27/02/2002
Press Release
SC/7312



Security Council

4480th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO’S MANDATE TO 30 APRIL 2002


Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1394 (2002), Members Decide

To Study Secretary-General’s ‘Four Options’ for Territory’s Future


The Security Council this afternoon decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for two months until 30 April 2002, and to consider proposals on the Territory's future outlined by the Secretary-General in his recent report on the question.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1349 (2002), the Council asked the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation in Western Sahara before the end of the mandate.


The Secretary-General had proposed four options for the future of the Western Sahara peace process, noting that the two parties to the conflict –- Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) -- had not fully cooperated with the United Nations in the settlement of the dispute over the Territory.


Under the first option, the United Nations could resume trying to implement the settlement plan, but without requiring the concurrence of both parties.  The second option would have the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, James A.

Baker III, revising the draft framework agreement for submission to the Security Council, which would present it to the parties on a non-negotiable basis.


Under the third option, the Council could ask the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy to determine whether or not the parties were willing to discuss, under his auspices, directly or through proximity talks, a possible division of the Territory.


By the fourth option, the Council could decide to terminate MINURSO.


The meeting, which began at 5:20 p.m. was adjourned at 5:24 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met this afternoon to take up the most recent report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (document S/2002/178), in which he recommends that the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) be extended for a further two months, until 30 April.

In the report, the Secretary-General states that despite their assertions to the contrary, Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) have not been willing to fully cooperate with the United Nations, either to implement the settlement plan for Western Sahara or to try to negotiate a political solution that will bring about an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute over the Territory.  He, therefore, proposes four options for the future of the peace process.


As a first option, says the Secretary-General, the United Nations could resume trying to implement the settlement plan, but without requiring the concurrence of both parties before action could be taken.  This effort would begin with the appeals process, but even under this non-consensual approach the United Nations would continue to face most of the problems it has faced during the past 10 years.  Morocco has expressed unwillingness to go forward with the settlement plan; the United Nations might not be able to hold a free and fair referendum whose results would be accepted by both sides; and there would still be no mechanism to enforce the results of the referendum.  Under this option, the Identification Commission of MINURSO would be reinforced, and indeed the overall size of the operation would be increased.


As a second option, the Secretary-General states, his Personal Envoy, James A. Baker III, could undertake to revise the draft framework agreement – which, in its current form, envisages a devolution of authority to the inhabitants of the Territory with final status to be determined by a subsequent referendum -- taking into account the concerns expressed by the parties and others with experience in such documents.  However, in this event, his Personal Envoy would not seek the concurrence of the parties.  The revised agreement would be submitted to the Council, and the Council would then present it to the parties on a non-negotiable basis.  Should the Security Council agree to this option, MINURSO could be downsized.


As a third option, the report continues, the Council could ask the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy to determine whether or not the parties would now be willing to discuss, under his auspices, directly or through proximity talks, a possible division of the Territory.  Were the Council to choose this option, in the event that the parties were unwilling or unable to agree upon a division of the Territory by 1 November 2002, Mr. Baker would be asked to show the parties a proposal for division of the Territory that would also be presented to the Council.


The Council would present this proposal to the parties on a non-negotiable basis, the Secretary-General states, noting that this approach to a political solution would give each party some, but not all, of what it wants.  It would follow the precedent, but not necessarily the same territorial arrangements, of the division agreed to in 1976 between Morocco and Mauritania.  Were the Security Council to choose this option, MINURSO could be maintained at its present size, or it could be reduced even more.


As a fourth option, the Council could decide to terminate MINURSO, the report states.  In this way, it would acknowledge that after more than 11 years and the expenditure of sums of money nearing $500 million, the United Nations was not going to solve the problem of Western Sahara without requiring that one or the

other or both of the parties do something that they do not wish to agree voluntarily to do.


The Secretary-General states that he is aware that none of the above-mentioned options will appear ideal to all the parties and interested countries. In order to give the Security Council time to decide, he recommends that the mandate of MINURSO be extended.


Resolution


The full text of Security Council resolution 1394 (2002) reads, as follows:


The Security Council,


Reaffirming its previous resolutions on the question of Western Sahara and its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution,


Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General of 19 February 2002 (S/2002/178),


“1.  Decides, as recommended by the Secretary-General in his report of 19 February 2002, to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2002 and to consider actively the options described in his report, addressing this issue in its programme of work;


“2.  Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation before the end of the present mandate;


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


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