Negotiating in itself isn’t a purpose

It is two years since U.N. Security Council has ordered direct talks between Morocco and Polisario Front In an atmosphere which the watchword is realpolitik. The first question of many is “what is realpolitik?”

The answer is soon clear. Break of international law and U.N. decisions in circumstances inconvenient to France and Morocco, would be realpolitik.

United Nations, where issues are more and more set in the context of “negotiations” that are manifestly not about applying international law, but rather about twisting the elbows of the victims so that they acquiesce in their own dispossession.

The U.N. have stressed bilateral negotiations. In Western Sahara the dispossessed, saharawis, are put in the position of someone whose house has been stolen and who has been offered the chance to discuss the possibility of cleaning it once a week while leaving the thieves in full occupation.

With their customary diplomacy, Emhamed Khadad, Polisario coodinator with the MINURSO, deplores the static Moroccan position over his autonomy plan despite the thousands of hours invested in talks about talks, negotiating pre-negotiations and pre-negotiating negotiations.

In Western Sahara, all hopes have been placed on what UN call « informal talks » between the parties taking place in Austria, on the outskirts of Vienna. Ross said that the discussions took place in an atmosphere of serious engagement, frankness and mutual respect. He added that the parties, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, reiterated their commitment to continue their negotiations as soon as possible, and that he would fix the date and place of the next meeting in consultation with them. The Special Envoy added that delegations from the neighboring States, Algeria and Mauritania, were also present at the opening and closing sessions and were consulted separately during the discussions. All these good words mean that no progress is registered in the talks.

The reasons have been defined par UNSG Ban Ki-moon two years ago in his report to UN Security Council : « As a result, the parties did, indeed, express their views and even interacted with one another, but they mainly did so by rejecting the views of the other party, and there was hardly any exchange that could in earnest be characterized as negotiations. We now risk entering a protracted stage of negotiations and status quo” on Western Sahara, with more direction needed from the Security Council before any substantive negotiations can begin. »

Two years after we remain in the same place because since a long time the Secretary-General, let alone any of the major powers, have not called upon Morocco to honor U.N. resolutions—and its own promises—by accepting the referendum that is now more than 34 years overdue.

The Web site for MINURSO, the peacekeeping operation which was supposed to superintend the referendum, and which has been sunning itself in the desert for 18 years, does not even mention the Security Council resolutions condemning the Moroccan occupation, let alone the International Court of Justice ruling—that Morocco had actually asked for—which reaffirmed the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and dismissed the king’s claims to sovereignty.

Currently France has been joined by Spain in forcing POLISARIO Front, the Saharwi representatives, to succumb to Moroccan pressure. Sadly, the two powers are meeting with decreasing resistance from other, mostly smaller countries with an atavistic attachment to legality. The U.N. Secretariat, which one might expect—or at least hope—to stand up for the U.N. Charter and international law, remains silent, and in some cases even connives at this abuse.

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