Media Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa, at the Media Stakeout following the UN Security Council Consultations on United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), 21 December 2020

Ladies and gentlemen of the media. I would like to make a statement in my national capacity as Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations.

The Security Council just concluded its meeting on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). The Council was briefed by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr Collin Stewart; Assistant Secretary-General for Africa (ASG) Ms Bintou Keita.

At the outset, let me emphasise that South Africa is fully committed to and fully supports efforts to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara as well as the attainment of their fundamental freedoms and human rights.

South Africa looks forward to the appointment of a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, a position which has been vacant for over a year, to support the parties’ negotiations and the resumption of a political process. However, we wish to reiterate that in the absence of a new Envoy, the Council, and the international community should look at all alternative and peaceful methods to move the political track forward.

In the 45 years that the Council has been seized with the Question of Western Sahara there has been little progress in the negotiation process to seek a final solution to the conflict. In this regard, urge that the next Personal Envoy should move quickly to advance the political process and move it to its next stage where there are direct, substantive negotiations between the two parties, the Frente POLISARIO and the Kingdom of Morocco.

Both the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and the Kingdom of Morocco are Members of the African Union and are bound by its decisions. In this regard, we take this opportunity to reiterate that, in line with the AU Assembly decision adopted at the 14th AU Extraordinary Summit on Silencing the Guns which took place on 6 December 2020, both parties as Member States of the AU must prepare conditions for a new cease-fire, in close coordination with the AU Peace and Security Council in line with all relevant provisions of its Protocol, to reach a just and durable solution to the conflict.

Let me also take this opportunity to reiterate South Africa’s position, as articulated last week during the 60th anniversary commemoration of General Assembly Resolution 1514 on the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, an issue related to self-determination and decolonisation, we believe that any recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco is tantamount to recognising illegality as such recognition is incompatible with international law.

Additionally, South Africa reiterates that decisions contrary to multilateral collective decisions must be discouraged and unequivocally disregarded as they are an infringement of all UN resolutions as well as the African Union including its Constitutive Act and decisions.

South Africa will continue to work with all like-minded countries and the international community more broadly to support international efforts aimed at supporting the Sahrawi people and their quest to achieve fundamental freedom, equality, justice and dignity, in line with all relevant UN resolutions, international law and internationally agreed parameters.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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