“A peaceful solution” to the Sahara conflict is “possible”, said on Thursday Mr. Horst Köhler, the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara at the end of a two-day roundtable held in Geneva.
Delegates from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario took part in this initial meeting, the first of its kind since 2012, convened at the invitation of the UN envoy.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Köhler (a former German president) said the meeting was “first – but important – step” towards a renewed political process on the future of the Sahara.
The UN envoy who commended the participating delegations for having engaged openly and in a spirit of mutual respect, he said maintaining the status quo benefits no one.
“I would like to applaud the delegations for having engaged openly and in a spirit of mutual respect…nobody wins from maintaining the status quo”, the UN Envoy said, insisting that resolving the conflict “lies in the interest of all”.
The ultimate goal is “to create an environment in the region that is conducive to strong economic growth, job creation and better security”, explained Mr. Köhler.
The delegations to the initial round table on the Moroccan Sahara decided to meet again in the course of the first quarter of 2019, said Mr. Köhler without specifying the date of the second meeting.
However, the correspondents of Moroccan e-journal Le360 in Geneva reported that the next meeting would take place at the end of March and / or early April 2019, i.e. one month ahead of the semi-annual meeting of the Security Council on the Sahara, scheduled for late April.
In this connection, the UN envoy expressed hope that during the next meeting the process would be guided “by a concern for the men and women, the children and youth” of the territory.
According to Mr. Köhler, all delegations “recognized that cooperation and regional integration, not confrontation, were the best way to address the many important challenges the region is facing”.
The UN Envoy also underlined the significance of the Geneva meeting, saying that “the goal of this process is… to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution” to the Sahara regional conflict.
Adopted on 31 October 2018, UN Security Council resolution 2440 calls on the parties to the conflict “to engage constructively” in Geneva talks and “demonstrate political will in order to advance the negotiations” to achieve an enduring political solution based on compromise in a manner consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.