Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On W. Sahara, Polisario Writes to UNSC, Rights Monitoring, April 17 Irony

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- Ten days before the first Western Sahara consultation of the UN Security Council this month, the Polisario Front is submitting a letter to Council members through April's presidency, Nigeria.

  Since in the past some Security Council presidents have refused to formally circulate to Council members letters from Polisario, despite them being party to a UN mediated conflict, Inner City Press is publishing an advance copy of the letter it obtained, below in full.

  Also last time, Polisario was banned from even speaking at the Council's UNTV stakeout. While Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access, which favors more rather than fewer being able to speak at the UN, have been looking into this, Polisario's representative tells Inner City Press it should be different this month. We'll see. Here's the letter:


H.E. Mrs. U. Joy. OGWU, President of the Security Council

United Nations New York, New York, 7 of April 2014

Your Excellency,

I have the honour, upon instructions of my authorities, and in view of the Security Council’s forthcoming deliberations during the month of April, to share with you the views of the Frente POLISARIO on the current state of the UN-led political process on Western Sahara as well as its future prospects.

1. The negotiating process

I wish to reiterate the Frente POLISARIO’s continued willingness to cooperate fully with the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, Ambassador Christopher Ross, whose ongoing efforts we commend. While the Frente POLISARIO supports PESG Ross’s shuttle diplomacy, it also remains fully open to a resumption of direct talks at any time. The apparent readiness of Morocco to cooperate with United Nations’ ongoing efforts, based on the recent letter from the Moroccan Foreign Minister to the Secretary-General, is a very new development that must be translated quickly into concrete action without preconditions.

It must nevertheless be noted that if Morocco had been willing to respect past agreements reached by the parties and endorsed by the Security Council, the dispute over Western Sahara could have been resolved over two decades ago through the holding of a referendum, the implementation of which was the reason for establishing the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). We recall that the Settlement Plan agreed by Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO in 1991 and endorsed by the Security Council in its Resolution 690 (1990) called for a referendum offering the people of Western Sahara a choice between independence and integration with Morocco. The referendum was to be held within six months. Subsequently, the Baker Plan, negotiated in 2003 and clearly endorsed by the Security Council in operative paragraph 1 of resolution 1495 (2003) as an “optimum political solution” also called for the holding of such a referendum.

In both cases, Morocco sought to sabotage the agreements after the fact by placing obstacles in the way of the holding of a referendum, in an attempt to complete an illegal military annexation of a Territory that the International Court of Justice, in a 1975 ruling, declared had no ties of sovereignty with Morocco.

The members of the Security Council are no doubt fully aware that Western Sahara remains a Non-Self-Governing Territory under Chapter XI of the UN Charter, that has been illegally occupied by Morocco, and which is still subject to a decolonization process that should involve a referendum with independence as one legitimate option in line with UN General Assembly Resolutions 1514 (XV) and 1541 (XV). The Council has called for a spirit of flexibility and compromise from all sides. Regretfully it appears that Morocco’s interpretation of this call, reiterated in the above-mentioned letter, is based on a belief that past agreements and compliance with international law should be ignored, in favour of an autonomy plan predicated on a position that the current situation of illegal occupation is a fait accompli.

Without the Council’s assumption of responsibility regarding the decolonisation of the Territory, there is a real risk that Morocco will in fact continue to stall the negotiating process in a bid to consolidate its illegal occupation of Western Sahara. This cannot be allowed to happen. The Security Council’s role is to maintain international peace and security by ensuring that the decolonisation process is completed.

We also regret that Morocco continues to seek to restrict the African Union (AU) from the process, despite the fact that the AU – of which the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a founding member - is a partner of the United Nations in the resolution of all African issues, and that in its earlier incarnation as the Organization for African Unity (OAU) it helped engineer the Settlement Plan for Western Sahara by virtue of its resolution 104 (XX).

2. Human rights

It remains a matter of deep concern to the Frente POLISARIO that Morocco’s ongoing and systematic violation of the human rights of the Saharawi people continues to be widely documented and confirmed by international NGO’s, UN Special Rapporteurs, and governments. The latest US State Department Report on the human rights situation has noted that systematic human rights abuses continue, including arbitrary arrest and detention, the denial of freedom of speech and association, as well as general police impunity. Moroccan security forces also continue violently to suppress public demonstrations by Saharawis peacefully demanding their right to self-determination. The latest such demonstration took place on 26 March 2014 in the occupied city of El Aaiún.

Morocco’s announcement in its recent letter to the Secretary-General that it intends to react to all complaints made to its human rights council is irrelevant. Notwithstanding the fundamental point that Moroccan national mechanisms have no place in the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara, over which Morocco does not have sovereignty, a promise to respond to complaints made through a flawed Moroccan mechanism is not an acceptable nor credible alternative to “…the need for independent, impartial, comprehensive and sustained monitoring of the human rights situations in both Western Sahara and the camps” as called for by the Secretary-General in his report of April 2013 (S/2013/220). While the Frente POLISARIO welcomes visits by Special Procedures mandate holders, only three Special Rapporteurs have visited Western Sahara since 2012. In any case, such visits do not allow for comprehensive and sustained monitoring of the human rights situation. Only the establishment of a monitoring mechanism within MINURSO would comply with the criteria laid out by the Secretary-General in his 2013 report, and align this peacekeeping operation with UN best practices.

In the interim, the Frente POLISARIO reiterates its willingness, as expressed in writing both to the Secretary-General and to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to engage regularly with the OHCHR and for the OHCHR to conduct human rights monitoring in the refugee camps. We welcome Morocco’s apparent willingness to receive the High Commissioner and call for any such visit to the region to include the Territory of Western Sahara.

Morocco’s announcement that it intends to ban trial of civilians by military courts does not address the fact that dozens of Sahrawi political detainees arrested following the peaceful Gdeim Izik uprising have already been convicted by military tribunals. Moreover, as long as Morocco continues its illegal occupation of the Territory, the difference between military and civilian courts, which issue politically motivated convictions, will be largely academic.

3. Natural resources

The Frente POLISARIO also remains extremely concerned about the continued illegal exploitation by Morocco of the natural resources of Western Sahara. As a Non-Self-Governing Territory under the UN Charter, the people of Western Sahara have the sovereign right to control their own natural resources. For decades, Morocco has illegally benefited from the fisheries and phosphates taken from Western Sahara. Continued illegal exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources will further entrench Morocco’s occupation and continue financing its efforts to alter the Territory’s demographics. The illegal exploitation of our people’s natural resources therefore hinders the political process. As a consequence, we request that the Council issue clear guidelines to third States and foreign companies in order to prevent them from illegally exploring or exploiting Western Sahara’s natural resources.

Finally, the Frente POLISARIO has always expressed, as one of the two recognised parties to the conflict, its willingness to brief Members of the Council during their informal consultations.

I would be grateful to your Excellency if you could bring this letter to the attention of the Members of the Security Council.

Please accept, your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Ahmed Boukhari
Representative of the Frente Polisario

  One further irony: before the Western Sahara consultations on April 17, France is among the sponsors of a slated "Arria formula" meeting on North Korea and human rights. Does that mean that France will support a human rights monitoring mechanism for MINURSO?

  After Nigeria and its Ambassador Joy Ogwu assumed the UN Security Council presidency on April 2 Inner City Press asked Ogwu about Ukraine being a footnote in the month's Program of Work, and about the predicted fast approval of a new mandate for the MINURSO mission in Western Sahara. Video here, from Minute 21:21

  In the Program of Work the "consultations" on Western Sahara are set for April 17 and adoption of the resolution on April 23. Inner City Press asked if this means it is in the hands of the "Group of Friends," which does not include any African member.

Ogwu replied, "we expect to be fully involved." Given that the African Union position on Western Sahara, will that mean that a human rights monitoring mechanism for MINURSO, as exists in other peacekeeping missions, will be seriously considered?

  Will the US, which proposed such a mechanism last year, push forward again? Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting both Morocco and Algeria early in April. We'll see.

  On Ukraine, Inner City Press asked if the expect report of UN human rights deputy Ivan Simonovic will trigger a meeting or consultation of the Security Council. Ogwu replied, with due regard for strategic planning, that bridge will be crossed when reached.

  As the second question -- why there is a claim of tradition of UNCA, often the UN's Censorship Alliance trying to get others thrown out of the UN and blocking access to documents on the Internet, automatically getting the first question is and will be addressed elsewhere -- the new Free UN Coalition for Access encouraged Ambassador Ogwu to hold question and answer stakeouts, even brief ones, after closed door consultations, as Luxembourg did (14) in March.

  Ogwu noted the invitation. With agenda items on the Middle East, Central African Republic, Darfur, South Sudan and it seems North Korea, in Arria formula style, such stakeout should be useful. Watch this site.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2014 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]