Strategy by the South African Government to break the deadlock regarding the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic’s quest for freedom and dignity

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 39 (NO317E)

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO: 1-2013 OF 6 MARCH 2013

MR LS NGONYAMA (COPE) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

Whether Government has a strategy to break the deadlock regarding the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic’s quest for freedom and dignity; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so what are the relevant details.

REPLY:

Yes. South Africa continues to support tangible efforts by the African Union and the United Nations (UN) on the protracted Western Sahara conflict as there can be no lasting peace and political solution as long as the people of Western Sahara continue to live under foreign domination.

South Africa has lent its voice to numerous United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that reiterate its commitment to help “achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the contexts of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the UN.” This stance by South Africa is informed by its own experience of resolving conflict through political dialogue rather than force and the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.

South Africa has provided assistance to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in maintaining an Embassy in South Africa, thereby giving them an additional platform to engage the international community.

South Africa has also consistently called for the following with regard to the current situation in Western Sahara:

  • An end to the illegal exploitation of mineral resources in the Western Sahara occupied territories;
  • An end to human rights abuses against Saharawi activists in the occupied territories and has as such, called for the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum on Western Sahara (MINURSO) to include the monitoring of human rights. It is disappointing that MINURSO, since its establishment in 1991, has not been able to fulfil its mandate of organising a referendum which would enable the people of Western Sahara to choose their destiny. As such, South Africa reiterates the call for the mandate of MINURSO to be expanded to include human rights monitoring;
  • The lifting of a media blackout imposed in the Western Sahara occupied territories that continues to prevent the international community from seeing the daily misery of the Saharawi people; and
  • Increased humanitarian support to the Saharawi refugees who continue to live in the harsh desert conditions due to the non-resolution of the conflict.

The non-resolution of the Western Sahara conflict perpetuates the extension of the suffering of the Saharawi people who continue to live a life of misery on either the occupied territories or under the harsh desert conditions in the refugee camps.

South Africa appreciates the efforts of the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Mr. Christopher Ross towards finding a lasting, negotiated and peaceful solution to the question of Western Sahara. During discussions on the Western Sahara at the UN, South Africa’s representative has continued to reiterate the need for UN Resolutions to be implemented and the right to self-determination of the Western Sahara to be respected in terms of international law while also re-emphasising the need for a Human Rights monitoring component in the mandate of the MINURSO. In this regard, South Africa supported the adoption of Resolution 2044 extending the mandate of MINURSO.

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