Western Sahara Campaign UK
Leeds, LS1 3AX,
Tel/fax 0113 245 4786
Rt. Hon Peter Hain MP
Minister of State
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
10 December 1999
Dear Mr Hain,
Report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Situation Concerning Western Sahara (S/1999/1219)
In his report of 7 December, the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan envisages that there is "little possibility of holding the referendum before 2002 or even beyond" unless the current number of appeals and the admissibility question is addressed.
The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan notes that the "great majority of the appeals filed indicate the names of witnessses who purportedly will provide at the appeals hearings, new facts in support of the appellants' claim for inclusion". (emphasis added).
However, under the terms "Operational directives for the implementation of the appeals process" S/1999/483 Add.1., signed by both parties, it is not the responsibility of the Appeals Hearing to determine the admissibility of appeals rests with United Nations Appeals Chamber.
To be admissible an appellant must first prove:
"that the member of the (Identification) Commission who ruled on the case was not aware of the subsequent circumstances or developments or of any facts cited in support of the appeal." (Article 21d i)
Further this agreement clearly states that this information must be presented with the appeal:
"Consideration of the admissibility of an appeal shall be conducted by the section of the Appeals Chamber on the basis of documents filed and available the appeal form and supporting documentation, if any, which may include the relevant witness' forms and the identification file" (Article 20)
In filing their appeals appellants and their witnesses have the opportunity to present new documentary evidence for the Appeals Chamber to consider:
"In the case of oral testimony, the witness shall fill out a witness's form, which shall be submitted by the applicant together with the application form. The witness's form shall include the witness's personal information and the relationship to the applicant and a summary of the evidence provided in the testimony" ( Article 7, emphasis added)
If as the Secretary-Genral notes, the majority of these applicants and witnesses fail to provide new information, the Western Sahara Campaign can only conclude that they must be rejected by the United Nations Appeal Chamber. We trust that your Government agrees with this detailed analysis.
As the Secretary-General recognised in his report of 28 October 1999, the "79,000 appeals received correpond very closely to the number of persons omitted from the first part of the provisional list of voters." The majority residing in Morocco. Moroccan attempts to turn the appeals process into a second round of identification must be blocked.
The Western Sahara Campaign politely recalls that the Saharawi people have already suffered 25 years of occupation and exile through no fault of their own. Moreover, they have watched the United Nations repeatedly postpone the referendum for the last 8 years.
The Western Sahara Campaign is confident that if the UN Security Council supports the efforts of the Appeals Chamber the appeals process "will not be turned into a second round of identification" and further delays can be minimised.
The Western Sahara Campaign calls upon your Governement to uphold international law and support the UN Appeals Chamber in its work to implement the terms of this agreement.
WESTERN SAHARA CAMPAIGN UK