Hearing of Petitioners on Western
Sahara by the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, (Fourth
Committee), United Nations, New York
October 9-10, 2007
Comments by Jacinta De Roeck,
President of the Belgian
Interparliamantary Group for Peace in the Western Sahara
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,
First of all, I would like to thank you for letting me address you here
today as the - almost - former President of the Belgian
Interparliamentary Group for Peace in Western Sahara. For this
parliamentary body, the respect for international legality and Human
Rights is fundamental for the successful resolution of any
Since spring 2007, there has been a new dynamic in the solution of the
conflict in the Western Sahara. The Moroccan proposal for limited
autonomy has been communicated to the Sahrawi-people and various
international institutions and policy makers. The plan was the logical
result of the work that was prepared by the Corcas, the think tank that
was authorized to work out a proposal for the conflict.
Morocco sought international support for its plan, that was so-called
negotiated with the Sahrawi-people. Various diplomats and councellors
left on tour, to pay a visit to the European leaders, such as Angela
Merkel, Jacques Chirac and the Spanish Prime Minister Luis Zapatero.
The Belgian Parliament also received a Moroccan delegation, which was
invited to speak in front of the Commission of Foreign Affairs. This
meant, at least to me, a great occasion to get to know the exact
Moroccan point of view on the method, timing and intentions to find a
durable solution for this conflict. Unfortunately, there was no
exchange of ideas, nor a clear and lucid explanation about the autonomy
proposal. The delegates explained for 45 minutes the history of the
conflict, and dedicated 4 minutes to the explanation of the plan. My
questions were not answered, but swiftly countered with an
exposÈ about the historical background. Yet it is in my belief
that we should not look back, but aim our view at a future solution.
Another thing that struck me, and i think my collegues from other
national parliaments will strongly agree, was the complete lack of
interest from other politicians. The question of the Western Sahara
lacks support within the political world. There is much ignorance about
this issue, and politicians have no gain whatsoever investing time and
effort in this issue, as they have to face the voters in their
constituency. Their political attention span reaches no further than
the own backyard. Especially in my country Belgium, where politicians
nowadays have great difficulty the overcome their internal differences
and clamp rigidly to their point of view in fear of an electoral
bash-up, I encountered much reluctance to invest time in this forgotten
Now my role as president is uncertain, since my party lost in the
latest federal elections. As a president, i tried to communicate
directly to the younger generation. They hardly know anything about
this conflict. And if they don't know, why should they care?
It is our solemn duty to motivate, to make aware and to incite all -
especially the youngest generation - people to support the Sahrawi
people in their fight for self determination. There should be no doubt
that most Sahrawis, both under occupation and in exile, are determined
to continue struggling for this alienable right to self-determination.
Morocco has to respect Human Rights, democracy and international
legality, and it is international law that should be the foundation for
any plan in order to resolve the conflict over Western Sahara.
Yet, until today, Morocco has obstinately followed the path of
oppression and further continued violation of international law.
We must keep the attention for this conflict alive, in all the nations
worldwide, and within all the generations, and increase the pressure on
Morocco to act up to its social, political and legal duties. There lies
a responsability in the actions of many politicians, NGO's and the
civil society: to make the world remember what this issue is all about:
the simple right of each people, to decide about their proper lives and
future. I thank you.