Members Pass Measure by 13 Votes in Favour to None Against, with 2 Abstentions
The Security Council, by a vote of 13 in favour to none against with 2 abstentions (Russian Federation, South Africa), today decided to extend the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for a period of six months.
Adopting resolution 2468 (2019), the Council decided to extend the Mission’s mandate until 31 October while emphasizing the need to achieve a realistic, practicable and enduring political solution to the question of Western Sahara based on compromise. Welcoming new momentum created by two recent round-table meetings in December 2018 and March 2019 – as well as the commitment by Morocco, the Frente Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania to engage in the United Nations political process – members also expressed their full support for efforts by the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, Horst Köhler, to sustain those renewed negotiations and noted the latter’s intention to invite the parties to convene again.
Calling upon the parties to resume their talks in good faith and without preconditions in order to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution providing for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in line with the United Nations Charter, the Council further invited Member States to lend their appropriate assistance to those talks. It also reaffirmed the need for full respect for the military agreements reached with MINURSO concerning the ceasefire, calling on parties to adhere fully to those agreements and refrain from any actions that could undermine negotiations or further destabilize the situation on the ground.
Also by the terms of the text, the Council welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiatives to standardize a culture of performance in United Nations peacekeeping and reaffirmed its support for the development of a comprehensive and integrated performance policy framework that identifies clear standards for peacekeeping personnel. It called on the Secretary-General to apply that framework to MINURSO and to meaningfully increase the number of women in the Mission.
Speaking after the adoption, the representative of the United States – penholder for the Council’s Western Sahara file - welcomed the organ’s strong support for the work of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy. However, he expressed disappointment that two members chose to abstain in the resolution’s adoption. The Council’s objective should be to advance a timely and sustainable political solution, he said, asking members to engage more closely with one another to that end. Recalling that Morocco, the Frente Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania met in December for the first time in six years with the goal of advancing a realistic and practicable solution, he stressed that MINURSO should also support such a solution and must continue to be evaluated in light of that objective.
The representative of France said the resolution expresses the Council’s commitment to the political process. Underlining her support for the Personal Envoy – and for his prerogative to convene a third meeting of the parties in Geneva when he feels the conditions are appropriate – she welcomed the December meeting between the four parties and declared: “We must now build on these achievements.” Describing the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco in 2007 as a good basis for future negotiations, she joined other speakers in hailing MINURSO’s work and said her delegation would prefer that going forward a mandate extension of 12 months – rather than six – become the norm.
Indonesia’ representative, welcoming MINURSO’s mandate renewal, said the text carefully reflects the delicate balance required by the situation. Commending the constructive engagement of all parties within their ongoing political process, he urged them to continue down the road of negotiations.
Côte d’Ivoire’s representative agreed that his delegation would have preferred a 12-month mandate extension to allow for better forward-planning in MINURSO’s activities. He joined other speakers in welcoming the Personal Envoy’s work, as well as Morocco’s “serious and credible” autonomy initiative.
The representative of the United Kingdom said the resolution adopted today sends a strong signal of the Council’s support for both MINURSO and the Personal Envoy’s efforts. Encouraging the parties and neighbouring States to continue their negotiations and to refrain from any activities that could undermine those talks or escalate tensions, he voiced regret that the Council was unable to speak with one voice.
Kuwait’s representative, noting that his delegation would have preferred a 12-month extension, as well as a consensus adoption, nevertheless voiced support for MINURSO’s work, as well as that of the Personal Envoy.
The representative of Equatorial Guinea reaffirmed his delegation’s support for both MINURSO and the Personal Envoy. Welcoming recent negotiations, he encouraged the parties to continue down that path in good faith and without preconditions. Like others, Equatorial Guinea would have preferred a 12-month renewal, but given that was not the case, he expressed hope that a longer renewal will be considered when the mandate comes up for consideration again in October.
China’s representative expressed hope that the parties will continue their negotiations and their efforts to build trust. Expressing support for MINURSO’s mandate extension, he said the resolution adopted today signifies the Council’s resolve to push forward a political solution. However, he expressed hope that the Council will undertake more thorough and inclusive consultations on the matter in the future, and underlined China’s long-held impartial position on the Western Sahara.
The representative of the Dominican Republic said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution in light of its belief that international support is needed for the ongoing negotiation process. Noting that his delegation would have preferred a 12-month mandate extension, he described Morocco’s proposed autonomy initiative as a serious and credible basis for future negotiations.
The representative of Germany, Council president for April, spoke in his national capacity, welcoming the adoption but voicing regret that it could not be adopted by consensus. The Council and other United Nations Member States should show their willingness to use their weight and influence to support the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy in bringing about a realistic, practical and lasting solution for the people of Western Sahara. Welcoming that today’s resolution includes a demand for building more trust between the parties, he said it is now up to Morocco and the Frente Polisario to demonstrate their political will.
The representative of the Russian Federation, also voicing support for the Special Envoy’s work, said that for the first time in many years a chance to achieve a just and lasting solution to the Western Sahara issue has emerged. Expressing hope that the next meeting between the parties will lead to further progress, he said his delegation maintains close and friendly relations with all the parties. MINURSO plays a crucial stabilizing role in the region, he said, rejecting attempts to create “artificial commotion” around the Mission’s mandate extensions, as well as attempts to prejudge the course of negotiations or alter already agreed parameters. Voicing concern over the emergence of amendments that could undermine the Council’s neutral role, he said the Russian Federation’s attempts to correct the resolution’s imbalance by restoring previously agreed language were ignored. In that regard, he voiced concern about the Council’s penholder system more broadly.
The representative of South Africa, reiterating his delegation’s unequivocal and strong support for the referendum in Western Sahara and the renewal of MINURSO’s mandate until 31 October, recalled that the latter was created primarily to facilitate the holding of such a referendum enabling the people to realize their right to self-determination. While the resolution contains numerous paragraphs with which South Africa agrees, it is not balanced and fails to provide a true reflection of the efforts being undertaken by the two parties, Morocco and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic – both member States of the African Union. “The mandate as approved tends to favour one party over the other, which is not conducive to a neutral political process,” he said. In addition, there is little clarity on the use of such terms as “realistic” and “realism”, as well as “compromise”. The resolution should not attempt to unduly influence the direction of the political process nor pre-empt any final status of the negotiations.
Expressing regret that the Council continues to resist a human rights monitoring mandate for MINURSO, he said that gives the impression that the human rights of the people of Western Sahara are not held in the same regard as those of other people. “This lack of consistency undermines our credibility,” he stressed, adding that the text should differentiate between the parties to the conflict – namely, Morocco and the Frente Polisario - and the neighbouring States, Algeria and Mauritania. “This is again an example of an African issue being decided by those that are not from the continent,” he emphasized. The Council must take up its responsibility to ensure that, through a neutral and balanced approach, it assists the parties in moving towards a mutually acceptable negotiated settlement. Expressing concern that draft resolutions on MINURSO continue to be negotiated in an opaque and non-inclusive manner, he said Council members were not provided an adequate opportunity to negotiate the text.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:48 a.m.