30 April 2010
Security Council
SC/9917

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6305th Meeting (PM)


Security Council Adopts Resolution 1920 (2010), Extending by One Year


Mandate of United Nations Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara


Calling on Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front) to adhere fully to the military agreements reached with the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), the Security Council today extended the mandate of that Mission until 30 April 2011.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1920 (2010), as orally amended, the Council welcomed the commitment of both parties to continuing the process of small, informal talks in preparation for a fifth round of talks, and called upon them to continue to show political will while working in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations.


The Council called upon the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions, in good faith and with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution that would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.


In the preambular paragraphs of the text, the Council stressed the importance of making progress on the human dimension of the conflict as a means to promote transparency and mutual confidence through constructive dialogue and humanitarian confidence-building measures, and noted the need for the parties to adhere to their obligations, taking into account the roles and responsibilities of the United Nations system and the relevant paragraphs of the Secretary-General’s report.


The Council welcomed in that context the agreement of the parties, expressed in the communiqué of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy of 18 March 2008, looking forward to the inauguration of family visits by land, and the resumption of the existing programme of visits by air.  It encouraged the parties to cooperate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in implementing their agreement.


Uganda’s representative, noting that Western Sahara was the only fully fledged member of the African Union still awaiting decolonization, said it was important to recall MINURSO’s mandate to monitor the ceasefire and help hold a referendum for the self-determination of the Saharawi people.  He also expressed concern about reports of human rights violations in the region, stressing the need to address the lack of MINURSO staff to monitor human rights questions on the ground.  In that and other areas, the current text left much to be desired, he added.


Nigeria’s representative said he was “deeply troubled” by the absence of any reference in the text to resolution 690 (1991), the basis for MINURSO’s mandate.  Hard truths must be told about the human rights situation in Western Sahara, he noted, adding that the absence of that dimension in the resolution called the Council’s credibility into question.


France’s representative said the Moroccan proposal of 2007 was a good basis for negotiations, and underlined the importance of credible and transparent talks in which the parties must participate seriously and abstain from provocations.  The resolution addressed a central message for confidence-building -- the family visits by air and land, which should resume as soon as possible, he said, noting that MINURSO’s budget had increased greatly over the last two years while its mandate and format had not changed substantially.


Echoing calls for the parties to come to the negotiation table without preconditions, the representative of the United States encouraged them to demonstrate the necessary political will to reach a solution, expressing hope that the neighbouring States would support those efforts.  It was also to be hoped that family visits by air and land would resume as soon as possible, she said, underscoring also the importance of making progress on the human rights situation.


The representative of the United Kingdom urged all involved to remain committed to the negotiation process and to refrain from activities that could damage the talks, including violations of the ceasefire agreement.  Concerned about the human dimension, he welcomed the expansion of the family visit programme.  Noting that transparency and openness on human rights issues would enhance trust, he encouraged the parties to establish mechanisms to monitor the human rights situation before next year.


Austria’s representative said the consensus reached was the result of a laborious process.  He said he would have preferred more explicit support for the Secretary-General’s call for a dialogue with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He emphasized the human dimension of the conflict and urged the parties to resume dialogue without preconditions.


Mexico’s representative said a “more balanced” text would have addressed more substantively such issues as respect for the self-determination of peoples and human rights.


The representative of the Russian Federation said the resolution had resulted from efforts by the Group of Friends and the Council to ensure that the negotiation process moved forward.  Today’s decision met that need with a balanced resolution that would help progress towards a mutually acceptable solution, he added.


Before and after the resolution was adopted, several delegates expressed dissatisfaction with the process by which consensus had been reached, noting that it had not been inclusive.  Nigeria’s representative said it had been undertaken by “a small group” of Council members, while Mexico’s representative emphasized that future negotiations on such texts must include all members.


The meeting began at 5:23 p.m. and ended at 5:55 p.m.


Resolution


The full text of resolution 1920 (2010) reads as follows:


The Security Council,


Recalling and reaffirming all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara,


Reaffirming its strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to implement resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), and 1871 (2009),


Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect,


Reiterating its call upon the parties and States of the region to cooperate more fully with the United Nations and with each other to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution,


Taking note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution; also taking note of the Polisario Front proposal presented 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General,


Inviting in this context the parties to demonstrate further political will towards a solution,


Taking note of the four rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of the Secretary-General, and two rounds of informal talks held in Dürnstein (Austria) and Westchester County (United States) and welcoming the progress made by the parties to enter into direct negotiations,


Stressing the importance of making progress on the human dimension of the conflict as a means to promote transparency and mutual confidence through constructive dialogue and humanitarian confidence-building measures, and noting the need for all parties to adhere to their obligations, taking into account the roles and responsibilities of the UN system and the relevant paragraphs of the UN Secretary-General’s report,


Welcoming in this context the agreement of the parties expressed in the Communiqué of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara of 18 March 2008 and looking forward to the inauguration of family visits by land, and the resumption of the existing programme by air, and encouraging the parties to cooperate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in implementing their agreement,


Welcoming the commitment of the parties to continue the process of negotiations through the United Nations-sponsored talks,


Recognizing that the consolidation of the status quo is not acceptable in the long term, and noting further that progress in the negotiations is essential in order to improve the quality of life of the people of Western Sahara in all its aspects,


Affirming support for the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara Ambassador Christopher Ross, and his work in facilitating negotiations between the parties and also welcoming his recent visit to the region and ongoing consultations with the parties and neighbouring States,


Welcoming the appointment of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and Head of MINURSO Hany Abdel-Aziz,


Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 6 April 2010 (S/2010/175),


“1.   Reaffirms the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) with regard to the ceasefire and calls on the parties to adhere fully to those agreements;


“2.   Welcomes the parties’ commitment to continue the process of holding small, informal talks in preparation for a fifth round of negotiations, and recalls its endorsement of the recommendation in the report of 14 April 2008 (S/2008/251) that realism and a spirit of compromise by the parties are essential to achieve progress in negotiations;


“3.   Calls upon the parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations, thus ensuring implementation of resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), and 1871 (2009), and the success of negotiations; and affirms its strong support for the commitment of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy towards a solution to the question of Western Sahara in this context;


“4.   Calls upon the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and subsequent developments, 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 in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect;


“5.   Invites Member States to lend appropriate assistance to these talks;


“6.   Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Security Council informed on a regular basis on the status and progress of these negotiations under his auspices and express its intention to meet to receive and discuss his report;


“7.   Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation in Western Sahara well before the end of the mandate period;


“8.   Urges Member States to provide voluntary contributions to fund confidence-building measures that allow for increased contact between separated family members, especially family visits, as well as for other confidence-building measures that may be agreed upon between parties;


“9.   Decides to extend the existing mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2011;


“10.  Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance in MINURSO with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including pre-deployment awareness training, and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;


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


Background


As the Security Council took up the situation concerning Western Sahara, members had before them the latest report of the Secretary-General (document S/2010/175), which covers the activities of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), as well as developments since his report of April 2009 (document S/2009/200).  The Secretary-General recommends the expansion of MINURSO’s mandate for a further period of one year, until 30 April 2011.


The report says that the Territory remained largely calm during the period under review.  In a speech marking the thirty-fourth anniversary of the “Green March”, the King of Morocco proposed a five-point plan “regionalization” plan, to be focused initially on the Moroccan-controlled part of Western Sahara, and reaffirmed as well his commitment to its autonomy proposal, as presented in negotiations under United Nations auspices.  The Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front) reiterated the group’s position that the Saharawi people should decide their own future by means of a free referendum.


According to the report, Christopher Ross, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, had convened an informal meeting in Dürnstein, Austria, on 9 and 10 August after the collapse of negotiations in Manhasset, New York.  The parties engaged in a spirit of extensive give-and-take, discussing confidence-building measures and human rights issues as a prelude to a later examination of core issues.  A second informal meeting was held in Westchester County, New York, on 10 and 11 February, after which it was clear that the question of self-determination remains the fundamental and, to date, non-negotiable difference between the parties, both of whom reiterated their commitment to continuing negotiations as soon as possible.


The Secretary-General recommends that the Council reiterate its call upon the parties to negotiate in good faith and without preconditions by drawing on and developing, where possible, the contents of their two proposals of 2007.  “Imagination and creativity will be needed if progress is to be made,” he writes.  Given that the dispute’s human dimension, including the plight of Saharawi refugees, is of growing concern, the Secretary-General urges the parties to confirm their agreement to an expansion of the family visit programme, and to continue to work with MINURSO, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Personal Envoy Ross in exploring further confidence-building measures.


Recommending that the Council formally recognize and increase the role and responsibilities of MINURSO in using its resources to support confidence-building activities, he also urges that appropriate attention be paid to the issue of conducting a census of refugees, and implementation of a programme of individual interviews.  The Secretary-General reiterates his call to each party to remain engaged in continuous and constructive dialogue with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with a view to ensuring respect for the human rights of the people of Western Sahara, both inside the Territory and in the refugee camps.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record