Omar Zniber

A group of 23 States supporting Morocco's territorial integrity highlighted, on Tuesday, at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the relevance of the autonomy initiative proposed by the Kingdom to definitively end the artificial conflict over the Moroccan Sahara.

In a statement delivered by Morocco’s permanent representative in Geneva, ambassador Omar Zniber, the Group stresses that the autonomy initiative for the Moroccan Sahara has been recognized by the Security Council as a serious and credible basis for a definitive resolution of this regional dispute, noting that "the resolution of this political dispute will contribute to the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African and Arab peoples for integration and development, to which Morocco is strongly committed".

"The Security Council also welcomed, the Group recalls, the initiatives taken by Morocco to promote human rights in the Sahara, while reiterating its request for the registration of populations in the Tindouf camps".

The signatory countries of this statement also point out that Morocco has engaged in constructive, voluntary and deep interaction with the United Nations human rights system, in particular the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the special procedures.

In this regard, 12 special procedures carried out visits to Morocco, notably to the Sahara cities of Laayoune and Dakhla, where they had free and unrestricted access to all actors, in particular representatives of local civil society, notes the same source.

"It is also in this context that Morocco hosted an OHCHR technical mission, at the invitation of the government of the Kingdom of Morocco, aimed at strengthening the capacity of international institutions to act," the Group recalls.

The Sahara issue, the same source underlines, is a political dispute being addressed in New York where the Security Council is making efforts towards a mutually acceptable negotiated political solution.

The member States of the Group supporting the territorial integrity of the Kingdom also point out that "the interaction of member States with the Council and the High Commissioner should retain its bilateral character and be protected from any instrumentalization, as it would generate counterproductive political debates within the Human Rights Council".

In addition to Morocco, the statement is supported by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman, Jordan, the Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Djibouti, Senegal, the Central African Republic, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Sao Tome and Principe, Paraguay, Guatemala, Saint Lucia, and El Salvador.