Fifty-four years ago, the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations declared Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory. In the past 21 years several resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the African Union have ratified the right to independence and self-determination of the Saharawi people pursuant to United Nations resolution 1514 (XV) on the granting of the Independence to colonial countries and peoples.
Last year, the General Assembly of the United Nations, through its resolution 71/106, requested by consensus to this Committee to continue to analyze the situation in Western Sahara and to report thereon at its seventy-second session.
The same Assembly resolution, inter alia, expressed support for the ongoing negotiation process with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution leading to the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara; it commended the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for Western Sahara for their efforts in this regard and called upon the parties to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross and to fulfill their obligations under international humanitarian law.
However, despite continued efforts, there has been virtually no progress in finding an effective solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, which has been stalled for more than four decades.
Cuba reiterates its support for the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, UN resolutions and International Law. In this regard, the Communiqué of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, adopted last March 2017, stands out, which emphasized the urgency to renewing efforts to reach an early and definitive solution to this conflict and called for the United Nations and the international community to give their full support to African efforts aimed at overcoming the current stalemate in the Western Sahara peace process.
Cuba has repeatedly expressed its support for the efforts of the United Nations to find a definitive solution to this case in such a way that the people of Western Sahara can exercise their right to self-determination, and in this regard, we hope that the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council be observed.
The Saharawi people need the support of the international community. Since 1976, Cuba has provided uninterrupted support to the Saharawi people, and since then Cuban Medical Brigades have worked in the refugee camps in North Africa to alleviate the needs of its population.
During 2016, 139 students from the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic were studying undergraduate courses at institutions of the Cuban Ministry of Public Health and the Cuban Ministry of Education.
In the academic year 2015-2016, other 25 students from that brotherly territory graduated from our universities, the great majority in the specialty of Medicine and 10 more scholarships have already been assigned to begin studies in the academic year 2017-2018. Until the year 2016, a total of 2,579 students had graduated from higher education institutions.
The Saharawi people will always be able to count on the firm solidarity of our people in their heroic struggle to exercise their legitimate rights. Cuba, as it has traditionally done, will continue to support a just and definitive solution to the question of Western Sahara, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations.
Thank you very much.