Sahara: UN Envoy Briefs Security Council on Second Round of Talks
The Personal Envoy of UN Secretary-General for the Sahara Horst Köhler briefed on Tuesday the Security Council on the first roundtable meeting held in Geneva Dec. 5-6 on the Sahara that brought together Morocco, Algeria, the Polisario and Mauritania.
During this briefing and consultation held in accordance with resolution 2440, Köhler updated the Security Council members on his plans to advance the UN-led political process and convene a second roundtable in March.
The initial Sahara roundtable convened in Geneva was the first of its kind in six years. It was marked by the participation of Algeria, for the first time, as a party to the regional dispute over the Sahara and as a main stakeholder in the process aiming to find a political, realistic, practical and lasting solution to the conflict.
According to the UN, the Geneva 1st roundtable meeting was held as “a first step towards a renewed negotiations process with the aim of reaching a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable solution”.
Discussion in Geneva focused on stocktaking of recent developments, challenges and opportunities for regional integration, and next steps in the political process.
Morocco insists that the autonomy plan offered for the Sahara should be the basis for any negotiation, while Algeria and the Polisario still cling to the organization of a self-determination referendum, an obsolete option deemed unworkable by the UN due to everlasting disputes over eligible voters.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had urged all parties to the Sahara issue to demonstrate political will in order to advance the negotiations, emphasizing the importance of an enduring political solution to this regional conflict.
The former rounds of UN-brokered negotiations on the Sahara stalled due to the intransigent stand of the Algeria-backed Polisario front.
UN Security Council adopted end of April 2018 resolution 2414 which stressed the need to “make progress in the search for a realistic, pragmatic and sustainable political solution to the Sahara issue”.
The text also called on neighboring countries, namely Algeria and Mauritania, “to make an important contribution to the political process and to engage further in the negotiations” with the aim of “reaching a mutually acceptable political solution”, conducive to regional integration in the Maghreb and to regional peace and stability.