As the year comes to an end and at the start of the holiday season, I want to thank you all for the excellent work you have done for MINURSO, the people of Western Sahara and the cause of peace. It has been an honour and a pleasure for me to have been the Head of such an exceptional mission. I also want to thank my predecessor, Mr. Hani Abdelaziz, for his leadership of MINURSO over the two preceding years.
2013 was an important year for MINURSO. The Secretary-General in his April report found clear words to emphasize the valuable, indeed indispensable role of MINURSO as a peacekeeping operation, to maintain stability now and to be ready when the time comes to implement an agreement on self-determination that might be reached by the parties.
The support of the Secretary-General was amplified by the visit of the Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, which showed the value of MINURSO in the United Nations peacekeeping realm, and by the visit of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Mr. Christopher Ross, which demonstrated that the peacekeeping effort and the political process are two sides of the same medal and not separate endeavours.
MINURSO has shown itself worthy of this support through the solid, reliable and professional work of all of you. By working together, each section serving the others, we implemented our mandate – maintaining the ceasefire through military observation and alleviating the effects of the conflict through the family visits and de-mining activities. And while our military and police colleagues, as well as the colleagues from the Mine Action Service, did their work, they could rely on others to create the conditions for them to do so: Accommodations, vehicles, security, and a conducive political context.
I am well aware what it takes to make a mission like MINURSO work and I thank all of you for your work.
Our collective dedication manifests itself not only in what we do, but equally important in how we do it. The key here is respect. The parties to the conflict, Morocco and the POLISARIO, have vastly differing views on practically every aspect of our work. We need to respect these views while standing firm on the principles of the Charter, for MINURSO most importantly the peaceful settlement of disputes and the right to self-determination, and acting with impartiality in everything we do.
In this way, with professionalism in our work, respect for our partners and dedication to our principles, we have mastered the challenges of this year and I am confident that we will also be ready to face whatever the next year will bring.
I wish all of you a peaceful holiday season and success in your endeavours for the new year.
20 December 2012