Sahara: Security Council Calls for Resumption of Political Process

The UN Security Council has called for the resumption of the political process regarding the Western Sahara to resolve one of the longest-standing issues on its agenda.
The Council’s support for resuming the political process was unambiguously expressed in Resolution 2351 it adopted on Friday, sending a strong signal that the time had come to resume negotiations, which had been at a standstill for far too long.
The 15-member Council actually called on the parties to the Western Sahara conflict to resume negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith, in order to facilitate a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution. Emphasizing the importance of the parties’ commitment to continuing the preparations for a fifth round of negotiations, the Council called upon them to demonstrate the political will to work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to resume negotiations, and to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions.
It also underlined the important role of neighboring countries (mainly Algeria, which is backing the separatist Polisario Front, and Mauritania) in making contributions to the political process, and finding a solution to the territorial dispute.
As stated in the resolution, the Council “reiterates its call upon the parties and the neighboring states to cooperate more fully with the United Nations and with each other and to strengthen their involvement to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution. It also recognizes that “achieving a political solution to this long-standing dispute and enhanced cooperation between the Member States of the Maghreb Arab Union would contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region”.
The Security Council also extended the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2018 and called on the parties to cooperate fully with the operations of MINURSO, and to take the necessary steps to ensure unhindered movement for United Nations and associated personnel in carrying out their mandate.
Reaffirming the need to respect fully military agreements reached with MINURSO on the ceasefire and calls for full adherence to those accords, the Council recognized that the recent crisis in the Guerguerat buffer strip raised fundamental questions about the ceasefire and related agreements.
The resolution also states that the Security Council takes note of the Moroccan proposal (autonomy plan) presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcomes “serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution”.
Following the vote, delegates of the council member states hailed the resolution as a real opportunity to revive the political process in Western Sahara and called on all parties to rise to their shared responsibility, and to refrain from actions that may undermine the ceasefire agreement.
Morocco “takes note with satisfaction of the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of its resolution 2351,” said the Moroccan Foreign Ministry in a statement released Saturday.
“This Security Council resolution extends for one year the mandate of Minurso, within the strict framework of its current prerogatives, and clearly reaffirms the parameters of the political process as defined since 2007”, reads the statement. This political process must take into account the pre-eminence of the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative, and the Security Council once again welcomes the “serious and credible” efforts that have underpinned the proposal, the statement notes.
“The resolution reiterates the regional dimension of the artificial dispute around the Moroccan Sahara and clarifies the responsibility of neighboring countries, and particularly Algeria,” the statement adds, renewing Morocco’s commitment to work towards a definitive solution within the framework of the autonomy initiative.

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