Sahara: Papua New Guinea Highlights Massive International Support for Autonomy Plan

Papua New Guinea highlighted, in New York, the growing international support for the autonomy plan presented by Morocco to resolve the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara. “It is pleasing to note the growing international support for this credible compromise proposal and we are encouraged by such support that will help all stakeholders concerned to find a lasting and peaceful solution” to this regional dispute, said the representative of Papua New Guinea, before the members of the 4th Committee of the UN General Assembly. He noted, in this context, the importance of an inclusive dialogue at all levels involving all stakeholders to promote mutual understanding and build bridges towards a political settlement of this important issue for the benefit of all parties concerned. This solution, he insisted, should be based on practical realities, a spirit of good faith and compromise as stipulated by the “commendable” autonomy plan presented by Morocco and in accordance with the UN Charter, the 18 Security Council resolutions adopted since 2007 as well as the relevant UN General Assembly resolutions. The diplomat also expressed his country’s support for the political process conducted under the aegis of the UN SG to achieve a mutually acceptable, negotiated and lasting political solution, while calling for further encouragement of the current important momentum. In this context, he praised the proactive efforts of the Personal Envoy of the UN SG for the Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, illustrated by his first tours in the region. In line with this constructive spirit, Papua New Guinea said it encourages and backs his efforts to resume the roundtable process and capitalize on the “good work” of his predecessor involving the main stakeholders: Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the “polisario” under the existing meeting format and in accordance with Security Council resolution 2602. “We encourage this positive momentum to find a lasting political solution acceptable to all parties concerned,” he said, welcoming the efforts for peace, stability and security in the region, including full compliance by Morocco with the ceasefire. In this context, he called on other parties to follow the example of the Kingdom. The diplomat also highlighted the continued efforts of Morocco for sustainable development in the southern provinces through substantial socio-economic and infrastructural investments, which transform the lives of local populations. He praised the actions undertaken by the Kingdom to improve political participation in the Moroccan Sahara, as evidenced by the democratic, free and transparent elections of September 2021, which had an “impressive” turnout, adding that democratically elected officials from these elections take part in the C24 regional seminars. They have also participated in the two previous round table discussions held in Geneva. The representative of Papua New Guinea to the UN also highlighted the climate of respect for human rights in the southern provinces, while welcoming the dynamics of opening consulates general in the cities of Laayoune and Dakhla. The diplomat also stressed the urgency of addressing the human rights situation in the camps of Tindouf in southwest Algeria, denouncing “violations” of fundamental rights, especially those of women and children. These violations continue to be pointed out by the international community, he said. He called for the registration and census of the populations in these camps in accordance with the mandate of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), international humanitarian law, all relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2602, as well as the recommendations of the UN Secretary General.