The question of Western Sahara is a decolonization problem which falls under the implementation of 1514 UN General Assembly Resolution. All resolutions adopted since 1965 by the UN General Assembly and the Organization of African Unity have steadily called for the decolonization of the territory and reaffirmed the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and to independence. This doctrine has only been confirmed by the verdict of the international Court of Justice (October 16, 1975).
The disregard of this fundamental principle has led to an armed conflict between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front, which lasted 16 years.
The UN Settlement Plan for Western Sahara, accepted by the two parties to the conflict and adopted by the Security Council in Resolution 658 of June 1990 and Resolution 690 of April 1991, has certainly silenced the guns but the conflict remains so long that the purpose of the plan, i.e. the organization of a free and fair referendum on self-determination, free from any administrative or military constraints, has not been attained.
Since its adoption, the Settlement Plan has known a laborious and patient implementation, but never diverted from its natural course. Thanks to the commitment, the determination and the perseverance of the United Nations, and to the cooperation of the two parties, the obstructions encountered have always been overcome.
Following the election of Mr Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations and the appointment in 1997 of Mr James Baker III, as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, the United Nations increased their efforts to speed up the implementation of the Settlement Plan, given that both the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco have "clearly indicated their willingness not to seek any other political solution than the implementation of the Plan" (Para 4, S/1997/742).
In this context, the Houston Accords negociated between the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco under the auspices of Mr James Baker and approved by the Security Council constituted a real breakthrough which permitted to overcome the obstacles encountered, while offering the necessary pratical modalities for the resumption of the implementation of the Settlement Plan.
In this line and despite the many obstacles created by the Moroccan side - as reported by the Secretary General to the Security Council, the Commission of identification was able, chiefly thanks to its remarkable effort, to finalize the crucial phase of the identification, and to publish on January 17, 2000 the provisional list of voters. In this order of ideas, the protocol agreed to on May 1999 by the two parties enabled the Identification Commission to define the way to tackle the appeals.
Nevertheless, the introduction by Morocco of a high number of appeals seeks to put into question that arrangement and the work of the Identification Commission, while disregarding the warning of the Security Council not to transform the appeals into a second identification (Res 1238 of 14/05/1999 and 1263 of 13 September 1999). This represents additionnal difficulties to the implementation of the referendum process.
While it is true that the identification work and the achievements in other aspects of the implementation of the Settlement Plan, especially these related to the repatriation of the refugees (pre-registration, signaling the itineraries for the repatriation..) are substantial progress, the Polisario Front cannot belittle the difficulties that remain. The United Nations is again called upon to invigorate its efforts, and the parties to cooperate to overcome the difficulties and complete the implementation of the Settlement Plan.
In this regard, the Polisario Front renews its willingness and availability to continue to cooperate with the United Nations to work out the difficulties encountered in the implementation of the Settlement Plan, namely those related to the question of the appeals.
The Polisario Front is also willing to examine any proposal the United Nations put forward aimed at hasting the review of the appeals.
The Polisario Front reiterates also its firm attachment to the provisions of the Houston Accords, related to the return of the refugees, and its commitment to cooperate with the UN HCR to fulfill its mandate, in conformity with "its procedures and normal practices established in the matter of the repatriation".
The Polisario Front wants to reaffirm its commitment to put into motion the confidence building measures suggested to the parties by the UN HCR.
The sincere attachment of the Polisario Front to the Settlement Plan and to the Houston Accords emanates from its deep conviction that the Settlement Plan constitutes the only framework able to guarantee a just and lasting solution to the conflict of Western Sahara, and therefore ensure the restoration of the peace and stability to the sub-region.
In this spirit, the Polisario Front reaffirms its solemn commitment to respect the outcome of a free and fair referendum on self-determination organized and supervised by the United Nations in cooperation with the OAU in the territory of Western Sahara. The Polisario Front hopes that the Kingdom of Morocco will show the same respect towards the International community. In any case, it is up to the Security Council to take in conformity with the Charter and principles of the United Nations, the dispositions and the appropriated measures to ensure the respect of the outcome to the referendum.
It is also from this conviction and from its commitment to the settlement Plan, based on International Legality, and on the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence, that the Polisario Front firmly rejects any other approach than the implementation of the Settlement Plan.
London, June 28, 2000