“Our collective focus must return to the United Nations process and to finding a lasting and acceptable political solution for Western Sahara.”

Statement by Ambassador Matthew Rycroft of the UK Mission to the UN at the Security Council Meeting on the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara

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Mr President,

The United Kingdom welcomes the adoption of Resolution 2285 today.

Though the past weeks have been difficult, regrettable even, we hope that this adoption marks a turning point for bringing MINURSO back to full functionality with the utmost urgency. The work of MINURSO, including its vital civilian component and political reporting function, is critical to the stability of Western Sahara. Recent events have rendered MINURSO unable to deliver its mandate over the last six weeks.

Let me be clear, this Council has the responsibility to protect the integrity of its peacekeeping missions and to preserve their ability to implement their mandates. MINURSO is no exception. In that regard, the resolution adopted today contains two important elements.

First it emphasises the urgent need for MINURSO to be returned to full functionality. And, second, it contains a review mechanism in the form of a briefing by the Secretary-General within the next 90 days to ensure that this happens, and an undertaking for the Council to consider how best to achieve that outcome if it is not.

In the meantime, we urge the resumption talks between Morocco and the United Nations to cooperate with the UN to achieve progress so that the Council can be satisfied that MINURSO is again fully functional.

Mr President,

Our collective focus must also return to the United Nations process and to finding a lasting and mutually acceptable political solution for Western Sahara; one that provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. The United Kingdom’s position on this remains the same; the UN process will continue to have our full support.

As Western Sahara illustrates, there are simply too many intractable, long-running disputes on the agenda of this Council.

So today let us urge all parties to engage constructively with each other, and the UN process, so that together we can find a solution and settle the question of Western Sahara once and for all.

Doing so is not only of the utmost importance for the Western Saharan refugees – who continue to suffer from this protracted dispute – but also for the security and economic prosperity of all countries and all people in the Maghreb region.

Thank you.

Published 2 May 2016