UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1263 (1999), SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE UNTIL 14 DECEMBER19990913
The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for a further three months until 14 December.
The action, embodied in resolution 1263 (1999), which was adopted unanimously, was to enable the Mission to complete the identification of voters as envisaged in a recent report of the Secretary-General, implement confidence- building measures and conclude all outstanding agreements needed to implement the Western Sahara Settlement Plan. The extension of the mandate was also to enable MINURSO to continue with the appeals process.
The Council reaffirmed the rights of the applicants mentioned in the Secretary-Generals report, with an expectation that the appeals process would not be turned into a second round of identification.
It asked the Secretary-General to report every 45 days on significant developments in the implementation of the Settlement Plan. The Secretary-General was also to submit to the Security Council before the end of the current mandate (14 September) a comprehensive assessment of the steps taken towards the completion of the appeals process, and of the start of the transitional period.
The meeting, which was called to order at 11:12 a.m., was adjourned at 11:17 a.m.
Text of Resolution
The full text of resolution 1263 (1999) reads as follows:
The Security Council,
Recalling all its previous resolutions on the Western Sahara,
Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 8 September 1999 (S/1999/954) and the observations and recommendations contained therein,
Welcoming also the resumption of the identification of voters and the commencement of the appeals process,
1. Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 14 December 1999 in order to completeSecurity Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6726 4044th Meeting (AM) 13 September 1999
the identification of voters as envisaged in paragraph 21 of the report of the Secretary-General, to implement confidence-building measures and conclude all outstanding agreements needed to implement the Settlement Plan, and to continue with the appeals process and reaffirms the rights of the applicants, with an expectation that the appeals process will not be turned into a second round of identification;
2. Requests the Secretary-General to report every 45 days on significant developments in the implementation of the Settlement Plan;
3. Requests also the Secretary-General to submit to the Security Council before the end of the current mandate a comprehensive assessment of steps taken towards the completion of the appeals process, and of staffing requirements, as well as preparations for the repatriation of refugees and the start of the transitional period;
4. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
Report of Secretary-General
As the Council met this morning, it had before it a report of the Secretary- General (document S/1999/875) on developments in Western Sahara since his last report dated 25 June.
The Secretary-General states that the resumption of the identification operation and the initiation of the appeals process, as well as the publication of the first part of the provisional voters list, has been achieved. The parties - the Government of Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el- Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) - has expressed satisfaction that the time-frame envisaged in the Settlement Plan and key provisions of the United Nations package have been respected. At the same time, they have expressed cautious optimism for the next stages in the implementation of the Plan.
Preparations for the repatriation of refugees are now being stepped up by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and MINURSO with the parties concerned, the report states. A UNHCR mission visited Laayoune from 13 to 15 July for discussions with MINURSO which focused on outstanding political issues, logistic planning, confidence-building measures and administrative matters. The two agreed on the need for a common approach and decided to hold a joint follow-up workshop in Laayoune this month. The Secretary-General observes that it was now important that confidence-building measures be implemented promptly through the establishment of communication facilities and visits.
He notes that two issues caused some delays in the identification operation for certain tribes in grouping H61, namely the appointment of sheikhs and that of their advisers. Under the identification protocol, the parties were to appoint two sheikhs each for the identification of applicants from the Ait Ousa tribe, the first pair before 1 June and the second pair before 1 August. Moroccos appointment of the latter was awaited. Originally scheduled for 30 June, theSecurity Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6726 4044th Meeting (AM) 13 September 1999
identification of applicants from that group of tribes had to be postponed, pending a resolution of the issue.
The Secretary-General observes that the delays in solving those issues, the staggered opening of the appeals centres, compounded by difficulties in meeting the staffing requirements, has affected parts of the timetable for the referendum process. The Secretariat is making special efforts to increase the staffing of the Identification Commission to the required levels. Additional resources might have to be considered to respect the agreed time-frame, taking into account the increasing number of appellants visiting the appeals centres, as well as the expected number of appeals to be filed, and the concurrent running of the identification operations and the appeals process.
In addition to the currently authorized strength of 81, 25 civilian police officers would be needed to assist the Identification Commission in conducting the identification and appeals process simultaneously, the Secretary-General further states.
The full cooperation of both parties with MINURSO for the timely completion of the identification and appeals processes remains essential, the Secretary- General observes. With regard to the implementation of paragraph 42 of the status-of-forces agreement between the United Nations and Morocco, relating to the carriage of weapons, the Secretary-General indicates that a draft proposal to that effect prepared by MINURSO was currently under review by the United Nations Secretariat.
Satisfactory progress had been made in the implementation of the military agreements between MINURSO and each party on the marking and disposal of unexploded ordnance and the related exchange of detailed information. Both parties continue to extend their full cooperation, with approximately 60 per cent of current tasks west of the defensive berm and 30 per cent of those east of the berm completed.
The Secretary-Generals report indicates that the pre-registration and needs assessment of the refugees in the Tindouf camps continue. To date, 22,656 individuals (3,075 families) have been pre-registered in Camp El Aiun. The pre- registration exercise has also resumed at Nouadhibou and Zouerate in northern Mauritania, where 548 individuals (121 families) have been pre-registered.
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