Omar Hilale

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, said on Thursday that the decolonization of the Moroccan Sahara has been definitively sealed with the Madrid Accords in 1975 and its approval by the United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking at a side event co-hosted by the Missions of the Russian Federation, the Republic of South Africa and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the UN on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the adoption by the General Assembly of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, Hilale undelined that the Moroccan Sahara issue is a question of the territorial integrity of Morocco and not of a so-called decolonization issue.

The ambassador also noted that the implementation of self-determination, as provided for by resolution 1514, remains framed by "a fundamental principle", namely that of territorial integrity enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

Hilale thus underlined the importance of going beyond the "limited and narrow interpretation" of self-determination and "retrospective ideologies of independence" dating from the time of the Cold War, and to ''open up to new forms of self-determination, which allow populations to fully enjoy their rights, development and well-being.

"In this regard, autonomy, which is expressed through local democracy, economic participation, the preservation and promotion of tribal, linguistic and cultural identities, makes it possible, in several situations, to go beyond the status quo, to cultivate peace, to emerge from stagnation and to foster confidence and reconciliation," the diplomat said.

Hilale also recalled that the adoption, 60 years ago, of resolution 1514 took place in a particular context, marked by a global movement for independence in the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, this resolution enshrined the principle of respect for the territorial integrity of member states, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

Regretting some ideological and selective readings, Hilale explained that this resolution is not only about self-determination but also about respect for the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of states. He observed, in this regard, that paragraph 6 of this resolution stipulates that "any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations".

Moreover, article 7 of the Declaration stresses that it must be implemented "on the basis of equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of all States and respect for the sovereign rights of all peoples and their territorial integrity," he added.

The diplomat also stressed that resolution 1514 should not be read in isolation, as it is part of a comprehensive United Nations nomenclature. In fact, it was immediately followed the next day by the adoption of Resolution 1541, which addressed the concerns of States and avoided indiscriminate recourse to some of the provisions of Resolution 1514.

He added that ten years later, the General Assembly adopted resolution 2625, which constitutes the text that makes resolution 1514 operational. Indeed, resolution 2625 reiterated the condemnation of secession, specifying that self-determination cannot be interpreted "as authorizing or encouraging any action, whatever it may be, which would dismember or threaten totally or partially the territorial integrity or the political unity of any sovereign and independent State".

"These three resolutions codified self-determination and provided clear and unambiguous guarantees, in order to avoid narrow interpretations of self-determination and to ensure that its implementation does not compromise the territorial integrity of states, nor dismantle their territories", Hilale pointed out.

The Moroccan ambassador also noted that over the years, self-determination has evolved, both in its legal dimension and in United Nations practice, as have other principles and substantive law that have developed in a similar way over time.

"60 years after the adoption of resolution 1514, we find out that in practice also, the implementation of self-determination has seen major developments", he noted, stressing that this principle has today acquired the function of democratizing nation-states through autonomy, free and fair elections, in order to avoid balkanization and ensure regional and international peace and stability.

Hilale recalled the historic and active role played by Morocco in the decolonization of the African continent.

Indeed, Morocco has supported the liberation of many sister countries on the continent, noted the ambassador, recalling that the Casablanca Conference, hosted by late HM Mohammed V, with the participation of African leaders in 1961, was the prelude to the independence of many African countries and the creation of the Organization of African Unity.

Reacting to some biased references to the Moroccan Sahara issue, Hilale said it is indeed a question of the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Morocco and not a so-called issue of decolonization.

"The decolonization of the Sahara was completed by the negotiation of the Madrid Accords in 1975 and its approval by the resolution of the General Assembly," the ambassador underlined.

"The referendum is dead and permanently buried for two decades. Its death was declared by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his report to the Security Council, attesting to the impossibility of organizing it."

He also stressed that this referendum death certificate has been confirmed by an epitaph of the Security Council which has banned any reference to the referendum in all its 34 resolutions since 2001.

The political process remains the only way to achieve what the Security Council considers a realistic, pragmatic, sustainable and compromise-based political solution.

"The only solution to the Moroccan Sahara issue is the autonomy initiative presented by Morocco in 2007, within the framework of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Morocco, and which was already discussed at the last table round of Geneva," said the Moroccan diplomat.

Referring to the social and economic development experienced by the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom, Mr. Hilale noted that the Moroccan Sahara region has the highest development rate of all the twelve regions of Morocco and its neighborhood. Large-scale development projects are underway for a budget of more than $ 8 billion, he said.

He also noted that the populations of the Sahara democratically elect their representatives in the Moroccan Parliament and at the regional level, who now manage their own affairs and govern the region.

With regard to human rights, their protection and promotion are recognized in all Security Council resolutions which welcome Morocco's action and progress in this regard, the ambassador added.

"The Sahara has always been Moroccan, is Moroccan and will remain Moroccan until the end of time," he concluded.

18/12/2020