Security Council United Nations

To: All Media
For: Immediate Release Date: April 14, 2020

1. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa (DIRCO) issued on April 13, 2020, a press release in response to an article published by the Moroccan news agency (MAP), regarding the briefing held by the United Nation Security Council, on April the 9th 2020, on the Moroccan Sahara issue. The Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in South Africa brings in the following legal, political and historical fundamentals regarding Morocco’s territorial integrity.

2. Regarding the Security Council briefing on the Moroccan Sahara, South Africa proposed a draft element to the press that did not reflect the content of the exchanges within the Council. This text was rejected by all other members of the United Nations body, including the two African members of the Security Council, a situation that has isolated South Africa, forcing it to withdraw its project.

3. The statement describes the Sahara as “the last colony in Africa”, an allegation that is completely at odds with the reality as established at the United Nations, that exclusively deals with this regional dispute.

• At the legal level, there are around 70 resolutions of the UN Security Council and 120 reports of the UN Secretary General on the dispute. None of them ever referred to Morocco as an occupying power, nor do they refer to the Sahara as a colony or an occupied territory. The systematic reference to the so-called occupation is totally inaccurate. This allegation represents clearly a political and ideological opinion with no legal basis.

• From an historical perspective, prior to the colonial era, the Sahara was a part and parcel of Morocco. Numerous bilateral treaties signed in the 18th and 19th centuries, attest to this reality. The International Court of Justice, mentioned in the DIRCO statement, recognized unanimously, on October 16th 1975, the existence of bonds of allegiance, between the Kings of Morocco and the tribes living in the territory.

• From a political stand-point, the historical facts gain into accuracy and legitimacy. The majority of countries in the world expressed support for the autonomy plan under Moroccan sovereignty, as the best means to solve this regional dispute.

4. Therefore, the dispute over the Sahara is not about decolonization but about the territorial integrity of Morocco. You cannot decolonize what is not a colony. Those who falsely claim that Morocco is a “colonizer” are also attempting to rewrite history by pushing a false narrative, and in so doing, try to deny Morocco’s contribution to decolonization and support to the liberation movements throughout the continent.

5. As an elected member of the UN Security Council on behalf of Africa, South Africa is strongly urged to echo African positions. The alignment on the positions of the two other parties (Algeria and the Polisario) deals a serious blow to the legitimacy of such a standpoint. Continental leadership loses its essence unless it is founded on objectivity and responsibility. The exclusivity of the UN process is well established by the AU itself as stated in the decision 693 of the AU summit, held in Nouakchott July 2018.

6. In 2000, former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, concluded that the referendum was inapplicable and called, instead, on the parties to work towards a political solution to this regional dispute. Ever since, the Security Council has urged the parties, to reach a “mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict”. Not a single UN Security Council resolution ever called to organize a referendum over the past 20 years.

7. Today, the UN is pursuing this approach calling on all parties, namely Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the separatist movement of Polisario, to pursue talks within the Geneva roundtables in order to reach a long lasting, mutually acceptable political solution based on compromise in conformity with the parameters set by the Security Council. The Council has clearly charted the pathway towards achieving a final solution in its resolutions 2414, 2440, 2468, and 2494. In all these resolutions, the pre-eminence of the Autonomy Plan presented by Morocco is reiterated as a serious and credible move.

8. All in all, for the Moroccan people, the Sahara issue is not only an item on the agenda of the UN Security Council. It rather represents a historical injustice done to Morocco in the recovery of its territorial integrity. It is a question intrinsically linked to the dignity and sovereignty of the Moroccan people.