SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF MINURSO UNTIL 30 SEPTEMBER

22 May 1997
SC/6372

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF MINURSO UNTIL 30 SEPTEMBER

Security Council                                                                                               SC/6372

3779th Meeting (PM)                                                                                         22 May 1997

         SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF MINURSO UNTIL 30 SEPTEMBER

                                        Resolution 1108 (1997) Adopted Unanimously

            The Security Council this afternoon decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until

30 September.  It also requested the Secretary General to report to it on all aspects of the Western Sahara issue by 15 September.

            By its unanimous adoption of resolution 1108 (1997), the Council reiterated its commitment to the holding of a referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in accordance with the Settlement Plan accepted by the parties.  The Council established MINURSO by resolution 690 (1991).

            Also by today's resolution, the Council urged the parties to continue cooperation with the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General James A. Baker III and to demonstrate the political will to overcome the persisting stalemate.

            The meeting, which began at 1:27 p.m., was adjourned at 1:30 p.m.

            Resolution Adopted

            The full text of resolution 1108 (1997) is as follows:

            "The Security Council,

            "Reaffirming all its previous resolutions on the question of Western Sahara,

            "Recalling the statement of the President of the Security Council of

19 March 1997 (S/PRST/1997/16) on the situation concerning Western Sahara and the designation of a Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General to the region,

            "Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 5 May 1997 (S/1997/358) and welcoming in particular the intention of the Secretary-General to evaluate the situation in the light of the findings and recommendations to be provided by his Personal Envoy,

            "1.  Reiterates its commitment to the holding, without further delay, of a free, fair and impartial referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in accordance with the Settlement Plan, which has been accepted by the parties;

            "2.  Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 September 1997;

            "3.  Urges the parties to continue to cooperate with the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General in his mission as outlined by the Secretary-General, and to demonstrate the political will to overcome the persisting stalemate, and find an acceptable solution;

            "4.  Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Security Council informed of progress in the situation and to submit to the Council, by

15 September 1997, a comprehensive report on the results of his evaluation of all aspects of the Western Sahara issue;

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

            Report of Secretary-General

            The Council had before it a Secretary-General's report on the situation concerning Western Sahara (document S/1997/358 of 5 May), in which he states that his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, James A. Baker III, undertook an exploratory mission to the region from 23 to 28 April and that he will return to the region in June for more in-depth discussions.  "I hope to be in a position thereafter to submit to the Security Council a comprehensive report on all aspects of the Western Sahara issue", the Secretary-General states.  In the meantime, he recommends an extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for four months, until 30 September.

            According to the Secretary-General, during Mr. Baker's exploratory consultations in April with the parties, the Government of Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y del Rio de Oro (Frente POLISARIO) and the neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania, he stressed that his mission was to make a fresh assessment of the situation and to discuss ways of breaking the current stalemate over the settlement plan.

            Noting that six years have elapsed since MINURSO was established to hold a self-determination referendum in Western Sahara, the Secretary-General says:  "The international community has made it clear that it cannot continue to

support the extension of MINURSO's mandate indefinitely and that the parties

must demonstrate in a clear and tangible manner the political will necessary to take decisions that would bring about a fair and lasting solution to the problem of Western Sahara."

            In his report, the Secretary-General urges the parties to cooperate fully with his Personal Envoy to achieve that goal and strengthen the prospects for peace and stability in the region.  (Mr. Baker was appointed last March with a mandate to recommend whether the United Nations settlement plan could be implemented in its present form, whether adjustments acceptable to both sides might be made, or whether some other way of resolving the conflict could be found.)

            The report states that after Mr. Baker completes his assessment of the situation, the Secretary-General will review the strength of the military component of MINURSO -- presently 228 -- and make recommendations of any further reductions that may be necessary.  The force is led by Major-General Jorge Barroso de Moura of Portugal.  Personnel of the civilian police component will be replaced at the end of their assignments and, consequently, the Acting Police Commissioner, Lieutenant-Colonel Jan H. Kleven of Norway, and three officers will leave at the end of their tour of duty on 31 May.  The remaining five officers are expected to leave as soon as the necessary consultations with their Governments have been completed.

            According to the report, during his meeting with the Frente POLISARIO in the Tindouf area, the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy was presented with a list of 85 prisoners whom the POLISARIO proposed to release.  The list has been communicated to the Government of Morocco and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is continuing its preparatory work for the repatriation of refugees, the report states, adding that its priorities are to monitor the delivery of assistance and the welfare of refugees.

            The report further states that $2,658,500 gross has been made available for the Mission's maintenance for June 1997, under the terms of General Assembly resolution 51/2 of 17 October 1996, subject to the extension of MINURSO's mandate.  A proposed budget for the period 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998 (document A/51/763/Add.1) has been submitted to the Assembly for consideration at the second part of its resumed fifty-first session.  It is estimated that the monthly cost of maintaining the Mission at its current strength will be $2,425,650 gross beginning 1 July 1997.

            As at 30 April 1997, unpaid assessed contributions to the MINURSO special account since the inception of the Mission amounts to $40.9 million.  The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peace-keeping operations as at the same date was $1,644.5 million, according to the report.

                                                                         * *** *

For information media. Not an official record.