SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE TO 31 JANUARY 2003

30 July 2002
SC/7474

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE TO 31 JANUARY 2003

30/07/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7474

Security Council

4594th Meeting (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MINURSO MANDATE TO 31 JANUARY 2003

The Security Council, stressing that the search for a political solution is critically needed to resolve the dispute over Western Sahara, this afternoon authorized the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for a further six months until 31 January 2003.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1429 (2002), the Council continued to strongly support the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to find a political solution to that long-standing dispute.  It invited the Personal Envoy to pursue those efforts and expressed its readiness to consider any approach, which provided for self-determination that might be proposed by the Secretary-General and the Personal Envoy. 

Under a related provision, the Council called upon all the parties and the States of the region to cooperate fully with the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy.

It called upon the parties to collaborate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in implementing confidence-building measures, and urged the international community to provide generous support for the UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP), in order to help them overcome the deteriorating food situation among the refugees.

By further terms of the resolution, the Council called upon Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front) to continue to cooperate with the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to resolve the problem of the fate of all those unaccounted for since the beginning of the conflict.

It welcomed the release of 101 Moroccan prisoners of war, and called upon the POLISARIO Front to release, without further delay, all remaining prisoners of war in compliance with international humanitarian law.

The meeting, which began at 5:08 p.m., was adjourned at 5:11 p.m.

Resolution

Resolution 1429 (2002) reads, as follows:

The Security Council,

“Recalling all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara, in particular resolution 1359 (2001) of 29 June 2001 and resolution 1394 (2002) of 27 February 2002,

Stressing that in view of lack of progress in the settlement of the dispute over Western Sahara the search for a political solution is critically needed,

Concerned that this lack of progress continues to cause suffering to the people of Western Sahara, remains a source of potential instability in the region and obstructs the economic development of the Maghreb region,

Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which would be of benefit to the Maghreb region,

Seeking to alleviate the consequences of conflict in Western Sahara, and accordingly to secure the immediate release of prisoners of war and other detainees, to establish the fate of persons unaccounted for, and to repatriate refugees,

Determined to secure 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,

Expressing continuing full support for the role and work of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy,

Commending the parties for their continuing commitment to the ceasefire and welcoming the essential contribution which the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) is making in that regard,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 19 February 2002 (S/2002/178) and the four options contained therein,

Underlining also the validity of the Settlement Plan, while noting the fundamental differences between the parties in implementing the Plan,

Noting also the fundamental differences with regard to the four options contained in the report of the Secretary-General of 19 February 2002,

“1.Continues to support strongly the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to find a political solution to this long-standing dispute, invites the Personal Envoy to pursue these efforts taking into account the concerns expressed by the parties and expresses its readiness to consider any approach which provides for self-determination that may be proposed by the Secretary-General and the Personal Envoy, consulting, as appropriate, others with relevant experience;

“2.Calls upon all the parties and the States of the region to cooperate fully with the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy;

“3.Calls upon the parties to collaborate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the implementation of confidence-building measures, and urges the international community to provide generous support to UNHCR and the World Food Programme in order to help them overcome the deteriorating food situation among the refugees;

“4.Calls upon Morocco and the Polisario Front to continue to cooperate with the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross to resolve the problem of the fate of all those unaccounted for since the beginning of the conflict;

“5.Welcomes the release of 101 Moroccan prisoners of war, and calls upon the Polisario Front to release without further delay all remaining prisoners of war in compliance with international humanitarian law;

“6.Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 31 January 2003;

“7.Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation before the end of the present mandate that contains any further proposal from the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy together with recommendations pertaining to the most appropriate configuration of MINURSO;

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

Background

The Security Council this afternoon met to consider the situation in Western Sahara.  It had before it a report of the Secretary-General dated 19 February 2002 (document S/2002/178), in which he recommends that the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) be extended fur a further two months until 30 April. 

On that date, the Council extended the mandate until 31 July, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1406 (2002), so that it could further consider the Secretary-General's report and the four options outlined therein.

In the report (document S/2002/178), the Secretary-General proposes four options for the future of the Western Sahara peace process, noting that the two parties to the conflict –- Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front) -– had not fully cooperated with the United Nations in the settlement of the dispute over the Territory.

Under the first option, the United Nations could resume trying to implement the settlement plan, but without requiring the agreement of both parties before action could be taken.  Under that option, the Identification Commission of MINURSO would be reinforced, and indeed the overall size of the operation would be increased.

Under the second option, the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, James A. Baker III, could revise the draft framework agreement, which envisages a devolution of authority to the inhabitants of the Territory with the final status to be determined by subsequent referendum.  Mr. Baker would take into account concerns expressed by the parties and others, but would not seek their agreement on the revised document.  Should the Council agree to that option, MINURSO could be downsized.

As a third option, the Council could ask Mr. Baker to determine whether or not the parties would now be willing to discuss, under his auspices, directly or through proximity talks, a possible division of the Territory.  If the Council

chose that option, but the parties were unwilling or unable to agree upon a division of the Territory by 1 November 2002, Mr. Baker would show them and the Council a proposal for division of the Territory.

The Council would present that proposal to the parties as non-negotiable.  Were the Council to choose that option, MINURSO could be maintained at its present size, or be reduced even more.

Under the fourth option, the Council could decide to terminate MINURSO.  Choosing that option would be an acknowledgement that, after more than 11 years and the expenditure of nearly $500 million, the United Nations was not going to solve the problem of Western Sahara without requiring that one or both of the parties do something they did not agree voluntarily to do.

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For information media. Not an official record.