COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE UNTIL 31 JULY, ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1301 (2000) BY VOTE OF 12 IN FAVOUR, ONE AGAINST, TWO ABSTENTIONS

31 May 2000
SC/6869

COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE UNTIL 31 JULY, ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1301 (2000) BY VOTE OF 12 IN FAVOUR, ONE AGAINST, TWO ABSTENTIONS

31 May 2000

Press ReleaseSC/6869

COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE UNTIL 31 JULY, ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1301 (2000) BY VOTE OF 12 IN FAVOUR, ONE AGAINST, TWO ABSTENTIONS

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Voting against, Namibia Cites Text’s Departure from Implementation Of Settlement Plan; Jamaica, Mali Would Have Preferred ‘Technical’ Draft

The Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 July, adopting a four-Power draft resolution by a vote of 12 in favour to 1 against (Namibia), with 2 abstentions (Jamaica, Mali).

By the terms of resolution 1301 (2000), the Council took that decision with the expectation that the parties to the dispute over Western Sahara -- the Kingdom of Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) -- would offer specific and concrete proposals to resolve problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan for the Territory, or else be prepared to consider ways to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution to the dispute.

The resolution's co-sponsors were France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States.

Explaining his position before voting against the draft, Namibia's representative said that his country fully supported the recommendation to extend MINURSO's mandate, but some details of the Secretary-General’s report were a cause of concern. Namibia could not endorse observations seeking to depart from the implementation of the United Nations Settlement Plan. For that reason, it would not support the text.

Jamaica's representative, explaining his delegation's abstention, said that while the Settlement Plan would lend legitimacy to the process leading to resolution of the dispute, it was clear that the referendum would not be held any time soon. The resolution should be purely technical, and political implications should be left to further resolutions. Agreeing that the referendum could not be held within the time frame indicated, Mali's representative said his country would have hoped for adoption of a presidential text reflecting unanimous support for the efforts of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy.

The representative of the Netherlands said that, although the draft did not adequately reflect the continued commitment to the Settlement Plan expressed by many delegations, including his own, his country would vote in favour of the resolution because it did not want to block efforts towards the resolution of the Western Sahara dispute. Supporting the text, the representative of the United States said that ignoring the realities of the situation would not fix the problem. The Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy should have full authority to seek ways to find a solution.

Speaking in explanation of position before the vote were the representatives of Namibia, Jamaica, Mali, and China. The representatives of Argentina, Malaysia and the United States spoke after the vote.

Before adjourning the meeting, Wang Yingfan (China), Council President, made a statement to conclude his country's presidency.

This afternoon's meeting, which began at 4:28 p.m., adjourned at 4:53 p.m.

Resolution

The full text of Security Council resolution 1301 (2000) reads, as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all its previous resolutions on the Western Sahara, in particular resolution 1108 of 22 May 1997 and resolution 1292 of 29 February 2000,

“Recalling also the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel of 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 22 May 2000 (S/2000/461) and the efforts of his Personal Envoy in his mission as outlined by the Secretary- General, and endorsing the observations and recommendations contained therein,

“Reiterating full support for the continued efforts exerted by 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 the Western Sahara, noting that fundamental differences between the parties over the interpretation of the main provisions remain to be resolved,

“1. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 31 July 2000, with the expectation that the parties will offer the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy specific and concrete proposals that can be agreed to in order to resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan and explore all ways and means to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution to their dispute over Western Sahara;

“2. Requests the Secretary-General to provide an assessment of the situation before the end of the present mandate;

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

Secretary-General’s Report

When the Council met this afternoon, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (document S/2000/461), which covers developments since the Secretary-General’s previous report of 17 February and recommends a further two-month extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

The report states that the Secretary-General asked his Personal Envoy to the region, James A. Baker III, to consult the parties –- Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) -- and to explore ways and means to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute. During his consultations with the parties and the neighbouring countries in the region from 8 to 11 April and in London on 14 May, Mr. Baker stressed that the implementation of the settlement plan had been impeded year after year for the last nine years by fundamental differences between the parties over the interpretation of its main provision. He also stressed that the prospects for holding the referendum were as distant as ever.

The meeting in London on 14 May was important in that it brought the parties together for face-to-face discussions for the first time since the direct talks conducted by Mr. Baker in 1997. Regrettably, the views expressed by the two parties only served to reinforce the United Nations assessment of their widely divergent positions, and neither side offered any constructive suggestions on the way forward. Mr. Baker called on the parties to bring to a further meeting, which could be held in June 2000, specific solutions that could be agreed to, in order to resolve all outstanding settlement plan issues, or else be prepared to consider and discuss other ways to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute over Western Sahara.

Given the difficulties over the years in bridging their recurrent differences, and the fact that no enforcement mechanism was envisaged in the Settlement Plan, it would be essential that the parties now offer specific and concrete solutions to the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Plan that can be agreed to or, alternatively, to be prepared to consider other ways of achieving an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute over Western Sahara. In the meantime, he recommends that the Council extend MINURSO’s mandate for a period of two months, until 31 July.

The report also states that during the reporting period, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continued its preparatory work for the repatriation of Saharan refugees, as provided for under the settlement plan. The UNHCR continued implementation of refugee pre-registration for the repatriation in Tindouf of those refugees who were away from the camps during the earlier registration phase. To date, 119,698 refugees (representing 18,751 family units) and their immediate family members have been pre-registered from the MINURSO provisional lists of voters since the exercise started in August 1997.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy were doing important work to resolve the situation in Western Sahara. However, the last two reports of the Secretary-General on the situation there contained some observations which his delegation did not share. He reiterated that the United Nations Settlement Plan remained the only viable mechanism for a solution in Western Sahara.

The United Nations Plan enabled the people of Western Sahara to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination and independence, in accordance with relevant United Nations and Organization of African Unity (OAU) resolutions, he continued. Namibia fully supported the recommendations of the Secretary- General to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 31 July 2000, but some details of the Secretary-General’s report caused concern to his delegation. His delegation could not endorse observations seeking to depart from the implementation of the Settlement Plan, and for that reason, he would not support the draft before the Council.

ARNOLD PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said that his delegation felt the draft before the Council did not adequately reflect continued commitment to the Settlement Plan. That sense had been expressed by a large number of delegations -- including his own -- during consultations. In preambular paragraph 5 of the draft, the Council voiced continued support for the plan, but the abrupt addition noting “the fundamental differences between the parties” to be resolved did not reflect the importance the Council claimed to attach to the Settlement Plan. If his delegation did vote for the resolution, it was only because it did not want to block efforts towards the resolution of the dispute in Western Sahara.

CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said his country continued to believe that the Settlement Plan could be implemented and that it was important that the referendum be held as soon as possible. The mandate of James Baker III, the Secretary- General’s Personal Envoy, called for him to assess the Settlement Plan’s implementability -- and if it was not implementable, to devise other ways of moving the peace process forward. The Secretary-General’s reports to the Council so far made it clear that the referendum would not be held any time soon. The Council had not assessed the implementability of the Plan. It was against that background that Jamaica believed the resolution should have been purely technical. Political implications should be left to later resolutions.

Welcoming the request contained in the draft for the Secretary-General to provide an assessment of the situation before the end of the present mandate, he said that such an assessment would allow the Council to advise on other possible ways to move the peace process forward. The present resolution implied a judgement prior to the Council’s hearing of the Personal Envoy’s assessment. Jamaica would abstain from voting on the resolution.

MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said implementation of the Settlement Plan had been hindered by differences in its interpretation. It was clear that the referendum could not be held within the time frame indicated. Mali was still convinced that the Settlement Plan was the correct path for the implementation of the Settlement Plan. Mali would have preferred the Council to adopt a presidential text reflecting unanimous support for the efforts of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy. Mali could not support the resolution: it would not oppose it, but it would abstain.

Speaking in his national capacity, WANG YINGFAN (China) said that his delegation had taken note of the fact that different views still existed concerning the text before the Council. He had proposed that consultations should continue in order to reach agreement. His delegation would vote in favour of the extension of the mandate of the Mission in Western Sahara, which would help find a settlement there. He hoped that the views of the parties concerned would be carefully studied in order to prevent new problems from arising there.

ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said that his country was in favour of the draft resolution, but regretted profoundly that it had not been possible to achieve a consensus text. His and other delegations had made serious efforts to achieve that consensus. Argentina reaffirmed its support for the Settlement Plan for Western Sahara. Every effort should be made to find mutually acceptable solutions within the Settlement Plan. The difficulties of that task, including the appeals process, could not be ignored, but they were not an insurmountable obstacle to the Plan's implementation.

MOHAMMAD KAMAL YAN YAHAYA (Malaysia) said his delegation deeply regretted the Council’s failure to reach consensus on the draft before it. It was unfortunate that the co-sponsors of the text did not share the view that a technical resolution extending the mandate of the Mission would have sufficed for the present, with discussion of substantive issues following at a later date. Malaysia fully supported the Settlement Plan, which still remained viable, and it hoped that a peaceful resolution was accessible in the not-too-distant future. His delegation supported the search for a solution with the help of the Special Envoy. He had voted in favour of the draft, for his country fully supported the efforts of MINURSO to hold a fair referendum in Western Sahara. He also supported the recommendation to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 31 July, in the hope that the parties would offer specific proposals for the implementation of the Settlement Plan.

MARK MINTON (United States) said that his country supported the Secretary- General’s proposal to extend the mandate of MINURSO, and his explanation for the necessity of an extension. The United States supported every effort to overcome obstacles to the Settlement Plan. Ignoring the realities of the situation would not fix them. The Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy should have full authority to seek ways to find a solution. The United States was in favour of the resolution.

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For information media. Not an official record.