Namibia: “It is time Saharawi people are allowed to exercise their right to self-determination and pursue their economic, social and cultural development”

New York (United Nations) 15 June 2022 (SPS)- The Permanent Representative of Namibia to the UN, H.E. Mr. Neville Gertze, asserted in his statement before the UN substantive Session of the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24) 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, held on Monday 13 June, that it is time Saharawi people are allowed to exercise their right to self-determination and pursue their economic, social and cultural development”.

“It is time they are allowed to exercise their inalienable right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development,” he said, considering that “while countries like my own have been beneficiaries of the work of the United Nations system on decolonisation, we desire the same freedom and opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination for the seventeen non self-governing territories.”

Following is the full text of the Statement of which SPS received a copy:

Statement by H.E. Mr. Neville Gertze, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Namibia in the Special Committee on the situation with regards to the implementation of the declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples, 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Madam Chair,

1. Allow me to extend my delegation’s gratitude to you for the able manner in which you continue to preside over the work of the Special Committee. Please remain assured of our continued support and cooperation.

2. My delegation believes that the special mandate ascribed to the C-24 to pre-occupy itself with unfinished business of decolonisation, most specifically the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples, remains relevant.

3. For sixty years, the Committee has been seized with this work and while countries like my own have been beneficiaries of the work of the United Nations system on decolonisation, we desire the same freedom and opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination for the seventeen non self-governing territories.

4. The question of Western Sahara, Africa’s last colony is one that continues to deserve our attention as we strive to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution to the decolonisation of Western Sahara.

Chair,

5. Allow me to appreciate the renewal of the mandate of MINURSO in October last year. We however remain concerned that despite the significant amount of resources the UN has invested and continues to invest in MINURSO, since its establishment in 1991, the primary purpose of facilitating a referendum in accordance with the mutually agreed settlement plan, has not been achieved.

6. It is my delegation’s continued hope that in his capacity as the Personal Envoy of the Secretary General, Mr. Staffan di Mistura, will work with Western Sahara and Morocco to overcome longstanding obstacles in the stalled peace process between the two parties.

7. My delegation will continue to support the UN peace process in Western Sahara in line with the mandate of this Committee.

8. As a current member of the AU Peace and Security Council, Namibia encourages Mr. Di Mistura to work closely with the AU in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter and the AU-UN Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. We therefore reaffirm the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council for the UN Secretary General to request the United Nations Legal Counsel to provide a legal opinion on the opening of consulates in the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara;

Chair,

9. The UN has not shied away from its responsibility towards Western Sahara. Posterity will judge us for our failure to realise the implementation of the fourth decade for the eradication of colonialism.

10. In a bid to yield results, we reiterate our longstanding call for the Special Committee to undertake a visiting mission to Western Sahara. We continue to be of the view that a visiting Mission would move us away from an abstract to realistic perspective of the situation on the ground.

11. Let me conclude by reaffirming that the United Nations has a critical role to play in maintaining its legacy of bringing to its logical conclusion, the quest for decolonisation of many occupied territories. While the Sahrawi people have continued to show resilience in the face of hardships, we remain cognisant of their dream to be free and self-governing.

12. This is not only their dream but is in fact their right in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and is articulated further in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is time they are allowed to exercise their inalienable right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

13. I thank you.” (SPS)

090/500/60 (SPS)