SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE UNTIL 31 MAY, ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1292 (2000) UNANIMOUSLY20000229
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 31 May.
Reiterating its full support for the continued efforts of the Secretary- General, his Personal Envoy, his Special Representative and MINURSO to implement the Settlement Plan and agreements adopted by the parties to hold a free, fair and impartial referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, the Council adopted resolution 1292 (2000) unanimously.
By the text, the Council stated its support for the Secretary-Generals intention to ask his Personal Envoy to consult the parties and, taking into account existing and potential obstacles, to explore ways and means to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute.
Also by the text, the Council, which decided to remain seized of the matter, requested the Secretary-General to provide an assessment of the situation before the end of the present mandate.
The full text of Security Council resolution 1292 (2000) reads as follows:
The Security Council,
Recalling all its previous resolutions on the Western Sahara, in particular resolution 1108 of 22 May 1997,
Recalling the relevant principles contained in the Conventions on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel adopted on 9 December 1994,
Welcoming and encouraging efforts by the United Nations to sensitize peacekeeping personnel in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in all its peacekeeping operations,
Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 17 February 2000 (S/2000/131) and the observations and recommendations contained therein,
Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6812 4106th Meeting (AM) 29 February 2000
Reiterating full support for the continued efforts exerted by the Secretary- General, his Personal Envoy, his Special Representative and the United Nations Mission for a Referendum in the Western Sahara (MINURSO) to implement the Settlement Plan and agreements adopted by the parties to hold a free, fair and impartial referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,
Noting the concern expressed in the report about the possibility of achieving a smooth and consensual implementation of the Settlement Plan and agreements adopted by the parties, despite the support given by the international community, and urging the parties to cooperate so as to achieve a lasting solution,
1. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 31 May 2000;
2. Supports the intention of the Secretary-General, as stated inter alia in his report, to ask his Personal Envoy to consult the parties and, taking into account existing and potential obstacles, to explore ways and means to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute;
3. Request the Secretary-General to provide an assessment of the situation before the end of the present mandate;
4. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
The Council had before it a Secretary-Generals report on the situation in Western Sahara (document S/2000/131), in which he asks that the mandate of the MINURSO be extended for three months, until 31 May. That would allow time for his Personal Envoy, James A. Baker III, to consult with the parties to explore ways and means to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute.
The report, covering developments from 6 December to 17 February, contains a sobering assessment of Western Sahara, and the Secretary-General recommends reviewing the entire situation. Developments over the past nine years, and in recent months in particular, raise doubts about the possibility of a smooth and consensual implementation of the Settlement Plan and other agreements. Further, no enforcement mechanism is envisioned in the Settlement Plan if one party does not recognize the result of a referendum.
According to the report, the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el- Hamra y de Rio de Oro (Frente POLISARIO) warns that if the process is delayed much longer, MINURSO would become irrelevant and there could be a return to armed hostilities. Implementation of the United Nations Settlement Plan has been impeded by fundamental differences between the parties over the interpretation of its provisions. The issue of the establishment of the electorate has been a core problem and could eventually prevent the holding of the referendum. But each time the United Nations proposes a technical solution to bridge the parties differing interpretations of provisions of the Settlement Plan, a new difficulty arises, requiring yet another round of protracted consultations, the report states.
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During the reporting period, the Frente POLISARIO continued to express concern over delays resulting from the large number of appeals expected from the second part of the provisional voter list, in addition to the 79,000 appeals from the first part issued on 15 July 1999. POLISARIO urged strict interpretation of the admissibility procedures, to reduce the time needed to complete the appeal process. For their part, the Moroccan authorities reiterated the right of every applicant to appeal by presenting witnesses who could provide new information to support his or her inclusion in the voter list.
Currently there are 86,386 eligible voters, the report notes. Following the release of the second part of the provisional list on 17 January, Moroccan authorities expressed surprise and dismay at the small number of applicants found to be eligible. Moroccan officials again questioned the impartiality and objectivity of Identification Commission members and warned that the referendum would not be held if any person originating from the Sahara were denied the right to participate. At the same time, POLISARIO warned against any attempt to delay the referendum and called for the speedy implementation of the Settlement Plan.
Also, the positions of the parties do not augur well for an early resolution of the problem of admissibility of appeals, the report states. Under such circumstances, the current timetable is no longer valid and the date for the referendum, repeatedly postponed since 1991, still cannot be set with certainty. Among other issues that still need to be worked out is a protocol for the repatriation of Saharan refugees and agreement on what would constitute appropriate security conditions for voting in the Territory.
MINURSO was established by resolution 690 (1991) to assist in implementing a settlement plan which was meant to conclude with a referendum originally scheduled for January 1992 in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco. The parties views have continually diverged on some of the plans key elements, including criteria for eligibility to vote in the referendum. The Council most recently extended MINURSOs mandate until 29 February 2000 by resolution 1282 (1999).
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