US Administration still committed to resolve Western Sahara conflict

Washington, December 15, 2018  – The US administration renewed its interest and commitment to resolve Western Sahara conflict, insisting on "stronger, more effective mandate" of Minurso to push forward the UN process.

The US position has been reaffirmed Thursday by Ambassador John Bolton, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs who expressed "frustration" over the stalemate of the Sahrawi question, 27 years after the UN has instituted MINURSO for the organization of self-determination referendum in this territory. 

Speaking at a Heritage Foundation meeting on The Trump Administration’s New Africa Strategy, Ambassador John Bolton has explained the new US approach to resolve this stalemated conflict.

He said that the MINURSO is now tied to substantive political progress.

"If we are truly committed to protecting innocent life in conflict zones, then we must insist on accountable, robust, and effective peacekeeping operation," said John Bolton while presenting this new strategy, which a part was on the peacekeeping missions deployed in Africa.

"In April, the United States did just that regarding the decades-old U.N. peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara. We demanded a six month, rather than annual, renewal period for the mission, and we insisted on a stronger, more effective mandate tied to substantive political progress," he added during his presentation at this Washington-based Think Tank

Thanks to this approach, the "parties to the conflict and key neighboring countries agreed to meet for the first time since 2012. Last week, the U.N. Envoy hosted these talks in Geneva and the participants agreed to hold additional talks in early next year,” said Bolton who discussed the question with UN Special Envoy Horst Kohler who has "creative ideas" to resolve the conflict.

Bolton announced that the "United States will also reevaluate its support for U.N. peacekeeping missions. We will only back effective and efficient operations that we will seek to streamline, reconfigure, or terminate missions that are unable to meet their own mandate or facilitate lasting peace."

Bolton who knows very well Western Sahara issue, as he participated in 1991 to the writing of Minurso mandate, has regretted that the mandates of the unproductive missions are renewed systematically every year without reaching the set objectives, which are ending conflicts.

Former US envoy to UN said in Western Sahara for example, the self-determination referendum should have been organized 27 years ago.

"27 years of deployment, 27 years and the mission is still there, how can you justify that?," he asked addressing African ambassadors, US NGOs and figures.

Bolton said that we need to "reframe" the means enabling the UN peacekeeping missions to successfully accomplish their mandates.

Ambassador Bolton said that the "resources, the time and attention" that are being devoted to this mission "could much more be productively used" in the development and the economic betterment of the people of the region. (SPS)