Head of the Delegation of the Frente POLISARIO
Manhasset-Fourth Round
17 March 2008


His Excellency Mr Peter Van Walsum
Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara,
Mr Julian Harston,
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara
Ladies and Gentlemen members of the UN delegation,
Members of the delegation of Morocco,
Members of the delegations of the neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania

Mr Personal Envoy,

We gather again here in Manhasset under your auspices within the framework established by resolutions 1754 and 1783 (2007) whereby the Security Council called on the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco to enter into negotiations, in good faith, with a view to achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict that provides for the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination.

As we had the opportunity to recall in Manhasset I, Morocco had committed itself to the respect for and implementation of this fundamental right, until it decided to invade and occupy by force our country in 1975 in the context of a project of territorial expansion of which other countries of the region had already been direct targets.

In that year, our people were a victim of a war of extermination where Napalm and white Phosphorus were used, a war that continues to date by means of a policy of violation of human rights that has caused hundreds of both civilian and military disappeared, arbitrary detentions and torture that are being carried out with impunity owing to the media blackout imposed on the Territory.

We are a people that have shown determination and political will to resist and to continue their resistance until the full attainment, today or tomorrow, of their legitimate right to self-determination and independence.

Yet we have spared no effort to give tangible possibilities for a peaceful solution to the conflict that was imposed on us by force, following the withdrawal of the European colonial power, by a neighbour from whom we expected support and solidarity.

In 1991, by accepting the Settlement Plan by virtue of which the Security Council deployed MINURSO to the Territory, Morocco seemed to return to reason and to its prior commitment to allow the Sahrawi people to decide freely their future by opting for independence or integration into this country within the framework of a self-determination referendum organised and supervised by the United Nations in cooperation with the Organisation of African Unity.
Despite the obstructions put in the way of the identification of voters, Morocco reaffirmed once again, in an equivocal manner to James Baker, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, its attachment to the referendum process (S/1997/882 of 13 November 1997). Houston Agreements that were accepted by Morocco and endorsed by the Security Council describe in detail all the steps that should be taken until the proclamation of the results of the self-determination referendum.

Everything was ready for the achievement of a just and lasting peace. However, as James Baker reaffirmed in August 2004, Morocco decided “that it was no longer ready to go forward with the process”. It then began pursuing a policy marked by reneging on its commitments and turning its back on international legality.

The process leading to the referendum has henceforth been stopped by the unilateral decision of Morocco, and not by a purported “unimplementability” of the referendum or by the incapacity of the United Nations to bring the process to conclusion, as Morocco claims.   

The delegation of the Frente POLISARIO is firmly convinced that the referendum process can and should be reactivated following the guidelines and phases clearly detailed in the Settlement Plan, in the Houston Agreements and Baker Plan, which cannot be thrown into the wastepaper of history because of a hasty and irrational decision taken in a bad mood.

These agreements represent a great and the only concurrence between the parties, and between them and the United Nations for a just and lasting solution to the conflict. To try to impose the elaboration of a new framework of solution on the basis of something that goes against the spirit, the letter and the objective of the peace agreements, which were already accepted and endorsed by the Security Council, is an attempt to which the Frente POLISARIO and, with certainty, the United Nations, the region and Africa cannot subscribe or endorse.  

In fact, the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy stated unequivocally that “the United Nations cannot sponsor a plan that excluded a referendum with independence as an option while claiming to provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara” (para.14, S/2006/817 of 16 October 2006).

Likewise, the position taken for over 20 years by the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) and by the majority of the countries of the region of northwest Africa regarding the Sahrawi question leaves no room for doubt about the principles that should guide any search for a just and lasting peace.

There are therefore principles of international law that are essential for the United Nations  as well as positions and facts that have resisted the passage of time, and their strength has dashed the expectations of  the other party regarding the loss of their consistency and value.

It is against this background that we have welcomed the opportunity that was opened in April 2007 by the Security Council resolution 1754, and have taken part, in good faith, in the Manhasset negotiation process.

Unfortunately, as we have seen in its unjustified rejection of Baker Plan, and its obstruction of the implementation of Houston Agreements and the Settlement Plan and as we have also witnessed in the previous rounds, Morocco does not seem yet to have understood the message, and continues to insist on a proposal based on one option only, which aims to legitimise an anachronistic expansionist project that violates the UN Charter, and ignores the terms of reference established by the international community for resolving the conflict of Western Sahara.

We would like, Mr Personal Envoy, to state before you and before the Moroccan delegation the following, with the formal request that this statement be brought to the attention of the Secretary-General and the Security Council:
1. The Frente POLISARIO is ready to cooperate in the rigorous implementation of the two resolutions of the Security Council, 1754 and 1783 (2007), that reaffirm the validity and relevance of the principle of self-determination for the people of a territory that is still on the list of the Special Committee of Decolonisation 33 years after the withdrawal of the European colonial power. The United Nations does not recognise for the present occupying power the sovereignty or even the status of an administering power, as stated in the opinion of the UN Legal Department issued on 29 January 2002.

2. Our view on the implementability of these resolutions is well-known. We believe that the objective of Manhasset negotiations, as was the case of the previous negotiations in Houston, London and Lisbon, is to ensure the implementation—and not the negation—of the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination in line with the terms of reference established by the international community in the General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).

This vision is flexible and broad because it includes all the options for a self-determination referendum in conformity with this resolution. It is a question of allowing the Sahrawi people to have the last word regarding their future. No credible country or international organisation can be against this principle.

3. The two parties should cooperate for assisting the United Nations to bring to an end the last phase of the referendum process taking into account the recent proposals, and the part of the distance already covered by the United Nations with a view to reaching the proclamation of the results of the referendum.   

4. Our understanding consists, in short, in letting the United Nations have the responsibility for bringing this process to conclusion by asking the Sahrawi people about what they want regarding their future. We do not prejudge the outcome, and we do not want to impose it either. We want the Sahrawi people to have the possibility to go to the polls, which represent the peaceful and democratic way to bring to an end this protracted conflict whose continuation does not serve the credibility of the United Nations, the security and stability of the region nor the development of its peoples.

5. It is out of our will to contribute to the success of this process that the Frente POLISARIO has accepted, and still accepts, to engage constructively in discussing the issue of the confidence-building measures (CBMs) that you proposed in the second round of negotiations. There is also the highly sensitive issue relating to the respect for human rights in the Territory that you, Mr Personal Envoy, referred to in the third round as “probably the best confidence-building measure”, while underlying that “it would be unrealistic to find a mutually acceptable solution without addressing the question of human rights in the context of our negotiations”. We regret that the Moroccan delegation was not willing to engage in discussing this matter in the context of the previous rounds of negotiation.

Although the Security Council called on us, in its resolution 1783 (2007), to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue, Morocco continues to perpetrate gross violations of human rights in the occupied territories, while remaining opposed to a fundamental human right, namely the right to self-determination. Obviously, this highly condemnable behaviour is yet another demonstration of Morocco’s lack of political will, and it can in no way contribute to creating the atmosphere of trust needed for the success of the negotiations.   

6. Morocco has, since 2004, its own surprising version of this right. In fact, it opposes this right by wrongfully limiting it to just one option in a way that goes against the letter and spirit of the General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), which stipulates that the right to self-determination should be exercised in accordance with the freely expressed will and desire of the people concerned.

The Moroccan delegation came to Manhasset to reiterate that it is ready to negotiate only a solution that would recognise beforehand the “Moroccanity” of Western Sahara. This position preconditions and prejudges the outcome of the negotiations. In no way can it be called negotiations; rather, it is imposition. It also confuses self-determination with forcible annexation. Moreover, Morocco argued for the impossibility of holding a referendum, but at the same time considers that its so-called proposal for solution provides for this referendum.

What we see, in the final analysis, is an untenable position vis-à-vis the UN Charter and the terms of reference established by the Security Council from day one of its involvement in the solution process. What we also see is an “approach” that is fraught with fundamental contradictions in terms of the relevance and viability of a referendum, which is unachievable for Morocco if the ballot options include independence, and is feasible if the only option is the so-called “autonomy”.

As all the previous peace plans endorsed by the UN Security Council, the Frente POLISARIO considers that the referendum is possible and should be held with at least two options.  

Mr Personal Envoy,

The Frente POLISARIO has offered Morocco a proposal for solution of which the Security Council has taken note in its resolutions 1754 and 1783 (2007). This proposal has the merit of not only complying fully with the international legality but also laying out a vision for the future that would be conducive to the establishment of friendly and cooperative relations with Morocco in political, economic and security domains. The Frente POLISARIO is also committed to accepting the results of the referendum, whatever they are, and to negotiate with Morocco, under the auspices of the United Nations, the guarantees that could be granted to our northern neighbour, and to address all those areas that are of special concern to it, in the event that the voters in the self-determination referendum opt for the independence of Western Sahara.

We believe that there is a need to avoid that the process becomes deadlocked, because it could lead to perilous consequences for all, for the parties, the region and for the credibility and capacity of the United Nations in the resolution of the conflict, which may affect directly the international peace and security. However, the Moroccan refusal to discuss our proposal for solution together with its opposition to discussing the proposed confidence-building measures, and its continuous violation of human rights in the Territory carry the seeds of a possible stalemate.

Furthermore, the behaviour of the Moroccan side in Manhasset is accompanied these days by facts on the ground relating to huge movements of troops, military manoeuvres and massive logistical preparations in the occupied areas of Dakhla, Auserd and south-eastern Morocco that point towards a possible breach of the cease-fire whose consequences only Morocco should assume before the region and the world at large.

Mr Personal Envoy,

This is the fourth round in the Manhasset negotiation process. You have deployed enormous efforts and demonstrated a great deal of patience. Your recent visit to the region has served to deepen the discussion and the awareness of the urgency of a just and lasting solution to a conflict that has caused suffering, destruction, insecurity and rift among the peoples of the region. We would like to thank you as well as your team for your perseverance and encouragement for a peace in conformity with international legality. Our appreciation goes also to the two neighbouring countries.

You will agree with us, Mr. Personal Envoy, that the negotiation should lead to overcoming the obstacles and moving forward in the right direction. It cannot become an end in itself, and cannot be undermined with preconditions that makes it lose its raison d’être.

The Security Council has called on us to negotiate without preconditions, in good faith, with a view to ensuring the respect for the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination. We ought therefore to allow you and the United Nations to take the necessary steps to bring the process to conclusion, by giving the Sahrawi people the peaceful and democratic opportunity, which is in keeping with international legality, to decide their future opting for one of the two proposals that the parties submitted to the United Nations in April 2007.

Your predecessor, James Baker, with the agreement of the two parties, paved the way for reaching this moment by detailing what should be done regarding the identification of voters, the confinement of troops, the return of the refugees and the electoral campaign as well as the proclamation of the results of the referendum. It is to be recalled that the late king Hassan II declared that he “would respect those results”. Today, Morocco is saying that its proposal can and should be submitted to a popular vote. This means, in other words, that the position of Morocco has evolved, and that it believes that a referendum is possible now. In this case, let the UN organise the said referendum, let Morocco campaign for its autonomy, let the Frente POLISARIO campaign for the independence option, and then let the people of Western Sahara decide.

We think that, if we take these elements into consideration, there are real possibilities for achieving a substantive progress. The United Nations today should take advantage of this opportunity and assume its responsibility, since it seems to us that it cannot find a historic chance better than the one derived from these elements. It also should not stay paralysed before a conflict of decolonisation whose lack of resolution affects its credibility and threaten regional peace and stability.

We therefore hope that this round would be decisive for moving ahead towards the peace that would offer us all the possibility to continue believing that everything was useful and that Manhasset, as was the case with Houston in the past, was useful, because it opened new possibilities for a just and lasting peace that is in keeping with international legality.

Thank you!

Jefe de la delegación del F. Polisario
Manhasset-Cuarta ronda
17 de marzo 2008

Su Excelencia Sr. Peter Van Walsum,
Enviado Personal del Secretario General de la ONU para el Sahara occidental,
Sr. Julian Hartson, Representante Especial del Secretario General de la ONU para el Sahara occidental,
Sras. y Sres. Miembros de la delegación de la ONU,
Sres. Miembros de la delegación de Marruecos,
Sres. Miembros de las delegaciones de los países vecinos, Argelia y Mauritania

Sr. Enviado Personal,

Nos reunimos aquí de nuevo en Manhasset bajo sus auspicios en el marco estipulado por las resoluciones 1754 y 1783 por medio de las  cuales el Consejo de seguridad pidió al Frente POLISARIO y a Marruecos entablar negociaciones de buena fe para el logro de una solución pacifica al conflicto que asegure el derecho del pueblo saharaui a la autodeterminación.

Como ya habíamos tenido ocasión de recordarlo en Manhasset I, Marruecos se había comprometido al respeto y la aplicación de este derecho fundamental hasta que en 1975 decidió invadir y ocupar por la fuerza nuestro país en 1975 en el marco de un proyecto de expansión territorial del que otros países en nuestra región fueron ya blancos directos.

Nuestro pueblo fue, desde ese año, victima de una guerra de exterminio donde se utilizó el NAPALM el fósforo blanco, una guerra  que continua todavía a través de una política de violación de derechos humanos que condujo a  centenares de desparecidos, civiles y militares, detenciones arbitrarias y  torturas, que se ejecuta en medio de la impunidad que ofrece el cerco informativo al territorio.

Somos un pueblo que demostró determinación y voluntad política para resistir y continuar su resistencia hasta el logro pleno, hoy o mañana, de su legítimo derecho a la autodeterminación e independencia.

Sin embargo, nunca hemos escatimado esfuerzos para dar posibilidades tangibles a una solución pacifica al conflicto que nos fue impuesto por la fuerza, tras la retirada de la potencia colonial europea, por un vecino del que esperábamos apoyo y solidaridad.

En 1991, al aceptar  el Plan de arreglo por el que el Consejo envió a la MINURSO al territorio, Marruecos pareció retornar a la razón y al compromiso original de dejar en manos del pueblo saharaui el decidir libremente su futuro, optando por la independencia o la integración a ese país en el marco de un referéndum de autodeterminación organizado y supervisado por las Naciones Unidas en cooperación con la Organización para Unidad Africana.
Marruecos, a pesar de las obstrucciones emplazadas en el proceso de identificación de votantes,  volvió a reafirmar de forma inequívoca a James Baker, Enviado Personal del Secretario General, su compromiso con el proceso referendario (S/1997/882 de 13 de noviembre de 1997). Los acuerdos de Houston que Marruecos aceptó y el Consejo endosó, detallan de forma pormenorizada todos los pasos que han de ser dados hasta la proclamación de los resultados del referéndum de autodeterminación.

Todo estaba listo para el logro de una  paz justa y duradera. Pero y como lo reafirma James Baker en agosto del 2004, Marruecos decidió “que ya no quería seguir adelante con el proceso”, continuando así con una política marcada por la falta del incumplimiento de sus obligaciones y por su indiferencia hacia la legalidad internacional.

El proceso conducente a la consulta fue suspendido hasta ahora por la decisión unilateral  de Marruecos, y no por una supuesta “inviabilidad” del mismo o por una incapacidad de la ONU de culminar dicho  proceso como pretende Marruecos.

La delegación del Frente POLISARIO está firmemente convencida de que el proceso referendario puede y debe ser reactivado siguiendo las pautas y fases claramente detalladas en el plan de arreglo, en los acuerdos de Houston y en el Plan Baker, los cuales  no pueden ser arrojados a la papelera de la historia por una decisión ligera e irracional de mal humor.

Esos acuerdos relejan una gran y única convergencia entre las partes y entre éstas y la ONU para la solución justa y duradera del conflicto. Intentar forzar la elaboración de un nuevo marco de solución  sobre todo contrario al espíritu, a la letra y al objetivo de los acuerdos de paz anteriormente aceptados y endosados por el Consejo es una tentativa a la que el Frente POLISARIO y con toda seguridad las Naciones Unidas, la región y África, no pueden asociarse ni caucionar.

En efecto, el Secretario General y su Enviado Personal dejaron constancia inequívoca del hecho de que “la ONU no podrían patrocinar un plan que excluyera un referéndum con la independencia como una de sus opciones al mismo tiempo que reafirmara que previa la libre determinación del pueblo del Sahara occidental”. (S/2006/817, del 16 de octubre 2006; para 14)

Igualmente, la posición asumida desde hace mas de 20 años por la Organización para la Unidad Africana (hoy la Unión Africana) y por  la mayoría de los países de la región nor-occidental del continente sobre la cuestión saharaui no deja lugar a dudas sobre los principios que deben guiar toda búsqueda de una paz justa y duradera.

Hay pues principios de derecho internacional esenciales para la ONU así como  posiciones y hechos que han resistido el paso del tiempo y su fuerza ha desmentido las esperanzas albergadas por la otra parte sobre la pérdida de su consistencia y valor.

Es en base a lo anterior que hemos saludado la oportunidad abierta en abril 2007 por la resolución 1754 del Consejo de Seguridad y hemos participado, de  buena fe, en el proceso de de negociación de Manhasset.

Desafortunadamente, como hemos visto en su injustificado rechazo al Plan Baker, su obstrucción a la aplicación de los acuerdos de Houston y del Plan de arreglo y como hemos constatado en las anteriores rondas, Marruecos no da señales de haber comprendido el mensaje e insiste en una llamada propuesta que incluye una única opción que pretende legitimar un proyecto expansionista anacrónico, que viola la Carta de la ONU y ignora los términos de referencia establecidos por la comunidad internacional  para resolver el conflicto del Sahara occidental.

Queremos pues, Sr. Enviado Personal, dejar constancia ante Usted y ante la delegación marroquí con el pedido formal de que así sea trasladado al conocimiento del Secretario General y del Consejo de Seguridad lo siguiente:

1. El Frente POLISARIO está dispuesto a cooperar en la aplicación rigurosa de las dos resoluciones del Consejo de Seguridad que reafirman la validez y vigencia del principio de autodeterminación para el pueblo de un territorio que sigue estando en la lista del Comité Especial de Descolonización treinta y tres años después de la retirada de la potencia colonial europea. La ONU no le reconoce a la potencia ocupante actual ni la soberanía ni siquiera la condición de potencia administradora, como afirma el dictamen del departamento jurídico de la ONU del 29 de enero de 2002:

2.- Nuestra visón sobre la aplicabilidad de esas resoluciones es muy conocida. Creemos que las negociaciones de Manhasset, como ayer las de  Houston, Londres y Lisboa, tienen como objetivo asegurar la aplicación—y no la negación—del derecho a la libre determinación en los términos establecidos por la comunidad internacional en la resolución 1514 (XV) de la Asamblea general.

Nuestra visión es flexible y amplia, porque incluye todas las opciones para un referéndum de autodeterminación en conformidad con esa resolución. Se trata de dejar en manos del pueblo saharaui la decisión final sobre su futuro. Ningún país serio ni ninguna organización internacional con un mínimo de credibilidad podrían oponerse a este principio.

3. Las dos partes deben cooperar para facilitar a la ONU el finalizar la última fase del proceso refrendario teniendo en cuenta las recientes propuestas y la parte del camino ya allanada por la ONU para llegar a la proclamación de los resultados del voto referendario.

4. Nuestra posición estriba, en síntesis, en dejar en manos de la ONU la responsabilidad de culminar ese proceso preguntando al pueblo saharaui que es lo que quiere para su futuro. No prejuzgamos nada ni queremos imponer nada. Queremos que el pueblo saharaui tenga la posibilidad de ir a las urnas, a la vía pacifica para poner fin a este largo conflicto cuya prolongación no beneficia a la credibilidad de la ONU, a la seguridad y estabilidad de la región ni al desarrollo de los pueblos de la región.

5. Es también en el marco de nuestra voluntad de contribuir al éxito de este proceso que la delegación del POLISARIO aceptó, y sigue aceptando, considerar de manera positiva la cuestión de las medidas de fomento de confianza que Usted había propuesto en la segunda ronda de negociaciones. Hay también el tema altamente sensible del respeto a los derechos humanos en el territorio que Usted mismo, Señor Enviado personal,  consideró “probablemente la mejor de las medidas de fomento de confianza”, subrayando que “sería irrealista alcanzar una solución mutuamente aceptable sin abordar la cuestión de los derechos humanos en el contexto de nuestras negociaciones”. No podemos sino lamentar que Marruecos dijera que no estaba dispuesto a considerar  esta materia en el contexto de las rondas anteriores de negociación.

Aunque el Consejo de Seguridad nos llamó, en su resolución 1783 (2007), “que sigamos dando muestras de voluntad política y trabajemos en una atmósfera propicia para el diálogo”, Marruecos sigue perpetrando graves violaciones de derechos humanos en las zonas ocupadas, y oponiéndose a un derecho humano fundamental, a saber el derecho a la autodeterminación.

6. Marruecos tiene desde 2004 su propia y sorprendente versión de ese derecho. En realidad se opone a dicho derecho al limitarlo de forma indebida a una sola opción de manera que viola el espíritu y la letra de la resolución 1514 (XV) de la Asamblea General, que estipula que el derecho a la libre determinación debe ejercerse conforme a la voluntad y el deseo expresados libremente por el pueblo en cuestión.

La delegación marroquí vino a Manhasset para reiterar que esta dispuesta a negociar solo la solución que le reconozca de antemano la “marroquinidad” del Sahara occidental. Esta posición pre-condiciona  y prejuzga el resultado de las negociaciones. Nadie puede llamarla negociación; se trata más bien de imposición. También confunde autodeterminación con anexión forzosa. Además, Marruecos alegó en el pasado la imposibilidad práctica de celebrar una consulta referendaria pero al mismo tiempo considera que su llamada propuesta de solución permite dicha consulta.

Vemos pues una posición insostenible desde el punto de vista de los principios básicos de la Carta de la ONU y de los términos de referencia establecidos por el Consejo de Seguridad desde el día de su implicación en el proceso de solución. Vemos también una “demarche” que revela contradicciones elementales respecto a la pertinencia y viabilidad de una consulta referendaria, que para Marruecos es inviable si la opción incluye la independencia y viable si la única opción es la llamada autonomía.

Como todos los anteriores planes de paz aprobados por el Consejo de Seguridad, el Frente POLISARIO considera que la consulta es posible y ha de hacerse con al menos dos opciones.

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