Friday, April 28, 2017

On W Sahara, After Delay UN Mission Extended 15-0, Guterres' Dujarric Issues Statement

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 28 – After several delays, the UN Security Council renewed for one year the mandate of its Western Sahara mission MINURSO at 6 pm on April 28. Final resolution put on Scribed by Inner City Press here. At the same time, not Secretary General Antonio Guterres but his holdover spokesman Monsieur Stephane Dujarric issued this: "Statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General on Western Sahara: We welcome the withdrawal of all Frente Polisario elements from the Guerguerat area, between the berm and the border with Mauritania, as confirmed by MINURSO observers on 27-28 April. Together with the earlier withdrawal of Moroccan elements from the area, in response to the urging of the Secretary-General, this action should improve the prospects of creating an environment that will facilitate early implementation of the Secretary-General’s determination to relaunch the  negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit that reflect the Security Council’s guidance and resolutions, with the aim of reaching a “mutually acceptable political solution which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”. We continue to call on the parties to adhere to their obligations under the ceasefire agreement and to respect both its letter and spirit, and to cooperate fully with MINURSO. The need to ensure that tensions do not erupt anew in the Guerguerat area remains vital. To this end, MINURSO intends to maintain the position it has held in the Buffer Strip since August 2016 and further discuss the Mission’s future monitoring of the area and the full range of issues related to the Buffer Strip with the parties. Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General "
  In front of the UN Security Council's Western Sahara closed door consultations on April 25, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre why there is no human rights monitoring in the mandate of the MINURSO mission, as urged by for example Amnesty International. Delattre said human rights "is in our DNA," but said there are many ways to work for human rights. Video here.  Now the vote on the resolution, one draft of which is below, has been pushed back from 5 to 5:30 to 6 pm on April 28. Verification of Guerguerat, inclusion or deletion or modification of language in the resolution, below. Up on the UN's 38th floor after a photo op of UK Boris Johnson and Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Inner City Press spotted Uruguay's ambassador. He has been pushing for human rights monitoring, DNA or no DNA. But down at the stakeout of the Security Council, the questions to him concerned mostly a reported missile firing by North Korea. Watch this site. Inner City Press asked about Horst Kohler as Antonio Guterres' nominee as Personal Envoy on Western Sahara. Delattre smiled and answered in German. Then and the next day, as Inner City Press got versions of the draft, Morocco diplomats and state journalists walked freely up and down the UN's 2d floor, while Inner City Press was confined to Department of Public Information minders. After the meeting, Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative Petr Ilyichev said the real work on the MINURSO resolution, which he still expects to be put to a vote on April 27, was at the level of experts, not in the April 25 meeting. Periscope video here. And here now, the draft resolution:
The Security Council, Recalling and reaffirming all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara,
Reaffirming its strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to implement resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), 2152 (2014), 2218 (2015), and 2285 (2016),
?Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect, 
Reiterating its call upon the parties and the neighboring states to cooperate more fully with the United Nations and with each other and to strengthen their involvement to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution, 
Recognizing that achieving a political solution to this long-standing dispute and enhanced cooperation between the Member States of the Maghreb Arab Union would contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region, 
Welcoming the efforts of the Secretary-General to keep all peacekeeping operations, including the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), under close review and reiterating the need for the Council to pursue a rigorous, strategic approach to peacekeeping deployments, and effective management of resources,
Emphasizing the need to regularly evaluate MINURSO’s performance such that the mission retains the skills and flexibility needed to effectively carry out its mandate, 
Further emphasizing that hiring, retention and assignment processes of the United Nations for MINURSO should allow for mission structures to quickly and easily adapt to changing operational environments, and noting the Secretary-General’s intention to reform  these processes to make the Organization more nimble, 
Recognizing the important role played by MINURSO on the ground and the need for it to fully implement its mandate, including its role in supporting the Personal Envoy to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution,  
Expressing concern about the violations of existing agreements, and calling on the parties to respect their relevant obligations, 
Welcoming Morocco’s positive response on 26 February 2017 to the Secretary General’s call for both parties to withdraw from the buffer strip in Guerguerat,
Expressing deep concern that elements of the Polisario Front remain in the buffer strip in Guerguerat, including its obstruction of regular commercial traffic,    
Taking note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution; also taking note of the Polisario Front proposal presented 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General,
Encouraging in this context, the parties to demonstrate further political will towards a solution including by expanding upon their discussion of each other’s proposals and further encouraging the neighboring countries to make contributions to the political process, 
Taking note of the four rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of the Secretary-General and recognizing the importance of the parties committing to continue the negotiations process, 
Encouraging the parties to resume cooperation with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in implementing the January 2012 updated Plan of Action on Confidence-Building Measures, including programmes focused on linking people who have been divided for more than 40 years due to the conflict and further encouraging the parties to consider additional appropriate confidence-building measures,
Stressing the importance of improving the human rights situation in Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps, and encouraging the parties to work with the international community to develop and implement independent and credible measures to ensure full respect for human rights, bearing in mind their relevant obligations under international law, 
Encouraging the parties to continue in their respective efforts to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps, including the freedoms of expression and association,
?Welcoming in this regard, the recent steps and initiatives taken by Morocco, and the role played by the National Council on Human Rights Commissions operating in Dakhla and Laayoune, and Morocco’s interaction with Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, 
Commending the technical visit of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to Western Sahara in April 2015, and to the Tindouf refugee camps in July-August 2015, and strongly encouraging enhancing cooperation with OHCHR, including through facilitating further visits to the region, 
Noting with deep concern the continued hardships faced by Sahrawi refugees and their dependency on external humanitarian assistance,and further noting insufficient funding for those living in Tindouf refugee camps and the risk of potential reductions in food assistance,
?Reiterating its request for consideration of a refugee registration in the Tindouf refugee camps and emphasizing efforts be made in this regard, 
Stressing the importance of a commitment by the parties to continue the process of negotiations through the United Nations-sponsored talks and encouraging the meaningful participation of women in these,
?Recognizing that the consolidation of the status quo is not acceptable, and noting further that progress in the negotiations is essential in order to improve the quality of life of the people of Western Sahara in all its aspects,
? Expressing gratitude for the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Ambassador Christopher Ross, throughout his tenure, and affirming its continued full support for the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara in facilitating negotiations between the parties, and calling on the parties and neighbouring states to cooperate fully with the Personal Envoy,
?Affirming full support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and Head of MINURSO Kim Bolduc, 
Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 10 April 2017 (S/2017/307), 
1.?Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2018;
 2.?Reaffirms the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO with regard to the ceasefire and calls on the parties to adhere fully to those agreements;
3. ?Expresses deep concern with the continued presence of elements of the Polisario Front in the buffer strip in Guerguerat and strongly urges the Polisario Front to fully and unconditionally withdraw from the buffer strip in Guerguerat immediately;
 4.?Requests the Secretary-General to brief the Council within 30 days on whether elements of the Polisario have withdrawn from the buffer strip in Guerguerat and expresses its intention, if there is no full and unconditional withdrawal, to consider how best to facilitate achievement of this goal;
 5.?Recognizes that the crisis in Guerguerat raises fundamental questions related to the ceasefire and related agreements and encourages the Secretary-General to explore ways that such questions can be resolved; 
 6.?Calls upon all parties to cooperate fully with the operations of MINURSO, including its free interaction with all interlocutors, and to take the necessary steps to ensure the security of as well as unhindered movement and immediate access for the United Nations and associated personnel in carrying out their mandate, in conformity with existing agreements;
7.?Emphasizes the importance of the parties’ commitment to continue the process of preparation for a fifth round of negotiations, and recalls its endorsement of the recommendation in the report of 14 April 2008 (S/2008/251) that realism and a spirit of compromise by the parties are essential to achieve progress in negotiations, and encourages the neighbouring countries to make important contributions to this process;
8.?Calls upon the parties to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to resume negotiations, thus ensuring implementation of resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), 2152 (2014), and 2218 (2015) and the success of negotiations;
9.?Affirms its full support for the commitment of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy towards a solution to the question of Western Sahara in this context to relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit leading to the resumption of a political process with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations;
10.?Calls upon the parties to resumenegotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and subsequent developments, with a view to achieving a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect;
11.?Invites Member States to lend appropriate assistance to these talks;
12.?Requests the Secretary-General to brief the Security Council on a regular basis, and at least twice a year, on the status and progress of these negotiations under his auspices, on the implementation of this resolution, challenges to MINURSO’s operations and steps taken to address them, expresses its intention to meet to receive and discuss his briefings and in this regard, and further requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation in Western Sahara well before the end of the mandate period;
13. Further requests the Secretary-General to update the Security Council within six months of the appointment of the new Personal Envoy on (i) ways in which the Personal Envoy, working with the parties, is progressing towards a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and present a clear path forward;  (ii) how MINURSO’s performance measures are being developed and implemented(iii) how structures and staffing can be reorganized to achieve mission goals efficiently, and (iv) how new technologies are being considered to reduce risk, improve force protection, and better implement the mandate of MINURSO;
14. Encourages the parties to resume cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to review and, where possible, expand confidence-building measures; 
15.Urges Member States to provide new and additional voluntary contributions to fund food programmes to ensure that the humanitarian needs of refugees are adequately addressed and avoid reductions in food rations;
16.?Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance in MINURSO with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including pre-deployment awareness training, and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel; 
17.Supports an increase in the ratio of medical personnel within the current uniformed authorization as requested in the most recent report of the Secretary-General to address the severely overstretched medical capacity of MINURSO. 
18.Decides to remain seized of the matter.
Outside the Council, a half dozen Moroccan diplomats milled around, the same crowd from within which a frivolous complaint to the Department of Public Information was made, to stop taking photos or video from the UNSC stakeout (which is in fact permitted). The same DPI allows Morocco state media to chase Christopher Ross into the elevator - but censured Inner City Press for the same thing. This is today's UN. Numerous diplomats have asked Inner City Press why Secretary General Antonio Guterres is "so pro Moroccan," as one of them put it. The perception is become widespread. The answers proffered include Guterres' time as Prime Minister of Portugal, with references to prior Moroccan King Hassan II and Abdellatif Youssoufi. On April 20, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Amnesty International urging the inclusion of human rights monitoring in the mandate of the MINURSO mission, and why Guterres ignored it as he apparently ignores several other human rights issues. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: Amnesty International, you may have heard of, has issued a de… a call saying that the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, MINURSO, should have a human rights monitoring function.  And I… I've seen a copy.  I'm not sure if you can say what the status of the Secretary-General's report is.  Is it now officially…?

Spokesman:  Yeah, the report…  I would refer you…
Inner City Press: I want to make sure…

Spokesman:  I would refer you to the report.
Inner City Press:  Since it… is it fair to say that he's not recommending a human rights monitoring function? If so, how… how… why not?

Spokesman:  I think it's fair to say that the report speaks for itself.

Inner City Press:  Right.  So he's not recommending it?

Spokesman:  You do the analysis...
 OK. And then there's this: Moroccan trolls, using Dujarric's (and the now-gone Gallach's) eviction of Inner City Press for covering corruption like this, that Inner City Press "was sacked out from the #UN because he was caught filming a closed meeting." No, Inner City Press said openly it would film, and did, a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room by a group that took dues money from now indicted Ng Lap Seng's bribery conduit. The Moroccan state "media" at the UN don't even ask questions. Troll on.  On April 19 as Guterres held a rare Q&A session, about Africa, his holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric had pre-selected questions, many of them not about Africa at all. The UN Department of Public Information under Guterres has threatenedInner City Press after a frivolous complaint from the Moroccan mission about photos taken according to the rules at the UN Security Council stakeout, while DPI has given multiple "Resident Correspondent" badges to Moroccan state media, some moonlighting for the UN itself, while restricting the UNderdog Press. Meanwhile, Inner City Press has learned, the UN's decoloniziation (C-24) committee is preparing to visit the Tindouf refugee camp. We'll have more on this. While Guterres breezed by the issue of Western Sahara on Friday, April 7 as Morocco tried to get the Press which covers it further restricted, Inner City Press was leaked the email below, from the UN's Kim Bolduc, amid reports of Germany's Horst Kohler as new Personal Envoy. While Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric refused to comment on either, here (contrary to his Q&A last week about "Sex in the City, here), now Inner City Press has put on Scribd the full text of Guterres' first MINURSO report such as it is, here. But when Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about both on April 10, he wouldn't answer either question. Video here. From the UN transcript
Inner City Press: on Western Sahara, you'd said to wait for the report, but I guess I just want to say, this Kim Bolduc e-mail, which Inner City Press published, was directed to, like, many, many people in UNHCR.  So, 5I'm wondering what then, it talks about a code cable for Jean-Pierre Lacroix to go forward and… and… and, you know, re… bring all 17 people back.  So, I'm sort of wondering, like, is it that you know it, but she shouldn't have written that first?  Is it…?

Spokesman:  She's the master of her e-mails.  She's obviously communicating what she needs to communicate with her… with her staff, and the Secretary-General's position will be made very public and updated once the report comes out in the next day or so.
[Also: Question:  Follow-up.  There were some reports also last week that the Polisario have threatened to shoot the MINURSO peacekeepers if they try to conduct ceasefire patrols in the areas under their control.  What's the Secretary-General think about that and the integrity of the peacekeeping mission itself?

Spokesman:  Well, it's incumbent on all the parties involved to respect the, respect UN personnel in the area, whether uniformed or, or not, in the way they go about their work on a mandate of the Security Council.

Correspondent:  I'm sorry.  Just a quick follow-up.  The Polisario also reported that you have prevented the MINURSO from patrolling the El-Guerguerat area after the Moroccan forces have withdrawn from it…

Spokesman:  I think it is important that all the parties ensure that MINURSO has full freedom of movement.  Masood-ji.

Correspondent:  Thank you, Stéphane-ji. ]
Inner City Press:  Will he, by that time, confirm or deny that he's nominating Mr. Horst Kobler as… or Köhler…?

Spokesman:  As you know, whenever we have a nomination for a high-level person, there's a lot of the rumours prior.  The Security Council will have to be consulted, and once all that is done, we will announce it officially and, no doubt, you will have the information before it is announced officially.

Inner City Press:  Just finally, on both this and on South Sudan, is it possible to get Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix to do a stakeout or some type of Q&A…?

Spokesman:  I'm sure Mr Lacroix will be delighted to come meet you as soon as it is possible for him.  Good day.

Inner City Press:  Can I ask a Burundi question?

Spokesman:  No.  We're done.  Thank you.
   This is today's UN.