Autonomy, a Just and Comprehensive Solution to the Conflict in the Sahara

In the regional dispute related to the topic of the Sahara, Morocco maintains the course set by the Security Council, with the primary goal of achieving a mutually acceptable political solution through negotiation.


In this respect, Morocco has not wavered in its efforts, acting in good faith to end this geopolitical dispute and the humanitarian tragedy imposed on a portion of the Sahrawi people.


Morocco has always stated that the status quo is not only unacceptable, but also represents a serious risk to the Maghreb region and beyond. In this spirit, it has voluntarily presented its initiative to negotiate an Autonomy Statute for the Sahara that provides a constructive response to the Security Council, the Secretary General of the United Nations and to the rest of the international community.


The result of a participatory approach through an extensive consultation process at national and local levels, as well as regional and international levels, the current Moroccan initiative for negotiating a Statute of Autonomy is a powerful political act that reflects a sincere will and a firm commitment to move towards a political solution without winners or losers, and within the framework of the United Nations.


First, this initiative is distinguished by its consistency with international standards and accordingly, ensures the people of the region the ability to manage their affairs democratically through legislative, executive and judicial measures.


It proposes a compromise solution in the framework of the Third Way with a vision of the political solution that fully conforms to international law while drawing on contemporary models regarding resolutions of disputes. A commitment that represents q political will in favor of an agreement that favors dialogue, negotiation and reconciliation.


The autonomy proposal is also realistic as it allows accommodations, mutual concessions and a willingness to waive certain extreme positions. The Kingdom of Morocco has made the effort to present an open initiative, in line with the realities and specificities of the Sahara region.


It is also the appropriate response to the hopes and aspirations of the Saharawi population in terms of integration, reconciliation, good governance and development.


Polisario however, continues to defend alternatives whose inapplicability has been confirmed by the United Nations. The former Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General to the Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, declared before the Security Council on April 21, 2008: “An independent Sahara is not a realistic option.”


The Saharawi population living in the Tindouf camps continues to suffer human rights violations and remains forced to live in deplorable conditions by the host country merely to accentuate and aggravate this ordeal.


Morocco, meanwhile, continues to fully meet its commitments in the framework of an irreversible process, thus refuting definitively and categorically the allegations and claims disseminated by the other parties, who unfortunately exploited the noble human rights issues to divert the negotiation process on track.


It is noteworthy that after submitting this initiative for negotiating the Statute of Autonomy, Morocco has undertaken a series of reforms for the benefit of the southern provinces. Proof of this is the adoption of a new constitution that enshrines the component saharo-Hassani, effectively launching a process of broad and ambitious regionalization which covers all regions of the country, beginning with the Sahara region, and extends the scope of rights and freedoms with the opening of regional offices of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) in the cities of Dakhla and Laayoune.


It should also be noted that the Regional Development Model for the Sahara region, recently presented to His Majesty King Mohammed VI by the President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Committee (EESC), is a true roadmap, as it proposes a platform which falls within the framework of advanced regionalization, and covers, among other things, economic, social, environmental and cultural matters. In addition, it emphasizes the need for public policy coherence and insists on the principle of governance based on human rights,decentralization, transparency and accountability.


Morocco is willing to negotiate on the basis of well-defined conditions reaffirmed by the Security Council with the objective of adopting a political solution that guarantees peace, security and prosperity to all countries of the Maghreb. This is precisely the position reported to Mr. Christopher Ross, the current Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General to the Western Sahara, during his last visit to Morocco, both by the Government and by members of civil society.


In effect, the Moroccan initiative represents an effective and objective response to the recommendations made by the Security Council and has clearly identified the spirit of compromise and realism as parameters for the political solution desired. It has been met with support and appreciation from a growing number of countries that acknowledge the “serious and credible” efforts made by Morocco.

By Said Temsamani