The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol was held in the sunny city of Durban, South Africa.


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Statements and Speeches

Statement by Mr. Sipho Seakamela, Minister Counsellor of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations at the Special Committee on Decolonisation on the Agenda Item: Question of Western Sahara

14 June 2016  

Mr Chairperson,

At the outset, we express our appreciation to the Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization and the Bureau for granting us an opportunity to address this Committee. We also join other delegations in thanking Nicaragua for hosting the Committee’s regional seminar for the second consecutive year.
My delegation would like to take this opportunity to express its deepest condolences to the Saharawi people on the passing away of President Mohammed Abdelaziz, President of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and the Secretary-General of the Polisario Front. President Abdelaziz committed his life to the struggle for the independence of the Saharawi people from colonialism.
We believe that the Special Committee on Decolonization should honour his life by ensuring that the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism fully implements the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples through the exercise of the right of self-determination and independence by the populations of the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, in accordance with all relevant resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly and with the principles contained in the Declaration.
As South Africa we remain committed to continue supporting the inalienable right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara through the UN-led negotiations and with the support of the African Union.

Mr Chairperson,

It is a matter of serious concern that Western Sahara remains the last colony on the African continent, listed as a non-self-governing territory by the United Nations. This is despite the fact that the General Assembly has consistently recognized the inalienable right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and independence, and called for the exercise of that right in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) containing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

More than fifty-five years ago, the General Assembly in its Resolution 1514 (XV) issued a promissory note that “Immediate steps shall be taken, in ….territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.”

The fact that Morocco is an occupying power is not debatable and has been settled both by the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice in its 1975 Advisory Opinion. In this regard, the General Assembly has been on record for deeply deploring, “the aggravation of the situation resulting from the continued occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco” The GA has also urged “Morocco to join in the peace process and to terminate the occupation of the Territory of Western Sahara”.

Furthermore, Resolution 1514 is unequivocal that “the continued existence of colonialism prevents the development of international economic co-operation, impedes the social, cultural and economic development of dependent peoples and militates against the United Nations ideal of universal peace.”

South Africa calls upon the UN to expediously implement various UN and AU decisions to actualize without further delay the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Mr Chairperson,

We would like to commend the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon for undertaking a visit to the region on 3 to 7 March 2016. We regret that the Secretary-General was not able to visit Rabat and was prevented in visiting the MINURSO Headquarters in Laayoune. South Africa regrets the decision by the Government of Morocco to expel 84 international civil servants, including African Union personnel, from MINURSO.

In this regard, South Africa is disappointed at the failure of the Security Council to respond firmly and decisively against the Government of Morocco’s decision, which put one of the UN missions in jeopardy.

We regret the repeated flouting of international law by the Kingdom of Morocco by hosting international conferences in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, most notably the Crans Montana Forum. This notwithstanding the fact that since 1963, Western Sahara was placed on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories under Chapter XI of the UN Charter. We wish to reiterate that the Kingdom of Morocco does not enjoy sovereignty or administrative power over Western Sahara. Therefore any illegal exploitation of mineral resources in the Western Sahara occupied territories has to be condemned.

Mr Chairperson,

Lastly, South Africa expresses its deep concern about the worsening humanitarian situation, which is driven in part by the decrease in funding to support the refugees in the harsh conditions of the camps.

We urge the UN Secretary-General and the UN not to allow the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism to pass without the people of Western Sahara enjoying their inalienable right to self-determination. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that we no longer remain indifferent to the plight of those who seek to enjoy the same freedoms that we enjoy today.

I thank you.