its readiness to discuss ways of implementing the appeals procedure, Morocco proposed that it enter into direct talks with the POLISARIO Front to seek a political solution, subject to stated concerns involving Morocco's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Secretary-General recalls that he had asked his Personal Envoy to assess the implementability of the Settlement Plan; to examine whether there were any

adjustments acceptable to the parties which would significantly improve the chances of implementing it in the near future; and if not, to recommend other possible ways of resolving the conflict. The Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy feel that further meetings to seek a political solution cannot succeed unless Morocco, as the administrative Power in Western Sahara, is prepared to offer or support some genuine and substantial devolution of governmental authority for all inhabitants and former inhabitants of the Territory.

According to the report, it is also the view of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy that if Morocco is not prepared to offer or support some devolution of governmental authority that could be discussed at a meeting of the parties during the next extension of the mandate, MINURSO should begin hearing the pending appeals from the identification process on an expedited basis, without regard as to how long it might take to complete them.

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