ALGER – The year 2018 ends with a very significant diplomatic breakthrough in the Western Sahara issue, with the Geneva negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, marked by a serious commitment of Morocco and the Polisario Front, to relaunch and continue, the talks to settle the conflict.
Rabat having maintained the status quo, is confronted with the international law for the organization of the referendum of self-determination of the Saharawi people.
Too long remained stalled, a new wind blows on the Saharawi issue, thanks to the efforts of the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Horst Kohler, who managed to bring the parties together. conflict, the Polisario Front and Morocco, around the negotiating table, in the presence of Algeria and Mauritania, as neighboring states.
A first since the talks of Manhasset 2012, and in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2414 for the resumption of direct negotiations without preconditions.
This meeting is "a first step towards a renewed process of negotiations with a view to reaching a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution that allows the self-determination of the Saharawi people", and attests to the seriousness and good United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' willingness to settle the conflict, making this issue a priority of his mandate since taking office in 2017, paving the way for a new meeting in early 2019.
2018, rich in diplomatic victories over Moroccan maneuvers
During the year 2018, international organizations and associations mobilized to defend the right of the Saharawi people to decide their future through a referendum of self-determination, as stipulated by the UN resolutions and the international legality after more Forty Years of Struggle for National Sovereignty.
This impetus was supported by the states of Africa and Latin America as well as the legal and political authorities around the world, calling for a dialogue leading to a solution that respects the will of the Saharawi people.
If some European governments try to circumvent international legality, for reasons of "economic interests", several deputies and militants of Saharawi cause, had protested, against the attitude of the EU countries, especially the France and Spain with regard to the illegal exploitation of natural resources, which constitutes "support for the Moroccan occupation".
On the UN plan, the past year is marked by the lifting of the blockage on the way to the settlement process, and a new dynamic has been brought by the Security Council, which has twice extended (April and October 2018), for a period of only six months the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Minurso).
A term of office (06 months instead of one year) positively welcomed, after Moroccan and French attempts to maintain the usual duration (01 year). Such a decision, according to observers, confirms the will of the United Nations to speed up the settlement of the conflict through a solution that provides for the self-determination of the Saharawi people.
In legal terms, the rejection of Morocco's sovereignty over the territories and waters adjacent to occupied Western Sahara was confirmed in 2018 by the decisions of the African and European courts, notably that of Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), of 27 February 2018, on the Fishing Agreement (EU-Morocco) but also the decision of the South African High Court in the case of the cargo of phosphate carried by the ship NM Cherry Blossom, ruling that the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is the "owner" of the cargo.
Better still, the air agreement between the EU and Morocco has also been tried by the European court without application to the territory of Western Sahara and its airspace, confirming, once again, the separate and distinct status of the land , sea and air of Western Sahara
During the same year, at the African Union (AU) Summit held in Nouakchott, Morocco learned at its expense the AU's commitment to the rights of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence. after the "historic decision" to create an African mechanism to find a solution to the conflict between SADR and Morocco, marking a turning point in the handling of the case and the beginning of the "countdown to the Moroccan occupation".
Morocco in the face of international lassitude
Put at the foot of the wall, the Moroccan regime tried to deceive public opinion and to "undermine" efforts to resolve the conflict, falling into contradictions, especially when King Mohamed VI pointed out in a recent speech , Rabat's commitment to support the efforts of the United Nations, but sets, in return, conditions and references, unrecognized, as a prerequisite for the settlement of the conflict, as well as through its affirmation of commitment to the the AU in opposition to the return of the office of the Pan-African Organization in occupied Laayoune to cooperate with Minurso.
Moreover, Morocco, which maintains the policy of running for more than ten years to escape the referendum, has continued to violate the rights of the Saharawi people, by plundering the natural resources of this territory, since inscribed 1966 on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, thus eligible for the application of UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
However, if Rabat has worked to maintain until now the status quo, the United Nations and the United States have expressed their weariness, questioning the existential reason of the Minurso who fails to organize the referendum of self-determination, promised to the Saharawi people, the fundamental mission for which it was created in 1991.