The 4th Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted without a vote a draft resolution reiterating support for the UN Secretary General and his Personal Envoy in their efforts to resolve the Sahara dispute through a consensual solution.
The resolution supports the negotiation process initiated by resolution 1754 (2007) of the Security Council and backed by the Council’s resolutions 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), 2152 (2014), 2218 (2015), 2285 (2016) and 2351 (2017) to reach a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable” political solution to the Sahara issue.
The resolution also called on the parties to the Sahara dispute to work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue, in order to enter into a more intensive phase of negotiations.
Speaking during the works of the Committee, Morocco’s representative at the UN in New York, Omar Hilale, called the General Assembly to stop examining the Sahara issue, thereby allowing Morocco to conduct the negotiation process leading to a mutually acceptable solution.
He explained that the Sahara dispute is not a question of decolonization, stressing that Morocco’s recovery of its territory from colonial Powers had been gradual and based on negotiated agreements.
He recalled that the Polisario had not existed in 1965 and hence could not claim any rights over the Sahara.
Algeria had only nurtured the separatist thesis and instigated the Polisario in order to undermine Morocco’s territorial integrity, he said.
General Assembly resolution 1541 stipulated that self determination could never apply to a part or region of a sovereign State, and usually applied only to a group that was ethnically and linguistically distinct from the administering State, he recalled.
By contrast, the Sahara was a geographic continuity of Morocco, Arabic was spoken there, Islam was practiced, culture and traditions were the same, and its tribes were aligned in allegiance to the Moroccan King.
He went on to reiterate that Algeria had distorted the principle of self determination when it had insisted on a referendum in the Sahara, pointing out that such a mechanism was not enshrined in General Assembly resolutions 1514 or 1541, and even less in resolution 2625, all of which constituted the cornerstones of that principle.
“The option of a referendum is definitively a non starter for Sahara,” he emphasized, pointing out that for the past 17 years, the Security Council had decided that a political resolution through dialogue was preferable to a referendum.
Regrettably, Morocco’s good faith efforts at negotiations had been met with intransigence by Algeria, which was responsible for the failure of peace efforts to date, he said, adding that Algeria remained opposed to a census in the Tindouf camps.
Algeria must shoulder its full responsibility and sit at the negotiating table, a view that was shared by several envoys of the Secretary General, Hilale said.