FOURTH COMMITTEE CONTINUES DECOLONIZATION DEBATE, HEARING
PETITIONERS FROM GUAM, WESTERN SAHARA
AHMED BOUKHARI, Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front), said that part of his country had been under the illegal occupation of Morocco since 1975. Since then, the Sahawari people had been legitimately struggling for their country’s liberty, with full faith in the United Nations to eradicate colonialism in all its forms. Different peace plans had been prepared towards that goal, yet Morocco’s involvement had sought to make its occupation legitimate.
He said that Morocco did not have any sovereignty over Western Sahara, as its future could not be decided by the occupying Power, but only by the people in accordance with United Nations policy. On that basis, Polisario had submitted its proposal in April for the future of Western Sahara. It included the options of independence, integration and self-governance. The case of Timor-Leste and Tokelau was proof that such options were viable. “Why does Morocco feel that it is allergic to this democratic exercise?” he asked. Resolution 1754 (2007) had called on the two parties to “enter into negotiations without preconditions in good faith”. The Council had taken note of the two proposals, which had the same value and importance. There was no second-class proposal. After two rounds of negotiations in Manhasset, a third round was scheduled, and Polisario had responded to the Personal Envoy as to the date and location for the upcoming round.
There was a decolonization conflict on the agenda of this Committee, he said. Morocco took the decision to undermine, at all levels, the plans of the United Nations, including the peace plans. It sought to weaken the role of the General Assembly towards decolonization, and it did not have any intention to enact any resolution of the Assembly or this Committee. Negotiations should be carried out in good faith, but the biases of the Moroccan delegation had been seen in Manhasset. He underlined that it would be the Sahawari people who would freely decide their future. Hopefully, the third round of negotiations would be fruitful, and Morocco would come in good faith.
PINTO LEITE, of the International Platform of Jurists for East Timor, said that Western Sahara remained the main stumbling block in achieving the goals of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. Morocco continued to defy Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, and international law. Some countries turned a blind eye to the illegal annexation of that Territory and lent a veil of legality by supporting the proposals of King Mohammed VI of Morocco to give autonomy to Western Sahara within the State of Morocco.
Noting that comparisons between East Timor and Western Sahara had been made often, he said they were like “two drops of water”. When Indonesian President B.J. Habibie had proposed autonomy within Indonesia as the only way to solve the conflict in East Timor, the Timorese, Portugal and the United Nations had insisted on the application of the principle of self-determination. The question had been put to the voters, and it had included the proposal of autonomy, in addition to the prospect of independence. By contrast, in the Moroccan solution, autonomy was not a question, but was imposed on the Saharawi people before they had the chance to freely choose their status. International law was clear. He noted that a conference last year on the question of Western Sahara in The Hague had unanimously concluded that the occupation was illegal and that a referendum was the only legal option by which to determine Western Sahara’s status.
He was not proud of Portugal’s policy towards Western Sahara; yet, it was not too late to change course. Other countries had more interest in the future of Western Sahara. He repeated his appeal to the Government of Portugal, which currently held the Presidency of the European Union, to follow the principled position of Sweden, the only country that voted in the European Council against the European Union-Morocco Fisheries Agreement, and support the inalienable right of Western Sahara to self-determination.
excerpts from http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2007/gaspd373.doc.htm
10 October 2007
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Sixty-second General Assembly
4th Meeting (PM)
MAINTAINING FOCUS ON WESTERN SAHARA, FOURTH COMMITTEE HEARS 23 MORE PETITIONERS
GILONNE D’ORIGNEY, a student, said the Government of Spain, which she called the administering Power of Western Sahara, should reassert its authority and put an end to Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, “one of the vilest and grossest violations of human rights and humanitarian law today”. Nothing short of a vote for self-determination by Saharawi would satisfy the process of self-determination. The Saharawi should be allowed to choose between several options of statehood, including independence. Morocco was “not the legitimate business partner” for transactions in the Territory; Spain was. Despite claims that an independent Western Sahara would become a breeding ground for terrorists, the Saharawi and POLISARIO had never engaged in terrorist acts against its people. However, the same could not be said of Morocco.
She asked the Committee if it remembered East Timor and the work it had done to make that country free. The occupation in Western Sahara must end. The Saharawi should vote in a referendum. Morocco should allow human rights organizations to access the Territory. Countries who supported Morocco should reconsider their alliances and decisions. Noting that many of the Committee’s members represented countries who had “walked the road to freedom and escaped colonialism”, she also asked the Committee if that road belonged only to a few.