27/11/2001
Press Release
SC/7225



Security Council

4427th Meeting (AM)*


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE UNTIL 28 FEBRUARY 2002


In a unanimous decision this morning, the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 28 February 2002.


Adopting resolution 1380 (2001), the Council also requested the Secretary-General to keep it informed of all significant developments in an interim report by 15 January, and to provide an assessment of the situation by 18 February 2002.


The meeting, which began at 10:10 a.m., was adjourned at 10:12 a.m.


The Council’s decision was taken after its consideration of a letter from the Secretary-General dated 12 November, in which he recommended that the Council authorize a technical extension of the mandate of MINURSO for two months through

31 January 2002. 


The Secretary-General recalled that in his last report to the Council, dated 20 June 2001, he had recommended that MINURSO’s mandate be extended to 30 November.  Following its consideration of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, the Council in resolution 1359 (2001) encouraged the parties to discuss the draft Framework Agreement under the auspices of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, James

Baker III, and to negotiate any specific changes they would like to see, as well as discuss any other proposal for a political solution.  The Council also affirmed that while the discussions were in progress, the official proposals submitted by the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y de Rio de Oro (Frente POLISARIO) to overcome the obstacles to implementation of the Settlement Plan would be considered.  In addition, the Council requested the Secretary-General to assess the situation before the end of the present mandate and to make recommendations on the future mandate and composition of MINURSO.


Since that time, the Secretary-General says, his Personal Envoy had been consulting with the parties.  He has, however, recently informed the Secretary-General that he would need additional time for these consultations.


Western Sahara, a Territory on the north-west coast of Africa bordered by Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria, was administered by Spain until 1976.  Both Morocco and Mauritania affirmed their claim to the territory, a claim opposed by the Frente POLISARIO.


___________


*     The 4425th and 4426th meetings were closed.


The United Nations has been seeking a settlement in Western Sahara since the withdrawal of Spain in 1976 and the ensuing fighting between Morocco, which had “reintegrated” the Territory, and the Frente POLISARIO, supported by Algeria.  Mauritania renounced all claims to Western Sahara in 1979.  In that same year, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) also became active in seeking a peaceful solution of the conflict.


In 1985, the United Nations Secretary-General, in cooperation with the OAU, initiated a mission of good offices leading the “the settlement proposals.”  In 1990, the Security Council approved the Secretary-General’s settlement proposals and the outline of the Secretary-General’s Plan for implementing them.  On 29 April 1991, it established the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).  The Plan provided for a transitional period during which the Special Representative of the Secretary-General would have sole and exclusive responsibility over all matters relating to a referendum, in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco.


The MINURSO’s Identification Commission was established in May 1993.  Although the identification process has been completed, the parties continue to hold divergent views regarding the appeals process, the repatriation of refugees and other crucial aspects of the Plan.  The Secretary-General has instructed his Special Representative to continue consultations with the parties to seek a reconciliation of these views and to explore ways and means to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute over Western Sahara.


Resolution


The Security Council,


Reaffirming its resolution 1359 (2001) of 29 June 2001 and its previous resolutions on the question of Western Sahara,


Taking note of the letter of the Secretary-General of 12 November 2001 (S/2001/1067),


“1.   Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 28 February 2002;


“2.   Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed of all significant developments in an interim report by 15 January 2002 and to provide an assessment of the situation by 18 February 2002;


“3.   Decides to remain seized of the matter.”


* *** *