Security Council Extends Mandate of United Nations Mission in Western Sahara, Adopting Resolution 2654 (2022) by 13 Votes in Favour, 2 Abstentions
The Security Council today voted to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2023, calling on the parties to resume negotiations in good faith towards a mutually acceptable political solution for the region.
Adopting resolution 2654 (2022) (to be issued as document S/RES/2654) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Russian Federation, Kenya), the 15-member organ expressed full support for the Secretary-General and Staffan de Mistura, Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, to facilitate negotiations to achieve a solution to the Western Sahara question, and strongly encouraged Morocco, Frente POLISARIO, Algeria, and Mauritania to engage with him throughout the duration of the process to ensure a successful outcome.
Further to the text, it reaffirmed the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO with regard to the ceasefire and called on the parties to comply fully with those agreements, implement their commitments to the former Personal Envoy, and refrain from any actions that could undermine United Nations-facilitated negotiations or further destabilize the situation in the Western Sahara.
Speaking after the vote, Jeffrey DeLaurentis (United States) underlined the Council’s support for the Personal Envoy in his efforts to facilitate a just lasting and mutually acceptable political solution for Western Sahara. Despite the vote not being unanimous, he called on all concerned to engage in good faith with the Personal Envoy. Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, credible and realistic and one potential approach to satisfying those aspirations. MINURSO peacekeepers are tasked with monitoring and reporting on the situation on the ground, and when possible, conducting dangerous mine clearance operations, he noted, calling for the restoration of their freedom of movement as well as the resumption of safe and regular re-supply of MINURSO team sites. Voicing concern about the dire situation in the Tindouf refugee camps, he urged donors to increase their humanitarian contributions.
Martin Kimani (Kenya) recalled that his country’s supports for MINURSO was reflected in its affirmative vote on resolution 2602 (2021). In doing so, it hoped that the parties would engage with the Personal Envoy to return MINURSO to its core objective of implementing a referendum for the people of Western Sahara. However, today’s resolution continues the gradual — but noticeable — shift away from that mandate and will not help the parties achieve a just, lasting, mutually acceptable political solution as originally intended. His delegation abstained because its constructive proposals during negotiations were not taken on board. Further, the resolution does not substantively reflect the Council’s commitment to provide for the self-determination of the peoples of Western Sahara. The right to self-determination is a foundational principle for both the United Nations and the African Union, he said, adding that the African Union — which counts both parties as members — should not be ignored by any United Nations process.
Amiera Alhefeiti (United Arab Emirates) welcomed the adoption, which enhances the role of peace and security. She cited the constructive approach of the Council, expressing support for balanced language and the efforts of the Special Envoy to work towards a mutually acceptable political solution, calling on him to build on previous progress. She affirmed the sovereignty of Morocco over the Moroccan Sahara, renewing support for that country’s autonomy plan presented in 2007, which is serious and credible.
Dmitry Polyanskiy (Russian Federation), noting his abstention, said the process for preparing and agreeing on the document was not fully consultative. None of his delegation’s fundamental and well-founded comments were taken into consideration. Moreover, there was no response to useful proposals made by other Council members, resulting in an unbalanced text and raising doubts to the impartiality of the informal file sponsors. The resolution does not reflect the real situation on the ground and is unlikely to facilitate the Envoy’s efforts to renew direct negotiations between Morocco and Frente POLISARIO to achieve mutually acceptable solutions. Noting his delegation’s position is dictated purely by lack of agreement on wording, he voiced support for MINURSO and its key role in establishing conditions on the ground and pushing forward the peace process.
Dai Bing (China) said that MINURSO contributes positively to the question of Western Sahara and the maintenance of stability in the region. He expressed his support for the extension of the Mission’s mandate for 12 months, which demonstrates the Council’s determination to promote a political solution to the question. He also expressed hope that future Council resolutions relating to this mandate will reflect the latest changes in the situation, and undergo thorough consultations, to arrive at a text acceptable to the relevant parties. China’s position on Western Sahara has been consistent — this situation should be handled based on relevant Council resolutions so that a just, durable, mutually acceptable solution can be reached.
João Genésio De Almeida Filho (Brazil) noted that this year’s text, notwithstanding its many features, could have greatly benefitted from a more balanced approach on some of its innovative propositions. Something as simple as incorporating regional formulas, many of which are still very much valid, could have proven useful to breach some of the gaps during recent negotiations. These in turn could have allowed for an even stronger message of support for the Personal Envoy and the Special Representative. He reiterated steadfast support for a peaceful, just and mutually acceptable solution to the question under the auspices of the United Nations.
Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, said his delegation voted for the prolongation of the mandate in support of the political process to reach a realistic, achievable and lasting political solution based on compromise for Western Sahara. The resolution makes it possible to support the Personal Envoy’s efforts in relaunching the political process with the various stakeholders. He voiced support for the Moroccan autonomy initiative as a credible and reassuring prospect for a way out of the current impasse and for reaching an acceptable political solution for all.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:27 a.m.