MAP - Saturday, October 12th 2019

UN: International Experts Stress Relevance of Autonomy Initiative as Solution to Sahara Issue

United Nations (New York) - Several international experts, speaking as petitioners before the 4th UN Committee, highlighted the relevance of the autonomy initiative as a lasting solution to the Moroccan Sahara issue and its compliance with international principles and standards for dispute resolution.

"I would like to share with you the urgent need to support the Moroccan autonomy initiative to contribute to the stability of the Maghreb countries, given that the autonomy solution is at the heart of international democratic principles governing the settlement of disputes and respect for the territorial integrity of States," Sarah Dubord Gagnon, Communications expert in Denmark, told Committee members.

In response to repeated calls by the UN Security Council for a mutually acceptable political solution to the Sahara issue, the Kingdom of Morocco fully assumed its responsibilities and proposed to the United Nations, in 2007, "a bold initiative for autonomy", the petitioner recalled.

For his part, Erik Jensen, international expert and author of several publications on the Sahara issue, recalled that in 2007, in response to the Security Council's call for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution based on compromise, Morocco submitted a proposal for regional autonomy that the Council commended as serious and credible.

For him, it is only in a spirit of realism and compromise that the Sahara conflict will be resolved peacefully. "A conflict that has seen a generation of refugees emerge, created security threats and constituted a costly obstacle to regional cooperation and development in the Maghreb," he regretted.

Andrew Rosemarine, a British lawyer, said, on his part, that the Moroccan autonomy plan is the "best practical solution" to put a definitive end to the regional conflict over the Moroccan Sahara.

The autonomy plan, a "fair, flexible and forward-looking" project, guarantees a "high degree of self-determination" for the inhabitants of the Sahara, said the international expert.

According to him, it is a solution that "brings hope for a better life for the population of the region, puts an end to separation and exile, and promotes reconciliation".

In his turn, the Chilean activist and former political prisoner, Juan Carlos Moraga Duque, welcomed Morocco's political will and commitment to reach a realistic political solution to this regional dispute, through the autonomy proposal as a basis for a pragmatic solution.

This initiative, he recalled, is considered by the Security Council in its last seven resolutions as a realistic, serious and credible solution.

In this regard, he underlined that the Moroccan proposal, widely welcomed and supported by a growing number of countries, which "praise Morocco's serious and credible efforts to resolve this conflict", allows the local population to manage its own affairs in a democratic manner, in accordance with international standards.

Ximina Ordenez Cordoba, director of the Regional Federation of Municipal Officers of Chile, also highlighted the relevance of the Moroccan autonomy initiative, which is likely to guarantee the well-being of the entire Sahara population within the framework of the rule of law, with the creation of regional executive, legislative and judicial institutions, based on a democratic choice capable of promoting equitable and sustainable growth, and improving living conditions in the region.