New York — The query of Western Sahara, often known as Africa’s final colony, has lately gained nice visibility in worldwide media apparently resulting from two drastic developments.
The primary occurred on 13 November 2020 when Moroccan forces breached the 1991 ceasefire by attacking Sahrawi civilians who have been demonstrating peacefully in Guerguerat in southern Western Sahara.
The second happened on 10 December 2020 when the outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump made a proclamation declaring U.S. recognition of “Moroccan sovereignty” over Western Sahara, which Morocco has been occupying since October 1975.
As anticipated, Morocco’s breach of the ceasefire compelled the individuals of Western Sahara below the management of their official consultant, the Frente POLISARIO, to renew their official liberation wrestle placed on maintain since 1991.
At the moment each events, the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco, below the UN-OAU auspices, mutually agreed on a ceasefire that got here into impact on 6 September 1991.
This association was step one in a course of resulting in the holding of a referendum on self- referendum by which the individuals of Western Sahara would select, with out army or administrative constraints, between independence and integration with Morocco.
To this finish, on 29 April 1991, the Safety Council established below its authority the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
However the ups and downs, in January 2000 MINURSO was in a position to set up the record of potential voters for the referendum thus paving the best way for the vote to happen. It was exactly at that second that Morocco declared that it was not keen to procced with the self-determination referendum, clearly for worry of shedding on the poll field. It was so simple as that.
The failure of the UN Safety Council to carry Morocco accountable for reneging on its solemn dedication to the mutually agreed referendum on self-determination introduced the UN peace course of in Western Sahara to a standstill, which continues so far.
Regardless of Morocco’s full volte-face, for nearly three many years the Frente POLISARIO maintained its dedication to the ceasefire and made many–often painful–concessions for the UN peace course of to succeed.
The just about thirty years’ ceasefire in Western Sahara was nonetheless violently damaged when Moroccan forces attacked Sahrawi civilians on 13 November 2020 forcing the Frente POLISARIO to reply in self-defence.
Morocco’s new aggression has not solely put an finish to the UN peace course of however has additionally unleashed a second conflict that has the potential to hazard peace and stability within the area. As soon as once more, the UN Safety Council, which has main duty for the upkeep of worldwide peace and safety, has remained silent within the face of Morocco’s new aggression.
The proclamation made by the outgoing U.S. President on 10 December 2020 has dealt one other heavy blow to the UN peace course of in Western Sahara. It’s no secret that Trump’s ill-advised resolution was a quid professional quo for the deal that Morocco concluded with Israel to normalise their relations–another instance of his transactional diplomacy.
Trump’s resolution nonetheless violates UN resolutions, together with Safety Council resolutions that the USA drafted and permitted over the previous many years, and upends the standard U.S. coverage relating to Western Sahara.
It flies within the face of elementary guidelines underpinning the worldwide order that prohibit the acquisition of territory by power and set up peoples’ proper to self-determination and as an inalienable proper and a peremptory norm.
It additionally hampers the continued efforts of the United Nations and the African Union to realize a peaceable resolution to the query of Western Sahara, thereby fuelling pressure and threatening peace and stability within the area.
The authorized standing of Western Sahara is unequivocally clear. The Worldwide Courtroom of Justice (ICJ), which is the United Nations principal judicial organ, issued an advisory opinion on Western Sahara on 16 October 1975. The ICJ dominated that there was no tie of territorial sovereignty between the Territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco.
By rebutting Morocco’s claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara, the ICJ established clearly that the sovereignty over the Territory was vested within the Sahrawi individuals who have the fitting to resolve, by way of the free and real expression of their will, the standing of the Territory in accordance with UN Common Meeting decision 1514 (XV) of 1960 on the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial International locations and Peoples.
The United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) in addition to the European Union have by no means recognised Morocco’s forcible and unlawful annexation of components of Western Sahara that is still on the UN record of Non-Self-Governing Territories to be decolonised.
Trump’s proclamation additionally affirmed the U.S. assist for Morocco’s autonomy proposal. Nonetheless, the so-called Moroccan “autonomy proposal”, apart from its confirmed illegality, emanates from an autocratic regime that seeks solely to legitimise its forcible acquisition and occupation of components of Western Sahara.
America ought to subsequently advise Morocco to handle the official grievances of its personal individuals as an alternative of making an attempt to pursue its expansionism that has had disastrous penalties for your entire area.
As a matter of historic reality, Morocco didn’t solely declare Western Sahara but in addition Mauritania in Nineteen Sixties. It was Morocco that included “the issue of Mauritania” within the agenda of the fiftieth session of the UN Common Meeting in 1960 on the grounds that Morocco had official rights over Mauritania. It then took Morocco 9 years to recognise Mauritania as an unbiased nation.
Morocco furthermore used power towards Algeria in October 1963 and Spain (Perejil Island) in July 2002, at all times in pursuit of its territorial claims, which demonstrates the true nature of the ruling regime in Morocco.
This additionally reveals the extent to which the regime owes its survival to territorial conquest as a software to divert consideration from its deep-rooted home legitimacy disaster that had led to 2 coups towards the monarchy in July 1971 and August 1972.
Morocco’s expansionism is subsequently the foundation explanation for the enduring pressure in North Africa and the primary impediment to the achievement of a united, affluent, and inclusive Maghreb that brings collectively all its nations and peoples.
As anticipated, sturdy voices from the US Congress, civil society, and the political area, together with former US Secretary of State, James A. Baker III, have expressed their shock and disappointment relating to the try and commerce away the self-determination of the individuals of Western Sahara.
They’ve additionally referred to as on the incoming President to reverse Trump’s resolution, which is at odds with the brand new Administration’s declared pledge to recommit the US to multilateralism. Now the query is whether or not President Joe Biden is keen to reverse Trump’s resolution and convey again the USA to its conventional place on Western Sahara.
It’s sure that Trump’s proclamation–if maintained–will not change something considerably by way of the realities on the bottom and the authorized standing of Western Sahara that’s decided by the UN resolutions. It’ll nonetheless put the USA in a quite tough state of affairs given its membership of the Group of Mates on Western Sahara and the penholder for MINURSO.
In different phrases, it is not going to solely solid doubt on U.S.’s neutrality vis-à-vis the query of Western Sahara however may even increase the query of whether or not the USA may proceed to play a constructive position within the UN peace course of.
For these causes, the Sahrawi individuals stay hopeful that President Biden would rescind Trump’s proclamation in order that the USA may return to its conventional place on Western Sahara.
The authorized and political nature of the difficulty of Western Sahara as a decolonisation case is certainly clear. Due to this fact, the query earlier than the worldwide group, particularly all peace- and justice-loving nations, comes right down to this: do they permit the rule of “may makes proper” to prevail within the case of Western Sahara, and thus permit the Moroccan army occupation of components of the Territory to proceed with impunity, or do they defend the basic ideas underpinning the present worldwide order and thus implement UN resolutions on the difficulty?
The answer of the query of Western Sahara is clearly outlined in successive UN Common Meeting and Safety Council resolutions, which name for a peaceable, simply, and lasting resolution that gives for the self-determination of the individuals of Western Sahara.
Because of this no resolution will show both simply or lasting if it doesn’t have the consent and full assist of the Sahrawi individuals.
This assist can solely be expressed by way of a reputable, democratic, and real self-determination course of that provides our individuals the chance to make their alternative amongst a full vary of choices together with independence.
United Nations resolutions, guidelines of worldwide regulation and fundamental democratic ideas all assist this understanding of self-determination and its implementation. It’s time the worldwide group assist it, too, not solely in phrases but in addition in deeds.
Ambassador Sidi Omar is Frente POLISARIO Consultant on the United Nations