South Africa to C-24: Morocco’s proposed autonomy plan unilateral, illegal, any recognition of Moroccan occupation violation of international law

ALGIERS- South Africa dubbed Morocco's proposed autonomy plan for Western Sahara as "unilateral and illegal", stressing that "any recognition of Moroccan occupation is a violation of international law."

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ALGIERS- South Africa dubbed Morocco’s proposed autonomy plan for Western Sahara as “unilateral and illegal”, stressing that “any recognition of Moroccan occupation is a violation of international law.”

In his statement to the UN during the United Nations substantive Session of the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24) 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, held on Monday 13 June in New York, the Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa, Ambassador Mabhongo considered that “Morocco’s autonomy plan is a unilateral plan without any recognition in international law”, adding that “any recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco is tantamount to recognizing illegal occupation and a flagrant violation of international law.”

The South African representative further called on the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation to send a visiting Mission to Western Sahara with a view to assessing the situation on the ground and assuming its responsibility in the protection of the rights of the defenseless Saharawi people.

South Africa, he added, “reaffirms her unwavering support for the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination and independence in accordance with the principles set forth in the United Nations Charter and the objectives of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and other relevant resolutions and the ICJ Advisory legal opinion as well as related AU Decisions.”

Following is the full statement of the South African Representative:

Statement by Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations during the meeting of the Special Committee on Decolonisation (C-24), Agenda Item “Western Sahara”, 13 June 2022, New York.

“Chairperson,

My delegation wishes to thank you for your able leadership of this Committee. We thank you for keeping the decolonization agenda of the United Nations on track amidst the geopolitical challenges confronting the world today.

Chairperson,

The year 2023 will mark sixty-years since Western Sahara was placed on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories as an agenda item. The UN General Assembly resolutions have been calling for the enabling of the people of Western Sahara to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. However, almost six decades later, a full measure of self-government for the people of Western Sahara has not been attained.

It is further disconcerting that thirty-one-years after the Security Council mandated through its resolution, 690 (1991), the holding of a referendum on self-determination, it is yet to be realised and thus depriving the people of Western Sahara of their fundamental freedoms and human rights. As Member States we cannot continue to witness the perpetual denial through this august body, of the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara without concrete steps being taken towards a lasting, peaceful, and mutually acceptable solution.

Chairperson,

South Africa reaffirms her support for the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara and their right to self-determination and independence in accordance with the principles set forth in the United Nations Charter and the objectives of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and other relevant resolutions and the ICJ Advisory legal opinion as well as related AU Decisions. In this regard, we wish to reiterate the following recommendations:

We call on the Special Committee on Decolonisation to assume fully and effectively its responsibility towards the people of Western Sahara. This entails ensuring the protection of the political, economic, social, and cultural rights of the Sahrawi people, including their right to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources, and regular reporting to relevant UN bodies on the situation in the Territory.

South Africa urges the Special Committee on Decolonisation to send a visiting mission to Western Sahara to obtain first-hand information on the general situation in the Territory. It is regrettable that the only visiting mission of the Committee to the Territory of Western Sahara was undertaken in 1975. In the same breadth, the UN Security Council should also give due consideration to a Council visit to the occupied territories.

We have noted the Personal Envoy of the Secretary General to Western Sahara, Mr. Staffan de Mistura’s visits to the capitals of the US, France and Britain as part of his mediation efforts, and urge him to also visit the territories as a matter of priority.

We urge the Special Committee on Decolonisation to actively support the efforts of the African Union and the UN Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Mr. de Mistura to relaunch the peace process in Western Sahara through direct and substantive negotiations between the Frente POLISARIO and the Kingdom of Morocco, and underscore that the ultimate objective of such negotiations is to enable the Saharawi people to exercise freely and democratically their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.

Let’s be clear, Morocco’s autonomy plan is a unilateral plan without any recognition in international law.

In conclusion, South Africa believes that any recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco is tantamount to recognizing illegal occupation and it has been established that such recognition is a contravention of international law.

I thank you.” (SPS)

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