Explanation of vote following the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2351 on the renewal of MINURSO
Explanation of vote by Ambassador Carl Skau, Alternate Representative of Sweden to the UN Security Council following the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2351 on the renewal of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), The UN Security Council, 28 April 2017
Sweden voted in favour of today's resolution because it represents a real opportunity to resolve one of the most long standing disputes on the agenda of the United Nations. More importantly it represents an opportunity to address the plight of the people of Western Sahara.
With today's adoption, after a year that saw many challenges, we can now turn the page. The resolution contains a number of elements that we believe lays a path towards resolving the issue of the status of Western Sahara.
Firstly, today's resolution sends a strong, clear and unified signal: the time has come to resume negotiations that will lead to a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution; one that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.
This resolution provides strong backing to the Secretary-General and his proposal to relaunch the political process with 'a new dynamic and a new spirit'. We welcome the Secretary-General's direct engagement. This is really diplomacy for peace in action with the Secretary-General using his good offices to engage actively with the parties and with the full support of the Council.
We fully agree with his view that a resumption of the political process is urgently needed. In 2007-2008, four rounds of negotiations took place, but little progress was made. Since then, the political process has been at a standstill, despite the efforts of successive Secretaries-General and Personal Envoys, to whom we pay tribute.
Secondly, the resolution encourages a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General to reinvigorate efforts towards a political solution and also calls upon the parties and the neighbouring states to fully co-operate with this envoy. We look forward to working together with a new envoy once appointed.
Thirdly, this Council is also calling, for the first time, for the meaningful participation of women in the political process. The participation of women would inject new energy into the political process.
Clearly, the resolution that we have just adopted sends a strong signal to the parties that time has come to show a renewed determination to engage in the political process and for neighbouring states to contribute.
As the Secretary-General states in his report, difficult decisions from all of us will be required if the current framework of negotiations is to achieve results. While we all hope that these will be forthcoming, our patience cannot last forever and the Secretary-General has noted that appropriate conclusions must be drawn in the case of absence of progress. In that regard, we note that all possible solutions, including the holding of a referendum, must be kept on the table.
We also supported this resolution because it sent a strong call to the parties that respecting the ceasefire and related agreements is critical and that violations cannot be accepted. We welcome that the parties have now withdrawn from the Buffer Strip in Guerguerat, thus creating an environment conducive to the relaunch of a political process.
With this resolution the Council also reiterates its full support for MINURSO, which plays a key role in a complex environment. The mission has gone through a challenging year and we welcome its return to full functionality.
Equally important, this resolution highlights the plight of Sahrawi refugees, the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the potential risk of reductions in food assistance given a lack of funding. The Sahrawi refugees have lived for more than forty years under harsh conditions. This is one of the UN's oldest protracted refugee operations and the second longest-running refugee situation in the world. This resolution urges the international community to provide new and additional voluntary contributions to the humanitarian response.
Finally we also supported this resolution because it encourages the parties to respect and promote human rights in Western Sahara and in the Tindouf refugee camps. It also strongly encourages an enhanced co-operation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, including further visits to the region.
We had many reasons to support this resolution, but this was the easy part. Without any doubt, we now have a lot of work ahead of us.
The resolution that we have just adopted offers the best opportunity in a long time to relaunch a political process that has been dormant for almost a decade now. The path towards a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, is now, with the adoption of this resolution, a little closer in sight.
Finally – and like Uruguay – I would like to commend the US delegation as a penholder for their extraordinary leadership on this issue as well as their exemplary efforts in facilitating the negotiations on this resolution.