UN Security Council: The situation concerning Western Sahara

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Delivered by Gerard van Bohemen Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 28 April 2016.

It was with great disappointment that New Zealand abstained today – the first time during our current term on the Council where we have not supported the adoption of a Council resolution. It should not have been like this. It should have been possible to maintain the tradition of consensus on this important issue and we thank the United States for its determined efforts to that end.

But consensus implies a meeting of minds and common commitment and have not been a feature of the preparation of this resolution. 

Rather, we have seen – again – the preparation of a text in a Group of Friends whose composition does not reflect the span of perspectives on the Western Sahara – neither among the protagonists on this issue nor on the Council, and an unwillingness to accept modest amendments on a text that deals with an issue of importance to the whole Council; indeed to the whole UN membership. 

In New Zealand’s view, today’s resolution falls short of what the Council should be doing to discharge properly its responsibilities on the Western Sahara. 

A resolution that truly reflected the gravity of the current crisis over MINURSO and the magnitude of the challenge inherent in the full  discharge of the MINURSO mandate should have done the following things: 

  • First, the resolution should have stated the reality that the expulsion of the civilian component has seriously compromised the Mission and its ability to discharge its mandate.  These facts have been repeatedly stated by the Secretariat in their briefings to the Council over the past month.
  • Secondly, the resolution should have called for the immediate restoration of the full functionality of the Mission and provided for the Council’s continued engagement to ensure that a return to full functionality is achieved in the near future.
  • Thirdly, on the core political direction of the mandate, the Council should have taken up the sensible and appropriate advice of the Secretary-General – reiterated in this week’s consultations by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary General, Christopher Ross, and Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous – that the time has come to engage in “serious negotiations without preconditions in good faith to reach a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”  And that mutually acceptable solution should include resolution of the dispute over the status of Western Sahara, including through agreement on the nature and form of the exercise of self-determination.

As Mr Ladsous told the Council quite categorically on Wednesday, we can no longer procrastinate in addressing these deep underlying issues. 

Mr President, MINURSO fulfils an essential function, and its inability to fulfil its mandate risks fuelling further instability in an already troubled region. The Council must provide the full weight of its support to the mission.  

Notwithstanding our abstention, New Zealand reiterates its full support to MINURSO, its mandate, the Secretary General, his Personal Envoy and Special Representative. 

Finally, in our view, every member of this Council must reflect on the the broader implications the current episode over MINURSO’s deployment that they have for the Council’s stewardship of its peacekeeping operations globally.


We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our website, to analyze our website traffic, and to understand where our visitors are coming from. You can find out more information on our Privacy Page.