UN-Sahara: Persistence of divergence between Americans and French on MINURSO mandate 

On Monday, April 15, the United States handed over to the members of the “Club of Friends of Western Sahara” a copy of the first version of the draft resolution on the Sahara, to be submitted to the UN Security Council for approval at the end of April.

The “Club of Friends of Western Sahara” includes four permanent members of the Security Council, namely the United States, France, Great Britain, and Russia in addition to Spain.

Once consultations are concluded between the Sahara Friends, the draft resolution will be submitted to the other members of the Security Council.

Washington has reportedly proposed in the text that it drafted an extension of the MINURSO mandate for six additional months, while France wishes to give more time to the parties to the conflict to engage in the talks without pressure, deeming an extension of the mandate for one year more adequate. 

The French diplomats justify their request by the fact that the context that prevailed during the adoption on November 1, 2018, of MINURSO’s mandate for six months, has evolved with the holding of two round tables in Geneva in December 2018 and in March 2019.

Actually, the parties to the conflict (Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and Polisario) resumed contact at the round tables, convened by the personal envoy of the UNSC for the Sahara, Horst Köhler.

The November resolution extending the MINURSO mandate for six months instead of one year was adopted with 12 votes in favor and three abstentions (Bolivia, Russia and Ethiopia), while Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, pleaded for a one-year term.

The US, usual penholder of resolutions on the Sahara, had insisted on a six-month extension only to encourage the parties to the conflict to find quickly common ground for “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution” to the territorial dispute over the Sahara.

Pending the deadline of April 29 for the adoption of the new resolution, negotiations are going on in New York, especially between the United States and France, to agree on the final version of the resolution.

 

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