The Security Council decided today to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for 12 months, until 31 October 2020.
Adopting resolution 2494 (2019) by 13 votes in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Russian Federation, South Africa), the Council emphasized the need for a realistic, practicable, enduring and compromise‑based political solution to the Western Sahara question. It also emphasized the importance of aligning MINURSO’s strategic focus and orienting United Nations resources to that end.
Expressing its full support for ongoing efforts by the Secretary‑General to sustain the renewed negotiation process, the Council noted his former Personal Envoy’s intention to invite Morocco, the Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro (Frente Polisario), Algeria and Mauritania to meet again, welcoming their commitment to remaining engaged throughout the process in a spirit of realism and compromise.
The Council called upon the parties to resume negotiations without preconditions and in good faith, and upon all parties to cooperate fully with MINURSO, including through the Mission’s free interaction with all interlocutors. It also called upon the parties to ensure the security, unhindered movement and immediate access of United Nations and associated personnel in carrying out their mandate, in accordance with existing agreements.
Speaking after the text’s adoption, Council members affirmed support for MINURSO and for a just, lasting, mutually acceptable peace in Western Sahara, based on principles of the Charter of the United Nations, while also expressing national priorities.
Mr. Barkin (United States) welcomed the resolution’s strong statement of support for MINURSO, but said he would have preferred a unified, consensus text. However, it is most important that the political process continues without delay, he emphasized, while cautioning that the mandate renewal does not mean a return to business as usual. The process must move forward, he stressed.
Jonathan Guy Allen (United Kingdom) said a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution that will provide for the self‑determination of the people of Western Sahara must be achieved as soon as possible. He called upon the parties to recommitment themselves to progress towards that goal.
Tiemoko Moriko (Côte d’Ivoire) reaffirmed his delegation’s support for the momentum spurred by the two round‑table meetings, while stressing the importance of Morocco’s autonomy initiative. Also welcoming Morocco’s interaction with United Nations human rights procedures, he urged all stakeholders to pool their efforts to resolve the Western Sahara question.
José Manuel Trullols Yabra (Dominican Republic) welcomed the adoption of a balanced text that emphasizes MINURSO’s important role. It supports a compromise‑based solution, he added, noting that Morocco’s autonomy initiative presents a viable route towards a just and mutually acceptable solution.
Fawaz A. S. M. Bourisly (Kuwait) said that although he would have preferred a unanimous adoption, the resolution provides hope for a mutually acceptable solution. He also highlighted the importance of Morocco’s proposed initiative, as well as the need to uphold that country’s sovereignty.
Vladimir K. Safronkov (Russian Federation), expressing support for direct talks between Morocco and the Frente Polisario, affirmed the importance of MINURSO’s activities, pointing out that Russian military observers are deployed to the Mission. He cautioned against predetermining the outcome of the talks or altering previous agreements, emphasizing that it is unacceptable to dilute previously agreed parameters and thereby to undermine the core principles that could pave the way to a mutually acceptable settlement. The parties themselves must devise the best formula, he stressed, warning that a power vacuum would be dangerous.
Wu Haitao (China) expressed hope that more adequate consultations on the text will be held in the future in order to arrive at consensus among Council members. China will continue to uphold an impartial position and to encourage the parties to reach a just and lasting solution through negotiations, he added.
Paul Duclos (Peru) underlined the importance of resuming negotiations as soon as possible on the basis of Charter principles and previous Security Council decisions.
Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia) said it is important that the Council and all stakeholders maintain the momentum created. Noting his country’s contributions to MINURSO, he called upon all stakeholders to remain committed to the process and to work for a just and mutually acceptable solution.
Nicolas de Rivière (France) welcomed the return to a one‑year mandate for MINURSO, saying it should be standard for peacekeeping. Morocco’s 2007 autonomy initiative represents a serious and credible foundation for discussions on reviving a dialogue, he said.
Mathias Licharz (Germany) emphasized the crucial need to appoint a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary‑General and urged all stakeholders to support the continuation of a political process.
Remos Ondo Angue (Equatorial Guinea) expressed full support for MINURSO and for the former Personal Envoy’s efforts, expressing hope that his replacement will be able to hold a third round‑table meeting as soon as possible. He also applauded Morocco’s efforts to uphold human rights.
Maciej Maria Jamróz (Poland) described the resolution as an important step in advancing the process, citing the 12‑month period needed for that purpose.
Jerry Matthews Matjila (South Africa), Council President for October, spoke in his national capacity, explaining that he abstained from voting because the text does not fully represent the perspective of the African Union’s member States, and it undermines the principle of self‑determination. He went on to point out that although the issue concerns the continent’s last Non‑Self‑Governing Territory, the Group of Friends on Western Sahara does not include a single African country.
The meeting began at 3 p.m. and ended at 3:39 p.m.