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Date of posting : April 11, 2020

Flagrant Isolation of South Africa from UNSC over Moroccan Sahara Issue

The United Nations Security Council received Thursday a briefing from the United Nations Secretariat on the question of the Moroccan Sahara, in accordance with resolution 2494 adopted on October 30, 2020. According to diplomatic sources close to the issue at the UN, South Africa found itself out of phase with all the other members of the Council, dwelling on a sclerotic ideological position.
Main support of Algeria in the Security Council, South Africa has repeated before the UN executive body an odd set of tropes mixing bad faith with the ideological dogmatism of another time, before a UN body firmly attached to the path of reaching a political, realistic, pragmatic and lasting solution based on compromise regarding the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.
The South African delegation deplored a so-called deadlock in the political process, where the other members of the Security Council welcomed the new impetus brought by the holding of two Round Tables in December 2018 and in March 2019 in Geneva bringing together Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and the “polisario”, and the will of the participants to meet again in the same format.
In doing so, South Africa has not only placed itself at odds with the fourteen other members of the Security Council, but also contradicted its own positions. As a member of the Security Council for the period of 2007-2008, South Africa had voted in favor of resolutions 1754, 1783, and 1813, which call on the parties to engage in the political process to reach a political solution, while stipulating the pre-eminence of the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative, which they describe as “serious” and “credible”.
Where the Security Council clearly circumscribes in its resolutions the mandate of MINURSO to observing compliance with the Military Agreements, South Africa continued its logorrhea by alleging that the mandate of MINURSO is to organize a referendum, an option that the Security Council has definitively rejected since 2001.
Short of ideas, South Africa tried to instrumentalize the COVID-19 pandemic in its tirade against Morocco, alleging “responsibilities” arising from a Kingdom’s status in relation to the Moroccan Sahara that belongs only to the imaginary of South African diplomacy. Likewise, South Africa called for extending the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire to the Moroccan Sahara, a region where no shots have been fired since 1991.
The attempt to instrumentalize the human drama that COVID-19 inflicts on the whole world is all the more surprising given that South Africa is the most affected country in the continent by the disease, which requires states to focus their attention on domestic response efforts, while showing solidarity and compassion.
South Africa’s sad spectacle ended with a proposal for the press compiling its worn-out tropes, a proposal that the Security Council rejected, dealing the South African delegation an unprecedented blow, according to the same diplomatic sources.