South Africa before UN 4th Committee: Saharawi are struggling for self-determination and we support their cause of decolonisation

New York (United Nations) 16 October 2020 (SPS)- South African Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, stressed the support of his country to the decolonization of Western Sahara, whose people are struggling “for self-determination”, in the statement of his country yesterday during the General Debate of the Special Political and Decolonisation Committee of the UN General Assembly.

“In our own continent, Africa, the Saharawi people have not exercised their right to self-determination, which is guaranteed under the Charter of the United Nations. The struggle for the people of Western Sahara is a struggle for self-determination and our support for their cause is based on the principles of decolonisation, promotion of human rights, international legality and the stability and security of the African continent,” he said.

He further indicated that South Africa “once again stresses the need for the United Nations to facilitate the realisation of the referendum to allow the Sahrawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination in line with the mandate given to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) exactly 31 years ago to organise a referendum of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. Regrettably, this is yet to occur,” he regretted.

Moreover, he considered that “it remains imperative that the envisaged referendum take place to allow the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination.”

South African, he said, also “calls on the United Nations to fully assume its responsibility for the protection of the human rights of the people of Western Sahara. We also wish to call on the Security Council to ensure that the MINURSO which is due for renewal this month by the Security Council maintains its impartiality and independence.”

On another hand, Ambassado Xolisa Mabhongo, indicated that “South Africa wishes to encourage the Secretary-General to expedite the process of the appointment of the Special Envoy for Western Sahara. We believe this is an important UN mechanism that will resuscitate the dialogue between the two parties, Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO, to resume direct negotiations as called for by the Security Council in its relevant resolutions.”

He stressed, however, that the appointment of a new Envoy “is critical to ensure that the momentum created by the commendable efforts by the former UN Special Envoy Mr. Horst Kohler through the Geneva round of talks in December 2018 and March 2019 do not become another ‘relic in the museum of history’.”

South Africa, he confirmed, “attaches great importance to the issue of decolonisation and fully commends the Special Committee on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence on Colonial Countries and Peoples for its work in addressing the plight of those who still live under colonial domination and foreign occupation. Needless to add, our delegation would not be represented in the UN if it were not for the efforts of this Committee”.

“The existence of colonialism and occupation in any form or manifestation, including economic exploitation, is inconsistent with both the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations,” he concluded. (SPS)

090/500/60 (SPS