Irish FM: “Ireland considers Western Sahara non-independent territory”

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Dublin – Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney clarified that his country’s government is in line with United Nations resolutions that consider Western Sahara a non-independent territory.

In a response before the Irish Parliament, to a written question submitted by Representative Chris Andrews, about a working visit led by a delegation from the Polisario Front to Ireland, and the government’s position, Simon Coveney affirmed that his country’s government deals with the Polisario as a legitimate party to the conflict in Western Sahara.

The Irish official went on to say :”Ireland recognizes the importance of holding continuous meetings with all parties in order to reach an agreed upon political solution that will enable the people of Western Sahara to determine their own destiny as specified in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions”.

Simon Coveney confirmed that officials in his ministry welcomed the visit of the Polisario Front delegation, which enabled them – he adds – to listen to their view on the current situation in Western Sahara, coinciding with the approaching date of the Security Council session regarding the mandate of the MINURSO mission.

Western Sahara has been on the decolonisation agenda of the UN and AU for more than fifty years. In 1963, Western Sahara was included on the list of non-self-governing territories under Article 73 of the UN Charter and the UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960 on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

On November 6, 1975, Morocco launched the so-called ‘Green March’, a march of 350,000 Moroccans, a number four times the size of the Sahrawi population back then, into the territory of Western Sahara.

According to Adala UK, on that day, Morocco organized what it called a “Green March” to officially invade the North of Western Sahara moving 350,000 Moroccan settlers to the territory. This occupation coincided with the termination of the Spanish status as Administrative Power, creating a vacuum that imposed on the UN to assume its responsibility there.

Subsequently, the UN Security Council deplored the holding of the march, calling upon Morocco to immediately withdraw all the demonstrators from the territory of Western Sahara; however, its effort was in vain.

The Polisario Front liberation movement continued its struggle to end all foreign occupation of its country and in 1976 formed a government-in-exile and declared the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. In November 1984, the Polisario Front’s SADR was recognised by the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), which led to the withdrawal of Morocco from the OAU in protest. In May 1991, the Polisario Front and Morocco ended many years of fighting following an UN-sponsored peace settlement, culminating in the establishment of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), which is assuming its responsibility till nowadays.

Despite a cease-fire in 1991 that put an end to the armed combat, Western Sahara remains a disputed territory. Nowadays, Morocco controls parts of the territory. However, the United Nations refers to Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory and maintains a stance favoring self-determination for its people.

The UN body is attaching great interests to the Sahrawi cause, expressing willingness to find a solution ensuring the self-determination of the Sahrawi people, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Council.

After almost 30 years of compliance with a 1991 ceasefire, Morocco and the Polisario Front have resumed war in Western Sahara, as Morocco torpedoed the 1991 ceasefire through its act of aggression on the Sahrawi Liberated Territories on 13 November 2020.

The Moroccan new act of aggression has not only ended the ceasefire and related military agreements but has also undermined the UN peace process in Western Sahara and plunged the region into another spiral of extreme tension and instability.

Both the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council have confirmed the breakdown of the 1991 ceasefire on 13 November 2020. In his report (S/2021/843; para 2) dated 1 October 2021, the UN Secretary-General acknowledged, among other things, “the resumption of hostilities” between the occupying state of Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO. For its part, in its resolution 2602 (2021) adopted on 29 October 2021, the Security Council noted “with deep concern the breakdown of the ceasefire” (PP 14).

The acknowledgment by both the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council of the breakdown of the 1991 ceasefire and the realities on the ground render any attempt to deny or underplay the seriousness of the current situation in MINURSO’s area of operation unacceptable and even misleading at a time when the occupying state of Morocco continues its aggression on the Sahrawi Liberated Territories and its deliberate targeting and killing of civilians and destroying their properties.

The final status of the state of Western Sahara will only be settled when a UN-supervised referendum is held in which the country’s inhabitants must exercise their legitimate right to self-determination.

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