Spanish Professor sends scathing letter to all UN Security Council members over Western Sahara, a country recognized by the African Union but not yet by the United Nations


Luis Portillo Pasqual del Riquelme, a former professor at Madrid Autonomous University, sent a scathing letter early this month to all members of the United Nations Security Council, condemning Resolution 2494 on Western Sahara, a country in Africa recognized by the African Union but not the United Nations.

He made the letter available to TODAY NEWS AFRICA in an email on Tuesday afternoon.

On January 30, 2017, Morocco was readmitted into the African Union after a 33 year absence following a vote at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

But despite Morocco’s readmission, the dispute over Western Sahara’s independence, which triggered its exit from the union, still remains.

In 1984, Morocco left the AU after the body decided to recognize the independence of Western Sahara and admitted it as a member state.

UN Photo/Martine Perret Peacekeepers have been stationed in Western Sahara since 1991 when the UN mission, MINURSO, was established. (file)
UN Photo/Martine Perret Peacekeepers have been stationed in Western Sahara since 1991 when the UN mission, MINURSO, was established. (file)

Morocco has long contended the territory is under its control. While most of the territory has been annexed by Morocco since 1975, it has been in involved in a violent conflict with Western Saharan independence movement Polisario Front which insists the territory is a sovereign independent state.

Early this year, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2494, which in effect classifies Western Sahara as a disputed territory and not a country, a status quo Luis Portillo Pasqual del Riquelme has argued benefits Morocco and not the people of Western Sahara.

His letter below to all members of the UN Security Council was strongly worded. It was titled: The Ineffectiveness of MINURSO and the Complicity of the United States and France.

Read it in full below.

Text of the letter sent to all members of the UN Security Council on 11/2/2019 with regard to Resolution 2494 (2019) on Western Sahara


With due respect,

I felt completely disappointed by the recent “unanimous” adoption (two abstentions: Russia and South Africa, fortunately) of Resolution 2494 (2019) of the UN Security Council regarding the issue of Western Sahara.

The fact that there is currently no Special or Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara cannot serve as a justification or excuse for a sham resolution. It has been 44 years since Morocco’s invasion of Western Sahara. In that time, there have been no fair, effective results from the Security Council.

There has been plenty of talk, but the situation remains the same: the status quo favors Morocco and the interests that support that invader, extortionist, corrupter, and criminal state.

Meanwhile, the Sahrawi population resists, dealing with systematic repression and the theft of their resources by an illegal occupying invader that has violated all the norms of international law with impunity. And you, year after year, continue to read out a statement that does not accomplish anything except refusing to engage with the principles of the UN Charter and the modern international legal system, established by that same Council at the end of the Second World War. It does, however, allow the Moroccan occupation to continue, with all of its disastrous consequences for the Sahrawi people and for peace and security in the region, as well as in other places.

It is clear that the Security Council could adopt the appropriate decisions, even though there is no Special or Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General.

We, the citizens of the world, believe that it is question of enormous injustice, underhanded cowardice, insensitive cruelty, and it is absolutely shortsighted to allow things to continue as they are, just to keep Morocco, France, and the United States happy. While you remain paralyzed, the Sahrawi people suffer. Do you care? Can you sleep at night?

We are all familiar with the ruse of the invasion. The ICJ has already ruled that Morocco has no right to sovereignty over the Sahrawi territory of Western Sahara, in accordance with the UN’s principles and norms. What are you waiting for to enforce the law?

Morocco is the invader, and they have impressive military power. It is a state that blackmails Europe by sending dinghies full of immigrants or by refusing to provide legal and anti-terrorism cooperation when it suits their needs.

France is particularly responsible and guilty in this situation and in continuing the occupation and subsequent systematic, atrocious repression.

As is the US. Remember that it was Henry Kissinger who approved of the Moroccan invasion through his famous telegram from Lebanon. Then, Kissinger and President Gerald Ford, in an Oval Office meeting, agreed to pass the issue off to the UN, and then later eliminate the demand for a referendum on self-determination, as had been done in an earlier case. US complicity, responsibility, and guilt.

Kissinger deceived President Gerald Ford; and the latter allowed himself to be deceived (Jacob Mundy in Le Monde Diplomatique). The US President had the obligation to better inform himself. But it was easier to “let himself be deceived.” You and the US are still in a position to fix this crime against humanity; but, of course, you are not interested. The UN has sufficient legal tools. It is the highest global authority. But it prefers to “bring forth a mouse,” as the honorable Ambassador and Deputy Chairman of MINURSO, Frank Ruddy, denounced.

All of the Special or Personal Envoys “fail” and/or resign because you grant impunity to Morocco and accept their bribes and blackmail.

Western Sahara and its suffering, battered people are being treated as a bargaining chip for the interests of the governments that you represent. This is the law of the strongest, which does not sympathize at all with the principles established in the UN Charter and in Resolution 1514, issued during the years of decolonization. We are now well into the 21st century! And yet we must still fight to decolonize Africa’s last colony. Or is it not true that Morocco blackmailed the Swedish government into not recognizing SADR? Is it not also true that it blackmailed the French government, denying them all legal and anti-terrorism cooperation for a year? Do you want more blood, more war, again? Or what do you think you are promoting by delaying these resolutions and prolonging the occupation until the Sahrawis give in and surrender to this crime, power, blackmail, and injustice?

You will not achieve it, in spite of the reading of empty papers at the Security Council meeting, with an archaic, fearful, and cowed diplomacy. And you will not achieve it – at the risk, furthermore, of provoking serious conflict – because there is an increasing number of global citizens, from different parts of the world, who are demanding that you comply with your own legal system, the one that you or your predecessors created and that now you do not dare to apply.

Why was Chapter VII of the UN Charter applied when Iraq invaded Kuwait and the leaders of the US fooled the entire world by claiming that a vial of white powder was a “weapon of mass destruction,” which later was proven to be non-existent? Why wasn’t that Chapter VII applied to Morocco? Why that double standard, that different yardstick, that hypocrisy towards the invaded people, that cowardice and cruelty of your unjust resolutions?

How is a “mutually acceptable agreement” to be reached between the blackmailing invader and the invaded people expelled from their land and deprived of their inalienable rights? Why isn’t the Peace Plan approved by the parties and the Security Council being applied? How do you allow Morocco to impose its prior conditions, the so-called “autonomy plan” under Moroccan sovereignty, contravening the Charter of the United Nations, the OAU Charter, the ICJ ruling, judgments from the CJEU, and the demands of a responsible global citizenry who aspire to a better world and who, like the Sahrawi people, are losing faith in the UN and its Security Council?

You only speak of the Morocco plan. Not the plan of the POLISARIO Front, the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, a fairly generous plan, which was also presented to the Secretary-General in 2007. Why don’t you analyze it? Don’t you have time? Don’t we pay you so that you will do justice? What are you waiting for? For Morocco to continue with its obstinacy, forcing successive Special or Personal Envoys of the Secretary-General to resign, and for the problem to continue on eternally, providing further proof to the world of an ineffective UN/MINURSO?

Why is MINURSO the only peace mission without the authority to supervise respect for human rights?

The case of East Timor is very similar to that of Western Sahara. After paying a bloody price, today it is a free, independent country. It is also true that the Portuguese government at the time proposed the referendum and it was ultimately implemented. This is not the case of successive underhanded Spanish governments, whose state continues to be the de jure administrative power in Western Sahara. Spain owes an enormous historical, moral and political debt to the Sahrawi people, the only Maghreb people who maintain Spanish as a second official language and who, despite so many difficulties, hindrances, and betrayals, have built a State that is an example for Africa and the world.

These reflections and calls to action from a citizen of Spain, the EU, and the world should speak to you in some way, as an expression of what many global citizens feel, think, and believe: that international law should not be a utopia.

However, to be honest, I do not trust you, or your honesty, or that you are capable of following the example and recommendations given by the respectable Dag Hammarsköld to international public civil servants when he led the UN. And, in this respect, I think my own opinion is quite in line with that of the Sahrawi people and its legitimate representative, the POLISARIO Front, when they said the following in regard to the dead end road you have led them down:

“By failing to follow through on its commitment to end the status quo and demand that Morocco terminate its illegal occupation of Western Sahara, the Security Council has missed another opportunity to prevent the UN peace process from collapsing.

In the face of the UN Secretariat and the Security Council’s repeated failure to prevent Morocco from dictating the terms of the peace process and the UN’s role in Western Sahara, the Frente POLISARIO is left with no option but to reconsider its engagement in the peace process as a whole.

Despite Morocco’s intransigence, obstructionism and blackmail, the Frente POLISARIO has consistently exercised restraint. Over the years, we have made tremendous concessions so the UN peace process could advance and succeed.

But the Security Council’s failure to act robustly to end Morocco’s blatant attempts to transform MINURSO into a tool to normalise its illegal occupation of parts of our national Territory has undermined the integrity and credibility of the UN peace process in the eyes of our people.”

Thank you for your attention.


Luis Portillo Pasqual del Riquelme (Spain)

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Ana García
Ana García
March 17, 2020 7:15 pm

“The Western Sahara. Selected primary legal sources. 15 basic statements on the conflict”

CESO-USC / Université de Rennes 2 /Editorial Andavira, 2018

December 25, 2019 8:18 am

This is the most unintelligent letter to the UN I’ve ever seen! Sounds more like an old mans coffee shop conversation then anything else. I cant even be bothered analysis and addressing this to be honest, its just a bunch of cheap Polisario Terrorist Propaganda chatter.

Ahmed Salem Amr Khaddad
Ahmed Salem Amr Khaddad
November 27, 2019 7:01 am

Quick comment to remind that there has never been a member of the OAU or African Union now under the name of Western Sahara (please check the AU members list). WS has always been a territory belonging to the Kingdom of Morocco till 1912. The WS territory became Morocco again in 1975 despite the stubborness of Spain (Franco) & the maneuvers of the algerian military dictature (Boumediane) and the USSR block. For the United Nations, WS territory is a Non-Self-Governing Territory among 17 NSGTs (New Caledonia, Guam, Gibraltar, Tokelau…) thus since 1963. In 1975, the WS territory had to be removed from the list of NSGTs but the algerian military dictature has been blocking its removal since that time. The difference between WS territory and the 16 other NSGTs is that WS is the continuation land of the north of Morocco, while all the other NSGTs are overseas, and also WS is the only NSGT without any “Administrating power on its line” it’s to say that the WS territory had no reason to remain on this list since 1975. After 44 years, the Western Sahara community believes it’s time for the now-illegitimate algerian military dictature to stop maneuvering against the WS authority and community. We are on our land and we will remain on our land. Thanks

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