Ambassador Raff Bukun-Olu Onemola

Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations

New York, NY

27th April, 2011

As Delivered

At its 2984th meeting, on 29 April 1991, the Security Council, through resolution 690 (1991), established the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). Central to the Mission’s mandate is a referendum in Western Sahara as part of a peaceful settlement of an intractable problem. In essence, MINURSO derives its legal basis and relevance from that resolution. We are deeply troubled by the lack of a reference to resolution 690 (1991) in the current draft resolution (S/2011/268).

 Paragraph 120 of the Secretary-General’s report (S/2011/249) reinforces the point that the decision of the fate of Western Sahara lies with the people of the territory. The Security Council has supported this principle through its positions on South Sudan and, now, in North Africa. The people of Western Sahara must be given a similar opportunity to determine their own destiny. Indeed, the ongoing developments in the Middle East and North Africa are a strong reminder that the status quo is no longer tenable.

 All Members of the United Nations have emphasized the need for coherence and consistency in the policies we promote. In 2005, human rights received a major boost with the establishment of the Human Rights Council. Collectively, Member States reaffirmed their commitment and obligation to promote universal respect for and observance and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all in accordance with the United Nations Charter. That is even more so in cases where parties to conflict accuse each other of rights violations. The intolerable human rights violations in Western Sahara require constant monitoring and appropriate rapid-response capability, which only a permanent and neutral international human rights monitoring and reporting body could provide.

 Nigeria is convinced of the importance of upholding human rights as a universal principle. The Council should be seen to promote and vigorously defend human rights in all circumstances. The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, a full-fledged member of the African Union (AU) since 1984, remains the only country on the continent still awaiting the completion of its process of decolonization. It is inconceivable that neither the African Union nor a member State of the AU is a member of the Group of Friends of Western Sahara.  We believe that the time has come to involve African Union countries in the efforts to find an international solution to the conflict. Nobody could be better friends of the people of Western Sahara than the representatives of the regional group to which it belongs.

 My delegation will vote for this draft resolution, but we hope that, in the future, some of the concerns we have raised will be considered.