1-  In response to the numerous calls to the parties by the Security Council to end the political impasse, Morocco submitted to the Secretary General of the United Nations, on April 11th 2007, “The Moroccan Initiative for negotiating an autonomous statute for the Sahara region”. Through this Initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees to the region's populations to run their affairs democratically, through legislative, executive, and judicial bodies. They will be endowed with the financial resources needed for the region's development, in all fields, and will participate, actively, in the nation's economic, social and cultural life.

2-   This is an initiative of compromise that is consistent with international law, the UN Charter, resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council, as well as the right to self determination. In fact, the Sahara region's autonomy statute will be negotiated and will be subject to a free referendum of the population concerned.

3-  Since its submission to the UN, this proposal of compromise has been well received and supported by numerous countries.  It has also created a new dynamic within the Security Council that qualified its underlying efforts as “serious and credible”.  It has also allowed for the launch of long desired talks (4 formal rounds of and 9 informal meetings). The Security Council adopted ten resolutions 1754 (2007), 1873 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), 2152 (2014), 2218 (2015), 2285 (2016) and 2351(2017) which mainly:

·         Confirm, the pre-eminence of the autonomy initiative presented by Morocco and the parameters for a final political settlement based on realism and compromise;

·         Request the parties to invest, in good faith, in the negotiation process while taking into account efforts made by Morocco since 2006;

·         Call up on neighbouring States to invest, in a constructive manner, in the quest of a political solution to this regional dispute, in order to end the present deadlock and move forward to a final political solution;

·         Underline the importance of the realism and spirit of compromise as parameters of the negotiations;

·         Recognize explicitly that the dispute settlement, combined with cooperation between the UMA member-States, will contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region;

4-   Thanks to the momentum created by the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative, four rounds of formal negotiations were held under the auspices of the former Personal Envoy of the Secretary General, Ambassador van Walsum (18 and 19 June 2007; 10 and August 11, 2007, from 7 to 9 January 2008 and March 16 to 18, 2008).

5-  After four informal round and the different visits of the Personnel Envoy to the region, M. Peter Van Walsum, in his briefing to the Security Council on April 21st 2008, underlined that “the independence of the Sahara is not a realistic option”.

6-   After the end of the term of Mr. Van Walsum, the Secretary General of the United Nations appointed Mr. Christopher Ross as his new Personal Envoy, whose mandate is to work with the parties and neighboring States on basis of resolution 1813, taking into account the progress made so far to reach a negotiated political solution that is mutually acceptable.

7-  In this context, Morocco participated in nine informal talks under the auspices of the Personnel Envoy of the Secretary General and which took place consecutively in (Vienna, from 9 till 11 August 2009/ Armonk (New York) from 10 to11 February 2010/ Manhasett 8 and 9 November 2010/ Manhasett 16, 17 and 18 December 2010/Greentree, Long Island, United States January 21 to 23, 2011/ Mellieha (Malta) from 7 to 8 and 9 March 2011/ Manhasset on 7 and 8 June 2011/ Manhasset from 19 to 21 July 2011/Manhasset from March 11 to 13, 2012. 

8-  These talks were a new opportunity for Morocco to mainly:

·         Re-introduce the content, the scope and the philosophy of the Moroccan Initiative, as a compromise solution to end the      artificial dispute over the Moroccan Sahara and demonstrate the validity, accuracy and full compliance of its autonomy initiative with international legality, and with the spirit and letter of the Security Council resolutions;

·         Demonstrate the outdated reference of the so-called proposal of the other parties, its obsolete content and biased interpretation of the principle of self-determination, and the inapplicability of the referendum with extreme options

·         Express his astonishment at the rejection of the other parties to discuss the issue of human rights on which they had previously proposed and insisted on;

·         Call up on Algeria and the Polisario to fulfill their obligations regarding the respect of human rights, arguing Moroccan achievements in this regard such as the establishment of the Ombudsperson Institution and the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) and its antenna in Laayoune which were welcomed by the Security Council;

·         Call up on other parties to facilitate the work of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the identification and registration of population of the Tindouf camps in Algeria;

·         Reiterate its strong commitment to contribute effectively to an innovative solution that goes beyond the classical methods to end the current deadlock on the Sahara issue, expressing its regret that the other parties are sticking to their position, especially regarding the identification and the registration of the Tindouf camps population and compromising, therefore, the efforts of the United Nations to achieve a political and lasting political solution to this dispute.

9- Regarding the humanitarian dimension, Morocco has participated in several meetings and initiatives for the sole purpose of alleviating the suffering of the Tindouf camps populations in Algeria. In this context, it should be noted that the family visit program has been strengthened and continued without interruption, despite attempts to politicize this humanitarian activity by other parties. In the same context, four apolitical seminars were organized under the aegis of the UNHCR in (Portugal).


The parties held under the auspices of UNHCR, regular assessment meetings on implementation of confidence-building measures in Geneva. During this meeting, Morocco contributed positively to the adoption of new measures, including increasing the number of beneficiaries of the family visits program by air, by using larger aircraft. The parties have agreed to hold two new seminars and adopted a new action plan on CBM.

10-  Morocco has undertaken a global assessment of the last developments and underlined the stalemate of the negotiations process after the nine rounds of informal negotiations without any perspective of progress. Morocco shared this assessment with the SG of the UN and requested him to take the necessary measures in this regard.

11-  The telephone conversation of 25 August 2012, between His Majesty King Mohammed VI and Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, was the occasion to insist on the necessity to realize a progress in the settlement process on solid and sound basis, to abide by the clear parameters contained in the UN Security Council resolutions, in particular, realism and compromise spirit and the recognition of the serious and credible nature of the efforts made by Morocco in the framework of the autonomy initiative.

12- From 14 to 18 October 2013, the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara, Mr. Christopher Ross undertook his 7th visit to the region and the third after the telephone conversation of 25 August 2012, between His Majesty King Mohammed VI and Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations. His visit to Rabat was as part of a regional tour including Algeria (Algiers and Tindouf camps) and Mauritania.  Its objective was to revitalize the political process aimed at reaching a final and consensual political solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara. This visit comes as well as part of a scheduled tour in the region.

       During this visit, Dr. Ross held a meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr.Abdelilah Benkirane, as well as with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Salahddine Mezouar in the presence of the Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mrs. Mbarka Bouaida, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Hassad, the President of the House of Counselors, Mr.Biadillah and the President the House of Representatives, M.Ghellab.

      Discussions with the UN official focused on ways and means to lay the proper foundation for a resumption of negotiations between the parties. Moroccan officials reaffirmed their commitment to the autonomy plan in the southern provinces proposed by Morocco, as «the only way «to solve the artificial dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.

       Mr. Ross also held talks with the local authorities in Lâayoune and Smara as well as with the representatives of the civil society and NGOs.

13- On October 30th 2013, the Personnel Envoy of the UN Secretary General, made a briefing before the Security Council in conformity with SC resolution 2099 (2013). In his briefing, the PE informed the SC about the results of his visit to the region and  stressed

·          The need to give a start to his new methodology of shuttle diplomacy in a discrete and confidential manner. He planes to visit the region at the end of November or beginning of December 2013;

·         The need to continue his efforts to normalize relations between Morocco and Algeria so as to facilitate the progress towards a political solution to this artificial regional dispute;

·         Security threats and developments in the region and the necessity for the international community to assist in progressing towards a rapid and final political solution.

14 - Security Council members reiterated their support to the process of negotiations for a political solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, emphasizing the realism and seriousness of the Moroccan initiative autonomy as a basis for the settlement of this dispute.  They also welcomed Morocco's efforts in strengthening human rights through national and regional mechanisms and positive interaction with the relevant measures of the Council of Human Rights. They also reiterated the need to give the possibility to the High Commissioner for Refugees to carry out population census of Tindouf.

15- On April 29, 2014, the Security Council adopted, by the unanimity of its members, the resolution on RES/2152/2014 on the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara which confirms strongly and without any ambiguity, the line of work that was his, in recent years.  His Majesty the King Mohammed VI had, during a telephone conversation with the Secretary General of the United Nations, underlined the need to preserve the parameters of the negotiation as defined by the Security Council, to maintain the current procedures for the involvement of the United Nations.

The UN resolution RES/2152/2014:

·     Preserves the framework and the facilitation parameters conducted by the United Nations to put an end to this regional dispute. Indeed, the Security Council underlines the centrality of negotiation as the only way of resolving this dispute, and reaffirms the primacy of the autonomy initiative presented by Morocco, whose efforts for its development have been qualified as " serious and credible ", and further calls for negotiations on the basis of " realism and a spirit of compromise " to reach a final political solution to this regional dispute.

·     Stresses, particularly, on the regional dimension of the dispute and calls Algeria to get involved, constructively and directly in the process of finding a political solution, regarding the responsibilities of Algeria on "the unprecedented human and humanitarian situation in the camps of Tindouf" , to strengthen regional cooperation.

·     Highlights the actions of Morocco in the consolidation of the promotion and protection of human rights, while welcoming the recent measures and initiatives taken by Morocco to enhance the Committees of the CNDH in Dakhla and Lâayoune, and the current interaction of the Kingdom with the special procedures of the Human Rights Council

16- The 69th United Nations General Assembly adopted on October 14th 2014, without voting, a resolution on the Moroccan Sahara issue. While supporting the process of negotiations, initiated by resolution 1754 (2007), with a view of achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution», the General Assembly has also called upon the States of the region to cooperate fully with the efforts undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations, and with each other, in the search for a mutually acceptable political solution to the regional dispute over the Sahara.

Furthermore, the General Assembly has called upon the parties to continue to show political will and to work in an atmosphere that is suitable for dialogue in order to get involved, in good faith and without preconditions, in a more intensive phase of negotiations, taking note of the efforts and developments achieved since 2006.

By adopting this resolution, the General Assembly supports the Security Council’s approach, aiming at reaching a political, definitive and mutually acceptable solution for the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.

17- In conformity with UN Security Council resolution 2152, a briefing was held, on October 27th 2014, by the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General to the Sahara during which members of the Security Council reiterated their support to the negotiations process aiming at reaching a political solution to the dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, while emphasizing the realism and seriousness of the Moroccan initiative for the negotiation of an autonomy statute for the Southern provinces as a basis for a solution to this regional dispute.

18- During a phone conversation with His Majesty King Mohammed VI, the United Nations Secretary General, M.Ban Ki Moon stated that the UN has taken note of Morocco's remarks and observations relating to the handling of the Sahara issue within the UN. He gave all guarantees about the neutrality, objectivity and impartiality of UN officials in charge of facilitating the UN mission.Ban Ki Moon also underlined that the MINURSO will continue its mission while strictly abiding by its current mandate.

     On the basis of these clarifications and guarantees, His Majesty the King confirmed to the UN chief Morocco's commitment to backing the facilitation led by the Personal Envoy and its full cooperation with officials appointed by the UNSG for this end.

19- Following the telephone conversation of January 22nd, between His Majesty the King Mohammed VI, and the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, during which clarifications were made and assurances were given to the Sovereign, M. Christopher Ross, the Personnel Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara visited Morocco on February 12th 2015, as part of his regional tour.

     During this visit, the Personnel Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, H.E.M.Salaheddine MEZOUAR, who reiterated Morocco's cooperation with the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General and its support to the facilitation mission which he undertakes, in accordance with the terms of the telephone conversation between His Majesty the King and the UN Secretary General.

20- The UN Security Council adopted, on 28th April 2015, resolution 2218 on the Moroccan Sahara. By adopting this new resolution, the UN executive body:

·         Consolidates Morocco’s achievements in the UN facilitation process as it provides a clear answer to all the agitation and chimeras that have been maintained, throughout the past year, by other parties on a possible reorientation of negotiation process.

·         Reiterates its appreciation of Morocco’s “serious and credible efforts”, thanks to the Moroccan autonomy Initiative, to move towards a political solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.

·         Reiterates its call for negotiations based on "realism and spirit of compromise."

·         Puts emphasis on the dispute’s regional dimension by calling on neighboring countries, including Algeria to "cooperate more fully with the United Nations" and to “be more committed to end to the current deadlock and to achieve progress       towards a political solution”.

·         Recognizes that "the political solution of this longstanding dispute, as well as the strengthening of cooperation between the Arab Maghreb Union’s Member States would contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region".

·         Calls up on Algeria for the fifth consecutive year, to "make efforts" to facilitate the identification and registration of populations in Tindouf camps, in accordance with its international obligations.

·         Validates Morocco's approach to strengthen the national human rights institutions’ role, throughout the national territory, including the Sahara, supplemented by constructive interaction with United Nations special procedures.

21- The Kingdom of Morocco will continue its commitment to the UN led process to reach a final political solution to this regional dispute within Moroccan sovereignty and in accordance with the last November 6th  Royal Speech and Under the terms of the phone call between His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God assist him, and the UN Secretary-General.

 

22- The 70th United Nations General Assembly adopted on December 9th 2015, without voting, the resolution (A/RES/70/98) on the Moroccan Sahara issue, supporting the political process with a view of achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution. The resolution welcomes the will of the parties to continue to show realism and compromise in order to reach a negotiated political and mutually acceptable solution for the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.

 

23- The United Nations Security Council, adopted, on April 29th 2016, the resolution 2285 regarding the issue of Moroccan Sahara. By this resolution, the Security Council:

·         Reaffirmed the parameters of the political solution, as defined by the Security Council since 2004 and clarified, in operational terms, in 2007;

·         Made a major setback to the scams of the UN Secretary General, particularly those carried out during his visit of mars 2016 in the region.

·         Confirmed the MINURSO mandate as it has evolved in recent years, conflicting with all attempts to change the mandate of the MINURSO, or its extension to missions that were not agreed upon and foreign intervention as to the nature of its purpose. The 4th Committee of the 71 United Nations General Assembly adopted on October 2016, a resolution on the Moroccan Sahara issue, supporting the process of negotiations, with a view of achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.

24- The United Nations Security Council, adopted, on April 28th 2017, the resolution 2351 regarding the issue of Moroccan Sahara. By this resolution, the Security Council underlined mainly the following:

·         Reiterates its appreciation of Morocco’s “serious and credible efforts”, thanks to the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative, to move towards a political solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.

·         Reiterates its call for negotiations based on "realism and spirit of compromise."

·         Puts emphasis on the dispute’s regional dimension by calling on neighboring countries, mainly Algeria to "cooperate more fully with the United Nations" and to “be more committed to end to the current deadlock and to achieve progress towards a political solution”.

·         Recognizes that "the political solution of this longstanding dispute, as well as the strengthening of cooperation between the Arab Maghreb Union’s Member States would contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region".

·         Calls up on Algeria for the fifth consecutive year, to "make efforts" to facilitate the registration of populations in Tindouf camps and emphasized that efforts should be made in this regards.

25-  On 16th August 2017, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Horst Köhler, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara. He took office on September 8th 2017. Köhler succeeds Christopher Ross of the United States who completed his assignment on 30 April 2017.

 

26-  His Majesty King Mohammed VI received, on 17th October 2017, at the Royal Palace in Rabat the personnel envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Sahara, Horst Köhler, who visited Morocco as part of a regional tour including Tindouf, Algiers and Nouakchott. Horst Köhler, also met The Head of The Government, Mr.Saâdeddine El Othmani and Minister of Foreing Affairs and Internaitonal Cooperation, Mr.Nasser Bourita.

27-  The 72nd session of United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution A/RES//95 on December 2017, which supported the Security Council appeals for all the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.

28- At the invitation of United Nations Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, a Moroccan delegation, led by Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.E.Mr.Nasser Bourita, held talks with Mr. Mr. Horst Kohler, on 6th March 2018 in Lisbon.

During the talks, H.E.Mr. Bourita stressed the fundamentals, depicted in the speech made by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the Green March, in November 6th, 2017, pertaining to the following:

·         Morocco remains committed to engaging in the current dynamic wished for by His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations Organization, and to collaborating with his Personal Envoy, while keeping in mind the need to adhere to the related firmly established principles and terms of reference on which the Moroccan position is based. They include the following:

·         Firstly, ‘No’ to any solution to the Sahara question other than within the framework of Morocco’s full sovereignty over its Sahara and the Autonomy Initiative, which has been declared serious and credible by the international community;

·         Secondly, draw lessons from past experience, for the problem is not so much finding a solution as determining the process that produces it; for this reason, all the parties that have concocted this dispute must fully shoulder their responsibility in order for a final solution to be reached;

·         Thirdly, ensure full compliance with the terms of reference adopted by the UN Security Council when addressing this artificial regional dispute, for the Security Council is the only international body tasked with overseeing the settlement process; Fourthly, outright rejection of any transgression or attempt to infringe on Morocco’s legitimate rights or its best interests; rejection of any obsolete proposals designed to divert the settlement process from the set terms of reference, or to introduce or impose other issues which are dealt with by other relevant bodies.

29- The United Nations Security Council, adopted, on April 27th 2018, the resolution No: S/RES/2414 (2018), which reiterates and reinforces the parameters of the political solution for the issue of the Moroccan Sahara, through providing necessary answers and useful clarifications to the following:

                  1.Conditions of ceasefire agreement:

The Security Council requested the immediate withdrawal of the Polisario from the “Guerguarate” zone, considering its presence as “illegal and illegitimate”.

The “demonstrations" in the east of the Moroccan defense system, the "gatherings" organized in Bir Lahlou or Tifariti, or the "administrative constructions" that the Polisario is tempted to undertake in this zone, are considered by the Security Council as "destabilizing actions", which “must cease”.

                  2.The Purpose of the political process:

The Security Council has defined the ultimate purpose of the political process, through the introduction of a new paragraph (OP2) that comes just after the extension of the MINURSO mandate and emphasizes the need for a “realistic"practicable and enduring political solution to the question of Western Sahara based on compromise”. This is a very important development.

                     3.The role of Algeria:

The resolution encompasses a new call the neighboring country to contribute more to the political process and to strengthen its engagement in the negotiation process.      

 

 

 

The Kingdom of Morocco, which has fully supported UN efforts to reach a mutually acceptable political solution for the Sahara issue, clarifies, through the Memorandum (S/2004/760) submitted to UN, in 2004, its position and its efforts toward finding a political solution for the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.

This memorandum comprises:

- A clarification of the status of Morocco with respect to Sahara,

-The history of the question of Sahara at the United Nations: from the inability to implement the Settlement Plan to the search for a mutually acceptable political solution,

-Algeria’s part in the conflict,

-Morocco’s commitment to a definitive political solution to the dispute.

Click on the following link to view the full document:

http://repository.un.org/bitstream/handle/11176/23116/S_2004_760-EN.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

Moroccan Initiative for Negotiating an Autonomy Statute for the Sahara Region was submitted, on April 2007, by the Kingdom of Morocco to United Nations, to respond to the calls  of UN Security Council, since 2004, to the Parties to overcome the impasse and find a political solution to the dispute over the Moroccan Sahara. the Kingdom of Morocco set a positive, constructive and dynamic process in motion, and pledged to submit an autonomy proposal for the Sahara, within the framework of the Kingdom’s sovereignty and national unity. 

Click on the following link to view the full document:

http://repository.un.org/bitstream/handle/11176/9263/S_2007_206-EN.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

       In accordance with The Instructions of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESEC) developed a platform for the analysis and formulation of proposals for a New Development Model for the Kingdom’s Southern Provinces (NDMSP).

 

Click on the following link to view the full document:

 

http://www.ces.ma/Documents/PDF/Synthese-NMDPS-VAng.pdf

Q1: Was Morocco colonized in the past and how did it recover its sovereignty?

            The Kingdom of Morocco had been under three colonizers, the French in the center, the Spanish in the North and the South and an international administration of 12 foreign powers in the city of Tangier.

            When Morocco recovered its independence in 1956 it did not immediately regain all of its national territory. Having been subject to three-fold colonization, by France in the central part of the country, by Spain in the north and south and by an international administration in the city of Tangiers, the Kingdom of Morocco had to negotiate in stages the return of these different portions of its national territory, in full conformity, moreover, with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

 

            In full compliance with the principles and objectives of the UN Charter, Morocco opted for the same approach to recover its Saharan region that was under Spanish administration. Therefore, Morocco recovered Tarfaya in 1958 and Sidi Ifni in 1969, in virtue of the respective treaties of "Cintra" and "Fez". The Sahara and the area of Sidi Ifni were parts of the same “package”.

Q2 : What was the situation in the Sahara region ?

In 1965, UN General Assembly resolution 2072 urged “the Spanish government, as the administering power, to take the necessary measures for the liberation of Sidi Ifni and the Spanish Sahara and to initiate, to this end, negotiations regarding the sovereignty issue posed by these two territories.”

The Spanish regime at the time agreed to withdraw from Sidi Ifni first and put off, for politico-military considerations, the negotiations on the region of "Saqia El Hamra and Oued Ed-Dahab."

Unfortunately, the changes in the context of Spain, the Maghreb, and at the international level, made that the recuperation by Morocco of the Sahara region created some protests, after the signing of “Madrid Agreement” in November 1975, which is duly registered at the UN’s Secretariat General.

Besides, there are hundreds of documents that serve as evidence about the legitimacy of the allegiance of the tribes of the Sahara to the Moroccan State, which was transmitted by the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1975.

 

These documents include correspondences, epithelia of appointment of judges and assignments directed to the Sahara tribes, as there are more than 12 international conventions concluded by Morocco before the French Protectorate with both Britain, the United States, France and Spain, under which most of these countries recognize the Moroccanness of the Sahara, thus including the Sahara in the application of agreements between Morocco and these countries.

 

Q3 : Did polisario have any role during the liberation of the Moroccan Sahara from Spanish colonialism ?

            Polisario did not exist during the Spanish colonial period. Morocco was the only country to claim the territory, at the international level. Polisario is not recognized, at the international level, as a “liberation movement”, and even less as “sole and legitimate representative” of the Sahrawi population. Accordingly, polisario holds no legal or popular base, or even any democratic legitimacy whatsoever, to aspire to represent the population of Sahrawi origin.

Q4 : Is Morocco an occupying power of the Sahara region ?

            Considering Morocco as "occupying power" is totally wrong and inappropriate. The concept of "occupying power" is clearly defined in The Hague Regulations of 1907 and in the IV Geneva Convention adopted in August 12th, 1949, stipulating that the notion of "occupying power" applies to the occupation of the territory of an existing State during an international armed conflict. Yet, at the time of the Sahara recuperation, there was no independent State other than the Kingdom of Morocco.   

 

            Moreover, no report of the UN Secretary General, no resolution of the Security Council, and no legal opinion of the UN, describes Morocco as "occupying power". For over thirty years, there has not been any UN General Assembly resolution on the issue that has conferred such a status to Morocco, unlike the allegations presented by the other parties.

 

Q5. why the dispute over the Moroccan Sahara has a regional character?

 

            Algeria has been making systematic efforts since 1973 to thwart the full realization of Morocco's territorial integrity. Algeria's involvement in the question of Sahara has taken many and various forms: military engagement, financial and logistical support, diplomatic mobilization and training, breaches of international humanitarian law and the like. In addition to harbouring on its soil and supporting the Frente POLISARIO, Algeria sponsored the creation of a bogus "republic" in 1976 and rallied vigorously to get some countries to recognize this fictitious "entity" lacking in any feature of a sovereign State.

 

            Furthermore, the official communications from Algeria addressed to the United Nations show clearly that the country presents itself as either a "concerned party" or an "important actor" or a "stakeholder" in the settlement of the dispute.

 

            The Secretary-General of the United Nations and his Personal Envoy therefore rightly addressed Algeria directly to urge it "to engage as a party in these discussions [on the framework agreement] and to negotiate, under the auspices of my Personal Envoy, any specific changes it would like to see in the proposed document that would make it acceptable to it" (S/2001/613, para. 54).


            Algeria's response to that proposal revealed plainly that that country is far more than a mere observer of the settlement process. The representative of Algeria in fact reproached the Secretary-General for having decided with "unacceptable casualness ... to reject ..., in a disrespectful manner, the objections by Algeria" to the framework agreement and for having ignored the point of view of "an important actor" (A/55/997).


            In his report of 19 February 2002, the Secretary-General informed the Security Council about the visit that the Algerian President had made to Houston on 2 November 2001, during which he told Mr. James Baker, as Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, that "Algeria and the Frente POLISARIO would be prepared to discuss or negotiate a division of the Territory as a political solution to the dispute over Western Sahara" (S/2002/178, para. 2).

 

Q6. Is Morocco illegally exploiting natural resources of the Sahara region?

 

            The national natural resources management in the Sahara region is undertaking according to the requirements of development and the needs of the population, not through the logic investment of the region's resources, which fails to meet the pressing needs of the population. In this regard, His Majesty The King Mohammed VI underlined that “since we recovered the Sahara, for every single dirham of revenue from the Sahara, the state invests 7 dirhams there, as part of the solidarity between the regions and between the sons and daughters of the nation.” Speech of His Majesty The King of Morocco on 39th anniversary of the Green March, 06th November 2014.

            That is why Morocco doubled its investments, including more than double the size of revenue from the Sahara phosphate, in various aspects which yielded sizable results considering the outcomes at the level of human development, through mechanisms and elected institutions. All of this represents a solid mechanism to track all the development projects in the Sahara. Therefore, the exploitation of the natural resources in the Sahara takes place within the framework of international law with the involvement of the population and for its benefit.

Q7: Is Referendum the only mean to exercise the right of self-determination?

            The Referendum mechanism is not mentioned in any UN reference document in relation with self- determination

 

1.   The United Nations Charter:

 

•    Makes no reference to the referendum mechanism.

 

•    Assimilates, in no way, the principle of self-determination to that of independence.

 

            The issue of self-determination is dealt with in two chapters of the United Nations Charter (Chapters XI and XII). Article 73 of Chapter XI refers to the need to assist people in “the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement”.

 

            Similarly, reference resolutions of UN General Assembly (1514 and 1541 of 1960 and 2625 of 1970) do not mention referendum. Furthermore, UN General Assembly identifies four equal and distinct solutions of self-determination: independence, association, integration (resolution 1541) and "any other political status freely determined" (Resolution 2625), without any mentioning of the mechanism that has to lead to one or the other of the advocated solutions. Referendum is not the compulsory step to exercise the right of self-determination

 

            Since 1945, UN has supervised only 6 referenda:

 

                        - 2 led to independence (Namibia in 1990 and East Timor in 2002);

 

                        - 1 led to integration (West Irian in Indonesia in 1963);

 

                        - 2 led to the rejection of a proposed status of free association between Tokelau and                                       New-Zealand (2006 and 2007).

 

            Therefore, out of the 64 cases related to non-autonomous or trust territories settled by the United Nations since 1945, only three cases have been settled by a referendum.

 

Q7. Is Referendum applicable to The Sahara regional dispute?

 

            Morocco participated in good faith in the implementation of the Settlement Plan proposed in 1991 by the United Nations to resolve the dispute over Sahara. However, implementation of the plan was thwarted by the obstacles constantly thrown up by the Frente POLISARIO to distort the identification process. The Secretary-General, in his report of 17 February 2000, observes that "nine years have elapsed" and "it has not been possible ... to implement in full any of the main provisions of the United Nations settlement plan, with the exception of the monitoring of the ceasefire", because of "fundamental differences between the parties over the interpretation of its main provisions" (S/2000/131, para. 32).


            The Security Council drew the necessary conclusion from this finding in its resolution 1292 (2000) of 29 February 2000 by recommending to the Secretary-General to “consult the parties and, taking into account existing and potential obstacles, to explore ways and means to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute”, which would define their respective rights and obligations in Western Sahara.


            Therefore, since 2004,
the Security Council has been regularly calling upon “the parties and States of the region to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution”.

 

In response to this call by the international community, the Kingdom of Morocco set a positive, constructive and dynamic process in motion, and pledged to submit an autonomy proposal for the Sahara, within the framework of the Kingdom’s sovereignty and national unity.

 

In this regard, Morocco submitted to the Secretary General of the United Nations, on April 11th 2007, “The Moroccan Initiative for negotiating an autonomous statute for the Sahara region”. Through this Initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees to the region's populations to run their affairs democratically, through legislative, executive, and judicial bodies. They will be endowed with the financial resources needed for the region's development, in all fields, and will participate, actively, in the nation's economic, social and cultural life.

            Besides, the different resolutions adopted, since 2007, by the Security Council have progressively backed the Moroccan approach and gave pre-eminence to the Moroccan autonomy initiative. They also stressed the importance of “the realism and the spirit of compromise," two fundamental qualities of the Initiative, and called for intensive and substantial negotiations on this basis. On the other hand, the position of Algeria and the polisario continues to be based on a biased and oriented understanding of the self-determination principle and on a philosophy that is in contrast with the orientation given by the Security Council and wished by the international community to solve this regional dispute.

            In parallel with the inaction policy and obstruction tactics in negotiations, Algeria and polisario have multiplied attempts to derail the process, through a systematic instrumentalization of human rights issue. In this context, the other parties spare no efforts to delay reaching a realistic solution of compromise to this dispute. They make of the instrumentalization of human rights, their strategic tool to "suffocate" the political negotiation process and to torpedo the positive momentum created by the Moroccan autonomy initiative.

            Therefore, exploiting the climate of political openness and the expansion of freedom space in the Kingdom, the other parties have conducted diversion manoeuvres, manipulation actions and provocative acts, cynically brandishing the human rights banner and "firing on all cylinders". These recurring acts, deliberately provocative and flashy, aim, in fact, at concealing the refusal of the other parties to engage in substantive negotiations. They also contribute to maintaining the status quo that brings about political tensions and security risks, in the region.

            The Kingdom of Morocco remains committed to continue negotiations and reaffirms its political will to move towards a political solution of compromise. The other parties should abandon their blocking position as well as their diversion strategies and engage resolutely and in good faith in the process of seeking a realistic and feasible solution that will bring peace, stability and prosperity to the Maghreb region. The International community members should support the dynamic of negotiations and denounce Algeria’s and polisario’s widely known strategy of countering the current political dynamic and harming the negotiation process