Deciding to extend by one year the mandate for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), the Security Council adopted today a resolution calling on all parties to continue to show political will to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations to resolve the territorial dispute.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2218 (2015), extending the mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2016, the 15-member body called upon all parties to cooperate fully with the Mission’s operations. It further affirmed its full support for the work of Christopher Ross, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, in his efforts to bring the negotiating parties closer together, as well as the work of Kim Bolduc, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and Head of MINURSO.
Following the adoption, Council members raised concerns as they expressed support for the text and its provisions. Echoing a common view, Ramlan Bin Ibrahim, representative of Malaysia, said that the status quo in the 40-year-old dispute was not an option. Agreeing, Alexis Lamek, representative of France, underlined that the text addressed all pertinent aspects of the situation, including recognizing the human dimension. Yet, moving forward, he said, refugees living in the Tindouf camps must not be forgotten.
In a similar vein, speakers underlined the importance of the United Nations’ presence, with Michele Sison, representative of the United States, saying that MINURSO was indispensable in facilitating a lasting political solution. Council President Dina Kawar of Jordan, speaking in her national capacity, emphasized that the United Nations was the only organization accepted by both sides. If fully implemented by the parties, she said, resolution 2218 (2015) would lead to a lasting solution.
Calling the Mission essential to maintaining the current ceasefire between parties, Román Oyarzun Marchesi, representative of Spain, said it should continue its work in facilitating the resolution of the dispute. In the meantime, Member States should continue to make voluntary contributions to ensure the needs of refugees were addressed. The priority now, he said, was to move forward with the political process to agree upon a lasting solution that would enhance stability in the region.
Indeed, regional security was a concern raised by many speakers. Peter Wilson, representative of the United Kingdom, regretted to say that no progress had been made in resolving the dispute at a time of growing security threats in the region. Welcoming the pledge of parties to find a resolution, he hoped that their actions would match their words. Unless political will could be found by the parties, a solution would remain elusive, he said. Achieving a political solution would also contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region, said Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins, representative of Angola. As such, all parties must abide by the provisions of the resolution and tangible progress should be achieved towards a referendum.
With regard to the procedure by which the resolution was adopted, some Council members expressed concerns. Pointing out that the text excluded elements raised by some Council members, Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño, representative of Venezuela, said future negotiating processes should operate in an inclusive manner. Yong Zhao, China’s representative, said that more time and patience should have been used during the process in order to address those issues and to obtain the widest support possible for the text.
The meeting began at 10:16 a.m. and ended at 10:45 a.m.
The full text of resolution 2218 (2015) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling and reaffirming all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara,
“Reaffirming its strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to implement resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), and 2152 (2014),
“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 the neighbouring states to cooperate more fully with the United Nations and with each other and to strengthen their involvement to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution,
“Recognizing that achieving a political solution to this long-standing dispute and enhanced cooperation between the Member States of the Maghreb Arab Union would contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region,
“Welcoming the efforts of the Secretary-General to keep all peacekeeping operations, including the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), under close review and reiterating the need for the Council to pursue a rigorous, strategic approach to peacekeeping deployments, and effective management of resources,
“Expressing concern about the violations of existing agreements, and calling on the parties to respect their relevant obligations,
“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,
“Encouraging in this context, the parties to demonstrate further political will towards a solution including by expanding upon their discussion of each other’s proposals,
“Taking note of the four rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of the Secretary-General and welcoming the commitment of the parties to continue the negotiations process,
“Encouraging the parties to continue cooperating with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in implementing the January 2012 updated Plan of Action on Confidence Building Measures,
“Stressing the importance of improving the human rights situation in Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps, and encouraging the parties to work with the international community to develop and implement independent and credible measures to ensure full respect for human rights, bearing in mind their relevant obligations under international law,
“Encouraging the parties to continue in their respective efforts to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps, including the freedoms of expression and association,
“Recognizing and welcoming, in this regard, the recent steps and initiatives taken by Morocco to strengthen the National Council on Human Rights Commissions operating in Dakhla and Laayoune, and Morocco’s ongoing interaction with Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, including those planned for 2015, as well as the planned visit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2015,
“Also welcoming the implementation of the enhanced refugee protection programme developed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in coordination with the Polisario Front, which includes refugee and human rights training and awareness initiatives,
“Reiterating its request for consideration of a refugee registration in the Tindouf refugee camps and inviting efforts in this regard,
“Welcoming the commitment of the parties to continue the process of negotiations through the United Nations-sponsored talks,
“Recognizing that the consolidation of the status quo is not acceptable, and noting further that progress in the negotiations is essential in order to improve the quality of life of the people of Western Sahara in all its aspects,
“Affirming full support for the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara Ambassador Christopher Ross and his work in facilitating negotiations between the parties, and, welcoming to that effect his recent initiatives and ongoing consultations with the parties and neighbouring states,
“Affirming full support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and Head of MINURSO Kim Bolduc,
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 13 April 2015 (S/2015/246),
“1. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2016;
“2. Reaffirms the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO with regard to the ceasefire and calls on the parties to adhere fully to those agreements;
“3. Calls upon all parties to cooperate fully with the operations of MINURSO, including its free interaction with all interlocutors, and to take the necessary steps to ensure the security of as well as unhindered movement and immediate access for the United Nations and associated personnel in carrying out their mandate, in conformity with existing agreements;
“4. Welcomes the parties’ commitment to continue the process of preparation for a fifth round of negotiations, and recalls its endorsement of the recommendation in the report of 14 April 2008 (S/2008/251) that realism and a spirit of compromise by the parties are essential to achieve progress in negotiations;
“5. Calls upon the parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations, thus ensuring implementation of resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), and 2152 (2014), and the success of negotiations;
“6. Affirms its full support for the commitment of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy towards a solution to the question of Western Sahara in this context and calls for renewed meetings and strengthening of contacts;
“7. 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 subsequent developments, 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;
“8. Invites Member States to lend appropriate assistance to these talks;
“9. Requests the Secretary-General to brief the Security Council on a regular basis, and at least twice a year, on the status and progress of these negotiations under his auspices, on the implementation of this resolution, challenges to MINURSO’s operations and steps taken to address them, expresses its intention to meet to receive and discuss his briefings and in this regard, and further requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation in Western Sahara well before the end of the mandate period;
“10. Welcomes the commitment of the parties and the neighbouring states to hold periodic meetings with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to review and, where possible, expand confidence-building measures;
“11. Urges Member States to provide voluntary contributions to fund confidence-building measures agreed upon between the parties, including those that allow for visits between separated family members, as well as food programmes to ensure that the humanitarian needs of refugees are adequately addressed;
“12. 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;
“13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”