Thank you very much Mr. President.
MINURSO is a peacekeeping mission that should have finished its job a long time ago. This is a mission that began 27 years ago almost to the day. This was a mission designed to achieve a specific purpose. one that MINURSO has not yet been able to complete. That isn’t MINURSO’s fault. The fact is that we as a Security Council have allowed Western Sahara to lapse into a textbook example of a frozen conflict. And MINURSO is a textbook example of a peacekeeping mission that no longer serves a political purpose.
So this year, the United States has taken a different approach with this renewal. Our goal is to send two messages. The first is that there can be no more “business as usual” with MINURSO and Western Sahara. The second is that the time is now to lend our support, our full support for Personal Envoy Kohler in his efforts to facilitate negotiations with the parties.
The United States wants to see progress at last in the political process meant to resolve this conflict. That is why we have renewed the MINURSO mandate for six months, instead of one year. Over the next six months we expect that the parties will return to the table and engage Personal Envoy Kohler. We also hope that neighboring states will recognize the special and important role they can play in supporting this negotiating process.
The United States emphasizes the need to move forward toward a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. We continue to view Morocco’s autonomy plan as serious, credible, and realistic, and it represents one potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people in Western Sahara to run their own affairs with peace and dignity. We call on the parties to demonstrate their commitment to a realistic, practicable, and enduring political solution based on compromise by resuming negotiations without preconditions and in good faith. Entrenched positions must not stand in the way of progress.
In the meantime, we expect that all parties will respect their obligations under the ceasefire and refrain from any actions that could destabilize the situation or threaten the UN process. Unilateral changes to the status quo on the ground will not help us get to a lasting and peaceful solution.
It would be unfortunate for anyone to seek to pick apart the language in the renewal for the sake of political point scoring. The expectation is clear. It is time to see progress towards a political solution, and after 27 years, to stop perpetuating the status quo.
Reflecting on his time as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton once wrote, quote “MINURSO seemed well on the way to acquiring a near-perpetual existence because no one could figure out what to do with it.” He concluded, quote “This could well go on forever.” More than a decade later, as we gather once again here in this chamber, Ambassador Bolton’s warning has proven accurate. With today’s renewal, this Security Council has taken a step towards ending this cycle. The next step will be for us to support Personal Envoy Kohler, and to see real and substantive talks resume at last. Should that fail, we will then need to take a hard look at our work and our responsibilities when this mission again comes up for renewal in six months. Thank you very much.