Officially appointed on October 6, the new United Nations special envoy to the Sahara will only succeed in his mission if the Security Council decides in favor of the solution proposed by Morocco.
The post had been vacant since the resignation, in May 2019, of Horst Kohler, for personal reasons. The United Nations Security Council has finally appointed the one who will replace it as special envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara: the Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura. Will he be in charge of the same mission as his predecessors? Will he, too, have to reconcile the positions of the parties in order to find “a realistic, pragmatic, lasting political solution based on compromise”? The formula has been used in Security Council resolutions since 2007 (n ° 1754) and until 2020 (n ° 2548).
Accomplice of a hostage-taking
If the missions of the new special envoy were not to change, the UN would send the world a very bad message, by giving the impression of wanting to let a conflict that dates back to 1974 continue. developments around this thorny question: the recognition by the United States of the Moroccan character of the Sahara within the framework of a statute of autonomy, the denunciation by the Polisario of the 1991 ceasefire agreement, the deterioration of relations between Morocco and Algeria having resulted in the breakdown of their diplomatic relations and the serious events which shake the Sahel region, with the increase in military coups and the actions of terrorist groups.
The Security Council is trapped in both an impasse and contradictions
By not opting for a clear solution, the Security Council is trapped both in an impasse and in contradictions. Indeed, while he affirms, since 2007, “ [féliciter] serious and credible efforts made by Morocco to go […] towards a regulation[du conflit]”, He is careful not to clearly admit that this requires a statute of autonomy for the Sahara within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty, a proposal presented by Rabat to the UN Secretary General on April 11, 2017.
However, in its last resolution of 2020, it considers that “the status quo is not acceptable” and notes “that it is essential that the negotiations progress so that the quality of life of the inhabitants of Western Sahara improves in all domains “. Also, it is time for the Security Council to assume its responsibilities and stop being the accomplice of the taking hostage of thousands of Sahrawis in a conflict where they are being exploited for reasons beyond them. He must clarify what he means by “political solution”, knowing that, for fourteen years, no resolution has referred to a self-determination referendum, his organization having failed due to lack of being able to identify the people likely to vote.
Realistic and pragmatic
The only realistic and pragmatic political solution can only be autonomy, when two permanent members – the United States and France – are in favor and 42 states have publicly expressed their support. Therefore, the mission of the special envoy should no longer consist of finding a solution but of implementing that of autonomy, by bringing the parties’ points of view together.
It is essential to be concerned about the terrible fate of the Saharawis who live in the camps of Tindouf
Still, this mission can take months and perhaps years. This is the reason why it is essential to really be concerned about the fate of the Sahrawis who live in the camps of Tindouf, in Algeria, in inhuman conditions. They have been wiped out by the Covid-19 pandemic, while 70% of the population living in the part of Western Sahara administered by Morocco has been vaccinated. It is time for the Security Council to order the census of these populations and allow those who want to return to Morocco during an operation led by the special envoy of the secretary general and the head of Minurso – whose name must also change since the organization of the referendum is no longer on the agenda. It could also offer Sahrawi populations living in Morocco to return to Tindouf.
The Security Council could thus bring the matter of Western Sahara out of the impasse, pulling the rug out from under the feet of certain States which seek, for their own reasons, to maintain the status quo. “The independence of Western Sahara is not a realistic solution [ni] an achievable goal, already affirmed in 2008 Peter Van Walsum, then UN mediator for the Sahara conflict. The current status is intolerable: it is too easily accepted by the unconditional supporters of the Polisario, who do not themselves live in the camps and who are convinced that those who live there prefer to remain there indefinitely rather than opt for a negotiated solution. which is below total independence. A statement full of common sense and still relevant today.