|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5773rd Meeting (PM)
Security Council extends western sahara mission until 30 april 2008,
Unanimously adopting resolution 1783 (2007)
The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for six months, until 30 April 2008.
In the unanimously adopted resolution 1783 (2007), the Council, taking note of the two rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of the Secretary-General and welcoming progress made by the parties to enter into direct negotiations, called upon the parties to continue those negotiations without preconditions and in good faith with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which would 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.
The Council invited Member States to lend appropriate assistance to the talks, and called on them to consider voluntary contributions to fund confidence-building measures that would allow for increased contact between separated family members, as well as for other such measures that might be agreed between the parties.
Before the vote, the representative of South Africa expressed his disappointment that the resolution made no mention of human rights violations in Western Sahara, despite the Secretary-General’s call on the parties to remain engaged in a constructive dialogue with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with a view to ensuring respect for the human rights of the Western Saharan people. The Council, which was very vocal about human rights violations in other parts of the world, had decided to remain silent in the case of the Western Sahara. That “double standard” meant the Council decisions were often not taken seriously.
South Africa’s representative also expressed surprise that the “relentless attempts” to describe the Moroccan proposal as a “serious and credible effort to move the process forward towards resolution”. That proposal, however, was nothing more than a unilateral attempt to prevent the Saharan people from exercising their right to self-determination. He emphasized that there were two plans, one from Morocco and one from the Frente Polisario. Any attempt to praise one proposal over the other would undermine negotiations. Nevertheless, he would vote in favour of the resolution in the hope that one day the Saharan people could achieve their right to self determination. That might be the only way not only to decide about their future, but to protect their human rights.
The meeting started at 3:25 p.m. and adjourned at 3:35 p.m.
The full text of resolution 1783 (2007) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara,
“Reaffirming its strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy,
“Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve 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, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect,
“Reiterating its call upon the parties and States of the region to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations and with each other to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution,
“Taking note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution; also taking note of the Polisario Front proposal presented 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General,
“Taking note of the two rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of the Secretary-General; welcoming the progress made by the parties to enter into direct negotiations,
“Taking note that the parties have agreed to continue the process of negotiations through United Nations sponsored talks,
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 19 October 2007 (S/2007/619),
“1. Reaffirms the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO with regard to the ceasefire;
“2. Calls upon the parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to engage in substantive negotiations, thus ensuring implementation of resolution 1754 and the success of negotiations;
“3. Calls upon the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and developments of the last months, with a view to achieving 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, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect;
“4. Invites Member States to lend appropriate assistance to these talks;
“5. Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report by 31 January 2008 on the status and progress of these negotiations under his auspices, and expresses its intention to meet to receive and discuss this report;
“6. Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation in Western Sahara well before the end of the mandate period;
“7. Calls on Member States to consider voluntary contributions to fund Confidence Building Measures that allow for increased contact between separated family members, especially family unification visits, as well as for other confidence building measures that may be agreed between the parties;
“8. Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2008;
“9. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance in MINURSO with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including predeployment awareness training, and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;
“10. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
The Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara, covering developments since the report of 13 April 2007 and recommending that the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) be extended for six months.
In the report, the Secretary-General says that the meetings between Morocco and the Frente Polisario held in June and August 2007 were a cause for satisfaction, but he asked the Council to reiterate his call on those parties to enter into genuine negotiations, as required by its resolution 1754 (2007).
In addition, he noted that for the first time in many reporting periods there had not been a decrease in violations of the ceasefire. He also expressed concern that restrictions had continued on United Nations observers who sought to visit military units for verification purposes.
In that light, he called for full cooperation with MINURSO by both parties. He welcomed such cooperation where it was ongoing, particularly in mine clearance and education efforts, and noted that those activities were part of the core mandate of the Mission. MINURSO, therefore, intended to make provisions of $430,000 for mine action in its 2008-2009 budget.
On the humanitarian front, he expressed satisfaction that exchanges of family visits between the Territory and refugee camps in the Tindouf area had continued without interruption, and that the parties had agreed in principle to expand the programme. He urged donors to support that programme, which he said was also important as a confidence-building activity.
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