Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Western Sahara.
NEW YORK, United States of America, August 29, 2016 – The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over the tense situation that has developed in the narrow Buffer Strip in southwestern Western Sahara between the Moroccan berm and the Mauritanian border as a result of changes in the status quo and the introduction of armed units from Morocco and the Polisario in close proximity to each other.
The Secretary-General calls on both parties to suspend any action that alters that status quo and to withdraw all armed elements so as to prevent any further escalation and permit MINURSO to hold discussions with both parties on the situation. The Secretary-General stresses the importance for both parties to adhere to their obligations as per the Military Agreement number 1, and the need to respect the letter and the spirit of the ceasefire agreement.
Dear Prime Minister,
As you know we have had many discussions in person, by text and by phone on the matter of my candidature for the position of UN SG over the last six months or more since you became PM.
You will also recall that we discussed this matter on many occasions prior to you becoming PM as well
You will recall that last September I contacted you asking for guidance on how I should address the matter of your previously stated support to me for my candidature when I met Foreign Minister Bishop at the UN General Assembly in September. You in fact sent me a message on your preferred Wickr system where you stated that you and the FM were “as one” in your support for my candidature.
You will also recall I came to see you in your Parliament House office on 11 November last year where we discussed the matter at length. Once again you restated your position of support for my candidature. You went further to ask for a list of governments whom you would need to lobby at a prime ministerial level in the future.
We continued this discussion further on Wednesday 23 December in your Sydney office. Once again you stated your support for my candidature. You added that when the time came to lodge my nomination, you now wanted to take it to Cabinet to avoid the perception of a “captain’s pick”. You also said to me that the Cabinet process would not change the outcome.
Based on those assurances, in good faith, I have been informally sounding out governments around the world in terms of their support for my candidature. In fact the Foreign Minister confirmed that I was doing that in one of her more recent press conferences. You will appreciate that I would not have been in the business of approaching governments, even informally, had you expressed any doubt about my candidature in any of our previous conversations.
These communications leave to one side the multiple conversations we had on the subject of my possible candidature prior to you assuming the Prime Ministership. You had always said to me that the Australian government would be “mad” not to support my candidature. You will recall saying the same in person to me when we met at my place in New York last year.
You will be aware that my formal written request for support from the government was lodged with your office one month ago. In that written request, I indicated the timing of Cabinet consideration was of course a matter for you; but that I needed to be fully compliant with UN protocols which would require nominations to be lodged with the UN by early May.
You will understand therefore how shocked I was to receive your telephone call within the last couple of hours, just prior to your taking the matter to Cabinet in Canberra. In your telephone call you said that neither you nor the Cabinet would be supporting my nomination. When I asked the reasons for this, you said that neither you nor the Cabinet has the view that “I had the qualifications for the position”. You will appreciate that you have never expressed that view to me in the multiple conversations we have had on this matter on the past.
As you are now taking the matter to Cabinet, could I respectfully request that you reconsider the government’s position. I believe it is important for an Australian to be considered for such a position by the international community. Furthermore, I have been encouraged by multiple governments around the world, from all continents, to be a candidate.
Finally, you will appreciate that I have consistently demonstrated a practice in office of appointing leading individuals from both sides of politics to significant diplomatic appointments abroad. My request for support of my nomination is not even a request for an appointment. It is simply a request for a nomination. I note that the government of New Zealand has adopted this practice in relation to former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark. Based on your many statements to me over a long period of time, I had expected from you at least the same approach.
It would then simply be a matter for the international community to decide who was the best candidate for the role.
26th Prime Minister of Australia.
NEW YORK, United States of America, March 10, 2016 — We have seen the statement of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The status of the Western Sahara territory remains to be decided, as it is a non-self-governing territory. All UN member States, including Morocco, agree with this in yearly General Assembly resolutions adopted without a vote. The Security Council has called on the UN to facilitate negotiations aiming at a “mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”. Clearly, the issue at stake is the final status of the territory.
Last Saturday, the Secretary-General personally witnessed a desperate situation in a Western Sahara refugee camp resulting from decades of life without hope in the harshest conditions. He stressed that the Sahrawi refugees deserve a better future. He referred to “occupation” as related to the inability of Sahrawi refugees to return home under conditions that include satisfactory governance arrangements under which all Sahrawis can freely express their desires. The Secretary-General reiterated his call for genuine negotiations in good faith and without preconditions. The objective of restarting these negotiations in a more positive spirit is to provide hope to these people and enable them to return home.
Once again, the Secretary-General calls on the parties to seriously engage in negotiations.