Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting after the vote on the MINURSO mandate
The Russian Federation welcomes and supports the initiative of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Mr. Horst Köhler, to convene negotiations in Geneva in December between the parties to the Western Sahara settlement, with the participation of neighbouring countries.
We urge all those invited to join the dialogue without preconditions and with the aim of achieving a mutually acceptable solution. It is in that spirit that we are working with all parties concerned, with whom we enjoy relationships of trust. The international community, including the Security Council, must contribute to the success of the process initiated by Mr. Köhler, which creates a unique chance to make progress on the Western Sahara settlement.
Our collective efforts should be based on the parameters previously agreed by the Security Council, which, in accordance with relevant Council resolutions, identify the parties to the Western Sahara conflict; are based on the fundamental principle of a mutually acceptable definitive solution; and stipulate the selfdetermination of the people of Western Sahara in the framework of procedures consistent with the principles and the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. To that end, a mutually acceptable formula is the main precondition for the sustainable nature of any settlement.
There has always been a firm consensus in the Security Council on this issue. Unfortunately, in the adoption of resolution 2440 (2018) today, we see yet another attempt to amplify the ambiguity of the aforementioned parameters. We believe that this approach is unacceptable. Attempts to revise the agreed bases of the Western Saharan settlement have become the main reason that we were unable to support the American text. We did not block the resolution because it extends the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), which is important for regional stability.
We support and assist MINURSO, including by deploying Russian military observers to its contingent, but a vote in favour of the resolution would have meant sacrificing our principled position in support of the existing bases of the settlement. Furthermore, we have to note that, as was the case for resolution 2414 (2018), the process of preparing and agreeing today’s decision was once again neither transparent nor consultative. The principled and wellfounded comments of a number of Council members were not taken into account. That shortcoming must be remedied.
We once again conclude that the institution of informal penholdership on specific subjects in the Security Council leaves serious room for improvement.
We encourage all to unite in supporting the mission of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Mr. Horst Köhler, and help launch a comprehensive negotiation process under his auspices. Such a constructive approach would be of key significance, not only for the settlement in Western Sahara, but in order to improve the situation in the region as a whole and enhance the efforts of all players with the aim of overcoming the challenges to stability and security.