Christopher Ross changes approach

UN mediator Christopher Ross ended up acknowledging implicitly that the informal negotiations on the Western Sahara issue that have been held since 2009 came to nothing. This is a logical consequence of the gap created after talks deviated from the spirit of realism and compromise advocated by the Security Council to end the conflict.
Instead of informal negotiation rounds, the personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara has opted for a new approach, based on “diplomatic shuttles,” the aim being to encourage a resumption of negotiations on a firmer footing.
Through the diplomatic shuttles process, which was accepted by the Security Council members, Christopher Ross plans to extend the circle of his consultations and to hold further discussions with “international key players.”
This means that consultations will be expanded beyond the circle of the parties directly involved, namely Morocco, the Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania, as these consultations proved so far unsuccessful. Ross’s consultations will thus encompass influential powers that can have an impact on the issue.

France and the United States- which are both part of the group of “the Western Sahara Friends” – have already expressed backing to the Moroccan autonomy plan. For Washington, for Paris and for other world capitals, the autonomy plan provides a sound basis for negotiations.
This standpoint which is adopted by an increasing number of countries is not unrelated to the risk of destabilization in the region, caused by the rise of terrorist and separatist movements in the Sahel. The situation in neighboring Mali, whose northern parts are under the control of small separatist groups and Islamist jihadists linked to Al Qaeda, is the worst example of this risk.



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