Ahmed Boukhari, Representative of the Western Saharan people, made following intervention in the Ordinary Session of the Committee on Decolonization (C24), on 17th of June 2016
I would like to thank you and the honorable members of the Special Committee on Decolonization (C24) for the opportunity to address, in the name of the people of the Western Sahara, this ordinary session of the Committee.
We come from our Seminar in Managua, Sandino’s country, where we had, with the warm generosity and efficiency of the Nicaraguan government, important debates and frank and useful interactions on the issue of the incomplete decolonisation of Western Sahara. Western Sahara has its own particularities that differentiates it from the other issues on the Committee’s agenda, taken case by case. It is the only African territory on the agenda of the Special Committee on Decolonization. A U.N. Mission, MINURSO, that was created by the Security Council with the sole mandate of organizing a referendum on self-determination, is today in the territory waiting to be able to comply with the mandate that is still being obstructed by Morocco. A part of its personnel are, from 1991, under the protection of the Saharawi forces in the liberated zones.
And reflecting its dimensions and repurcussions, the U.N. Secretary General has appointed a Special Representative, Mrs Kim Boldouc and a personal envoy, ambassador Christopher Ross, for Western Sahara. At the same time, the African Union has designated the former Mozambique President, Mr Chissano, as Special Envoy for Western Sahara, who had the occasion to express, last April, before the members of the Security Council the urgency that Africa feels for the effective decolonisation of Western Sahara.
It is a problem of unresolved decolonisation that has generated a bloody conflict of 16 years, the persistence of which till now, Mr President, constitutes not only an international crime against the Saharawi people but also a permanent threat to regional peace and security.
Owing to these particularities, the Special Committee should dedicate its time and effort to accompany the complete decolonisation of this African territory. And it cannot do this without strict adherence to the resolutions of the General Assembly, which are the guide and the Bible for this Committee. It is in this framework that I reiterate the solicitude for a special session on the theme and the sending of a mission to the territory to actualise the data of the earlier Mission of 1975. Taking into account the case by case vision, this Mission should be sent without delay. I don’t need to remind you here that the Special Committee, in its management of the problem that concerns the non-autonomous territories, should interact with the legitimate representatives of such territories, recognised as such by the U.N. and with the de jure administrative powers which article 73 of the Charter refers to. Mr Presidnet, allow me to say who’s who here according to the contents of Resolution 3437 (1979) of the General Assembly. On one side, and by virtue of it, in the eyes of the U.N. and, therefore, of this committee, the Polisario Front is its legitimate representative, which has been leading since 1973 a national liberation battle against Spanish colonization and, since 1975, against its successors, Morocco and Mauritania. Today, to the day, is the 43rd anniversary of the repression by the Spanish forces of the peaceful demonstrations in Zemla, municipality of the now-occupied capital of El Aaiun.
In the route of the struggle legitimised by international law, thousands of martyrs sacrificed their lives for national independence. The last of them has been President Mohammed Abdelaziz. On the other hand, in the eyes of the U.N. as well, Morocco is evidently not the de jure administrative power to have a valid relation with this Committee in respect to Western Sahara. It is a colonial power that has wanted, and still wants to, resort to aggressive methods, as opposed to diplomacy, to impose its conditions on the Committee entrusted with decolonisation. The boldness and presumption was evident in Nicaragua and on Tuesday. If they can do it here, you can imagine what can they do in the occupied territory of our country, where a population finds itself occupied in its own land.
As Resolution 3437 (1979) of the General Assembly makes it explicit, Morocco is a country that illegally occupies a territory that does not belong to it, to which it has transferred thousands of colonisers, a transference that has had as a result the fact that the Saharawi population is today a minority in the occupied territory. International laws, particularly the Geneva Conventions, are clear on the illegality of these happenings. And from this the Committee members know that the result of any political, administrative or electoral act of Morocco in the Western Sahara lacks all legality and legitimacy and, as such, cannot be carried out so as to interfere in or influence the manner in which the Special Committee should assume its responsibilities in virtue of the U.N. Charter. The Committee was created to eradicate colonialism, not to legitimise it. Its members’ commitment as a matter of fact is to eradicate colonialism from the Western Sahara based on Resolution 1514 (XIX) and Resolution 3437 (1979) and all that followed them and the ruling of the U.N. legal adviser, Hans Corell, in January 2002. Attempting to stray from these in the road map is to try to seek complicity in a shameful colonial adventure against a peaceful people expelled from their land.
Morocco is not an example to follow. It is seeking someone to associate with it against international legality and against the rights and the liberty of a people under attack in their own land, but the association will not change the course of history, which is implacable in its record of facts and behaviour. It is a coloniser and you all know it, the facts demonstrate it and not to proceed further, Mr. President, the events and happenings from the Committee’s last ordinary session of June 2015 corroborate it.
The direct attack launched by Morocco against the U.N. Secretary General for his visit in March to Western Sahara and the region and the unilateral decision to expel on March 16 the political and civilian staff of MINURSO are facts that demonstrate that the occupying power has opted for a course of confrontation with the international community to put an end to the peace process and to push the region towards the worst. Resolution 2285 (2016) adopted by the Council in April has underscored the urgency that MINURSO get back the expelled personnel so as to guarantee its mandate, which is the organisation of a referendum on self-determination. The resolution has requested the Secretary General and his personal envoy to prepare for the fifth round of formal negotiations between the Polisario Front and Morocco, interrupted by Morocco since 2009. Till this moment, Mr President, neither have the MINURSO personnel returned to Western Sahara and nor have the negotiations been reopened.
Before the most likely perspective that Morocco keeps looking for ways of buying time, the Security Council should act and not wait till July 30 to inform the General Secretary. The Polisario Front once again reiterates its call to the Council that it assume its responsibilities and avoid that the Saharawi and the Moroccan people and the region be drawn into a spiral of confrontation. You, Mr. President, here and outside of here, assisted by the unyielding principles of Bolivarian Venezuela’s foreign policy and by international law, together with the other countries in the Council like Uruguay, Angola, New Zealand and Russia, not to cite others, have not spared efforts to ensure that the work of peace, with which the Security Council is entrusted, does not become a chimera and a programmed failure. Our gratitude, and that of all other peace-loving countries, which are many as could be seen last Tuesday, is enormous. The risk of failure exists. It is in the air, each time more dense and unbreathable.
For Polisario Front, MINURSO and its staff are the symbol of international community’s commitment to resolving by peaceful means the final problem of decolonisation that affects an African territory, but the return of these personnel should not be understood as an end in itself. It is about reactivating direct negotiations between the two parts to assure a peaceful solution and this lies in the application of the principle of self-determination: that is to say, permitting the Saharawi people to freely choose thier future in a U.N. vote through a just and free referendum. There is no alternative to this democratic solution for a problem of decolonisation.
The right of our people to self-determination keeps being impeded by an act of force perpetrated by Morocco. Resolution 2625 of the General Assembly considers the impediment as an “international crime”. Despite this, despite the unjust war imposed on our people, the Polisario Front has never insulted the future. With the U.N. and the African Union we have offered Morocco golden opportunities, a peaceful and democratic solution, to leave behind the morass of a conflict with honour intact, confident that the wounds derived of a long and bloody conflict can be overcome by the positive effects of a shared vision of peace that benefits the two people and the entire region. We keep to this vision, the vitality and durability of which will depend above all on the efforts that the U.N. is prepared to unfurl so as to avoid the worst.
Meanwhile, and with the confidence that this Committee will participate in a decisive form in these efforts, the Polisario Front draws the attention of its members to the plunder of the resources of a non-autonomous region and the violation of the human rights of a people, at the top of which is the the right to self-determination. All this, together with the threat to peace and regional security that this conflict entails, increases the degree of urgency to accelerate the process of decolonisation of Western Sahara, the last African colony in your agenda. Almost all member countries of the Committee are children of the principle of self-determination. Someone wants to forget it today, or is it being pushed towards forgetting it?
-Sahara, the problem remain the same
-Don't forget us now
Juan Kalvellido, Tlaxcala