4th Committee: Petitioners call for referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara

New York, 12 October 2019 (SPS) - Petitioners on Western Sahara reaffirmed Thursday before the Fourth UN Commission on Decolonization the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to independence, calling on the United Nations to speed up the holding of a referendum of self-determination in the last colony of Africa.

Mr. Daniel Dart, from DEC Projects, who spoke at the general debate in New York, regretted "the silence and passivity of the United Nations" in the face of this decades-old conflict. "You are facing a war and you stand idly by," said Daniel Dart, calling for the signing of a letter he wrote for the organization of a referendum of self-determination at Western Sahara.

For his part, Mohamed Ali Arkoukou, from the Displaced Families organization, called for " the voice of the Sahrawis to be heard". The colonial situation in the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara is attributable, according to him, to "the UN's inability to enforce a referendum on self-determination" in addition to the blockades exercised by France and Morocco. 

Vanessa Ramos, the American Association of Jurists, highlighted Morocco's illegal exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara, considering it is the responsibility of the UN to eliminate the existence any form of colonialism, including that exercised through economic exploitation "incompatible with the charter of the United Nations".

Faced with these practices and violations of the rights of the people of Western Sahara, including arbitrary detentions, the petitioner urged the UN to effectively protect the cultural, social, civic, political and economic rights of the Sahrawi people, calling on Morocco to end its military activities in the region, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly.

The president of the Algerian National Committee of Solidarity with the Sahrawi people, Saeed Ayachi, said for his part that the Sahrawi people "lived an immense tragedy and a violent and intolerable injustice".

The petitioner added that 27 years after the creation of MINURSO, the referendum of self-determination has still not taken place, because of the delaying tactics and the arrogance of the Moroccan authorities.

Mr. Ayachi called for the extension of the Mission's mandate to monitor human rights in order to protect Sahrawis, urging the UN to accelerate the holding of a referendum on self-determination.

Speaking during this general debate, Ms. Maria Ines Miranda Navarro, the International Association of Jurists for Western Sahara, criticized the "incomprehensible silence" of the Fourth Committee on this issue, expressing surprise at the silence of Spain, a colonial power that speaks of Gibraltar but not Western Sahara.

"The Sahrawi people have been separated, imprisoned, mistreated, their rights to self-determination and sovereignty violated, while those responsible (for this situation) live with impunity," the petitioner deplored. (SPS)