The Moroccan Initiative in the Western Sahara


The Moroccan initiative comes in response to repeated requests of the United Nations Security Council and several of its key members, including the United States, that Morocco propose a solution to this longstanding problem that could facilitate the opening of negotiations for a “just, durable and peaceful” political solution.

After nearly a decade of trying to bring the Polisario and Morocco to agreement to conduct a referendum to determine the territories future, Kofi Annan, then Secretary General, and James Baker, then Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara, reported to the Security Council that it was not possible to achieve agreement between the Polisario and Morocco on the ce ntral issue of who should be permitted to vote in a referendum.

Consequently, Annan and Baker recommended that the Security Council encourage Morocco and the Polisario to enter into direct negotiations to find a compromise political solution. The Security Council accepted the assessment of Annan and Baker that a referendum would not be possible, and began a process carried through several years of UNSC resolutions calling for direct negotiations.

James Baker proposed two such compromise political solutions based on the underlying assumption that the proposals would allow Morocco to remain sovereign in the Western Sahara, but that the territory would benefit from a substantial autonomy that would allow it to become self-governing. Morocco accepted the first Baker proposal as the basis for direct negotiations, but the Polisario refused. The Polisario accepted the second Baker proposal, but Morocco refused since it did not allow for direct negotiations between the parties on the terms of the arrangement.

The Moroccan proposal is the first and only proposal to come from one of the Parties to the conflict in response to the Security Council encouragements. In various forms, the Polisario has continued to insist that the referendum be held,
and threatens a renewal of hostilities and the eviction of the United Nations peacekeeping force from the territory under its control, despite the fact that the Security Council repeatedly has made clear that this solution is no longer viable. 

Summary of the Moroccan Initiative:

The initiative is the product of a year long internal and foreign Moroccan consultation process. All sectors of the Sahrawi population were included in the consultations and the views of foreign governments and expert international authorities were sought before the plan was finalized for presentation to the United Nations.

This information has been produced by The Moroccan Americ an Center for Policy (MACP), a registered agent of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

The plan itself represents an outline for a political solution that traces what Morocco considers to be the broad scope of an autonomy arrangement for the Western Sahara. It does not go into extensive detail on its various aspects on the assumption that such specific arrangements should be the result of direct negotiations rather than the imposition of only one of the parties to the dispute.

The plan provides for a local elected legislature that would subsequently elect an executive authority. It also would establis h a separate judiciary for the autonomous region with competence to render justice on matters specific to the autonomous status of the region. The legislature would elect a chief executive.
The formula proposed by Morocco would en sure majority representation in the legislature for Sahrawi inhabitants of the autonomous region, while also ensuring credible legislative representation for non-Sahrawis who have been long-time residents in the territory. Residents of the autonomous region would also continue to elect representatives to the national legislature.

The government of the autonomous region would have exclusive authorities on some issues, shared authority with the central government of Morocco on others and consultative rights on authorities that remain reserved to the central government and that effect the region.

The autonomous government would control local administration, local police, education, cultural development, economic development, regional planning, tourism, investment, trade, public works and transportation, housing, health, sports and social welfare. It would have taxing authorities to support these functions and would continue to receive funding from the central budget as well. It would be able
to establish foreign regional trade relations offices and would have consultative rights on other sovereign foreign agreements affecting the region.

The central government would retain exclusive jurisdiction over the normal elements of sovereign authority: national defense, currency, postal, and foreign affairs and religion, over which the Mona rchy has a special status in Morocco.
The chief executive of the autonomous region would be elected by the legislature, but would be invested by and serve in the name of the Monarchy.
The initiative also envisages transitional bodies to guide the central government and the autonomous authority through the initial stages of implementation of the plan.

All individual rights guaranteed under the Moroccan Constitution would continue to apply to all residents of the autonomous region.This information has been produced by The Moroccan Americ an Center for Policy (MACP), a registered agent of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is ava ilable at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.


I. Morocco's commitment to a final political solution

Since 2004, the Security Council has been regularly calling upon "the parties and States of the region to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution.”

Responding to this call by the international community, the Kingdom of Morocco set a positive, constructive and dynamic process in motion, and pledged to submit an autonomy proposal for the Sahara, within the framework of the Kingdom's sovereignty and national unity.

This initiative is part of the endeavors made to build a modern, democratic society, based on the rule of law, collective and individual freedoms, and economic and social development. As such, it brings hope for a better future for the region's populations, puts an end to separation and exile, and promotes reconciliation.

Through this initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees to all Sahrawis, inside as well as outside the territory, that they will hold a privileged position and play a leading role in the bodies and institutions of the region, without discrimination or exclusion.

Thus, the Sahara populations will themselves run their affairs democratically, through legislative, executive and judicial bodies enjoying exclusive powers. They will have the financial resources needed for the region's development in all fields, and will take an active part in the nation's economic, social and cultural life.

The State will keep its powers in the royal domains, especially with respect to defense, external relations and the constitutional and religious prerogatives of His Majesty the King.

The Moroccan initiative, which is made in an open spirit, aims to set the stage for dialogue and a negotiation process that would lead to a mutually acceptable political solution.

As the outcome of negotiations, the autonomy statute shall be submitted to the populations concerned for a referendum, in keeping with the principle of self-determination and with the provisions of the UN Charter.

To this end, Morocco calls on the other parties to avail the opportunity to write a new chapter in the region's history. Morocco is ready to take part in serious, constructive negotiations in the spirit of this initiative, and to contribute to promoting a climate of trust.

To achieve this objective, the Kingdom of Morocco remains willing to cooperate fully with the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy.

II. Basic elements of the Moroccan proposal

The Moroccan autonomy project draws inspiration from the relevant proposals of the United Nations Organization, and from the constitutional provisions in force in countries that are geographically and culturally close to Morocco. It is based on internationally recognized norms and standards.

A. Powers of the Sahara autonomous Region

12. In keeping with democratic principles and procedures, and acting through legislative, executive and judicial bodies, the populat ions of the Sahara autonomous Region shall exercise powers, within the Region's territorial boundaries, mainly over the following:

• Region's local administration, local police force and jurisdictions;
• in the economic sector: economic devel opment, regional planning, promotion of
   investment, trade, industry, tourism and agriculture;
• Region's budget and taxation;
• infrastructure: water, hydraulic facilities, electricity, public works and transportation;
• in the social sector: housing, education, health, employment, sports, social welfare and social security;
• cultural affairs, including promotion of the Saharan Hassani cultural heritage;
• environment.

13. The Sahara autonomous Region will have the financial resources required for its development in all areas. Resources will come, in particular, from: 

• taxes, duties and regional levies enacted by the Region's competent authorities;
• proceeds from the development of natural resources allocated to the Region;
• the share of proceeds collected by the State from the development of natural resources located in the Region;
• the necessary funds allocated in keeping with the principle of national solidarity;
• proceeds from the Region's assets. 

14. The State shall keep exclusive jurisdiction over the following in particular:

• the attributes of sovereignty, especially the flag, the national anthem and the currency;
• the attributes stemming from the constitutional and religious prerogatives of the King, as Commander of the Faithful and Guarantor of freedom of worship  and
   of individual and collective freedoms;
• national security, external defense and defense of territorial integrity;
• external relations;
• the Kingdom's juridical order.

15. State responsibilities with respect to external relations shall be exercised in consultation with the Sahara autonomous Region for those matters which have a direct bearing on the prerogatives of the Region. The Sahara autonomous Region may, in consultation with the Government, establish cooperation relations with foreign Regions to foster inter-regional dialogue and cooperation.

16. The powers of the State in the Sahara autonomous Region, as stipulated in paragraph 13 above, shall be exercised by a Representative of the Government.

17. Moreover, powers which are not specifically entrusted to a given party shall be exercised by common agreement, on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity.

18. The populations of the Sahara autonomous Region shall be represented in Parliament and in the other national institutions. They shall take part in all national elections.

B. Bodies of the Region

19. The Parliament of the Sahara autonomous Region shall be made up of members elected by the various Sahrawi tribes, and of members elected by direct universal suffrage, by the Region's population. There shall be adequate representation of women in the Parliament of the Sahara autonomous Region.

20. Executive authority in the Sahara autonomous Region shall lie with a Head of Government, to be elected by the regional Parliament. He shall be invested by the King. The Head of Government shall be the Representative of the State in the Region.

21. The Head of Government of the Sahara autonomous Region shall form the Region's Cabinet and appoint the administrators needed to exercise the powers devolving upon him, under the present autonomy Statute. He shall be answerable to the Region's Parliament. 

22. Courts may be set up by the regional Parliament to give rulings on disputes arising from enforcement of norms enacted by the competent bodies of the Sahara autonomous Region. These courts shall give their rulings with complete independence, in the name of the King.

23. As the highest jurisdiction of the Sahara autonomous Region, the high regional court shall give final decisions regarding the interpretation of the Region's legislation, without prejudice to the powers of the Kingdom's Supreme Court or Constitutional Council. 

24. Laws, regulations and court rulings issued by the bodies of the Sahara autonomous Region shall be consistent with the Region’s autonomy Statute and with the Kingdom's 


25. The Region's populations shall enjoy all the guarantees afforded by the Moroccan Constitution in the area of human rights as they are universally recognized.

26. An Economic and Social Council shall be set up in the Sahara autonomous Region. It shall comprise representatives from economic, social, professional and community groups, as well as highly qualified figures.

III. Approval and implementation procedure for the autonomy statute

27. The Region's autonomy statute shall be the subject of negotiations and shall be submitted to the populations concerned in a free referendum. This referendum will constitute a free exercise, by these populations, of their right to self-determination, as per the provisions of international legality, the Charter of the United Nations and the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.

28. To this end, the parties pledge to work jointly and in good faith to foster this political solution and secure its approval by the Sahara populations.

29. Moreover, the Moroccan Constitution shall be amended and the autonomy Statute incorporated into it, in order to guarantee its sustainability and reflect its special place in the country's national juridical architecture.

30. The Kingdom of Morocco shall take all the necessary steps to ensure full integration, into the nation's fabric, of persons to be repatriated. This will be done in a manner which preserves their dignity and guarantees their security and the protection of their property.

31. To this end, the Kingdom of Morocco shall, in particular, declare a blanket amnesty, precluding any legal proceedings, arrest, detention, imprisonment or intimidation of any kind, based on facts covered by this amnesty.

32. Once the parties have agreed on the proposed autonomy, a Transitional Council composed of their representatives shall assist with repatriation, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed elements who are outside the territory, as well as with any other action aimed at securing the approval and implementation of the present Statute, including elections.

33. Just like the international community, the Kingdom of Morocco firmly believes today that the solution to the Sahara dispute can only come from negotiations. Accordingly, the proposal it is submitting to the United Nations constitutes a real opportunity for initiating negotiations
with a view to reaching a final solution to this dispute, in keeping with international legality, and on the basis of arrangements which are consistent with the goals and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

34. In this respect, Morocco pledges to negotiate in good faith and in a constructive, open spirit to reach a final, mutually acceptable political solution to the dispute plaguing the region. To this end, the Kingdom of Morocco is prepared to make a positive contribution to creating an
environment of trust which would contribute to the successful outcome of this initiative.

35. The Kingdom of Morocco hopes the other parties will appreciate the significance and scope of this proposal, realize its merit, and make a positive and constructive contribution to it. The Kingdom of Morocco is of the view that the momentum created by this initiative offers a
historic chance to resolve this issue once and for all. 

This information has been produced by The Moroccan Americ an Center for Policy (MACP), a registered agent of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is ava ilable at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C
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