On Western Sahara, Explanations of Vote by Angola, Venezuela and China Raise Questions of Self-Determination, Colonialism, Human Rights, AU

By Matthew Russell Lee, for InnerCityPro.com

UNITED NATIONS, April 28 — The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, MINURSO, which has yet to hold any referendum, was unanimously “renewed” for a year on April 28 by the UN Security Council. Inner City Press is publishing Explanation(s) of Vote.

Venezuela said human rights monitoring should have been included, and the African Union should have been allowed to address the Council. Angola, citing Chad and Nigeria as well, echoed this.

Afterward Inner City Press asked Moroccan Permanent Representative Omar Hilale a series of questions: about what Venezuela said, about the African Union, injured protesters, and why Frente Polisario couldn’t speak at the same microphone.

Hilale asked if Venezuela was the right country to speak of human rights.  Here now is Inner City Pro’s transcription of Venezuela’s explanation of vote:

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has voted in favor of the resolution renewing the mandate of MINURSO. MINURSO, as we are convinced of its important role in supervising the cease fire, reducing the threat of unexploded ordnance and mines, fostering confidence building measures between the parties in order to bring about the referendum, that is in step with the primary mandate in step with Resolution 690 of 1991. These efforts and the facilitation and the efforts deployed by the Secretary General are aimed at bringing about an agreement between the parties. MINURSO, to support this, must continue to provide its support to a series of assistance programs aimed at addressing the difficult situation faced by the Sahrawi families that are separated, in many cases, also breathing a new life into direct negotiations between the Polisario Front and Morocco.

“However, we wish to express certain concerns over the procedure used in the drafting of the resolution we have adopted. We are presented a text that was previously agreed upon by the Group of Friends of Western Sahara, which did not address the legitimate concerns and proposals that were made by numerous countries that are interested in this issue, Venezuela among them. These proposals were aimed at strengthening the role of MINURSO and the promotion and protection of human rights of the population in the Western Sahara, bearing in mind the recommendations made by the Secretary General in his report and the features of all the UN missions. It is necessary, then, that the future negotiation processes on the matter before us sees an improvement in the working methods with the aim of helping to bring about a broad discussion that is inclusive and transparent.

“In the context of the proposals made, the amendment that sought to increase the regularity of the review of the topic by the Council was not taken on board. There is also one aimed at reaffirming the responsibilities of this body in bringing about a fair and lasting solution to the situation in Western Sahara, through the holding of a referendum on self determination, that would allow for a process of decolonization, a situation that has has lasted for more than four decades. It is essential that we ensure the implementation of resolution 690 of 1991, which set forth for, provided for the holding of the referendum.

“We are concerned that without a referendum, the process of colonizing Western Sahara will continue including the deterioration of human rights for the Sahrawi people and the illegal exploitation of their natural resources, all of this to the detriment of stability and peace in the region. Further, we lament that the consultations held on this topic were not proceeded by an open meeting in which we could ensure the participation of the special envoy of the African Union for Western Sahara, the former president Joaquim Chissano.

“In the light of the request from that regional organization which, together with the United Nations, is facilitating the negotiation process between the parties, it is a paradox that there is exclusion from the dialogues in this body of a strategic UN ally in the efforts to find solutions to conflicts that affect peace and security in the African continent. We hope that the Council can correct this omission in the short term.

“To conclude, we should like to reiterate the responsibility that this Council has in working with resolve toward a fair and lasting solution to the colonial situation endured by the Sahrawi people, solving it with a move towards self determination in including the option of independence pursuant to international law and working, with resolve, towards a fair and lasting solution according to to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.”

Here is Inner City Pro’s transcription of Angola’s explanation:

“The Security Council has just adopted Resolution 2218, extending the mandate of the United Nations mission for the referendum of Western Sahara. This explanation of vote is made as the coordinator of the African state members of the Security Council, namely Angola, Chad and Nigeria, taking into account the position adopted and recommended to us by the African Union Peace and Security Council with the view of playing a more active and constructive role in the search for solutions to the Western Sahara issue.

“The three African member states of the Security Council voted in favor of the draft resolution convinced that, first, the Security Council is really committed to the self determination of the people of Western Sahara. Second, that the Security Council is committed in ending the current impasse and to the achievement of progress towards a political solution. Third, that the Security Council recognizes that achieving a political solution would contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region. And fourth, that the Security Council encourages the parties to demonstrate further political will towards a solution to continue the process of negotiations, and recognizes that the consolidation of the status quo is unacceptable as stated by other speakers this morning.

“In this context, we would like to specifically encourage the parties to abide by the resolution’s provisions, take them into full account, and that tangible progress be achieved by the holding of negotiations without further delay towards the referendum for self determination of Western Saharan people.”

And from China, as transcribed by Inner City Pro:

“Thank you Madam President. China supports the extension of the mandate of the UN mission for the referendum of Western Sahara and hopes that the mission will continue to play a constructive role in stabilizing the situation in Western Sahara and assisting the implementation of confidence building measures.

China’s position on the question of Western Sahara is consistent and remains unchanged. Based on the above, China has voted in favor of Resolution 2118, adopted by the Council just now.
China knows that some Council members have concerns about the resolution. While the council members were having consultations on this resolution there should have been more time arranged for it, and there should have been more patience, so as to listen extensively to different opinions, and through more sufficient consultations seek a maximum consensus and get the widest support. I thank you.”

UNlike China, Morocco’s Hilale called the African Union “toxic” on this issue, saying that having made up it mind the AU should not address the Council.

Inner City Press asked how this is different, say, from the European Union addressing the Council about Kosovo. Hilale said every situation is different: the old “sui generis”…


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