W. Sahara, Council Word Games Trigger 15-0 Vote, Retreat to Greentree
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 30 -- After hours of wrangling
over Western Sahara,
the UN Security Council past five o'clock on Friday passed a
resolution for the annual extension of the mandate of the MINURSO
mission there, without the contentious phrase "human rights"
throughout the day, in the Council's consultations
room France and its former colony Gabon drew a line in the sand on
Western Sahara. Hovering outside the consultations was Morocco's
ambassador, as well as a representative of the Polisario Front. After
twists and turns, posturing and the calling of bluffs, a compromise
was reached and voted on.
three changes to the draft resolution issued by the so-called Group
of Friends, made up of France, the US, Russia, UK and Spain. The
euphemism "human dimension" wasn't changed, but a reference
to the roles of the UN system was added, which some argued meant
"reaffirms" was added to the first paragraph -- very tough
-- and the word "existing" was added near the end. That was
it, but it was enough for Uganda and Nigeria, and also Mexico, to
remove their threats to abstain.
City Press asked Morocco's Ambassador whether he understand the
existing mandate of MINURSO to include holding a referendum with
independence as an option, and why his country had so vehemently
opposed any reference to human rights. He ignored the human rights
questions, and said that rather than independence, a political
process had begun.
repeated dodges, Inner City Press got to ask him again about human
rights, and whether Morocco's exploitation of the resources of
Western Sahara is illegal. He said Morocco is against the misuse of
human rights, and that he would provide figures showing how few
resources of Western Sahara Morocco takes out. We'll be waiting.
France's Araud, raprochement on human rights with
China not shown
asked Uganda's Ambassador what he thought of the Group of Friend's
process. He said it was outmoded, and that next time an African Union
country should be included, and maybe on from Latin America. (This
apparently referred to Mexico's position.)
Polisario's representative came out, and openly denounced France.
Inner City Press asked what natural resources are being exploited.
Phosphate and fish, was the answer.
Christopher Ross joked about Inner City Press' previously description
of him as genial (as well as looking strangely like UN top political
advisor B. Lynn Pascoe, who it was announced Friday is shortly to go
on a delayed trip to Sri Lanka.) Several delegations re-confirmed to
Inner City Press its report of China's quip that while it was usually
described as with Russia, now French had joined it in its position on
Araud, who should have answered on this, was long gone, on his way to
the UN's Greentree retreat about peacekeeping. A Council member told
Inner City Press that Araud off the record had said the French
position on Sahara was not necessarily his, but was decided from on
high. Nicolas Sarkozy was in China. The annual showdown on Western
Sahara now over, the UN breathed a sigh of relief and prepared for
the NPT and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday. Watch this site.
* * *
W. Sahara, Prospect of 3 Abstentions, China Bonds With France on
Rights, Morocco Given Veto Power?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 30 -- Six hours into Western
Sahara negotiations in
the Security Council, the threat to call the vote was made. There
would be three abstentions against the resolution drafted by the
so-called Group of Friends: Uganda, Nigeria and Mexico.
was apparently acceptable to all 15 members, but was opposed by
Morocco, would refer to UN "mechanisms" as a euphemism for
Polisario says it could live with this language,
and is angry that Morocco has become on this issue the one in "P-5
Plus One." Others wonder if France only agreed to put this
language to Morocco because it knew Morocco would shoot it down.
consultations, Inner City Press is told, Austria's Ambassador
wondered out loud how France, so important in forming the concept of
human rights, could be so vehemently opposing the inclusion of the
term in the Western Sahara resolution.
Araud responded angrily that no one can teach human rights lessons to
Chinese representative slyly said he was glad that Chinese was no
longer alone in its position on -- and against - human rights being
considered in the Council.
France's Araud, with UN's Ban, close to China on
statement by China when France was calling for humanitarian
intervention into Myanmar after cyclone Nargis. As Inner City Press
exclusively reported, China responded that when thousands of French
elderly died in the heatwave when doctors were on vacation, it had
not called for intervention. This angered then French ambassador Jean
Maurice Ripert. And now Gerard Araud?
timing, the UN's
note takers have already left for the Greentree retreat on
peacekeeping. At some point the Ambassadors will have to go. Last
year, the MINURSO extension talks started in the afternoon, and went
to 11 p.m.. And this year? Watch this site.
of 5:10 pm.- Araud notes he should have left for Greentree 10 minutes
ago. Predicts unanimity. Chinese laughs at story of bonding with
France on rights.
of 5:41 p.m. -- the only change to the draft in blue is a reference
to MINURSO's existing mandate, a hat tip to the call for a
referandum. But as Nigeria pointed out, the draft does not refer to
the 1991 resolution on the referendum. Still Nigeria and Uganda and
Mexico voted for it, 15-0. Japan's Takasu has brought his month to a
close. His staff have entered the Council with hand trucks, to move
their paraphenalia. Speaking after the vote are the U.S. and now
Araud and Mexico.
* * *
W. Sahara, France Draws a Line in the Sand, Pillay Solution Floated,
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 30, updated -- As the Western
Sahara resolution was taken up by
the UN Security Council on Friday morning, possible compromises were
floated, including one which would call on Morocco and the Polisario
Front to work with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi
was said to oppose any change to the text they shepherded out of the
so-called Group of Friends on Western Sahara. The UK is a member of
the Group. On April 29, UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told Inner
City Press that while his country thought the text was balanced, it
would be happy to see human rights language in the final resolution.
fight devolved into a reference to the "human dimension,"
not human rights. This year, the question is what mechanism to use.
Putting human rights into the mandate of the UN Mission MINURSO seems
unlikely. Rather, the floated compromise would call on the parties to
work with Navi Pillay.
however, says that one of the parities -- Morocco -- would resist
working with Ms. Pillay. Morocco would, so to speak, draw a line in
the sand on Western Sahara. Polisario would prefer that the
resolution call on the High Commissioner to work with the parties, or
with MINURSO. In the balance: the planned Council retreat to
Greentree, about peacekeeping operations.
Navi Pillay, Western Sahara monitoring not shown
and we do try to cover it as well -- is that if Polisario wants a
reference to the Human Rights Commissioner, they should agree to a
census. They talk about damning reports by Danielle Mitterand's
France Liberte in 2003 and OLAF in 2005. Their accusation: while
Christopher Ross has convened meeting in Austria and Armonk, and is
even trying to get re-opened the border between Algeria and Morocco,
deploying the "Trojan horse" of human rights, as the Moroccans put it.
They mock the human rights records of Uganda and Nigeria. Their
scorecard on the Group of Friends: France and the U.S. pro Morocco,
Russia and Spain "leaning toward" Polisario, and the UK in
Press asked, why are there no African or even Arab countries in the
Group of Friends? It was established a long time ago, was the answer.
Maybe it must change.
Update of 11:25 a.m.
-- the Council has gone into recess. Austria notes that there have been
55 resolutions on Western Sahara, 53 of them unanimous. Why not today?
of 12:02 p.m. -- a source exiting the consultations describes "a
French proposal to change the perambular paragraph about the human
dimension....We feel excluded by the process, the Group of Friends is
composed of only four Council members and one non member [Spain], so
eleven of us are excluded. So we expect from flexibility now."
But the reference to Navy Pillay may not happen.
revolve of at least some of the excluded ten foreshadow what will
happen if and when the P5 Plus One come out with an Iran sanctions
draft? Watch this site.
of 2:52 p.m. -- in the text in blue, from the Group of Friends, the
the importance of making progresss on the human dimension of the
conflict as a means to promote transparency and mutual confidence
through constructive dialogue and humanitarian confidence - building
carried sandwich in -- bad sign, one said -- word is that Uganda and
Nigeria would abstain. Would that be unity?
of 3:11 pm - Gabon's Ambassador tells InnerCityPRess, "We don't
need to mention human rights! Human dimension, ok." How about
human element? "Maybe."