Statement: In the face of war in Western Sahara

Activists hold the Western Saharan flag at a protest

Peace is possible with the end of the occupation, the right to self-determination, an end to the plundering of resources and an end to the sale of arms to Morocco

The Executive Committee of War Resisters’ International supports the demand of NOVA, an allied organization of our pacifist, anti-militarist and non-violent network, that on the 45th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict in Western Sahara, and the threat of a new armed conflict, a just and sustainable resolution that ensures the self-determination of the Saharawi people should be implemented.

At no time in these four decades has Morocco complied with the Peace Accords and Human Rights. The illegal occupation of the territory, the blockade of the referendum, the human rights violations against the Saharawi population and the plundering of their natural resources are good examples of this.

As shared by NOVA, a youth organization for the promotion of nonviolence that operates in the refugee camps in Western Sahara, this is one of the last remaining colonies in Africa, under Moroccan control since the signing of the Madrid Accords in 1975. Since then, the families of NOVA members have remained displaced in the Algerian desert, unable to return home and surviving on humanitarian assistance. In 1991, with the creation of the MINURSO peacekeeping force, the UN promised the Saharawi people that a referendum would be organized that would allow them to freely and fairly decide their own destiny. Decades later, that promise remains unfulfilled and our trust in the international community and the UN is eroding.

We support NOVA's requests to facilitate this:

  • Appoint a personal UN envoy for Western Sahara. It has been 18 months since the former Personal Envoy resigned in 2019, and in that time we have witnessed the total paralysis of the political process. We demand that his office stops delaying and immediately appoints a new Personal Envoy to rebuild the momentum that has been lost. We also request that as soon as the new Envoy is appointed, they visit both the Saharawi refugee camps and the Moroccan-controlled territories of Western Sahara, and specifically meet with youth representatives.
  • Ensure that the peace process is inclusive and representative. The Personal Envoy and the UN Security Council should ensure an inclusive peace process and support the participation of young people as well as women in the negotiation process. It is the future of young women that will be affected by decisions made during this process, so their voices must be represented at the negotiating table. They must have the opportunity to share our ideas and opinions about the ongoing conflict and how it should be resolved.

We express our support for a referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. When Morocco accepted the alternative proposals in 1988, it committed itself to allowing the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination by holding a referendum without military or administrative restrictions.

We ask the UN Security Council to publicly call on the Kingdom of Morocco to fulfil its obligations in this regard and to allow MINURSO to fulfil this aspect of its mandate.

Now more than ever, the time has come to take global action for peace and to stop being complicit in more than forty years of crimes against humanity.

No war, peace in the Sahara now.

War Resisters’ International Executive Committee, December 28, 2020

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