Security Council 


8 September 1995

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Report of the Secretary-General



1. The present report is submitted to the Security Council in pursuance of Council resolution 1002 (1995) of 30 June 1995. It covers developments since my report of 19 May 1995 (S/1995/404) and is divided into six main sections. Sections II and III deal with the identification process and othe aspects of the settlement plan (S/21360 and S/22464 and Corr.1). Section IV provides an update of the activities of the military and civilian police components of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). Section V discusses financial aspects. Section VI contains my observations and recommendations.


A. Communications with the parties

2. Following the return of the Security Council mission to the region, the Secretary-General of the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el- Hamra y de Rio de Oro (POLISARIO), Mr. Mohamed Abdelaziz, addressed a letter to the Presiden of the Security Council dated 23 June 1995, in which he announced the decision of the Frente POLISARIO to suspend its participation in the identification process and to withdraw its observers. The decision was taken in protest against the sentencing by a Moroccan military tribunal on 21 June 1995 of eight Saharans to prison terms of 15 to 20 years for having participated in a demonstration in Laayoune on 11 May 1995; and the announcement by Morocco to the Security Council mission of its intention to present for identification the 100,000 applicants residing outside the Territory.

3. On 26 June, Mr. Erik Jensen, who has since been confirmed as my Acting Special Representative, was invited to meet with the Moroccan Minister of the Interior, Mr. Driss Basri, and other senior officials in Rabat. The Minister urged that planning begin without delay to identify the 100,000 applicants currently resident outside the Territory, for whom the full computerized information was being provided to MINURSO. He stressed that his Government stood ready to assist MINURSO in every practical way, including the opening of additional centres, in Morocco and in the Territory. My Acting Special Representative confirmed that MINURSO was technically able to undertake the identification proposed. Were this action to be approved, he suggested opening centres where the applicants resided, so that there need be no movement of population. However, he informed the Minister that such a decision would be counter to the earlier agreed procedure.

4. On 26 June, the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, Mr. Abdellatif Filali, addressed a letter to the President of the Security Council in response to the decision by the Frente POLISARIO to suspend its participation in the process. The letter stated that Morocco could not accept an indefinite postponement of the referendum and called upon the Security Council to "take all necessary steps to ensure the resumption of the process with a view to holding the referendum on schedule". It also informed the Council that Morocco had transmitted to MINURSO the diskette containing the names of applicants residing outside the Territory and was cooperating fully with the mission to ensure that those applicants could be identified as soon as possible.

5. On 12 July, Mr. Jensen met with Mr. Filali. On 15 July, he met again with Mr. Basri and other senior Moroccan officials. The authorities reiterated their wish to proceed as expeditiously as possible in completing the identification process. They also agreed to the Security Council's call, in its report of 21 June (S/1995/498, para. 46), for "the Government of Morocco to conduct preliminary vetting of the 100,000 applicants currently not residing in the Territory prior to the examination by the Identification Commission, in order to enable MINURSO to maintain its timetable for completing the identification process". It was confirmed that this process would be completed before the end of August. This is reported as having been done, although a formal submission has yet to be received by MINURSO.

6. Also on 12 July the Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO addressed a letter to the President of the Security Council and myself. In his letter, he reiterated the view of the Frente POLISARIO that "the 1974 Spanish census constitutes the only basis recognized in the settlement plan as accepted by the two parties and endorsed by the United Nations" and deemed unacceptable what he termed "the participation of a substitute population, sought by the occupying Power, whose most recent manoeuvre was to attempt to include 100,000 of its nationals in the voters list". Nevertheless, he confirmed the Frente POLISARIO's agreement to resume its participation in the identification process after a Moroccan royal edict of 9 July had reduced the 21 June prison sentences to one year. His message was conveyed by the Frente POLISARIO Coordinator with MINURSO, Mr. Bachir Mustafa Sayed, at a meeting with the members of the Security Council on 13 July.

7. On 3 August, Mr. Basri visited the MINURSO identification centre in Laayoune. Afterwards, in the presence of Moroccan Ministers and senior officials, as well as the media, he presented Mr. Jensen with two letters confirming his Government's commitment to proceed as expeditiously as possible with the identification of all remaining applicants. He emphasized his Government's readiness to assist an opening 40 new centres in Morocco and in the Territory and providing MINURSO with all the necessary technical and logistic support.

8. At a meeting in the Tindouf area on 4 August, my Acting Special Representative discussed with the POLISARIO Coordinator with MINURSO the question of identifying applicants outside the Territory. Mr. Bachir reiterated the Frente POLISARIO's view regarding the unacceptability of many of the latest applicants being brought forward for identification, most especially the 100,000 applicants not residing in the Territory

9. On 7 August, the Frente POLISARIO conveyed orally to MINURSO its decision that it would no longer participate in the identification, even within the Territory, of the tribal groups classified as "Chorfa", in addition to those classified as Northern tribes (Tribus del Norte) and Coastal and Southern tribes (Costeras y del Sur), until the following conditions had been met:

(a) the provision of a complete list of all the applicants under the three groupings and

(b) their classification by subfraction, the criteria under which they were applying and their actual residence.

It insisted that it had accepted a compromise last year only on the understanding that those three groupings constituted a minority. It suggested that identification of the three groups be left till the end of the process, after the less contentious cases had been completed. This is in fact, what MINURSO has done in the planning for identification.

10. On 25 August in Lisbon, I received the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations, Mr. Ahmed Snoussi, who delivered to me a letter dated 23 August from the Prime Minister. In his letter, Mr. Filali reiterated Morocco's conviction that all applicants should be treated equally and were entitled to be presented for identification. He rejected any notion that there was a hierarchy of criteria and that applicants under criteria one to three were more legitimat Saharans than those under criteria four and five. He also explained the reasons why a large number of Saharans had not resided in the Territory at the time of the 1974 census and argued against excessive reliance on the census, which he maintained was open to challenge in various respects.

B. Progress and problems in identification

11. The identification operation recommenced in late July, after the details concerning its resumption had been clarified and practical measures taken to reopen the identification centres. The operation has since been suspended from 9 to 11 August, for the Mouled holiday, and from 19 to 26 August, during the Ninth People's Congress of the Frente POLISARIO.

12. A total of over 53,000 persons have been identified since the process began one year ago. More than 17,000 of these applicants have been identified since my last report (S/1995/404). Altogether, this represents over 40 per cent of persons residing in the Territory and over 51 per cent of those in the refugee camps near Tindouf. As shown in annex I, the number of applicants convoked exceeds the number of applicants actuall identified. Of those remaining to be identified, the great majority are covered by a detailed plan of work which has been submitted to the parties and generally agreed upon. The identification of these persons has been programmed. All the applications received from within the Territory, from the refugee camps and from Mauritania have been computerized. Thus, as soon as the parties would agree, the detail programme of identification could be extended to cover all persons in Laayoune as well as those currently residing outside the Territory.

13. In my last report (S/1995/404), I noted that attachment to a maximum of 150 persons to be identified daily at any given centre, which was originally intended as a reasonable target, imposed an unnecessary limitation. In its resolution 1002 (1995), the Security Council endorsed the recommendation of its mission to Western Sahara which urged that the highest possible number of identifications per day be permitted to take place. Insistence on a limit is still encountered, although MINURSO staff have pointed out repeatedly that the figure of 150 persons to be identified a day is a target and not a limit.

14. Despite calls to abandon insistence on strict reciprocity, recommended by the Security Council mission and endorsed by the Council in its resolution 1002 (1995), the principle of reciprocity also continues to be applied when problems arise in regard to contentious issues on the opposite side, thus interrupting the process also at another centre. These difficulties have been fully described in the biweekly oral reports submitted to the Council since the beginning of July.

15. A core problem in the identification process concerns certain tribal groupings. Of the 88 categories in the 1974 census, nearly all relate specifically and directly to tribal groups. Only three categorizations are clearly different. These are the ones which group under one heading, as if it were a tribe, members of various tribal groups. At the time of the census, these groups were not individually represented in the Territory by a large number of people.

16. In a spirit of compromise and with a view to moving the process forward, agreement was reached with the parties in February on sheikhs and their alternates to identify the members of 85 out of the 88 groups in the census. However, there are major differences of perception between the Frente POLISARIO and the Government of Morocco. Morocco maintains that under the settlement plan, all members of the tribal groups which are represented in the census can apply in order to be identified and to establish their eligibility to vote on the basis of any of the five criteria. The Frente POLISARIO insists that the plan's reference to tribal "subfractions belonging to the Territory" should be interpreted strictly as subfractions, the majority of whose members were found in Western Sahara at the time of the census.

17. The group classified in the 1974 census as Northern tribes (Tribus del Norte) is only sparsely represented in the camps near Tindouf but has many thousand members on he Moroccan administered side. Although the representation differs, there is also a problem with the grouping named Coastal and Southern tribes (Costeras y del Sur). The Frente POLISARIO now considers the "Chorfa" tribal grouping in a similar way. In the Territory, 31,108 out of a total 34,116 applicants belonging to these groups remain to be identified. In the camps near Tindouf, a total of 3,019 applicants from these groups have yet to be identified. It should be stated that the Frente POLISARIO does not have tribal leaders (sheikhs) for many of these subgroups or individuals of appropriate standing to propose as alternates. On the other hand, it recognizes the right, as spelled out in the plan, of all persons from these groups which were included in the 1974 census, to request inclusion in the electoral roll. With respect to applicants residing in southern Morocco, some 50 per cent belong to the contested groups of tribes.

The Frente POLISARIO finds it unacceptable to participate in their identification.

C. Other aspects of the identification process

18. My Acting Special Representative visited Mauritania on 1 August, in pursuance of the recommendation of the Security Council mission that MINURSO should without delay commence the identification operation for applicants living in that country (S/1995/498). He was received in Nouakchott by President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya. Progress and prospects for identification were discussed, including the means of identifying the persons whose applications had been received in Mauritania. President Taya has agreed to establish a technical commission to examine the issue. It is my intention to continue seeking a joint agreement soon.

19. In response to a request by the Security Council mission and in the interest of responsible management, all available staff were assigned to assist with the substantive review of the identification case files in Laayoune and Tindouf throughout the time when identification could not take place. The full data entry for review purposes of 45,316 files of persons identified on both sides since the start of the process has been completed and the substantive review of specific cases is proceeding steadily. Appropriate measures have also been taken to improve security in and around the review offices.

20. More resources have been made available, as recommended by the Security Council mission which urged the speeding up of the administrative decisionmaking process to enable MINURSO to have all the human and other resources required to expedite its work (S/1995/498).

21. The Government of Algeria has given its consent to the extension of the landing time of United Nations aircraft on its territory from 1700 to 1900 hours GMT. It has also granted permission for twice-weekly helicopter overflight to and from the remote Dakhla camp. I am grateful for these measures taken by Algeria, which have eased some of the logistic problems and contributed greatly to the smoother conduct of identification.

22. Two additional observers from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) arrived in the mission area before the end of June. Ten representatives of OAU are now present to observe the process. Cooperation between MINURSO and OAU continues to be good.


23. In its resolution 1002 (1995), the Security Council requested me to report on progress achieved in important aspects of the plan, including the reduction of forces, the confinement of troops, the release of political prisoners and detainees and the code of conduct.

Reduction of Moroccan troops in the Territory.

24. In September, I entend to address a letter to the Government of Morocco requesting it to provide information on the strength and location of its military forces in the Territory, with a plan and timetable for their reduction to the agreed level of 65,000 all ranks. Morocco has recently reiterated its commitment to reduce its troops to the agreed level at the appropriate time in accordance with the plan.

Confinement of troops in designated locations

25. As noted in my last report (S/1995/404), during consultations held by the former Special Representative in 1991, the Frente POLISARIO had objected to the suggestion that its troops be confined outside the Territory, while Morocco had refused to agree that the POLISARIO troops be confined in the area between the sandwall (berm) and the international border of Western Sahara. In a letter addressed to me by Mr. Filali on 23 August, Morocco reiterated its objection. Consultations will continue with the parties and neighbouring countries, on the basis of which I hope to be in a position to reach a decision soon.

Independent jurist and release of political prisoners and detainees

26. On 21 July, the independent jurist, Mr. Emmanuel Roucounas, travelled to Rabouni to meet with the Chairman of the Identification Commission and other senior officials of the Frente POLISARIO. The following day, he met in Rabat with the legal adviser to the Government of Morocco and senior officials of the Ministry of Interior. Both meetings, which took place in the presence of my Acting Special Representative, focused on the mandate and programme of work of the independent jurist. He is at present compiling relevant material and expects to visit the mission area again during mid-September.

Exchange of prisoners of war

27. As noted in my last report, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is prepared to start working on the release of prisoners of war (POWs) as soon as the parties are ready to do so. My Acting Special Representative has been involved in consultations with both parties. They have expressed their readiness to address all questions relating to the agreement on the exchange of prisoners, in accordance with the plan.

Code of conduct

28. The code of conduct was finalized and sent to the two parties on 17 August 1995. The Frente POLISARIO replied in writing on 22 August and the Government of Morocco responded verbally on 24 August. Both sides indicated their inability to accept the code of conduct as submitted to them. I intend therefore to undertake a further revision of the code.

Return of refugees, other Western Saharans and members of the Frente POLISARIO entitled to vote

29. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has continued preparations for the repatriation of refugees after the start of the transitional period. UNHCR officers have been deployed in Laayoune and Tindouf to determine the logistic requirements for repatriation and to coordinate UNHCR activities in the region. To this end, UNHCR has undertaken reconnaissance missions to potential repatriation sites in the Territory.

30. As a follow-up to the UNHCR visit of last February, a technical team of water experts from the non-governmental organization Action internationale contre la faim (AICF) arrived in Laayoune at the beginning of June for three weeks. The team evaluated the water resources in the Territory, especially in the potential repatriation sites, in order to define a programme of supply of potable water to returnees. Work on water installations will be carried out by AICF in the coming months under a contract with UNHCR. For planning purposes, UNHCR intends to proceed with a pre-registration of refugees before completing its preparatory work. Both sides have cooperated with the efforts of UNHCR and pledged their support to the smooth repatriation of refugees after the start of the transitional period.


Military component

31. As of 31 August 1995, the military component of MINURSO, headed by the Force Commander, Brigadier-General Andre Van Baelen (Belgium), totalled 285 personnel, comprising 237 military observers and 48 military support personnel (see annex II to the present report). As noted in my previous reports, pending the fulfilment of the conditions necessary for the commencement of the transitional period, the military mandate of MINURSO remains restricted to monitoring and verifying the cease-fire, which came into effect on 6 September 1991 (see map in annex III).

32. During the reporting period, the cease-fire was violated on two occasions. One violation was related to an attempt by the Frente POLISARIO to restrict the movement of MINURSO military observers. This violation was resolved after discussions with the Mission and, as a result, MINURSO continues to enjoy full freedom of movement. The second violation was related to the conduct of live-fire exercises and the movement of troops and equipment by the Frente POLISARIO. During the period under review the Frente POLISARIO reported three Moroccan overflights, which MINURSO was not able to confirm. In this connection, it should be noted that the alleged overflights occurred in the vicinity of international air corridors.

33. Owing to extensive use in extremely harsh conditions over a four-year period, the vehicles, generators, weather havens and communications equipment of MINURSO have deteriorated to a point where, in some cases, they are no longer safe to operate. Measures are being taken to alleviate this situation and to provide the appropriate level of support to improve the Mission's operational capability.

Civilian police component

34. The Civilian Police Commissioner, Colonel Wolf-Dieter Krampe (Germany), completed his tour of duty on 20 August. Pending the designation of his replacement, Lieutenant-Colonel Jan Walmann (Norway) is serving as Acting Civilian Police Commissioner. As of 1 September, the strength of the civilian police component totalled 92, from Austria (10), Egypt (11), Germany (4), Ghana (8), Hungary (13), Ireland (15), Nigeria (10), Norway (2), Togo (9) and Uruguay (10).

35. Pending the commencement of the transitional period, the activities of the civilian police component remain linked to those of the Identification Commission. In this connection, MINURSO civilian police maintain a 24-hour security presence at the identification centres and provide technical assistance to the Identification Commission, as appropriate.

Preparations for the deployment of MINURSO at full strength

36. The original military concept of operations for the deployment of MINURSO during the transitional period, as described in the implementation plan (S/22464), consisted of a total military strength of about 1,695 (all ranks). As noted in my previous reports, in anticipation of Security Council authorization of the transitional period, plans for the full deployment of MINURSO have undergone an in-depth review. As a result, it is estimated that a force of about 1,780 (all ranks) would be required in order for MINURSO to implement effectively its military mandate. The difference results mainly from an increase in the signals and engineering units. Given the expansion of the Mission's activities during the transitional period, there would also be a requirement to increase the existing aviation contracted support of three fixedwing aircraft and three helicopters by an additional three fixed-wing aircraft and five helicopters.

37. The concept of operations for the full deployment of the civilian police component has also been reviewed. In this connection it will be recalled that, in accordance with the plan, the task of the civilian police component during the transitional period is to ensure tranquillity and maintain law and order in the vicinity of, and at, voter registration offices and polling stations. This will ensure that no person is denied entry for the purposes of registration or voting. When specifically so ordered, it will also maintain order at other locations where activities in connection with the referendum, under MINURSO auspices or authority, are taking place. In addition, the component's task is to monitor the activities of the existing police forces, so as to ensure that they are acting in strict accordance with the plan, which is intended to secure the organization of a free and fair referendum without military or administrative constraints and to prevent any possibility of intimidation or interference from any quarter. It is evident that the elaboration of a modus operandi to carry out these tasks requires close consultation with the parties. MINURSO is consulting with the parties with a view to obtaining the basic technical information required. It is my hope that the parties will cooperate fully with MINURSO in this regard.

38. As the Security Council may be aware, it will take at least 13 weeks to obtain commitment authority from the legislative bodies concerned and complete the deployment of personnel and equipment required to undertake the activities scheduled to begin on D-Day. The Council may wish to take these inescapable constraints into account in setting the date for the start of the transitional period.

39. In accordance with the timetable set out in the plan, MINURSO infantry personnel are to deploy to the Mission area one month before D-Day. The primary responsibility of these personnel is to provide protection for the repatriation of refugees, which is scheduled to take place after the publication of the final list of voters, some two months after D-Day. Should unforeseen delays impede the publication of the final list of voters, the repatriation process would also be delayed. Given the conditions of extreme hardship in the Mission area, it would not be justified to deploy infantry and supporting units three or more months before they are required to take up their responsibilities under the plan. I have therefore decided to link the deployment of infantry and supporting personnel to the publication of the final list of voters.


40. In its resolution 49/247 of 20 July 1995, the General Assembly authorized me to enter into commitments for the operation of MINURSO for the period after 30 September 1995 at a monthly rate not to exceed $5,592,500 gross ($5,096,100 net), subject to the extension of the Mission by the Security Council beyond 30 September.

41. Therefore, should the Security Council decide to extend the mandate of the Mission for a further period of four months as indicated in paragraph 52 of the present report, the cost of maintaining MINURSO during the extension period will be within the monthly rate as indicated above.

42. As at 31 August 1995, unpaid assessed contributions to the MINURSO special account since the inception of the Mission amounted to $55.8 million. In order to provide the Mission with the necessary cash flow, a total of $16.1 million was borrowed from other peace-keeping accounts. These loans remain unpaid. The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peace-keeping operations on 31 August was $3 billion.


43. In my last report (S/1995/404), I drew attention to the respective concerns of the parties which have impeded the implementation of the settlement plan, including the continuing difficulties relating to the identification process. There was never any illusion that they would be easily overcome. In spite of the best efforts of those responsible, progress in the last three months has been disappointing.

44. The benchmarks which, in my last report, I proposed to meet by this time have not been achieved for the most part. Both parties have maintained their respective positions concerning the confinement of the Frente POLISARIO troops. In addition, they object to the terms of the proposed code of conduct, despite the efforts made by the Secretariat to reconcile their differences.

45. I do not wish, however, to minimize the results achieved over the past year. In circumstances largely without precedent and under particularly adverse conditions, over 40 per cent of the applicants in the Territory and more than 51 per cent of those in the refugee camps have been identified. In addition, many more have already been convoked, sometimes repeatedly. A detailed programme for the identification of most of the remaining applicants has been prepared. Were both parties to cooperate fully, the process of identification in all four refugee camps and three of the four centres in the Territory (with the exception of Laayoune) could be completed in approximately five weeks. There would then remain, in addition to Laayoune, those individuals who belong to an assortment of tribal groups widely dispersed and thinly represented in any one place in the Territory or in the camps. Special arrangements would have to be made in cooperation with the parties to group those people for identification.

46. However, the identification process can continue and be expanded to cover all applicants within and outside the Territory, including the 14,500 in Mauritania and the 5,000 in the Tindouf area outside the camps, as well as those living in southern Morocco, only if two partly related issues are resolved:

the Frente POLISARIO dismisses categorically the 100,000 applications from persons living outside the Territory in southern Morocco and has major reservations about members of certain tribal groupings also in the Territory, namely the "Tribus del Norte", "Costeras y del Sur" and "Chorfa". From among these, they reject three groups as in no sense "belonging to the Territory". With respect to other groups, while not contesting the right of their members who were included in the census to be identified, the Frente POLISARIO has agreed to participate in identification on the assumption that the number would be modest and the individuals would be identified by one tribal leader (sheikh) from each side. This is a matter which it believes should be resolved between the parties.

47. The Government of Morocco, on the other hand, is insistent that there should be no discrimination between applicants, irrespective of whether they are currently residing in or outside the Territory and irrespective of the criterion under which they apply to be included in the electoral roll.

48. MINURSO has an obligation to consider all applications which have been correctly submitted. The essence of the identification process is, firstly, to establish the personal identity of the applicant and, secondly, to determine whether he or she qualifies for inclusion in the electoral roll under one of the five eligibility criteria. Bringing a person to be identified does not prejudge the decision.

49. Technically, there would be no obstacle to organizing identification sessions in various places within or outside the Territory, wherever the bulk of the applicants reside. The practice could continue of calling on two tribal leaders (sheikhs) from the tribal subgroup concerned, but these would not invariably be drawn one from each side, as has been the practice hitherto. Were identification to take place without the participation of tribal leaders (sheikhs) from the Frente POLISARIO side, it would be necessary, for the process to have credibility, to insist on the submission of documentary evidence, such as a birth certificate, to establish that the individual is indeed the child of a Saharan father, and some supporting evidence as to the father's birth in the Territory. The Frente POLISARIO would, of course, be invited to observe the proceedings and to submit its observations in accordance with the agreed procedures. OAU should also be represented and the presence of its observers would be an important element. If such a programme could be implemented, there would be no practical reasons why the identification of persons living outside as well as those from the camps and the Territory could not be completed in approximately four months.

50. Despite repeated calls on the parties by the Security Council and myself to permit the process to advance more rapidly, both sides are reluctant to compromise on any issue which they believe could weaken their own position. It is now essential to move beyond what has already been achieved. I therefore appeal to the parties to make every effort to permit the expeditious implementation of the settlement plan in order to reach the ust and lasting solution to the question of Western Sahara to which the United Nations is committed.

51. The Security Council has already warned that the process cannot continue indefinitely. However, premature withdrawal of MINURSO would undoubtedly have very grave and far-reaching implications for the parties and for the whole subregion. If at all possible, that must be avoided.

52. I propose the extension of MINURSO's mandate until 31 January 1996. If, before then, the conditions necessary for the start of the transitional period are not in place, I shall present the Security Council with alternative options for consideration, including the possibility of MINURSO's withdrawal.

53. In conclusion, I should like to express my appreciation to the OAU observers for their important role in the process and to my Acting Special Representative for his commitment and perseverance.


Annex : Composition of MINURSO military component

A. Military observers: Argentina 6, Austria 4 ,Bangladesh 7, Belgium 1, China 20, Egypt 12, El Salvador 2, France 27, Ghana 6, Greece 1, Guinea 1, Honduras 14, Ireland 9, Italy 6, Kenya 10, Korea 2, Malaysia 15, Nigeria 4, Pakistan 5,Poland 2, Russian Federation28, Tunisia 9,Uruguay 15, United States of America 30, Venezuela 1. Total 237

B. Military support personnel (i) Medical Unit: Republic of Korea40 (ii) Clerical: Ghana 8. Total 48. Grand total285