Security Council Adopts Resolution 2440 (2018), Authorizing Six-Month Extension for United Nations Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara
Members Pass Measure by 12 Votes in Favour to None against, with 3 Abstaining
The Security Council decided today to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2019, calling upon the parties to the dispute over that territory to engage constructively in resumed talks planned for the end of 2018.
By a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (Bolivia, Ethiopia, Russian Federation), the Council adopted resolution 2440 (2018), welcoming the decisions by Morocco, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguía el-Hamra and Río de Oro (POLISARO Front), Algeria and Mauritania to accept an invitation from Horst Köhler, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, to participate in an initial round table meeting in Geneva on 5 and 6 December.
The Council called upon the parties to demonstrate political will in order to advance the negotiations, emphasizing the importance of an enduring political solution based on compromise and the need to provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in a manner consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.
It also emphasized the importance of aligning the strategic focus of MINURSO and the use of United Nations resources to that end. It also urged the parties and neighbouring States to engage with the Mission as it considers further how new technologies can be used to reduce risk, improve force protection and better implement its mandate.
Calling upon the parties to refrain from actions that could undermine negotiations, the Council called specifically on the POLISARO Front to adhere fully to its commitments to the Personal Envoy in respect of Bir Lahlou, Tifariti and the buffer strip at Guerguerat.
In statements following the vote, Council members welcomed the mandate renewal and the progress made towards a political solution on Western Sahara. In that regard, they expressed support for the Personal Envoy and called on the parties to engage constructively with him.
The representatives of Bolivia, Ethiopia and the Russian Federation explained that they abstained because the penholder did not sufficiently consult them or consider their concerns. They expressed regret that consensus was thus not achieved. “It is vital that this Council continue to speak with one voice in support of the Personal Envoy’s efforts at this critical moment,” Ethiopia’s representative said.
Several other Council members voiced their preference for renewing MINURSO’s mandate for 12 months rather than six, with France’s representative saying that full-year mandates are preferable in order to maintain continuity in planning for all United Nations missions.
However, the representative of the United States said a shorter mandate is needed to enforce the momentum towards progress. Further renewals will not be automatic, he emphasized, adding that MINURSO’s presence must be judged on its effectiveness in fostering a lasting solution. All peacekeeping missions must support political solutions and mandates must be renewed accordingly, he added.
Also speaking today were representatives of Sweden, United Kingdom, Côte d’Ivoire, Poland, Netherlands, Peru, China, Kuwait and Equatorial Guinea.
The meeting began at 3:01 p.m. and ended at 3:43 p.m.
The full text of resolution 2440 (2018) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling and reaffirming all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara,
“Reaffirming its strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to implement resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), 2152 (2014), 2218 (2015), 2285 (2016), 2351 (2017), and 2414 (2018),
“Expressing full support for the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, former President Horst Köhler of Germany, and welcoming the engagement of the parties and neighbouring states with him in his efforts to facilitate direct negotiations,
“Welcoming the decision by the Personal Envoy to hold an initial roundtable meeting in Geneva on December 5–6, 2018, to take stock of recent developments, address regional issues, and discuss the next steps in the political process on Western Sahara,
“Further welcoming the decisions of Morocco, the Frente POLISARO, Algeria and Mauritania to accept the invitation of the Personal Envoy to participate in a roundtable meeting in Geneva on December 5-6, 2018, without preconditions and in good faith, and welcoming consultations between the Personal Envoy and Morocco, the Frente POLISARO, Algeria and Mauritania in this regard,
“Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect,
“Reiterating its call upon the parties and the neighbouring states to cooperate more fully with the United Nations and with each other, to strengthen their involvement in the political process and to achieve progress towards a political solution,
“Recognizing that achieving a political solution to this long-standing dispute and enhanced cooperation between the Member States of the Maghreb Arab Union would contribute to stability and security, in turn leading to jobs, growth and opportunities for all the peoples in the Sahel region,
“Welcoming the efforts of the Secretary-General to keep all peacekeeping operations, including the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), under close review and reiterating the need for the Council to pursue a rigorous, strategic approach to peacekeeping deployments, and effective management of resources,
“Recalling its request of the Secretary-General to ensure that data related to the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, including peacekeeping performance data, is used to improve analytics and the evaluation of mission operations, based on clear and well identified benchmarks, and emphasizing the need to regularly evaluate MINURSO’s performance such that the mission retains the skills and flexibility needed to effectively carry out its mandate,
“Recalling resolution 2242 (2015) and its aspiration to increase the number of women in military and police contingents of United Nations peacekeeping operations,
“Recognizing the important role played by MINURSO on the ground and the need for it to fully implement its mandate, including its role in supporting the Personal Envoy to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution, and welcoming the Personal Envoy’s visit to MINURSO headquarters and Western Sahara,
“Expressing concern about the violations of existing agreements, and in this regard welcoming the Secretary-General’s assessment on 3 October 2018 that no major threats to the ceasefire have been recorded,
“Taking note of the assurances provided by the Frente POLISARO to the Personal Envoy not to move administrative structures to the territory as well as its commitment to fulfil its obligations with respect to the buffer strip at Guerguerat, in line with resolution 2414 (2018), and recognizing that full adherence by the Frente POLISARO to these commitments will help sustain momentum in the political process,
“Taking note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution; also taking note of the POLISARO Front proposal presented 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General,
“Encouraging in this context, the parties to demonstrate further political will towards a solution including by expanding upon their discussion of each other’s proposals and recommitting to UN efforts in a spirit of realism and compromise, and further encouraging the neighbouring countries to make contributions to the political process,
“Encouraging the parties to cooperate further with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in identifying and implementing confidence-building measures that can serve to foster the trust necessary for a successful political process,
“Stressing the importance of improving the human rights situation in Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps, and encouraging the parties to work with the international community to develop and implement independent and credible measures to ensure full respect for human rights, bearing in mind their relevant obligations under international law,
“Encouraging the parties to continue in their respective efforts to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps, including the freedoms of expression and association,
“Welcoming in this regard, steps and initiatives taken by Morocco, and the role played by the National Council on Human Rights Commissions operating in Dakhla and Laayoune, and Morocco’s interaction with Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council,
“Strongly encouraging enhancing cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), including through facilitating visits to the region,
“Noting with deep concern the continued hardships faced by Sahrawi refugees and their dependency on external humanitarian assistance, and further noting with deep concern insufficient funding for those living in Tindouf refugee camps and the risks associated with the reduction of food assistance,
“Reiterating its request for consideration of a refugee registration in the Tindouf refugee camps and emphasizing efforts be made in this regard,
“Recalling United Nations Security Council resolutions 1325 and 2250 and related resolutions; stressing the importance of a commitment by the parties to continue the process of negotiations through the United Nations-sponsored talks and encouraging the full, effective and meaningful participation of women and active and meaningful participation of youth in these talks,
“Recognizing that the status quo is not acceptable, and noting further that progress in negotiations is essential in order to improve the quality of life of the people of Western Sahara in all its aspects,
“Affirming its full support for Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and Head of MINURSO Colin Stewart,
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 3 October 2018 (S/2018/889),
“1. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2019;
“2. Emphasizes the need to achieve a realistic, practicable and enduring political solution to the question of Western Sahara based on compromise and the importance of aligning the strategic focus of MINURSO and orienting resources of the United Nations to this end;
“3. Expresses its full support for the intention of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to initiate a renewed negotiations process before the end of 2018; notes that invitations to an initial roundtable meeting in Geneva on 5 and 6 December 2018 were sent on 28 September 2018, welcomes that Morocco, the Frente POLISARO, Algeria, and Mauritania have responded positively, and encourages them to work constructively with the Personal Envoy, in the spirit of compromise, throughout the duration of this process to ensure a successful outcome;
“4. Calls upon the parties to resume negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and subsequent developments with a view to achieving a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect;
“5. Invites Member States to lend appropriate assistance to these talks;
“6. Reaffirms the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO with regard to the ceasefire and calls on the parties to adhere fully to those agreements;
“7. Calls upon the parties to respect their relevant obligations and assurances, and refrain from any actions that could undermine UN-facilitated negotiations or further destabilize the situation in the Western Sahara, and further calls on the Frente POLISARO to fully adhere to its commitments to the Personal Envoy with respect to Bir Lahlou, Tifariti, and the buffer strip at Guerguerat;
“8. Calls upon all parties to cooperate fully with the operations of MINURSO, including its free interaction with all interlocutors, and to take the necessary steps to ensure the security of as well as unhindered movement and immediate access for the United Nations and associated personnel in carrying out their mandate, in conformity with existing agreements;
“9. Emphasizes the importance of a renewed commitment by the parties to advancing the political process in preparation for a fifth round of negotiations, recalls its endorsement of the recommendation in the report of 14 April 2008 (S/2008/251) that realism and a spirit of compromise by the parties are essential to achieve progress in negotiations, and encourages the neighbouring countries to make important, active contributions to this process;
“10. Calls upon the parties to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to advance negotiations, thus ensuring implementation of resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), 2152 (2014), 2218 (2015), 2285 (2016), 2351 (2017), and 2414 (2018) and the success of negotiations;
“11. Requests the Secretary-General to brief the Security Council on a regular basis, and at any time he deems appropriate during the mandate period, to include within three months of this mandate’s renewal and again prior to its expiration, on the status and progress of these negotiations under his auspices, on the implementation of this resolution, challenges to MINURSO’s operations and steps taken to address them, expresses its intention to meet to receive and discuss his briefings and in this regard, further requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation in Western Sahara well before the end of the mandate period;
“12. Reaffirms its support for the development of a comprehensive and integrated performance policy framework that identifies clear standards of performance for evaluating all United Nations civilian and uniformed personnel working in and supporting peacekeeping operations, and calls on the United Nations to apply this framework to MINURSO, requests the Secretary-General to seek to increase the number of women in MINURSO, as well as to ensure the meaningful participation of women in all aspects of operations;
“13. Urges the parties and neighbouring states to engage productively with MINURSO as it further considers how new technologies can be used to reduce risk, improve force protection, and better implement its mandate;
“14. Encourages the parties to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to identify and implement confidence-building measures, including to engage women and youth, and encourages neighbouring states to support these efforts;
“15. Urges Member States to provide new and additional voluntary contributions to fund food programmes to ensure that the humanitarian needs of refugees are adequately addressed and avoid reductions in food rations;
“16. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary measures to ensure full compliance in MINURSO with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take preventive action including predeployment awareness training, and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;
“17. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
Action on Draft Resolution
By a vote of 12 votes in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (Bolivia, Ethiopia, Russian Federation), the Council adopted resolution 2440 (2018).
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States), welcomed the adoption, saying his delegation is encouraged by the progress made in the last six months towards the resumption of talks on Western Sahara. However, he cautioned against any thought that the question has now been resolved, pointing out that the round table planned for December is just a first step. That meeting must be the beginning of a full process of negotiation towards a lasting political solution to the dispute over Western Sahara. While noting that renewing MINURSO’s mandate for only six months will enforce the momentum toward progress, he stressed that further renewals will not be automatic. MINURSO’s presence must be demonstrated to be pushing a resolution of the Western Sahara question, he said, emphasizing that all peacekeeping missions must support political solutions and mandates must be renewed accordingly.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) also welcomed the adoption, emphasizing that it reaffirms MINURSO’s key role in maintaining the stability needed for a negotiated agreement. He stated, however, that he prefers 12-month mandates for all United Nations missions so as not to upset planning and continuity processes. The resolution notes that there are no new threats to the ceasefire in Western Sahara, he said, stressing the need to maintain that stability.
IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) said the positive response from all those invited to the December round table is a sign of renewed commitment to the United Nations-led political process. As a Council member, she noted, Sweden’s ambition has been to help break the deadlock over Western Sahara and move beyond the status quo while calling attention to the humanitarian situation and insufficient funding for Sahrawi refugees. Emphasizing her country’s support for MINURSO, she said the goal should be to make the Mission obsolete through a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution providing self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.
DAVID CLAY (United Kingdom) described the resolution as a signal of the Council’s strong support for MINURSO and an expression of members’ full support for a political process leading to a durable, lasting solution to the long-standing Western Sahara question.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), welcoming the decision by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy to hold consultations in December, urged all invitees to enter that dialogue without preconditions and in the spirit of compromise. The international community, including the Council, should support that political process, which represents a unique chance to make progress. Emphasizing that any eventual solution must be based on United Nations Charter principles, he noted that the Council has long stood united on the issue of Western Sahara. However, the resolution adopted today once again reflects ambiguity as well as attempts to rewrite the terms around a number of agreed issues. He said that, while the Russian Federation chose not to block the text’s adoption ‑ believing the extension of MINURSO’s mandate to be critical ‑ voting in favour would not have been in accordance with his delegation’s position. In addition, preparing and negotiating the text was neither transparent nor inclusive, he said, pointing out that the views of several Council members were not taken into account. The situation demonstrates, once again, that the Council’s informal consultations process “has room for serious improvement”.
TAYE ATSKE SELASSIE (Ethiopia) expressed support for the Personal Envoy’s efforts to relaunch the much-advocated peace process with a round of preliminary talks in December. “It is also vital that this Council continue to speak with one voice in support of the Personal Envoy’s efforts at this critical moment.” He said that while his delegation would have liked to vote in favour of the text, Ethiopia believes that a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution will also have the ultimate objective of attaining the right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the United Nations Charter’s principles and purposes. Any meaningful progress on the peace process still hinges on that principle, he said, stressing also the importance of full cooperation with the Personal Envoy on the part of the two parties.
KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire) said he would have preferred renewal for a full year. Lending full support for the Secretary-General’s strategy to revive the political process, he welcomed plans for the round table, as well as Morocco’s latest statements of position. He stressed the importance of participation by women and young people in the upcoming talks, as well as the need to respect the ceasefire and previous agreements. Côte d’Ivoire hopes the revived talks will result in a positive outcome for the Union of the Arab Maghreb and for the happiness of those in the region.
MARIUSZ LEWICKI (Poland) called for intensified efforts by all stakeholders to reach a mutually acceptable political solution, pledging his country’s continued support for the Personal Envoy’s efforts.
KAREL VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said the common ambition must be a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter. Stressing Morocco, the POLISARO Front, Algeria and Mauritania for their prompt and positive responses to the Geneva initiative, he stressed the importance of constructive ongoing engagement with the Personal Envoy. “We must now capitalize on the existing momentum to relaunch the political process, for which the continued engagement of the Council is indispensable,” he said, acknowledging MINURSO’s important role in maintaining stability on the ground and creating the conditions for political progress.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution due to the urgent need to renew MINURSO’s mandate and to resume the political process under the auspices of the United Nations and the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy. Reiterating his delegation’s full support for the latter’s work, he expressed hope that the parties will reach a just, lasting, mutually acceptable solution, leading to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.
WU HAITAO (China), noting that MINURSO has successfully helped to maintain regional stability, welcomed the renewal of MINURSO’s mandate, while expressing hope that, in the future, progress leading to mandate renewals will include full consultations with all Council members in order to reach consensus. Expressing his delegation’s support for the peace talks planned for December, he said that his country’s position on the Western Sahara question has been both consistent and impartial, and China will continue to encourage the two parties to reach a mutually acceptable and just political solution through negotiations.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said that his delegation voted in favour of the resolution but would have preferred a one-year extension in accordance with the Secretary-General’s recommendation. Welcoming efforts to reach a just, lasting, mutually acceptable and realistic solution, he hailed the Personal Envoy’s efforts to convene peace talks in Geneva, and expressed support for Morocco’s proposed autonomy initiative – a constructive suggestion – while underlining the need to fully respect that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) urged the international community to support the parties’ quest for a negotiated solution, while urging the parties in turn to support the Personal Envoy’s efforts. He emphasized, however, the importance of transparency both in the negotiations and in Security Council activities, calling upon the parties to refrain from actions that might undermine progress towards lasting peace.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), Council President for October, spoke in his national capacity, explaining that his delegation abstained because the text does not reflect the importance of the Western Sahara question. In addition, the text reflects language that appears not to have been discussed, he noted. Emphasizing that the Personal Envoy requires the Security Council’s full support, he reaffirmed his trust that a just and lasting peace in favour of the region’s peoples can be achieved through the negotiation process.