NGOs –– Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion

of Human Rights in Western Sahara

Open letter to the President of the UN Security Council

H.E. Mr. Christoph Heusgen

Your Excellency,

Having followed the discussion at the high-level open debate held on 7 July on the theme Peace operations and human rights, the 214 signatory organizations recall the primary responsibility of the United Nations towards the people of Western Sahara.

Recognized by the General Assembly as a Non-Self-Governing Territory since 1963,[1] Western Sahara has been under illegal military occupation by the Kingdom of Morocco since 1975.[2]

As we celebrate this year the 40th anniversary of the adoption by the General Assembly of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,[3] it is worth to cite its Article 1 «The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation».

The Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara recalls that, in its report,[4] the United Nations Visiting Mission to Spanish Sahara (May/June 1975) stressed that the Special Committee on Decolonization, as long ago as 1964, had expressed regret at the delay by the administering Power (Spain) in liberating the Territory from colonial rule. The members of the Mission had made it clear that, following numerous interviews with groups and individuals representing different currents of opinion, the majority of the population within Spanish Sahara was clearly in favour of independence.

The invasion and prolonged occupation of Western Sahara by the Kingdom of Morocco has been and continues to be the cause of serious and systematic violations of the fundamental human rights of the Sahrawi People, as well as serious violations of International Humanitarian Law.

These include the persistent violation of Articles 31 and 32 (prohibition of coercion, corporal punishment, torture, degrading and inhuman treatments); Article 33 (prohibition of collective penalties, intimidation, pillage, reprisals); Article 49 (prohibition of deportations, transfers, evacuations); Article 53 (prohibition of destruction of real or personal property belonging, individually or collectively, to private persons); and Article 76 (on the treatment of detainees). Some of these violations may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and cultural genocide.

The Concept Note for the high-level open debate, issued by the German Presidency of the Security Council,[5] stresses that United Nations peace operations are rightly expected to prevent or end human rights violations as well as to protect civilians. This is even truer in the case of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) since it is the only peace operation whose main task is to ensure the implementation of a fundamental peoples’ right: the right to self-determination and independence.

The Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara shares the view expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the high-level segment: “human rights components have an essential role in contributing to the overall objectives of peace operations to support political and peace processes.”

Bearing in mind that France is committed to continuing its efforts to combat impunity in order to ensure that those responsible for violations are brought to justice, the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara had taken note with interest of the statement by the French delegation that the protection of human rights contributes to effective peace building and that the human rights mandate of peace operations must be an integral part of the strategy led by the Special Representative or the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, which must be based on an inclusive dialogue with all components of society (women, youth, human rights defenders, marginalized groups), to address the root causes of conflict and prevent crises.

Bearing in mind that Western Sahara have been included in the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories since 1963, that the Saharawi People have been under illegal military occupation since 1975 and that they have been awaiting the holding of the referendum on self-determination and independence since 1992, the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara urges:

Ø the Security Council’s members to include a chapter on human rights in the mandate of MINURSO and to use all necessary means under the Charter to enable MINURSO to complete, as soon as possible, the core mandate for which it was established;

Ø the UN Secretary General to appoint an independent personality as Personal Envoy to continue the excellent work carried out by former President Horst Köhler;

Ø the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to resume the Technical Mission initiated in 2015 (at least east of Berm and in the refugee camps) and to set up a technical assistance and capacity-building programme with the recognized representative of the Saharawi People, the Polisario Front.

Yours sincerely,

Bir Lehlu / Geneva, 16 July 2020

CC : Mr. A. Guterres, UN Secretary General

Mrs. M. Bachelet, UN High-Commissioner for Human Rights


(UN ECOSOC status)

Acción Solidaria Aragonesa (ASA), African Law Foundation (AFRILAW), Agrupación Chilena de Ex Presos poíticos, Amigos por un Sahara Libre, Arabako SEAD en Lagunen Elkartea - Asociación de Amigos y Amigas de la R.A.S.D. de Álava, ARCI Città Visibili, A.R.S.P.S. - Rio de Oro, Asociación Amal Centro Andalucía, Asociación Amal Nanclares, Asociación Americana de Juristas (AAJ), Asociación Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui del Campo de Gibraltar (FANDAS), Asociación Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui de Toledo, Asociación de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui de Albacete, Asociación de Apoyo al Pueblo Saharaui de Jaén, Asociación ARDI HURRA, Asociación Asturiana de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Saharaui, Asociación Canaria de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui (ACAPS), Asociación Chilena de Amistad con la República Arabe Saharaui Democrática, Asociación de la Comunidad Saharaui en Argon (ACSA), Asociación Cultural Peruano Saharaui, Asociación de Discapacitados Saharauis, Asociación Ecuatoriana de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui (AEAPS), Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (AEDIDH), Asociación de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis (AFAPREDESA), Asociación Hijas de Saguia y el Rio, Asociación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, Asociación de Médicos Saharaui en España, Asociación Mexicana de Amistad con la República Árabe Saharaui A.C. (AMARAS), Asociación Navarra de Amigos y Amigas de la R.A.S.D. (ANARASD), Asociación Navarra de Amigos y Amigas del Sahara (ANAS), Asociación Panameña Solidaria con la Causa saharaui (APASOCASA), Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España (APDHE), Asociación Profesional de Abogados Saharauis en España (APRASE), Asociación por la Protección de los Presos Saharaui en las Cárceles Marroquí, Asociación Riojana de Amigos de la R.A.S.D., Asociación Sahara Euskadi Vitoria, Asociación Sahara Gasteiz Vitoria, Asociación Saharaui de Control de los Recursos naturales y la Protección del Medio Ambiente, Asociación Saharaui para la Protección y Difusión del Patrimonio cultural Saharaui, Asociación Saharaui contra la Tortura, Asociación de Saharauis en Alicante, Asociación de Saharauis en Ávilla, Asociación de Saharauis en Bal, Asociación de Saharauis en Fuerteventura, Asociación de Saharauis en Jerez de la Frontera, Asociación de Saharauis en Lebrija, Asociación de Saharauis en Navarra, Asociación de Saharauis en Tenerife, Asociación de Saharauis en Valdepeñas, Asociación Tawasol Lludio, Asociación Um Draiga de Zaragoza, Asociación Venezolana de Solidaridad con el Sáhara (ASOVESSA), Asociación de Víctimas de Minas (ASAVIM), Asociación de Zamur Valencia, Associação Amigos e Solidaridade ao Povo Saharaui (ASAHARA), Associació d’Amics del Poble Sahrauí de les Iles Balears, Association des Amis de la RASD (France), Association de la Communauté Sahraouie en France, Association Culture Sahara, Association culturelle Franco-Sahraouie, Association des Femmes Sahraouies en France, Association of Humanitarian Lawyers, Association Mauritanienne pour la Promotion du Droit, Association Mauritanienne pour la Transparence et le Développement – ATED, Association for the Monitoring of Resources and for the Protection of the Environment in Western Sahara (AMRPENWS), Association Nationale des Echanges entre Jeunes (ANEJ), Association pour un Référendum libre et régulier au Sahara occidental (ARSO), Association Sahraouie des Victimes des Violations Graves des Droits de l’Homme Commises par l’Etat Marocain (ASVDH), Association des Sahraouis de Bordeaux, Association de Solidarité avec le Peuple Sahraoui (ASPS), Association de la Vie Maghrébine pour la Solidarité et le Développement (AVMSD), Associazione bambini senza confini, Associazione Jaima Sahrawi per una soluzione giusta e non violenta nel Sahara Occ., Associazione Nazionale di Solidarietà con il Popolo Saharaui, Australia Western Sahara Association, Bentili Media Center, Bureau International pour le Respect des Droits Humains au Sahara occidental (BIRDHSO), Campaña Saharaui para la sensibilisación sobre el peligro de Minas (SCBL), Cantabria por el Sáhara, Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Chile, Centro Brasileiro de Solidaridad con los Pueblos y Lucha por la Paz, CEBRAPAZ, Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM), Centro Saharaui por la Salvaguardia de la Memoria, Colectivo Saharaui de Defensores de Derechos Humanos (CODESA), Colectivo Saharaui en Estepona, Colectivo Saharaui en Gipuzkoa, Colectivo Saharaui en Jaén, Colectivo Saharaui en Lanzarote, Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos de Ecuador (CEDHU), Comisión General Justicia y Paz, Comisión Media Independientes, Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos de la República Dominicana (CNDH-RD), Comisión Nacional Saharaui por los Derechos Humanos (CONASADH), Comité d’Action et de Réflexion pour l’Avenir du Sahara Occidental, Comité de Amistad con el pueblo Saharaui – Argentina, Comité de Apoyo por el Plano de Paz y la Protección de los Recursos Naturales en el Sáhara Occidental, Comité Belge de soutien au Peuple Sahraoui, Comité de Defensa del Derecho de Autodeterminación (CODAPSO), Comité de Familiares de los 15 Jóvenes Secuestrados, Comité de Familiares de Mártires y Desaparecidos, Comité de Familiares de los Presos Políticos Saharauis, Comité de Jumelage et d`Echange Internationaux / Gonfreville l`Orcher, Comité de Protección de los Defensores Saharauis – Freedom Sun, Comité de Protección de los Recursos Naturales, Comité Saharaui de Defensa de Derechos Humanos (Glaimim), Comité Saharaui de Defensa de Derechos Humanos (Smara), Comité Saharaui de Defensa de Derechos Humanos (Zag), Comité Saharaui por el Monitereo de los Derechos Humanos (Assa), Comité de Solidaridad Oscar Romero, Comité Suisse de soutien au Peuple Sahraoui, Comité de Victimas de Agdaz y Magouna, Comunidad Saharaui en Aragón, Comunidad Saharaui en Castilla y León, Comunidad Saharaui en Castilla la Mancha, Comunidad Saharaui en Catalunya, Comunidad Saharaui en Grenada, Comunidad Saharaui en Las Palmas, Comunidad Saharaui en Murcia, Coordinadora Estatal de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sáhara (CEAS – Sáhara), Coordinadora de Gdeim Izik para un Movimiento Pacífico, Coordinadora de los Graduados Saharauis Desempleados, Coordinadora d´Organizacións No-Governamentals de Cooperaciò al Desenvolupament (CONGDIB), Coordinadora de las ONGs en Aaiún, Coordinadora Saharaui de Derechos Humanos de Tantan, DISABI Bizkaia, Emmaus Åland, Emmaus Stockholm, Equipe Média, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), Federació ACAPS de Catalunya, Federació d’Associacions de Solidaritat amb el Poble Sahrauí del País Valencià, Federación Andaluza de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sahara (FANDAS), Federación de Asociaciones de Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui de Extremadura (FEDESAEX), Federación de la Comunidad de Madrid de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sahara (FEMAS Sahara), Federación Estatal de Instituciones Solidarias con el Pueblo Saharaui (FEDISSAH), Fondation Frantz Fanon, Forum Futuro de la Mujer Saharaui, Freiheit für die Westsahara e.V., Fundación Constituyente XXI, Fundación Mundubat, Fundación Sahara Libre-Venezuela, Fundación Sahara occidental, Fundación Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarrollo Social (Fundalatin), Giuristi Democratici, Global Aktion - People & Planet before profit, Groupe Non Violence Active (NOVA SAHARA OCCIDENTAL), Grupo por la renuncia de la Nacionalidad Marroquí, Habitat International Coalition, Housing and Land Rights Network (HIC-HLRN), Ibsar Al Khair Association for the Disabled in Western Sahara, Indian Council of South America (CISA), International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), International Educational Development, Inc., International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), Liberation, Liga de Defensa de los Presos Políticos Saharaui, Liga de Deportistas Saharauis en España, Liga de Estudiantes Saharauis en España, Liga de Mujeres Saharauis en España, Liga Nacional dos Direitos Humanos, Liga de Periodistas Saharauis en España, Liga Saharaui de defensa de Derechos Humanos y Protección de RW-Bojador, Ligue des Jeunes et des Etudiants Sahraouis en France, Ligue pour la Protection des Prisonniers Sahraouis dans les prisons marocaines (LPPS), Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP), National Television Team, Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara, Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, Observatoire des Médias Saharaouis pour documenter les violations des droits de l’homme, Observatorio Aragonés para el Sáhara Occidental, Observatorio Asturiano de Derechos Humanos para el Sáhara Occidental (OAPSO), Observatorio Saharaui por el Niño y la Mujer, Observatorio Saharaui de Protección del Niño, Observatorio Saharaui de Recursos Naturales, 1514 Oltre il muro, Organización Contra la Tortura en Dakhla, Organización Saharaui por la Defensa de las libertades y la dignidad, Pallasos en Rebeldía y Festiclown, Paz y Cooperación, Plataforma de Organizaciones Chile Mejor Sin TLC, Por un Sahara Libre, Right Livelihood Foundation, Saharawi Advocacy Campaign, Saharawi Association for Persons with Disabilities in Western Sahara, Saharawi Association in the USA (SAUSA), Saharawi Campaign against the Plunder (SCAP), Saharawi Center for Media and Communication, Saharawi Media Team, Saharawi Voice, Sandblast Arts, Schweizerishe Unterstützungskomitee für die Sahraouis, Sindacato Español Comisiones Obrearas (CCOO), Solidariedade Galega col Pobo Saharaui (SOGAPS), Stichting Zelfbeschikking West-Sahara, Tayuch Amurio, The Icelandic Western Sahara Association, The Swedish Western Sahara Committee, TIRIS - Associazione di Solidarietà con il Popolo Saharawi, Unión de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sáhara de Castilla y León, Union des Ingénieurs Sahraouis, Unión de Juristas Saharauis (UJS), Unión Nacional de Abogados Saharauis, Unión Nacional de Estudiantes de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UESARIO), Unión Nacional de la Juventud de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UJSARIO), Unión Nacional de Mujeres Saharauis (UNMS), Unión Nacional de Trabajadores de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UGTSARIO), Unión de Periodistas y Escritores Saharauis (UPES), US Western Sahara Foundation, VZW de Vereniging van de Sahrawi Gemeenschap in Belgie, Werken Rojo - Medio de comunicación digital, Western Sahara Resource Watch España (WSRW España), Western Sahara Times, World Barua Organization (WBO), World Peace Council.



[1] Resolution 1956 (XVIII) – 11/12/1963.

[2] UNSC resolution 380 (06/11/1975) and UNGA resolutions 34/37 (21/11/1979) and 35/19 (11/11/1980).

[3] Resolution 1514 (XV) – 14/12/1960.

[4] A/10023/Rev.1 (Vol. III).

[5] S/2020/604.

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