Comité suisse de soutien au peuple sahraoui
Schweizerisches Unterstützungskomittee für die Sahraouis


July 2002

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, is in terms of international law a non-self-governing territory which has the right to self-determination.

Before withdrawing from the Sahara in 1976, Spain renounced its responsibilities over the territory and handed over its administration to Morocco and Mauritania, in violation of the Declaration on granting independence to colonial countries and peoples (resolution 1514/XV).

According to the opinion of the UN legal adviser (S/2002/161, January 2002), Morocco is not the administrative power of Western Sahara, which remains a non-self-governing territory recognised by the UN.
The United Nations Mission for Western Sahara, MINURSO, which had as its mandate to implement the joint UN /OAU Peace Plan, approved by the two parties, has not fulfilled its mission, despite 11 years' presence on the ground and half a billion dollars. The fault lies, mainly with Morocco, the UN says.
In two recent reports (613 November 2001 and 178 February 2002), the Secretary General invites the Security Council to choose and to impose one option, on a non-negotiable basis, among four possibilities : referendum, framework-agreement (autonomy), partition of the territory or withdrawal of MINURSO, not one of these options is accepted by both parties.

Concerned about this situation, the signatories of this manifesto would like to make it clear to all concerned that the conflict cannot be resolved except by a solution agreed by both camps.

To get out of the present impasse,
in order to ensure the implementation of international law,
in order to guarantee respect for human rights in Western Sahara,
in order to protect the natural resources of the territory from any abusive exploitation
and above all to avoid the return to war,
it is necessary to recreate the right conditions for dialogue between the warring parties and to encourage bilateral negotiations. The disputed territory should be administered by a neutral body until such time as conditions become possible in which to hold a free, fair and transparent referendum.

This is why the signatories of this manifesto call on the Spanish State, former colonial power, and still, according to the Charter of the United Nations, the administrative power of Western Sahara (Corell's Legal Opinion), to persevere in its present attitude of firm support for self-determination and to ask the UN to take sovereign charge of the territory to administer it until the holding of a referendum of self-determination.

[On Mid-July 2002, this manifesto, signed by numerous NGOs and individuals, has been delivered to Spanish Embassies in different countries, as well as to the members of the UN Security Council]

[Communiqués, letters, Documents...] [HOME]